CamdenNewJournal

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HS2 accused of shameless spin over ‘good neighbour’ claim

Rail project officials get chilly response for appearance at Drummond Street festival

08 August, 2019 — By Tom Foot

HS2 protesters at Euston

HIGH Speed 2, the government-owned company behind the rail link smashing a path through Camden, has been criticised for “shameless spin” after making a promotional film about being a good neighbour at a community festival.

One of the volunteers at the Drummond Street Festival has filed a complaint about how HS2 used Thursday’s event as an “opportunity” for the “despicable self-promoting film”.

Jo Hurford, who has campaigned against HS2 for around eight years, said: “Good neighbours do not cut down your trees, steal your homes, businesses and parks.”

Her complaint to HS2 added: “I myself worked for free all day so I am very indignant to find that HS2 made a video and put it on Twitter about being a good neighbour, helping at the festival, answering questions, as if the fair was created by HS2. This community event ought not to have been turned into yet another opportunity for HS2 self-promotion.”

HS2 used its social media channels to put itself at the heart of the fun day, which was set up as a celebration of the Drummond Street area, and included street stalls, face painting and a dance show.

In its film, a HS2 official talks enthusiastically to the camera about how they are building the railway nearby.

The Drummond Street Traders Association has repeatedly protested against the railway works – a multi-billion pound link from Euston to Birmingham which has split opinion over its soaring cost to the nation – since the project was first conceived almost 10 years ago, warning that decades of disruption would damage their long-standing businesses.

The street has a reputation as a go-to place for foodies looking for authentic Asian food, rivalling the East End’s Brick Lane for curry houses.

A third of the road is now sealed off, however, while the HS2 works have also seen a pub – the Bree Louise – and a hotel shut down nearby. A public park meanwhile also stands closed off, graves are being exhumed from a historic burial ground and shops and homes have been seized under compulsory purchase orders.

Construction of the HS2 terminus is expected to last until at least 2033 and cost around £100billion.

Ursula Brown, who lives near the construction site, added: “It was a lovely day. Such a shame HS2 dares to claim credit and for being a ‘good neighbour’ when they’ve already demolished a third of the street, including homes, small businesses and our local pub – not to mention digging up the local park and felling all the trees. The worst kind of neighbours you could possibly imagine.”

HS2 bulldozers smash a route through Euston

Joe Rukin, the chair of the Stop HS2 campaign group, added: “Is there a competition going on in the HS2 offices to come up with the most shameless spin ever?”

An HS2 Ltd spokesperson said: “HS2’s community engagement team were asked to help out with the logistics for the day, paying for a generator to power the sound system and cooking equipment for food stalls. HS2 and our contractors were also on hand assisting with traffic management and stewarding. We received an email from the organisers thanking HS2 for all our support to help make the event a success.”

The short film said: “Our contractors CSJV are helping our with traffic management and HS2 are on hand to answer questions as we prepare to build the new high speed railway.”

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