Mayor Tom “deeply disappointed” after East West Rail summit

Mayor of Bedford Borough Tom Wootton

Tom Wootton, the Mayor of Bedford Borough, has admitted to being “deeply disappointed” after a crunch meeting with bosses behind the planned East West Rail scheme.

East West Rail would put Bedford at the heart at a rail route also serving Oxford, Milton Keynes and Cambridge. 

Last month’s summit, at Borough Hall, brought together the Mayor, senior officers and councillors, and leaders of the East West Rail Company.

It followed Bedford Borough Council releasing two reports it had commissioned about the scheme, which gave a detailed breakdown of eight different possible routes, looking at how each of them compared for criteria such as economic benefit, ecological impact, and how many homes would have to be demolished to make way for the new route. 

Mayor Tom said; “We’ve shown that there is a real need to look again and decide if the current northern route really is the best one for East West Rail, and for the people of Bedford Borough. Unfortunately, East West Rail made it clear that they are still not going to do that.

“When I asked, they did agree that they would formally respond to our reports, but they seem determined to move ahead with the current route.

“This scheme has the potential to bring enormous benefits to Bedford Borough – but that only makes it more important to get it right. And knocking down people’s homes is not a necessity to make this happen.”

The East West Rail scheme is expected to go out for an eight-week statutory public consultation this summer, and then a second statutory public consultation in 2025.

Mayor Tom added: “This is an exceptionally exciting time for Bedford, and for the entire Borough, and East West Rail could be a key part of that. But it’s crucial that we get the maximum benefit from these developments, and not just settle for what we’re being given.

“I will be asking for another meeting with Huw Merriman, the minister of state for rail, who is the man behind the plans. This is something that I know so many of our residents feel strongly about, and I will fight all the way to the top.”

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