Plumpton

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SUCH SAD NEWS: Tragically I have to report the passing of June Wells at a comparatively young age following a short illness. At the time of writing I have little information to impart.

FLOWER CLUB: There will be a meeting on Wednesday in the village hall at 7.30pm when the talk will be entitled Over the Rainbow and will be given by Angie Hyde. Non-members will receive a warm welcome.

BAD NEWS: The jumble sale planned by Plumpton Youthspace on October 31 has had to be postponed at least for the time being.

LEVEL CROSSING: Villagers and others are now faced with a further three months or more of total disruption and chaos caused by Network Rail’s closure of the level crossing. Apart from inconvenience this will put lives and property at risk particularly in view of the fact that emergency services will have to continue to make long detours. Let there be no doubt that this situation is totally of the making of Network Rail. In a letter to local residents it openly admits that it ‘assumed’ that Listed Building Consent would be granted and launched into a £2m operation to replace the gates with barriers months before its application was considered and by the time the application was considered and rejected it (NR) had rendered the existing gates inoperable. Now the company does not know how to remedy the situation and it is the people of Plumpton who will suffer as well as the taxpayer as the cost of this operation will soar and it is being funded from the public purse. Will lives be lost as a result of the actions? The Parish Council and local residents have tried to compromise but Network Rail has resolutely refused to do so and assumed that its demands, backed up by well recorded threats, would be met. This is an utter disgrace and smacks of gross negligence and arrogance on the part of Network Rail. It claims that safety is at the fore but has itself deemed the gates as being of low risk and there has only been one incident at the crossing in the past 10 years that involved a vehicle coming into contact with (not crashing into) the gates. So I ask what relevance has the pledge that safety will increase by 63% with new barriers got, particularly when one considers that both people and animals will easily be able to access the track with the proposed new system, whereas the current gates make such access extremely difficult? This is not about safety, but rather standardisation and cost cutting and I personally challenge Network Rail to prove otherwise. I absolutely do not believe in preserving anything just because it is old (and that includes me), but this is the last remaining example of such a Victorian railway complex remaining in Sussex and it is Network Rail’s affirmed intent to destroy any others that remain in the UK. The blame for all this lies totally with Network Rail and its cavalier attitude. Not only does it owe a profuse apology to Plumpton, but it should be looking towards paying compensation to residents and businesses. Whoever is ultimately responsible for overseeing this fiasco should be removed from post. One former Plumpton resident has suggested that a bridge should be built over the railway line, but perhaps the railway line should be closed while a railway bridge is built over the road which has possibly been in existence since Roman times, albeit as a track. Alas both suggested solutions would probably result in a road closure for perhaps 20 years. Thanks to Network Rail there is no longer a simple answer. Will the company hang its head in shame? No way. Plumpton pales into insignificance when compared with the fiasco at London Bridge but perhaps it indicates that NR as an entity is not fit for purpose any more than British Rail was. Regretfully the company has now commissioned a further survey to prove that its previous low risk assessment was false. We have also witnessed another failure at Cooksbridge hi-tech crossing that has placed routine and lives further at risk. A public meeting to be organised by NR has failed to be announced. These comments reflect opinions that I receive by email, texts, phone calls and people knocking at my door. We are all suffering as individuals and businesses. Network Rail is the sole culprit of such misery.

DOES APATHY REIGN?: We have lost local village activities of late because of lack of support and now both the horticultural society and Plumpton Players, that have both brought the community together and provided great community activity, are under threat of extinction. People claim that they are very busy and under great pressure, but has this not always been the case? It would appear that Plumpton is rapidly becoming a dormitory where people can sleep, grab the occasional meal (or grab a McDonalds on the way home) then hop on to the train to London or wherever. Many claim that they live here because of the community spirit, but evidence suggests that such a spirit is sadly lacking unless other people are prepared to take on responsibility for organising activities and then their success depends upon whether or not the Apathy Society members can be bothered to turn out. We have had a thriving community in the past, a few are trying to keep that spirit alive, but I am afraid that the majority are apathetic. Do, please, prove my cynicism wrong. I’ll happily eat humble pie if anyone knows how to cook it.

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