The HS2 Community and Business Funds Independent Panel makes the final decision on how funding is awarded to projects.

The Independent Panel dates for 2021 are:

17 March 2021
23 June 2021
22 September 2021
14 December 2021

About the Independent Panel

Four independent members of the Panel were appointed by HS2 Ltd in December 2016 then, following a further recruitment process at the end of 2019 the following Panel members were appointed; Lisa Smart, John Roseveare, Talbinder Kaur and Karen McArthur.

They have experience in the delivery of successful community-led environmental projects, a track record in providing advice and support to small and medium size businesses and experience of managing local government or third sector grant programmes.

These four individuals have been recruited to sit alongside Cathy Elliott, who has been the Independent Chair of the Fund since January 2016. Peter Miller, Environment Director for HS2 will join the Panel as HS2’s representative


Cathy Elliott, Panel Chair

Cathy Elliott is the independent Chair of HS2’s Community & Environment and Business & Local Economy Funds, linked to the Department for Transport, having been appointed in January 2016.

Cathy currently undertakes a portfolio of cross sector work alongside her HS2 role, including as Chair of Bradford District Care NHS Foundation Trust which provides community and mental health services, and also as consultant advisor to the £150 million National Lottery Community Fund backed Power to Change Trust to support community businesses, particularly in Liverpool City Region. Cathy was previously the Chief Executive of the Community Foundations for Lancashire and Merseyside, and also previously a trustee of UK Community Foundations and Power to Change nationally.

Cathy is a social policy and philanthropy advisor. She is a City University of New York Philanthropy & Civil Society Senior International Fellow, U.S; a Clore Social Leadership Fellow, UK; a postgraduate of CASS Business School, City University of London, UK; and a graduate of the University of Manchester, UK.

Talbinder Kaur, Panel member

Talbinder Kaur has 30 years public sector experience in a variety of roles ranging from operational experience in delivering frontline services, to strategic management in shaping services against a backdrop of shrinking budgets.

Talbinder managed a Neighbourhood Renewal Fund in Birmingham, making recommendations to an advisory board consisting of elected members, third sector organisations and representatives from the Fire and Police services.

Talbinder has considerable experience in building the capacity of community groups to enable them to submit funding bids and deliver projects with measurable outcomes.

Talbinder was the Chair of a multi-agency PREVENT group ensuring a joined-up approach to local concerns. The group developed proposals and secured funding for interventions in tackling the radicalisation of young and vulnerable individuals.

Talbinder is currently a lead investigator for police conduct and criminality across 43 police forces in England and Wales.

Peter Miller, Environment Director, HS2 Ltd Panel member

Peter has worked on HS2 since Spring 2009. He joined HS2 Ltd in September 2010 and takes overall responsibility for the sustainability and environmental aspects of the HS2 Project.

Peter has led the planning and environmental development of HS2 assisting the project to evolve from a small development organisation through to a major project with its first legislative approval that will enable the first stage of HS2 to be built. In addition to planning and implementing the important environmental impact assessment work that underpins HS2 Peter initiated the CEF/BLEF and Design Panel through high level consultation with Ministers and NGOs. 

Peter has represented HS2 Ltd at the House of Commons Environmental Audit Committee. Through Judicial Review as witness before the Courts to support the case for HS2 on behalf of the Secretary of State for Transport and since 2013 has acted as Principal Environment Witness in Parliament before the Commons and Lords Special Select Committees for the High Speed Rail (London-West Midlands) Bill. 

Peter’s railway career spans over 20 years, initially with British Rail as Environment Manager on the then Southern Region, practicing as a landscape architect. He managed the Board’s Community funded programme of works across that region including stations schemes for the Bournemouth to Weymouth Electrification project. 

He joined the Board’s Channel Tunnel Rail Link team and was responsible for managing the environmental design aspects of that project. He was instrumental in developing option appraisal techniques that are still used today and contributed environmental reports to Government on behalf of that project. He had responsibilities for the development of the CTRL Environmental Statement, the CTRL Bill and contributed to the environmental evidence provided to Parliament. He was responsible for ensuring the smooth transition of environmental requirements to the private sector consortium who took over CTRL from Government. 

Peter was deputy Environment Manager on Railtrack’s Thameslink 2000 Project responsible for that project’s Environmental Statement before leading Railtrack’s West Coast Route Modernisation environment programme.  He prepared the Statement of Case for the Railtrack (WCML) Order and acted as environmental witness before at public inquiry. His environmental evidence before the European Community and UK Treasury secured funding from the Trans European Network. 

Peter has worked as an independent environmental consultant for TfL’s West London Tram Project and the Northern Line Extension to Battersea.

John Roseveare, Panel member

John Roseveare is a Chairperson, Non-Executive Director (NED), Trustee, Treasurer and Director with over thirty-five years of executive and board level experience across the public, commercial and not for profit sectors with particular experience in the regeneration, place-making, culture and education industries.

John was a founding member of London-based third sector company Community Music Ltd in 1985. He has since worked as a Director for a local authority and founded innovative start-ups and consultancies including Front Yard Company, Parose Projects, and the Waterloo Green Trust. His main focus has been leading multi-disciplinary implementation teams for public sector clients. These have included Cross River Partnership, Southampton City Council, the Isle of Wight and the London Boroughs of Wandsworth and Haringey.

John champions public space, putting people at the centre of a difficult balancing act during a period of rapid change in Local Government. He is Chair of Brent Specialist Academy Trust, recently rated outstanding by OFSTED and winner of the SSAT’s National School of the Year award 2019. John sits as an independent member on the HS2 Community and Business Funds Independent Panel. He has a Coaching & Mentoring Qualification from Sheffield Hallam University and in 2019 gained the prestigious FT NED Diploma. John lives in Kensal Rise in North-West London

Lisa Smart, Panel member

Lisa Smart is the Deputy Leader of the Liberal Democrat group on Stockport Council where she also chairs the Corporate, Resource Management & Governance Overview & Scrutiny Committee.

Lisa is a Regional Lead Peer for the Local Government Association and holds various non-executive positions including as a Director of the Joseph Rowntree Reform Trust, a Trustee of the Stockport Canal Boat Trust for Disabled People and as a school governor for over fifteen years. Previously, Lisa was Chief Executive of a charitable trust and held senior executive positions with several grant-making charities. She spent the first twelve years of her career in international investment management working with some of the world’s largest pension funds, charities and foundations.

Lisa graduated from the University of Durham with a maths degree and has an Executive MBA from London Business School.

Karen McArthur, Panel member

Karen McArthur has long experience as a grant maker including at the Nationwide Charitable Foundation where she led the formation of the multi award winning 3-year grant making programme. She was Vice Chair at MCS Foundation, a £6m novated charity to drive the take up of low carbon and renewable technology. Karen is a Trustee with British Gas Energy Trust.

She also has experience of social investment from her professional roles in CR/sustainability at Thomson Reuters, Vodafone and a social impact consultancy role with Microsoft.

Karen is an experienced and values driven professional with a portfolio of roles in public protection/consumer advocacy which include Chair/Adjudicator/Panel Member for Social Work England, Bar Standard Board, Chartered Institute Management Accountants, Teacher Regulation Agency as well as an independent member on the Armed Forces Service Complaints panel.

Karen is also a board member of London Travel Watch, the Welsh Housing Regulator and The Waterways Ombudsman.