UPDATED: HS2 caught breaking coronavirus public health guidelines multiple times in Bucks

HS2 Construction workers have been photographed using shops in the village of Steeple Claydon in contravention of Government public health guidelines during the coronavirus crisis.

Thursday, 7th May 2020, 2:44 pm

Yesterday we were unable to definitively say that the workers photographed using the village stores on 5 May were from the nearby HS2 site, but overnight The Bucks Herald received information confirming that they are.

A day earlier, on 4 May, we were sent photos of HS2 workers clearly standing outside of work site boundaries, which also flouts construction site rules during the pandemic.

Government construction worker rules set out by the Construction Leadership Council state: “The workforce should be required to stay on site once they have entered it and not use local shops.”

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Construction workers in Steeple Claydon before entering shops (5 May)

Under the heading of 'Site Access Points', the guidelines continue: “Drivers should remain in their vehicles if the load will allow it and must wash or clean their hands before unloading goods and materials.”

The document concludes: "If a site is not consistently implementing the measures set out below, it may be required to shut down."

The photos included in this article clearly show HS2 construction workers not adhering to these rules.

The MP for Buckingham, Greg Smith, told us: “I continue to be appalled by HS2 Ltd's abject failure to maintain government guidelines for themselves and their contractors during this crisis.

HS2 workers seen walking outside of site boundaries on 4 May

“I have challenged the HS2 Ltd Chief Executive multiple times on this, including publicly in the Transport Select Committee.

“He claims to take breaches seriously, yet once again members of the public are reporting HS2 Ltd contractors failing to social distance, scaring local communities by travelling from all over the country, potentially spreading the virus, by using local shops.

“I will continue to highlight each and every case sent to me to the HS2 Ltd Chief Executive, as well as ensuring the Government understand just how incapable HS2 Ltd are at keeping promises.”

For weeks we have been receiving eye witness reports of HS2 workers using local amenities in Steeple Claydon but until yesterday we did not have photographic proof.

HS2 worker standing in the road watching police talk to protesters (4 May)

Residents of the village have been telling us that the behaviour of the high speed rail link construction workers is causing distress and panic.

Linda Knights, a campaigner with Anti-HS2 SOC (Save Our Countryside) who lives locally, told us: "Because I've seen so much evidence of HS2 workers not social distancing and then coming into our shops, I'm sometimes too anxious to leave my house never mind go anywhere near a site."

A HS2 spokesperson provided the following statement: “Our contractors are continuously reviewing their ability to work within Public Health England’s and the Construction Leadership Council ‘s guidelines to ensure the health, safety and wellbeing of our workforce and the communities in which we are working.

“As a result, some of our sites have paused construction works although they may re-mobilise if our contractors are confident they can operate in line with PHE and industry guidance.

At least five HS2 workers standing around outside of site boundaries (4 May)

“Those sites still working are doing so because they are confident they are operating within Public Health England (PHE) guidelines, and will be monitored and remain under constant review.”

The HS2 spokesperson added: “I can confirm that our contractors have advised staff to avoid local shops and we will take this opportunity to reiterate that message to all contractors working locally.”

Upon receiving the new information HS2 said they had nothing further to add.

Anti-HS2 SOC (Save Our Countryside) campaigner Lindsey Batham, who took the pictures in Steeple Claydon yesterday (5 May), said: "If anyone sees contractors straying from their site of work or not adhering to social distancing then please report it, with photos or video footage if possible.

“They can call the police to report it and also register a complaint with the HS2 helpline. Greg Smith MP is addressing every issue that arises, so please do let him know too."