Communities and Localism Select Committee Meeting
On 17 January, senior representatives of HS2 and EWR attended Buckinghamshire Council’s Communities and Localism Select Committee to report on how they are engaging with communities impacted by the construction works. At the meeting were Mark Cuzner, EWR Director, Thaina Sa’id EWR Community Officer, Rohan Perrin HS2 Project Client Director, Maddelyn Sutton, Head of Engagement HS2, Simon Matthews EKFB Interface and Stakeholder Director, Michael Eckett Head of Acquisition HS2, and Elena Gonzalez Social Value and Legacy Manager at EKFB, Cllr Peter Martin Deputy Cabinet Member for HS2/EWR and Buckinghamshire Councillors representing their communities.
EWR and HS2 gave presentations and responded to questions by members of the public and Buckinghamshire Councillors.
The discussions were frank and open with both criticisms and praise of the projects’ actions and communications. One of the main issues discussed with EWR was a community project to build a car park for the East Claydon School, which has not been properly delivered to date. Although EWR have invested a lot of time and money on the project, the car park is still not fit for purpose due to issues with the drainage. In the end it was decided that EWR and HS2 would look together at how they could rectify the situation to the satisfaction of the Members and the community.
Other issues raised included lack of warning regarding road closures and diversions, HGV road damage, poor advance notice of community engagement events, vibration damage to houses in the Calvert area, failure of EWR and HS2 to work closely together to relieve the impact on residents, and the height of the bridge in Marsh Gibbon affecting a local business. There was some positive feedback about the creation of a haul road in Chalfont St Peter to save HGVs driving through the narrow village lanes, the early opening of public rights of way, and jobs being given by HS2 to those previously unemployed.
Councillors raised concerns about the level of engagement and communication for Buckinghamshire residents, including those who live a little further away from the construction route, such as Wing and Bourne End, but are affected by the impact of works as they go about their daily activities.
Maddelyn Sutton, Head of Engagement HS2, said she they will increase communications to communities and Councillors further from the rail line and proposed bringing the EKFB mobile visitor centre to the next full Council Meeting.
You can watch the video recording here