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Newmarket's Weatherby railway foot crossing to remain open after planning inspector's ruling



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Campaigners fighting to keep Newmarket’s much-used Weatherby railway foot crossing open are celebrating what they said was another step towards victory.

Network Rail has been trying to close the crossing, which links two sides of the town, since 2016 on the grounds of safety but, on Monday, government-appointed planning inspector Mark Yates confirmed his previous ruling that it should remain open.

Newmarket resident Michael Smy, who made the original application for the crossing to be recognised as a public highway in 2018, and has fought for the footpath together with fellow resident Rachel Wood, backed by Newmarket Town Council, which has footed legal bills of more than £40,000, said it was excellent news.

Newmarket railway foot crossing, campaigners Rachel Wood, Cllr Peter Hulbert and Michael Smy. Picture: Mark Westley
Newmarket railway foot crossing, campaigners Rachel Wood, Cllr Peter Hulbert and Michael Smy. Picture: Mark Westley

“It’s not quite over because the modifications proposed by the inspector now have to be re-advertised and Network Rail could still lodge an objection,” said Mr Smy.

Mrs Wood, who helped put together the evidence for the case, presented by the town council’s barrister, that the crossing should stay open, praised Mr Smy for his efforts and the 32 witnesses, many of them residents, who had given evidence to three inquiries into the future of the crossing.

“I would like them to be remembered, because as this has been going on for a very long time and I know some of them are no longer with us,” she said.

“I would also like to thank the Newmarket Journal for access to its archives which provided invaluable evidence of this route having public status and widespread use of the crossing.

"Its reports were the critical ones because of the level of detail they provided.”

And town councillor Peter Hulbert, who has been at the forefront of the council’s fight, praised the efforts of former councillor Warwick Hirst, who he said had helped start the campaign to keep the crossing open.