HS2 chief hopes to win public confidence through Thurcroft, Mexborough and Aston events

By Antony Clay | 14/09/2017

HS2 chief hopes to win public confidence through Thurcroft, Mexborough and Aston events
Residents visited the recent HS2 consultation event at Consort Hotel at Thurcroft. 171565-4

AN HS2 boss said he hoped that information events about the controversial high speed rail line would win over the public.

Events at Mexborough on Tuesday, in Thurcroft yesterday, and in Aston today - were branded a “PR stunt” by protesters.

But HS2’s head of scheme development Stephen McFarlane pledged that the developer would be upfront with the facts about the scheme which got the government green light in July.

Mr McFarlane said HS2 staff had found people willing to talk to them at the events about issues such as compensation, and he believed the attitude towards the scheme was more positive now than in the past.

He said: “There are a lot of questions about property and compensation and that’s been an important part of the consultation. Others have been asking about the impact of the line for them.

“What we are looking for is to ensure people have an opportunity to speak to us and ask questions.

“If you look at the effort we put into these information events, you cannot say it’s just a PR stunt.”

Mr McFarlane said that an environmental impact of the route was now under way and there may be problems discovered in the future that required solutions to be found.

He said: “I think we have to be honest and say there are certain questions we don’t know the answer to, but we are making progress.

He added that HS2 would provide a “step change” in the country’s rail transport provision.

But some people attending the information event at Mexborough were less positive about the project.

One man, who asked not to be named, branded the consultation events a “whitewash”.

Mexborough cllr Sean Gibbons said: “Despite the fact that most people locally do not want HS2 and certainly do not support the chosen M18 route, the event was well attended and I feel was the most useful informative event to date.

“Mexborough First councillors spoke with a number of local residents and ensured they were well supported by HS2/DfT reps in attendance.

“However, HS2 community engagement has been extremely poor and grossly unfair on significantly affected residents often left in the dark or given conflicting information.”

Cllr Gibbons said the councillors would be meeting with Michael Haughton, newly appointed HS2 senior engagement adviser for this area, on Friday to discuss a long list of complaints from local residents and to iron out uncertainties.

He said that Mr Haughton aimed to arrange small group meetings with residents across all affected areas.

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