An Open Letter to Mark Thurston – HS2, May 2020

This letter was sent to Mark Thurston, CEO, HS2 Ltd during the Easter weekend, prior to the HS2 Notice to Proceed which was revealed 15 April.
10 April 2020
Dear Mark
You’ll be relieved to know that I’m not going to bang on about a mined tunnel for Wendover like I usually do. The situation we all face is much too important for that sort of self interest.
COVID-19 is giving many people the opportunity to reflect on life and their place in the world. I do hope that you are having such an opportunity.
In your place I would be considering why my HS2 project, despite employing some of the highest paid public relations people in the country, fails so abjectly to convince any thinking person of its benefits.
I might also mull over the societal change that might result from lockdown. With increased home working a likely result, how much rail capacity is needed going forward?
HS2 Ltd told Parliament that it intended being “good neighbours” to the communities it touched. How is that going? Do the farmers who remain uncompensated and the householders who remain blighted think that HS2 is a good neighbour?
I’m currently working to build a network of genuine good neighbours to support my community through COVID-19. Good neighbours who will minimise the impact of this adversity on each other. They are asking why HS2 Ltd has such a complete and obvious contempt for government health advice, the NHS and the people of the UK. The evidence that workers on your project routinely ignore social distancing rules and are prepared to invade the safe space of other people is both compelling and unsettling. Perhaps you could reflect on how a project that is already a byword for financial inexactitude, self justification and a general hit and hope attitude, could appear worse?
Well it would have to appear evil, and by making your workforce flout the rules designed to save lives, you’ve managed to do just that.
So Mark, you have much to think about as the rest of the country closes ranks to fight the virus. I too have been reflecting and I think the country will remember those that didn’t join in the fight.
Stay safe.
Your Critical Friend,
Tom Walsh, Chairman,
Wendover Parish Council