A Derbyshire man has called for an "all-party community campaign" for the proposed train station at Ilkeston.
Peter Ball`s letter to one of the Derby Telegraph group of papers was prompted by a rather peevish little squabble in the local press between Cllr Helen Clark (Labour) and Jessica Lee MP (Conservative). While Mr Ball clearly tends to side with Ms Clark, the rest of us probably don`t really care which of the two, if either, came out best in the exchange.
More importantly, Mr Ball points out that Ms Lee`s predecessor, Liz Blackman (Labour) was also a campaigner for the station, and that Cllr Howard Griffiths (Lab) "has pushed to get local cash committed to the station."
He points out that recent campaigns relating to train manufacturer Bombardier united Labour MPs, councillors from all parties on the local city council, trade unions and "a wide section of the community".
He ends his missive with a heartfelt plea for "an all-party campaign for a station everyone wants."
For anyone wanting to read his letter in it`s entirety, here are the details ;
Peter Ball - Station Campaign Must be Fought by all Parties (reader`s letter) , 24 Feb 2012 at www.ashbournepeople.co.uk and www.thisisderbyshire.co.uk .
I am presuming Mr B has no objection to my using his letter and mentioning his name as both already appear on two sites that are far more widely read than my humble effort.
Local paper the Ilkeston Advertiser has been running it`s own `Back on Track` campaign, and their coverage seems to confirm cross-party support at a high level ;
MP and Minister to Discuss Station (11 Dec 2011)
Shadow Minister Backs Station Plan (29 Feb 2012)
(both at www.ilkestonadvertiser.co.uk ).
It is unusual to see cross-party consensus at the upper levels of the two major parties and rivalry and petty point-scoring at the local level (normally it`s the other way around). This probably reflects the fact that both major parties need to demonstrate a commitment to the area tout suite if they want people`s votes.
Opposition has come from local campaigners Greensqueeze, who have indicated their opposition to the HS2 rail link generally and point out the impact of a line in and out of Ilkeston on the local environment.
The Campaign to Protect Rural England* have indicated that they don`t currently see how the link can be achieved without a massive impact on the countryside, but are content to wait until there are concrete proposals available before making a judgement.
For more on the rail link issue see ;
*CPRE nationally has been fairly postive about HS2, with CPRE Chief Exec Shaun Spiers welcoming the Government`s "commitment to Britain`s railways" and stating that they have been "sensitive to the impact that HS2 will have on communities and the countryside", but acknowledging "there is still much more work to be done." (press release 10 Jan 2012).