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Crossrail told to be 'friendly'

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CROSSRAIL MUST avoid implementing a bureaucratic, inaccessible system for dealing with complaints if it is to win public confidence during construction, its complaints commissioner has warned.

Tony Kennerley is acting as referee for Crossrail promoter Cross London Rail Links. He is an independent arbiter between the public and Crossrail.

Kennerley, who also acted as complaints commissioner on the Channel Tunnel Rail Link (CTRL), this week handed NCE a report of recommendations for Crossrail based on his experience as the independent arbiter between members of the public, contractors and client on the £5.8bn CTRL.

His report recommends that a commissioner establishes a close relationship with both the contractor and the client. The report says it is important that the commissioner has a thorough technical understanding of construction activities, and is in close contact with the contractors' and client's community relations personnel.

Kennerley says that by adopting this approach at CTRL he could 'anticipate issues before they became pressing and thereby prepare a considered opinion before a complaint was formally referred. This often led to a complainant accepting the developer's response'.

Kennerley continues: 'A contrasting view is one in which the complaints commissioner is a remote ombudsman who is only given access to information once a formal complaint has been lodged. In this case the commissioner. . . is reduced to dealing with a complaint in a slow and legalistic manner. This approach develops distrust.' Having access to the project's senior engineers and management is key to winning public trust, his report adds.

It praises the community relations approach at CTRL, where a contractor's representative was appointed to each contract section. These individuals liaised closely with locals, instilling con. dence that grievances would be listened to and acted upon. The representatives also worked closely with 28 bodies ranging from local authority of. ers and transport committees to the police and taxi owners' associations.

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