Politicians and public join forces over Grays Level Crossing

POLITICIANS AND members of the public joined forces to raise awareness of the possibility that the level crossing in Grays town centre may be closed.

Network Rail appeared to have given the crossing a stay of execution. In that meantime, the crossing has been adapted to make it smaller.

However, many people are convinced that it will close.

YourThurrock spoke to Labour candidate for Thurrock, Polly Billington as well as member (Sunny and Grant from Thurrock Lifestyle Solutions.

Ms Billington said: "We don’t want uncertainty, we need a commitment to keep our crossing open. Distributing leaflets and safety awareness days will not solve this problem.

"Network Rail need to consult with local businesses and community groups. Together we can campaign to encourage people to use the crossing more safely. I’m calling on Network Rail to rule out closing the crossing until we have a safer alternative.".

IT WAS bit busy down by the Grays Level Crossing this morning but each politician that was there had a particular point to make.

Below is a letter, Ms Billington wrote to the Secretary of State for Transport.

Dear Secretary of State,

I write with regard to Network Rail’s planned closure of the level crossing in Grays’ town centre in Essex. We have been told the closure is to go ahead the weekend of 25 and 26th of April. I urge you to ask Network Rail to reconsider their decision which is premature and potentially catastrophic for residents and businesses alike.

Network Rail have not listened to the people of Thurrock, but instead have decided to go ahead without any proper consultation. They have gathered evidence of misuse which is clearly indicative of a serious risk to safety, and warrants action from Network Rail, residents and businesses alike. But with no engagement beyond desultory leafletting they have made no effort to encourage behaviour change. The people of Thurrock are having decisions foisted on them, and they feel they have no ability to influence what happens in their community.

Thurrock Disability Network have asked Network Rail to talk to them, because of the implications for disabled residents. The elderly and infirm, including Thurrock Over Fifties Forum have serious concerns about the impact on those with mobility problems, as do mums with toddlers in pushchairs. Network Rail may consider a 10 minute detour acceptable. For many of these residents the detour would be much longer, potentially exhausting and effectively cutting them off from the town centre and many of the facilities they use.

None of these people, or I, want anyone hurt on the crossing. There is clearly a wide range of dangerous behaviours going on, partly linked to fare-dodging and being conducted by people of all ages and backgrounds. There is the potential for a coalition of residents and businesses who would campaign to encourage people to use the crossing more safely.

The people of the town, and all who use the town centre, are not stupid. They can and will respond positively to working with Network Rail to make this crossing more safe. They however will not consider the disregard for the impact of this closure on their town centre as responsible behaviour by Network Rail. I urge you, in your capacity as Secretary of State for Transport, to ask Network Rail to reconsider this closure which is set to go ahead with little or no consultation with those who will be most affected.

For the purposes of transparency I will be releasing this letter to the media.

Polly Billington

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