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Bedford MP and Harpur councillors slam East West Rail route 'devastating' announcement

Updated: May 27, 2023

“It’s devastating for residents whose homes are to be lost and is devastating for the whole Poets’ community.”

East West Rail has been slammed by the town’s MP as it revealed today that homes will need to be demolished to make way for two extra tracks.

Mohammad Yasin MP says that while he has supported the route in principle, he opposed any route that included the demolition of homes.

Today (Friday) EWR Co announced that it was sticking with its six-track plans, with 65 homes on the chopping block to make way for the additional tracks.

Mr Yasin said: “EWR said that while they accepted that the four-track proposal was feasible they have chosen the option that in their view better serves the wider rail line. This is unnecessary and ignores the views of local residents and elected representatives.

“Now that EWR have confirmed a route with demolitions I have written to the rail minister and alongside Harpur Councillors Colleen Atkins and Zara Layne we have written to East West Rail to confirm that we are strongly opposed to their proposal.

It is cowardly and unfair for the Government to make the announcement the day after Parliament went into recess for a week to avoid scrutiny, but they cannot hide from their responsibilities to our residents. I have therefore submitted an urgent question to ensure that all Members of Parliament can have their say as soon as possible.

"I would urge all residents to make their views known in the statutory consultation. It is important that we are all united in getting the best possible outcome for Bedford.”

Harpur ward Councillor Zara Layne said: “People have a right to feel safe in their homes and I am strongly opposing East West Rail’s proposal. Alongside my Ward colleague Cllr Atkins and Mohammad Yasin MP we have written today to EWR to put on record our opposition to their plans.

“As a proud Harpur resident, I am obviously hugely distressed that my first fight as a newly elected councillor will involve challenging the government and EWR on their decision. I have heard that communication from EWR throughout this project has been abysmal, and to see it first hand is heartbreaking.

I will however do whatever I can, working with residents, the MP, my colleague Colleen Atkins and across party lines wherever necessary to do whatever we can to stop this proposal.

"But we need more than just objections from elected representatives to fight this proposal. We need a guarantee from EWR and the Government that if the majority of residents oppose the proposal in the statutory consultation, the plan will be rejected.”

Harpur ward Councillor Colleen Atkins added: “The news is devastating. It’s devastating for residents whose homes are to be lost and is devastating for the whole Poets’ community. It’s the last thing any of us wanted to hear.

“I have said I would oppose EWR if it involved the demolition of homes in Poets and I totally stand by that and will be fighting this all the way. EWR said they accepted that the four-track proposal was feasible, but they have chosen otherwise and have ignored the plight of local residents.”

The councillors said that, along with Mr Yasin, they would be “campaigning vigorously” against the proposal.

Cllr Atkins added: “Residents have lived in limbo for two and a half years not knowing what their future holds. They are now told their homes are to be demolished. They need urgent information and answers to their many questions as well as support. I have repeatedly requested the EWR communications team to ensure that residents whose homes are affected have immediate access to speak with EWR. People’s homes have to come first.”

Bedford Today 26 May 2023

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