HS2 Ltd, the organisation that is developing and promoting HS2, is a company wholly owned by the Department for Transport.
Its taxpayer-paid, seven-strong media team are busy organising community forums/fora and – according to Independent Chiltern Councillor Seb Berry - monitoring the twitter feeds of Stop HS2 Campaigners.
HS2 Community Forum Meetings are billed as “an opportunity to learn more about how HS2 will affect you and the community you live in, along with the chance to make your opinions heard”.
Not so easy.
One reader who wanted to make his opinions heard at the Chelmsley Wood community forum was told that he could not.
“HS2 wouldn’t recognise a community if they fell over one. Transparency is also a word that they are totally unfamiliar with. Farce at Euston did actually achieve at our insistence that future meetings will be open to the public as observers and the press, while not actually welcomed with open arms, will be allowed to attend.
“Attendees at the Euston Farce (posing as a Community Forum) to which Ms Munro deigned to appear (her maiden voyage into Euston) went prepared. They also went armed with the CNJ and challenged her statements contained therein regarding the choice of terminus for the HS2 ‘blunderbuss’.”
Representatives from the Chilterns Conservation Board who attended the Chalfont St Giles and Wendover events found them to be characterised by a lack of clarity on what the Community Forums will actually cover. Many of the HS2 Ltd staff who were present are quite new in post and could not confirm how the meetings should work or even if they would be attending future ones.
Local authorities boycotted the meetings following HS2 Ltd’s refusal to postpone them until after an HS2 summit being organised by local councils in Aylesbury on 19th April took place.
Only people who have been invited by the people already on the forum and “represent” the community in some way may take part. In Wendover and other places the sheer numbers of people trying to get in meant this had to be abandoned and since then they’ve let in public to observe but not speak.
Agenda set by HS2 Ltd
An agenda will be finalised and emailed to attendees ahead of the meeting. If you would like to attend, please contact HS2 ideally by the 8th June: email@example.com, 020 7944 0781 http://www.hs2.org.uk
But make sure that your community affiliation is in order – and don’t expect minutes of the forum in the near future.