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Newmarket's Weatherby rail foot crossing sparks third inquiry and war of words



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A war of words between Newmarket Town Council and transport giant Network Rail has been raging ahead of a third costly inquiry into the future of the town’s much-used Weatherby rail foot crossing.

The council is fighting to keep open the crossing, which it sees as a vital link between two sides of the town, while Network Rail wants to close it for safety reasons.

And the next round of the battle is scheduled for February 1, almost a year on from the last public hearing when campaigners in favour of keeping the crossing open, celebrated victory after planning inspector Mark Yates sided with the town council’s case that the crossing had always been a route and declared the crossing a restricted byway.

Weatherby rail crossing.
Weatherby rail crossing.

But far from accepting the inspector’s ruling, Network Rail has challenged it, submitting a 32-page document containing 14 appendices which, according to Newmarket town clerk, Cathy Whitaker, include a number of new pieces of evidence .

“Network Rail have nowhere explained why this evidence is only being disclosed now, over a year since the previous nine-day inquiry concluded,” she said.

“The delay is considerable and unjustified, particularly in the context of the inquiry proceedings that have already led us to incur significant costs, both in terms of time and resources.”

And, in her letter to the planning inspectorate, she added: “We also take this opportunity to note that a considerable amount of Network Rail’s statement of case still concerns matters and arguments that were already presented at the first inquiry. We must, again, put Network Rail on notice that we intend to seek appropriate costs awards to the extent that we incur any additional costs in dealing with such matters.”