We had a very successful meeting this evening, around 100 people turned up, much to Network Rail’s chagrin, they appeared genuinely shocked at the response from the local community.
Network Rail sent :-
- Fed Hussain – Community Relations Advisor
- Jana Sparks – Public Affairs Manager
- Phil Whicher – Project Manager
- Simon Chapman – Route Enhancement Manager
to speak with us. They admitted that they had failed to appreciate the damage the closure would inflict on the local community, that they should have consulted with local businesses, and that they had not adequately followed up on the points raised at the public meeting on the 4th of October. Unfortunately they could not explain why, having identified the serious problems with the project, they failed to appoint a senior manager to deal with the issues and take immediate action to resolve the problems.
They confirmed that the work is intended to last 9 months, not 14, but could not explain how posters with misleading information came to be put up at the station.
They were at pains to state that they don’t feel they have a legal duty to compensate local businesses for economic loss, but they were willing to assist businesses that were going to fail because of the loss of trade. We feel that this statement is materially different from the information they provided to Chuka Umunna privately, and I’ll be following up with them this afternoon.
A number of suggestions were made regarding speeding up the work, rerouting the bus services, and improving the safety of the walk way across the bridge. I’ll follow up with them on these later on today.
Thank you to everyone who turned up, it was really heartening to see so many people getting together last night, we just have to keep pushing NR.