People living south of the Plumpton Level Crossing will find out this week whether they have to continue their five to eight mile journey by road to take their children to school.
Members of Lewes District Council’s planning committee will meet tonight (Wednesday, September 30) to debate whether to give planning consent for the historic level crossing gates to be taken down and replaced with modern automatic barriers.
The village has been in uproar since it was announced that the gates were to go. Reg Stone, vice chairman of Plumpton Parish Council said: “Throughout years of planning Network Rail has shown a ruthless determination to get its own way come what may, whatever others think, and with absolutely no concern for our heritage. Its methods have been bullying and arrogant to the nth degree.
“The fact that they have a date planned and road closure orders in place for this month to complete this operation, despite the fact that consent has not been granted, demonstrates just how the thugs operate.”
On Tuesday morning this week Reg Stone confirmed the crossing was now closed and work to take down the gates and replace them was going ahead, although permission had still not been given. Consequently Plumpton Lane remains closed for a minimum of two weeks and the closure could be permanent.
He said Network Rail have said if LDC does not agree to the removal of the gates, then the lane will be closed permanently.
Reg Stone went on: “Network Rail should hang its head in shame over its despicable conduct. Safety has been the big issue and Network Rail’s worst safety record seems to apply at unmanned level crossings. yet it has declared Plumpton’s crossing as being low risk. The company obviously has the intention to ride roughshod over everyone and this has been amply demonstrated.”
In the meantime parents living on the South Downs side of the crossing have to use Streat, Novington or Spatham lanes to access the north end of Plumpton Lane then drive southwards to the primary school. Access to the racecourse from the south is also blocked.
But Network Rail says it had lengthy discussions with the Parish Council about its plans. “We have taken many factors into consideration in making this decision including the volume of traffic in the area on race days. The current technology dates back to the 19th century and we will be replacing it with 21st century technology which is safer, more reliable and more cost-effective.”
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