HS2, who will be better connecting our major cities as the future spine of our higher capacity national rail network, have published a new community engagement strategy today. This is in advance of MP’s starting the debate regarding Phase 2a of the project, with the aim of finalising the legislation for it. HS2 understand their responsibility regarding the impact their decisions and actions have upon the communities along the line of route with this strategy being a direct attempt to communicate this.
As the largest construction project within Europe, this will in turn need the largest community engagement exercise in Europe to do it justice. Communications aimed at local issues and tailored to their requirements will need to be issued, as it is only via their behaviour that companies earn themselves their social license to operate, building long term and respectful alliances with key stakeholders.
Cllr Rachel Bailey, Leader of Cheshire East Council, had this to say:
“We need communities, businesses, passengers and our partners to put forward their views to ensure that the very best solution is taken forward, balancing the impact on residents, who may be affected by HS2 construction, with the broader benefits in terms of jobs and investment in the short, medium and long term.”
Community Engagement provides opportunities for residents to make the very most of a given scheme or consultation for their local area, by driving the actions, decisions and thinking connected to it. It offers the chance for an organization to meet local needs and concerns with the respect and integrity they deserve, making useful allies of those people who’s lives they are affecting and, in turn, showing themselves as a considerate and accountable neighbour.
A professionally conducted Community Engagement exercise provides a respectful voice to the local populace and ensures they feel acknowledged, in turn demonstrating your adherence to best practice guidance. Potentially sensitive situations are transformed into opportunities to enhance your organisation’s reputation.