Awards, contracts & appointments

06.03.19

Local politicians ‘incensed’ after council decides not to back Chard Junction reopening

Campaigners and councillors have criticised their local authorities after they said they could back not back the reopening of Chard Junction railway station, likely ending a 30-year campaign.

Somerset County Council (SCC) and South Somerset District Council (SSDC) have both said they could not commit to the station’s future, stating there is insufficient business to support its reopening.

Cllr Andrew Turpin, who has been part of a long campaign to reopen the station, slammed the councils’ decision and said he was “incensed” by SCC’s comments.

He stated: “The Chard locality has a catchment area of 20,000 people. It is the biggest catchment area for any station between here and Salisbury, and it is interesting that they think opening this station will detract from Axminster and Crewkerne.

“It is absolute nonsense; it is quite untrue.

“Another issue is the question of cost. There are funds available from central government to do these things.

“The platform is in place and the line is in place. The signalling is in place. They would have to do nothing in comparative terms. There is even potential parking at the old milk factory.

“I am just staggered people can just make these blind, fictitious statements.”

SCC said that Chard Junction station, which closed in 1966 as part of the nation-wide Beeching cuts, could not be reopened unless either of the two existing stations nearby were closed.

The county council has stated its support for the move but said it cannot commit to funding towards a feasibility study, whilst SSDC claimed there was “insufficient business” to support stations at Axminster and Crewkerne as well as the Chard station.

Pupils at Manor Court Primary School have also joined the campaign, and launched a petition calling for the station to be reopened after studying the history of Chard’s railway station in a history project, with more than 650 people signing the petition.

Turpin added: “The children are leading this campaign.”

“It is their future. The fact they are being ignored at the moment is deplorable.”

Cllr Amanda Broom of SSDC said: “We are certain that if Chard Junction railway station was to be reopened, it would mean more job opportunities for people in the local area.

“We are sure that reopening the railway [station] would encourage more people to visit Chard, which would help boost the local economy.”

She said that as a growing area, Chard’s roads are getting busier and with few bus services on offer “we need other transport options.”

Miss Chapman, a Year 3 teacher at the primary school, told the Yeovil Express that it was the children’s hope that the Chard Junction could be reopened, and said “they are understandably disappointed by the decision that this will not happen.”

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