East West Rail Company boss visits Bedford to talk to Poets residents

The meeting was organised by MP Mohammad Yasin

By John Guinn, Local Democracy Reporter
Friday, 15th October 2021, 5:35 pm
Updated Friday, 15th October 2021, 5:36 pm
The Chief Executive of the East West Railway Company (EWR Co), Simon Blanchflower CBE, joined Bedford and Kempston MP Mohammad Yasin in Bedford.
The Chief Executive of the East West Railway Company (EWR Co), Simon Blanchflower CBE, joined Bedford and Kempston MP Mohammad Yasin in Bedford.

East West Railway Company's CEO visited Bedford today to speak to Bedford residents.

Simon Blanchflower CBE joined Bedford and Kempston MP Mohammad Yasin at a public meeting in Bedford today (October 15).

The meeting was organised by the MP so that residents had the opportunity to put their concerns to the company.

Mr Yasin said: "The meeting was very constructive, we had people from all over Bedford, but mainly from Poets.

"I could have held this meeting with just myself and local representatives, but I made sure that EWR Co came to Bedford to speak with the residents.

"And EWR Co very clearly heard their views."

He said that although he supports the route, he doesn't support the demolition of houses and businesses, which he said he made very clear to EWR Co.

"If they go ahead with the four-track option they'll have full support from the Poets area and other areas of Bedford," he said.

"But if they go for the six-track [option], then obviously, people are going to lose their homes and nobody supports that."

This meeting was one of a number of visits that have been arranged with local representatives along the route since lockdown restrictions eased.

Simon Blanchflower CBE said, "I've had the opportunity to meet with residents in the Poets area to hear first hand their concerns and anxieties, which further enhances our understanding over and above the consultation responses."

EWR will be publishing a consultation response report early next year. The company will then determine which of the alignments between Bedford and Cambridge becomes their preferred route alignment, which will also be announced early in the new year.

"That will allow us to prepare for the statutory consultation. At the moment our assumption is that will be in the summer," said Mr Blanchflower.

"Then people will have a formal opportunity to put in their views in terms of the details of the scheme that'll we'll put forward at that stage."

Following this statutory consultation, EWR Co expects to submit a formal application for a Development Consent Order to the Secretary of State for permission to construct and operate the railway.

"There will continue to be opportunities for people to engage and to make their voices heard as we move forward," Mr Blanchflower added.

A meeting with local council and ward representatives in the North East Bedfordshire constituency is due to be held next week.