Final bill to keep Newmarket's Weatherby rail crossing open climbs to £41k
The final cost of the fight to try to keep Newmarket’s Weatherby rail crossing open has climbed to more than £40,000.
The town council will have to foot most of the bill although West Suffolk Council has contributed £2,000 towards the legal fees incurred by last year’s public inquiry and Cheveley Parish Council has given £1,000.
There has been no contribution from East Cambridgeshire District Council. The Ely-based authority was asked to help with the financial costs as a large number of residents who use the crossing live in the Cambridgeshire part of the town.
The second crossing inquiry which wound up at the end of last year was held because Network Rail objected to the footpath being a right of way.
It followed a victory after the first inquiry held in 2018. In December last year the Secretary of State ruled that Newmarket’s should be saved from closure agreeing with the inspector that the distance and gradient of the proposed diversionary route was too far and too steep.
Newmarket resident Dr Rachel Wood, who has been at the forefront of the fight to keep the crossing open collecting evidence dating back to the 1840s that it has been a public crossing, said: “We have to win both inquiries, Network Rail only has to win one.
“We have won the first so the odds are now even.
“We are halfway there. If we do lose the second inquiry, which I very much hope we don’t, it will be very important that we could look back and say there was nothing more that we could have done.”
On Monday, members of Newmarket Town Council’s finance and policy committee were told the final invoice for the legal fees for last year’s inquiry had been received and was £17,352.
Before that, invoices totalling £26,852.89 had been paid. The council’s financial officer Cathy Whitaker, said the figures were ‘eye watering’.
Councillors agreed the final invoice would be covered by the authority reducing the amount it had planned to put into its reserve fund meaning there would be no effect on its 2021/22 budget.
If the Secretary of State rules in favour of the council, councillors were told there would be no costs awarded against Network Rail.
Cllr Chris O’Neill said he was disappointed that Suffolk County Council had made no contribution towards the cost of the inquiry.