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‘Wake up’ call on closure

Posted on July 31 2017 at 1:37:42

A group of Blackwell residents have organised a campaign against Network Rail’s decision to close a popular railway crossing point and replace it with a diversion.

Network Rail ordered the temporary closure of the “yellow brick road” crossing from Fairways Drive to the public footpath across Blackwell golf course in May, citing safety reasons, with walkers diverted via Linthurst Newtown and Blackwell Road.

Residents and parish councillors have raised concerns over the safety of this route, which Network Rail says is the only viable alternative to the crossing.

“Network Rail says the crossing is too dangerous, but it’s far more dangerous to cross that road,” says Lisa Winterbourn, who founded the campaign group along with Wendy McClure.

“There was a serious car accident there recently, but there have never been any accidents on the crossing.”

The group, which numbers about 45 residents, has support from Lickey & Blackwell Parish Council and county councillor Kit Taylor, who attended a recent meeting at The Wheel.

“Tutnall & Cobley Parish Council were there too – part of the diversion runs through their parish but they hadn’t been informed,” Lisa says.

“A lot of residents were also unaware of the closure, but we’ve all woken up now!”

The group’s initial aim is to get the temporary closure lifted, though they admit this is unlikely.

They will also concentrate on ensuring that any diversion is as safe as possible, including asking Blackwell Golf Club to reconsider allowing walkers to cross part of the course.

“Ideally we would like to get the crossing open again, perhaps with a bridge over it,” adds Lisa, who will take over as clerk to Lickey & Blackwell parish council this month.

“Network Rail has dismissed this and other options, so we would like to get an independent review.”

Coun Taylor told campaigners that the county council meeting on November 14 will be the final chance to lodge an objection before Network Rail seeks to make the closure permanent – so the group is encouraging villagers to write to him or to Richard Jones of the county council’s Local Access Forum.

“If enough people write, we can put pressure on the county council to act on our behalf,” says Lisa.

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