KEEP ATTENBOROUGH ACCESSIBLE

It’s a Sunday morning as I write this. I’m sitting in my front room, 5-week old baby next to me, sipping tea and occasionally glancing out the window where people pass by at a frequent rate, despite this being a quiet, hidden away spot.

 

They’re all headed for the same thing: Attenborough Nature Reserve -specifically the Meadow Lane entrance.

It’s a fine Winter’s day, mild, still and bright. Families off to build an appetite before a Sunday Roast. Amateur ornithologists hoping to catch a rare migrant who has dropped by. Joggers, clad in tight lycra and red-puffed cheeks. They all pass by, to take in the beautiful pathways and ponds. We are incredibly lucky to have a world-renowned Nature Reserve on our doorsteps.

However, this may all be in danger.

I moved here four years ago with my then girlfriend, now wife. We had vague aspirations to marry and raise a child: and what better place to do so than in a quiet cul-de-sac near the Reserve? It took a bit longer than expected to get the child part of that idea, but now we’ve had him he’s had a fair few pushes around the gravel pits.

It’s great for me too: I, like many others, use the crossing to gain access to the towpath, where I can cycle into Nottingham without having to use roads. As a non-driver, this is crucial.

We – as do all those passing by window today – cross into the reserve via a bridlepath across the train tracks. There is good visibility down the track (you can see both Attenborough and Beeston stations) and it is easy to cross safely.

Network Rail, however, don’t think so. They’ve decided this crossing, along with two others (Long Lane, Barrat’s Lane No.1) are no longer viable, on safety (cost?) grounds and therefore three general options are available (there are variations, please see the scans below).

  1. Stopping up of all rights over the level crossing: total closure of all access. This would create a detour of 1.5 miles.
  2. Stepped Footbridge: this would require Network Rail acquiring land, and in some cases, residential properties. It would also exclude crossing by wheelchairs / pushchairs etc.
  3. Ramped Bridle Bridge: Again, this would require taking land / properties to build, but would mean wheelchairs/ pushchairs etc would have access.

The complete letter, with proposals, can be read here: pdf scan of Network Rail letter.

You may notice that the letter is dated 28th November 2016. This is curious. We only received it on Friday, 16th December. Any excuse that it was delayed through a fault with Royal Mail is unlikely: the birth of our child; and my birthday a week ago saw a fair amount of mail come through. We’ve been quite diligent picking it up.

This delay is exacerbated by the timing of any consultation. The letter states that we must voice any concerns before the end of December 2016. That gives just a fortnight to send in any opposition, a fortnight which, in case it somehow slipped you by, is a bit busy with Christmas right now. A cynic would say that this is no accident.

So what to do? Here is provisional five-point plan.

  1. MAKE YOUR VOICE HEARD: ring 03457 1141 41, quoting reference number TSN1 121m 61ch (or simply say ‘Attenborough Crossings’), or email crne@networkrail.co.uk . Tell them you oppose closure, and if something has to be done, a bridge must be built. If you are not quite ready to voice your concerns, ring /email and ask that the consultancy period be extended.
  2. JOIN A GROUP: I’ve set up a space on Facebook where discussion can be had about the best plan of action. I’ve already had people send in details of similar cases; legal precedents; details on access legality rights. By joining the group, we can discuss progress, share good practise and have a united front.
  3. WRITE TO YOUR LOCAL REPRESENTATIVE: It looks like the County Council will have the greatest part of this, so contact your councillor and ask them to represent your views. Don’t know who that is? Go to http://www.nottinghamshire.gov.uk/council-and-democracy/councillors/contact-a-councillor and a simple search will give you details.
  4. TELL OTHERS: I’m not sure how widely these letters were sent out, but I do know that the majority of people who enjoy the path WON’T have been advised: just those in the immediate vicinity. We need to get the message out as wide as possible, particularly to those who don’t use social media as much. Get people talking about it. Share this post on social media. Get them wised up and fired up.
  5. ATTEND EVENT: The letter mentions that Network Rail will hold an ‘information event’ will discuss options. If this is after the consultancy period ends on 31st December, then will it be more than lip-service, just a statutory requirement grudgingly carried out? Or has it happened / scheduled to take place DURING the consultancy period: ie: when everyone is doing Christmas stuff? Either way, it is important we turn out in large numbers. Show that Beeston can’t be easily fobbed off.

There might be safety considerations. Trains are getting faster and more frequent. But the responsibility for Network Rail is to address this in a way that benefits most, not just an accountancy department in a London office. Keep Attenborough Accessible.

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17 thoughts on “KEEP ATTENBOROUGH ACCESSIBLE

  1. Clive Teale says:

    This is official policy from the Office of Road and Tail website:
    Statement on level crossings by Ian Prosser, ORR’s Director of Safety:
    Great Britain’s level crossings, although among the safest in Europe, pose a significant rail safety risk to the public. ORR wants the rail industry to close level crossings,

  2. ajgask says:

    We too also only received this on Friday (16th) December. I called the number on the letter on the same day and they said they have no details at all on record of this and there was no way of me raising a concern as there isn’t anything to log. The letter was also poorly printed and the map had no key to state the difference between red dots and blue crosses. I’ll use the meadow lane crossing frequently to cycle and shall be raising it with all steps you have provided, thank you!

  3. karippe says:

    I use the Meadow Lane crossing quite a lot, for walks and exercise. I would be very inconvenienced if it disappeared.

    It would be great if they were to build a ramped bridge, but have they consulted those who need a ramp first? And what about all those who use the crossing?

  4. Wollaton Crescent in Beeston may seem a long way away from your house, but every couple of months or so I walk by and over the railway on one of my favourite town and country Beeston circuits (which I must turn into a map) along Chilwell Road, with a stop for coffee in either Jo’s Local Not Global Deli or the James boys Froth, then down Meadow Lane, across the railway, onto the Nature Reserve and River Trent, with another coffee stop at the Marina Cafe, before heading towards home via Trent Road and Dovecote Lane. It’s a lovely flat walk I can still managed, with access to buses if I get tired.

    I will email Network Rail once I have drawn and posted my map and walk. Keep up the good work.

  5. CT says:

    Hi Matt. Speaking this afternoon to Graham Machin, a retired solicitor who chairs the BCR at Middle Street Resource Centre. He lives local to Attenborough, got a letter (late!) and is intending to write to Network Rail before the deadline. Might be an idea to get in touch (hence I’ve copied him in). I know he’d be happy to let you have sight of his letter. NB I think he has a connection to the Nature Reserve as well.

    Also, have alerted Broxtowe Ramblers as I said I would. The Chair is Heather Fortnum, who was Oxjam Finance Co-ordinator this year, and was already aware: she is meeting the new Footpath Officer this week I think. I think he/they work with the local authority (Notts CC) on footpath issues.

    Col

  6. 35busman says:

    Matt, I have amended my Beeston Heritage Map to include the railway foot crossing and part of the Attenborough Nature reserve, with a link to your post. You can see it on my beestonweek blog. I am confident that you can win this one because it is clearly an arbitrary decision on the part of Network Rail and planning inspectors do not like arbitrary decisions. A few years ago The Park Estate in Nottingham tried to block the historic footway between Beeston, Lenton and Nottingham. It went a planning enquiry and they lost. I was one the appellants along with the City Council and we won. You can do the same I know.

  7. Julie says:

    You can fight this and win!
    If you would like to email me I’ll tell you about our campaign with Network Rail. We heard by chance (also at this time of the year) NR wanted to remove our crossing and erect a bridge with ramped access (it’s our access to platform 2). We fought it (rural location etc) and 3 years later they have just completed an alternative footpath route via a gated crossing with lights. Fight for lights, audible noise and an automatic locking gate first and accept a bridge after that. Do not accept closure. You can contact me via the contact form on the website http://www.tvrug.org.uk

  8. olafleghorn says:

    Notwithstanding the inconvenience, there is a strong safety argument to close access. Train drivers need protection from people who through lack of awareness or ignorance risk a major incident by crossing here when a train is approaching at speed.

  9. olafleghorn says:

    Still awaiting moderation! Not surprising since I don’t agree – free speech eh.

  10. Mat Tarrant says:

    I’ve emailed my concerns and opposition. I live on Farm Rd… Not far from the crossing (which I use every work day as a cycle commuter) and have not received a letter. I was only informed by an enterprising Strava message. I’ve requested that the consultation be extended and better publicised. Closing the crossing would be a huge inconvenience BBC and force me on to the road and into traffic.

  11. D grattage says:

    I agree with all that you have stated and started widening the discussion with any one I know who uses the facilities I have inclused all cllrs and asked them to look into the impact on the govt and local sustainability strategies that affect travel to work , school plans and contacted the headmaster at chilwell as a number of his students from Ryland use these crossings to get to school – I too am concerned that the public meeting is lip device and this is confirmed by it being held mid week from 3 – 7pm when most working people are only just getting home – has anyone thought to contact central news or the local bbc to raise this matter after the holidays given other things will take priorit before then!

  12. Tony Belshaw says:

    Dear all,

    Network Rail is holding a public event at Attenborough Village Hall on Wednesday February 8 from 3pm-7.30pm to discuss the proposals for the crossings. We hope as many of you as possible will be able to attend.

    Regards,

    Tony Belshaw, Network Rail Communications Manager

  13. Steve Dance says:

    If I read this right (and I have only just found out about this) then the crossing closure at Long lane is tantamount to closing a public footpath route. We could challenge that point through years of public use. I will happily lend my Town Planning skills to any campaign.

  14. Dan Sustrans says:

    These crossings provide great connectivity to the reserve from National Cycle Network route 6. I would be hapy to forward info to the local Sustrans rangers. Will keep my eye out, on this page, and if anyone has info it can be emailed to dan.robertson@sustrans.org.uk

  15. Robert Crosby says:

    Having lived in this area for 50years or more and regularly use the crossing to go to the golf club or with my bike go to Beeston the ‘pretty’ way I find the decision to think about closing the crossing a silly decision as thousands enjoy this access to the nature reserve and local people would be the worse for it. leave things as they are!!!

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