The MP for Kenilworth and Southam, Jeremy Wright, has slammed HS2 Ltd for how it has dealt with the local community since the high-speed rail project was announced.
In a letter written to the Government as part of a Parliamentary and Health Service Ombudsman inquiry, Mr Wright voiced his frustration with the company, and criticised the length of time it took either himself or constituents to communicate effectively with HS2.
Mr Wright referred to cases from constituents where HS2 had sent letters addressed to their dead relatives or to the ‘Owner/Occupier’, despite previous communication between the company and the individual concerned.
He also brought up a case where it took 18 months for HS2 to explain why they had rejected a constituent’s mitigation proposal sent to HS2, and only after Mr Wright had to write formally to the managing director to get the information.
It was actions like this, Mr Wright claimed, that caused “great anger” among constituents and “does little to allay the feeling that HS2 Ltd do not care about the people whose lives have been turned upside down by this project.”
He said the proposed line is having a “huge psychological effect” on people living close by, and that “there is a lot of work to be done to restore trust” during the period leading up to its construction.
Although conceding that communication between certain individuals at HS2 has been good, Mr Wright said his experience with HS2 Ltd ‘has been one of frustration.’
Mr Wright’s criticism follows the announcement that HS2 Ltd is recruiting ‘dedicated community engagement specialists’ to ‘ensure that HS2 is both talking and listening to all those who are affected by the project in their area.’
The news was laughed at by Kenilworth town councillors, with Cllr George Illingworth claiming the announcement was about five years too late, and Cllr Dave Shilton branding HS2’s management as “an absolute disgrace.”