HS2 is in the running for an award for its efforts in engaging with communities during the planning of the high speed line.
The company is nominated for a Most Interesting Award, a ceremony organised by Rail Media’s Rail Exec Club, which launched in March this year, to celebrate advances in the world of rail.
HS2 is nominated for the Most Interesting Community Engagement Activity for its community forums for phase one of the project - the route from London to the west Midlands.
On the Rail Exec Club website it reads: “HS2 has developed 26 community forums for phase one of the project, based within five regional areas, as well as one planning forum and an environmental forum.”
Unsurprisingly, the nomination has not gone down too well with people in Ickenham , Ruislip and Harefield - who argue their experience of community forums was less than engaging.
Brian Adams of Ickenham Residents’ Association emailed Rail Exec Club as soon as he saw the nomination.
He wrote: “On behalf of Ickenham Residents Association I am appalled that HS2 Ltd would be considered for an award. Our experience of participating in their community forums was very bad.
“They would not engage on issues that were most important to us, there was misinformation, their notes on meetings did not reflect the actual discussions, they organised events in locations inconvenient to our residents and the final straw was that their final Environmental Statement contained major adverse effects which had not even been communicated at a forum meeting two months earlier.”
The regular community forum events were a chance for interested parties to meet with experts from HS2 to discuss the development of the line and how it will affect them.
But the community forums held in Hillingdon were invitation only, for delegates of local groups, with campaigners being told they would not get a public forum with HS2 speakers because of the opposition in the area.
Lottie Jones, of Ruislip Against HS2, also emailed Rail Exec Club when she heard the news.
She wrote: “Your nomination of HS2 Ltd for an award for ‘community engagement’ is the most outrageous insult to the communities who took part in these forums and at best laughable.
“As someone who attended these forums I can honestly say they were the most uninteresting useless waste of time I have ever spent.
“In Ruislip these forums were not even open to the public, just selected invitees.”
A spokesman for Rail Media said: “HS2 does not only present a significant engineering challenge, it demands probably the most extensive community engagement programme in the history of Britain’s rail network.
“The sheer scale of the engagement is the reason why the Rail Media editorial team shortlisted it for the Most Interesting Awards.
“Individuals and communities along the route are understandably concerned about how the project will impact on them, and what the forums aimed to do was create a dialogue between the public and those delivering HS2.”
But Doreen McIntyre, of Harefield Against HS2, had her own take on the nomination.
She said: “I was intrigued by the category phrasing ‘most interesting’ rather than necessarily best or most effective.
“Sadly, I couldn’t even say it was an interesting process. Maybe it would be better called the award for the ‘Most Infuriating Community Enragement’ - HS2 are in a class of their own for that. Lifetime Achievement, even.”