The Chronicle

Tory rail­way fund­ing is a mas­sive irony

- Notts County F.C. · Arbeidersparty · Tony Blair · Bill Cosby · Denis Murphy · Ashington · Cambois

THERE have been a lot of pos­i­tive noises re­cently re­gard­ing Bedling­ton once again hav­ing a rail­way sta­tion.

The de­tailed con­sul­ta­tion tak­ing place is a part of that, as is the £1m in­vested in site in­ves­ti­ga­tions by the County Coun­cil.

I am old enough to re­mem­ber catch­ing a train from Bedling­ton Sta­tion and talk about pas­sen­ger rail ser­vices re­turn­ing to Bedling­ton goes back decades.

It is some­thing I can cer­tainly re­call from the 1990s. The car was king in the three decades be­fore that as more roads were built to ac­com­mo­date the growth in own­er­ship. How­ever, it be­came clear that rail needed to be looked at again as conges­tion on the roads in­creased.

I did think that the Labour gov­ern­ment elected in

1997 would have taken the op­por­tu­nity to re­pay the faith of North East vot­ers who re­turned 28 Labour MPs out of a to­tal of 30: Wans­beck and Blyth Val­ley among them.

But it didn’t hap­pen and the ef­forts of the then Wans­beck MP, De­nis Murphy, were re­buffed time and time again. That one of Blair’s Trans­port Sec­re­taries was a North Ty­ne­side MP makes it even more sur­pris­ing that no progress was made, and by 2010 when De­nis Murphy stood down, the only pas­sen­ger train that had chugged along the tracks was a spe­cial char­ter to see ben­e­fits that have yet to be re­alised.

Since then I have picked up on the odd mut­ter­ing from the cur­rent Labour MP but noth­ing that con­vinced me that Bedling­ton would again have a rail­way sta­tion. Given that the end of the line is Ash­ing­ton, I as­sumed that the tub-thump­ing would be in­ces­sant and heard across Wans­beck from Cam­bois to Clifton.

But I do sense that a fund­ing de­ci­sion is now close. I took part in a visit from the previous Trans­port Sec­re­tary to Bedling­ton Sta­tion in 2019 along with my In­de­pen­dent col­leagues, Coun­cil­lor Robin­son and Coun­cil­lor Wal­lace. The cur­rent Trans­port Sec­re­tary has posted a video of sup­port over the week­end.

I am not too con­cerned about who po­lit­i­cally is due the credit and whether the cur­rent drilling of bore holes will have more im­pact than a con­ver­sa­tion in a smoke-filled room 25 years ago. Bedling­ton as al­ways is my only fo­cus.

How­ever, that it ap­pears the fund­ing will be con­firmed un­der a Con­ser­va­tive County Coun­cil and by a Con­ser­va­tive Gov­ern­ment must be one of the big­gest ironies in Northum­ber­land’s po­lit­i­cal his­tory. A missed op­por­tu­nity for Labour is a huge un­der­state­ment in those cir­cum­stances.

Lit­tle won­der the town re­turned three In­de­pen­dents in 2017 to work with whichever party took con­trol and to en­sure a bet­ter Bedling­ton.

Bill Crosby, County Coun­cil­lor, Bedling­ton East

Newspapers in English

Newspapers from UK