Council need to get on track

Sir,

Bombardier’s new contract to build 130 Electrostar railway carriages is a tribute to the tremendous campaign waged by local people and their families.

This does not mean that the firm will win the Crossrail contract; or that efforts to get the Thameslink decision reversed should cease.

But the fact that the Conservative-led Government has been forced to accept that another rebuff for the people of Derbyshire is not a price worth paying, is a good start to 2012. The same cannot be said about a proposed railway station for Ilkeston

A recent edition of The Ilkeston Advertiser (December 11 2011) tells us that: MP Jessica Lee has been promised a meeting with the Transport Secretary about opening a train station in Ilkeston.

The Erewash Conservative MP pledges to inform Justine Greening about The Advertiser’s Back on Track campaign and hopes to meet Derbyshire County Council Conservative Cabinet Member Simon Spencer who pledges that: “We want to see a train station for Ilkeston and are keen to work with everyone involved to make it happen.”

Yet Derbyshire County Council’s Cabinet Minutes (September 20) state that with regard to the station: “It has not been possible to identify a source for the remaining capital funding required...”

At a meeting of Erewash Borough Council, Jessica Lee’s party committed itself to provide a station for Ilkeston but did not allocate funds for the project.

In fact, for the relevant Conservative administrations, an Ilkeston station is as flimsy as the dance of the seven veils.

They all want one, but cannot say how much it will cost; where the money will come from; what it will look like; its capacity; length of platform; size of car park; whether it will operate on fast or slow lanes and how precisely it will benefit the area.

Yet if an election looms; or a seasonal message is required, a station for Ilkeston is the ideal theme. And then, like Christmas, it is put away along with the turkey.

During her eighteen months as MP for Erewash Jessica Lee has expressed her support for a station at Ilkeston but has failed to progress the project.

She has had time to find her political feet and must now use her influence to persuade her Government and the Conservative administrations at Erewash and Derbyshire to get this project on track with a timetable; a mission statement and guaranteed dedicated funding.

Failure to do so will be a huge setback for the economic prosperity of Erewash – and also Miss Lee herself who may find that in 2015, the electoral train has left the platform – without her on board.

Helen Clark

Chair, Erewash Labour Local Government Committee.