Spencer Group praised for community engagement at Leighton Buzzard

Delivering a major rail project is an undertaking thwart with engineering, logistical and social

And finding the right balance between all of these aspects is a challenge in itself.

It is however a challenge that Spencer Group has overcome thanks to the efforts and foresight of its
team charged with the successful completion of the Leighton Buzzard Access for All scheme, which is
part of the wider Package 707 group of contracts.

Leighton Buzzard, which sits on the North West mainlines, is one of train operator London Midland’s
ten busiest stations.

Spencer Group was contracted by Network Rail to build a new steel footbridge spanning the lines along
with a new staircase and lift to service each of the three platforms. The company also installed a
new gantry to allow the overhead cables to be lowered to allow the installation of the bridge.

The contract included 9m deep augured piles to support a reinforced concrete foundation slab
including sub surface lift pits.

During the construction, the team encountered numerous obstructions below the platform including
a 4m deep existing ticket hall – all of these have been remedied to allow the construction of the new
footbridge with much of the work being carried out utilising possessions including the lifting of the
new bridge.

Despite the number of challenges presented to the team, Spencer Group has also remained focused on
engaging with the public to keep them up-to-date with developments on site.

Project director Richard Watson said: “We have continuously engaged with the public throughout
the project with the first event being the ‘Information Day and Meet the Team’.

“We lead this initiative to get London Midland, The British Transport Police and the local Council to
engage with us to provide a full day of engagement where we could explain the project and our
intentions. This was attended by Andrew Selous MP.”

With the project nearing completion, the site was visited on Friday, October 24 by Lady Baroness
Kramer accompanied by The Department of Transport, Network Rail and London Midland.

Richard said: “The consensus was that the scheme was a tremendous success and would be a huge
benefit to the residents of Leighton Buzzard. Spencer Group received praise from all the visitors. Well
done to everyone involved.”

“I am writing to you to thank you for the great partnership working and involvement with the local
community that Spencer Group have taken part in. This has made such a positive difference to how the
whole project was seen and appreciated by the local residents. Many of the neighbouring residents
felt that the project was very top down and there was no interest in the views and needs of the local
population despite it being a publicly funded project.

I know that Spencer Group went out of their way to engage with local residents and win them over. The
working practices were very considerate and those residents who had had issues over the design of
the bridge were very impressed by Spencer’s Rail’s approach.

As Chairman of the Leighton Buzzard Station Travel Plan I am particularly impressed by your
approach to partnership working that Spencer Group displayed. The organising of the event in
December in 2014 when the MP marked the building of the foundations of the bridge was excellent.
You brought together Network Rail, yourselves, London Midland and the community and the local
councils and the MP. You really used people skills and supported them. It was difficult at that time of
year to get councillors and the MP to attend an event as their diaries are very busy and you
understood and supported me in getting a date from the MP and the leader of the Town Council and
in creating the bridge between the different partners. You created a great event and a very clear
exhibition for local residents which answered many of their questions and resolved many issues.

This involvement has carried on throughout the project. It has been your attitude that has been so
brilliant. You have really understood that ten minutes of help from a couple of your staff can
transform the work of volunteers who are often elderly. With all the work at the station the year, we
have had to move all the flowering tubs that volunteers have raised the money for and regularly look
after and water. This has been a big logistical challenge for the voluntary group, but your company
has been so helpful and considerate and thoughtful and by a few minutes help at the right time you
made all the difference.

I am particularly impressed by Spencer Groups commitment to volunteering in the community. The two
mornings of helping clear turf so that we can plant wildflowers was transformatory.

These areas have been a huge success with the flowers looking fantastic with the result that Lord De
Mauley, the environment minister was deeply impressed with our work and enjoyed meeting Spencer
Rail during his visit. The interpretation board and portfolios of our work will keep the memory
of Spencer Groups alive and our gratitude to the huge difference that Spencer Groups with two mornings
work made to our project. This project is featuring as a national case study for the National Pollinator
strategy which DEFRA will launch this winter.

I am overall so impressed with your commitment and skill in partnership working. Working with
communities is not easy, but you were excellent, and you really understood diversity and
disability and showed a great ability to work with everyone and bring everyone together no matter
how different their ways of working and background, – and your staff made everyone feel so
welcome. All your staff on the station was friendly and polite and just really nice and helpful to all the
passengers and local residents. Spencer Groups presence has been a big benefit to Leighton
Buzzard, quite apart from the benefit of the lifts themselves. We will really miss Spencer Group.”

Victoria Harvey Chair of Leighton Buzzard Station Travel Plan
South Bedfordshire Friends of the Earth