Annual Village Meeting 2023

The 2023 Annual Village Meeting took place on 26 April 2023 at 7:30 p.m. in the Reading Room with around thirty members of the public in attendance.

There were no fewer than eight speakers from "HS2" including local EKFB Community Engagement Managers Dave Butcher and Brenna Slade.

After the welcome and introductions from Cllr Danny Moody, chair of Helmdon Parish Council, Cllr John Marchant gave a short overview of his role as the parish council's HS2 Liaison Councillor. John attends HS2 meetings on behalf of Helmdon and feeds in resident's views and concerns.

Dave Butcher and Brenna Slade then gave an overview of some of their community engagement activities, and the environmental aspects of HS2 were explored by Environment Manager, Eloise Meakins, and Landscape Architect Dan Eustance. It was fascinating to hear about all the work that is going on to protect habitats and to ensure that the inevitable impact of such a big project is minimised where possible and mitigated where damage is unavoidable. The example of the green overbridge on the Brackley side of Radstone was used, where newly planted hedgerows will help funnel bats along the alignment of the old Great Central Railway.

As well as focusing on the very local area, examples of environmental mitigation from further afield were presented, including the bat tunnel at Sheephouse Wood., east of Charndon in Buckinghamshire, and the Chilterns South Portal going under chalk grassland in the Chiltern Hills.

The speakers fielded a wide range of questions from the audience ranging from whether the construction project is on time (which it is) to whether the soil translocation project at Halse Copse had been successful (which it has so far).

Brenna Slade mentioned the HS2 mobile information centre (which Dave Butcher likened to a burger van!), which is designed to help rural communities across Buckinghamshire, Oxfordshire, West Northants and South Warwickshire get easier access to information during the construction of the railway. It is hoped that it can be arranged to have the mobile unit in Helmdon later in the year to be available for all residents to visit.

A copy of the presentation slides is available below.

After the main presentation, Danny Moody opened the meeting up to general questions, which ranged from what was happening for the Coronation to the recent increase in refuse lorries coming through Helmdon.

Cllr Alison Eastwood, Helmdon's representative at West Northamptonshire Council, attended the meeting and took the opportunity to congratulate the Helmdon Community Larder for its great success and to note the value it provides to Helmdon residents. Alison also submitted a written report which you can find here.

Danny thanked the speakers for sharing their time and knowledge and thanked everyone for their attendance at what had been another successful and interesting village meeting.

For further information on any of the matters raised at the Annual Village Meeting please contact