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'Culture of misinformation' at HS2 company, MPs say

MPs say that fundamental reforms need to be made to HS2 Ltd's consultation process. Credit: PA

A culture of "misinformation" runs through the company behind the planned HS2 rail link between London and the North, a Commons committee has said.

HS2 Ltd treats consultations about the controversial route as a box-ticking exercise, MPs said, and warned it will continue to face claims it has a "complete disregard" for the public unless it changes.

Last year, the parliamentary ombudsman criticised the firm for a "catalogue of errors" in its dealings with residents who face relocation from a hamlet in Staffordshire.

And nearly 1,600 petitions from the public have been submitted calling for changes to phase one of the scheme.

The committee said that while some improvements have been made in how the company deals with the public, they were unconvinced that "fundamental" reforms had been made.

Transport chiefs must understand that "first and foremost they serve the public", the Public Administration and Constitutional Affairs Committee added.

There is still a culture of defensive communication and misinformation within this public body and that is not acceptable.

Unless those responsible for delivering HS2 understand that first and foremost they serve the public, they will continue to be criticised for having complete disregard for the people, some of them vulnerable, who are impacted by this large-scale infrastructure project.

– Committee chairman Bernard Jenkin