I went to a public meeting last week about the plans to close a couple of footpath crossings in Prestatyn that are heavily used by lots of young people on their way schools. It made me realise the difficult position that Network Rail are in. They are ‘damned if they do and damned if they don’t’ so can only hope that they continue to work towards closing crossings where they are particularly risky, despite the problems and opposition they face.
There was a general misconception that Network Rail can just close crossings, despite a local council official explaining that a closure is likely to be rejected unless there is an alternative means to cross the railway. Often the Ramblers Association and other organisations will object out of principle and without heed to the continued risk of leaving them open. Network Rail had worked out a footbridge solution as an alternative means to cross the railway and thus providing the opportunity to close two nearby crossings which was dismissed out of classic Not In My Back Yard mentality. And the views were very verciferously expressed with personal insults and one of the NR team actually being whacked over the head with the meeting papers by one angry resident!
The chair of this particular meeting, a Welsh Assembly Member, was more interested in her own agenda and popularity than trying to reach agreement to a way forward. Even encouraging the idea of ‘lollipop’ ladies at crossings as a means of job creation and if NR weren’t building the proposed bridge, that “she’d have money back for the community”. Like funding works like that!
One resident did come up with a reasonable option and one that I hope can be explored and will prove a popular choice for all so that these two unprotected footpath crossings can be closed.