· HS2 – update from Cllr C Sully
· Village Forum – verbal update from Cllr P Birchley
· Covid-19 Response – verbal update from Cllr M Shaw
· Town Team – verbal update from Cllr J Macbean
· Progress on Community Forum – verbal update from Cllr J Macbean
HS2 Update (slides attached)
Mr Colin Sully explained that this was the first report to the Community with different impacts across the area. For this report he had confined HS2 activities between Wendover and Amersham.
Board members noted that the presentation slides summarised the contents of the report which had been circulated with the agenda.
The following points were raised during the presentation:
· It was clear that 2021 would see a ramping up of significant impact on the A413 corridor which would have an effect on surrounding areas.
· It was noted where trains would emerge from the North portal of the Chilterns tunnel, travel through deep cuttings and then cross the A413 south of Wendover. Local community groups, Parish Councillors and Bucks Councillors had, for some time, been trying to find out how HS2 proposed to carry out this work without putting large amounts of additional traffic on the A413.
· Before commencing works, under the HS2 Act the company had to submit planning applications under Section 4 or Section 17 and it was noted that there was a programme of applications about to be submitted to the Council.
· The Chalfont St Peter ventilation shaft applications were submitted on 17 August 2020 and 10 September 2020 and were currently being reviewed. Applications for the Wendover Viaduct, Chalfont St Giles and Chiltern North Portal and two more applications for the southeast were due in October.
· There was uncertainty around how engagement would take place at a local level. It was also noted that councils had very limited powers to refuse or request amendments to these applications. There were some difficulties with HS2 communicating with the local community groups. There had been some impact during 2020 in respect of Covid-19, various protest groups and the change of local authority to a Unitary Authority.
· A group called the Missendens Meetings, which included the Chairman and Vice-Chairman of this Community Board as well as the Chairman and Vice-Chairman of the Missenden Community Board would consider how to engage with HS2. Perhaps HS2 could be invited to a future Community Board meeting?
· There was concern in relation to the haul routes, particularly on the A413 and other routes that were not authorised for HGV’s. There was also concern in relation to ‘rat-running’ by drivers trying to avoid the congestion on the A413 as well as the closure of some footpaths and roads. The final concern was in relation to local landowners and farmers many of whom were facing life changing decisions as a result of HS2.
· The promised traffic monitoring had not been put in place, despite many appeals to the Secretary of State.
· Further concerns were raised in relation to the key designs and that HS2 had not liaised with the public in relation to the builds. Engagement was not forthcoming.
· Broader impacts of concern were noise from the train operation, particularly the South Heath and Wendover areas and issues remained unresolved. Water supply issues in the Chesham Valley on Bacombe Hill and water supply / quality concerns in general had been raised.
· In summary, the key issues were:
1. Further clarity on the programme of works and traffic implications
2. Understanding the processing of Schedule 17 applications by Bucks Council
3. Improved engagement by contractors on the design of key elements
4. Resolution of operational noise issues
5. Resolution of water issues
6. Improved engagement and communications with Bucks Councillors, local councils and communities
7. Exploring business and employment opportunities.
In answer to questions and comments, the Board noted that:
· There were five sets of roadworks at present and two sets of traffic lights on the A413 from Amersham to Wendover. The Chairman of this Board had attempted to engage with HS2 and their contractors to find out what the overall plan was in relation to that part of the A413.
· Cllr Gareth Williams, Cabinet Member for Communities and Public Health, reported that he had met with HS2 engagement managers specifically in relation to points that were raised in the presentation.
· It was noted that the Missendens Meeting was the right forum in relation to addressing issues and communication with HS2 and their contractors although there was a level of frustration with promises being made and not being fulfilled.
· Information on traffic management should have been circulated in July 2020 but, to date, had not. There was much frustration locally that this information had not been shared.
· There was nothing to stop non-HGV drivers using every route other than the haulage route. There was nothing to stop them using routes through Chesham, Cholesbury, etc. However, HS2 had conditioned their suppliers to stick to the haulage routes.
· It was agreed that updates would be disseminated to Board members on a regular basis. Liz Hornby and Kama Wager would liaise with the Chairman to work out how best to do this.
· The issue of non-payment of compensation to local landowners and farmers was noted and that the issue was being taken up countywide.
The Chairman reported there was a need to prevent and slow HGV’s which were causing problems on rural lanes and a discussion with Buckinghamshire Council’s Freight Network Manager on how to track HGV’s would be undertaken. Discussions around neighbourhood planning across all parishes and how to tackle this issue would take place. There was also much concern in relation to fly tipping and a request for a camera in a persistently problematic site would be requested from Bucks Council.
Funding would be requested for putting WiFi in village halls to help Silver Surfers learn how to use email and the internet, and possibly another for wellness facilities in Chesham and the villages to improve fitness.
It was agreed that finding someone to help with the applications for funding due to Parish Clerks already being busy with parish work.
Councillor Mark Shaw reported that at a first meeting of the Covid-19 Response group it was noted what each local group had done and learned through the first wave of Covid-19 and they then looked at what could be done jointly if there was a second wave. A Chesham Coronavirus Group had been set up in Chesham and were looking to relaunch soon in the hope of recruiting volunteers. Some may be the original volunteers who helped during the first wave, but it was hoped to involve new volunteers.
It was noted that the Vice Chairman of the Board was a member of a Covid-19 committee set up by Bucks Council which monitors the figures supplied by Public Health England and it was clear that cases were increasing so there would be an increase in communication from the Council with public groups. It was hoped that those residents who had been helped during the first wave, would be aided to become more independent, e.g. putting them in touch with pharmacies that would deliver prescriptions, online shopping etc.
It was noted that 1800 volunteers throughout Buckinghamshire had helped out in the first wave. Along with the Clare Foundation, the Council had triaged volunteers to ensure they were ready to be deployed at a moment’s notice. One hundred and fifty Council employees were redeployed from their ‘day jobs’ and could be redeployed if necessary. Emma Denley, from Bucks Council, had managed the hubs which were still in place and are ready to be scaled back up if required.
Members were encouraged to take advantage of the flu jab this year.
The Vice-Chairman reported a strong meeting had taken place with good officer support secured. Market Square in Chesham had been pedestrianised and further conversations around the High Street were ongoing. Other low-key initiatives included information boards and improvement to the town centre which were currently under discussion. A further meeting would be held in a few weeks’ time and information would be reported back to the Board at the next meeting.
Progress on Community Forum
The Vice-Chairman reported that a community group in the Chiltern had always been strong and lots of discussions had been held recently on how to continue the good work of the group. Further detail to follow after feedback was obtained from TVP.