THURROCK council leader Cllr John Kent says he wants to thank local people for their support in improving behaviour at the Grays level crossing – although the threatened closure has not gone away.
His comments follow the release of detailed hour-by-hour statistics of crossing use gathered by council staff.
On two days in April – one during half term – a full count was made of everybody who used the crossing and proving that the reckless misuse had diminished.
Cllr Kent – whose Grays Riverside ward includes the crossing – said: “I want to say thank you to the thousands of people who use the crossing daily.
“In term time and when the bridge was shut, on 16 April, 10,544 uses of the crossing were recorded, including 18 in wheelchairs and another 57 people who had difficulty walking. In addition 390 people were pushing buggies or prams, 160 were on bikes and 87 had shopping trolleys or suitcases.
“Out of the 10,544 one person skipped off the platform and 53 crossed when the lights were flashing. That’s 0.5 per cent or one-in-200 misusing the crossing.
“On the other day, 2 April, of the 8,947 who crossed, just 19 tried to beat the lights – one fifth of one per cent.”
Cllr Kent added: “This is still far too many people ignoring the safety messages, but it is nothing like the numbers suggested to us by National Rail when they first said they wanted the crossing shut.
“Although there can be no doubt the situation has improved, we cannot let up on this. Network Rail say they still want to close the crossing and we are still united in fighting against that.
“Everyone who uses that crossing must do so properly. As long as just one person puts their life and the lives of many others at risk by doing something stupid, then Network Rail has the excuse it needs.”
Cllr Kent said he and senior council officers were keeping up the pressure on Network Rail as well as working with other partners like c2c to keep the crossing open.
He said: “We have another meeting with Network Rail coming up at the end of the month and I will let everyone know what comes of that. The last council meeting unanimously agreed the crossing should stay open; local people unanimously say the crossing should stay open; anyone with a concern for people with buggies, people in wheelchairs and people with walking difficulties unanimously believe the crossing should stay open.
“Don’t risk your life and don’t risk your crossing.”