Another delay to town’s station bid

sp91172   Jessica Lee MP & Peter Hemmett at County Hall to talk about Ilkeston station
sp91172 Jessica Lee MP & Peter Hemmett at County Hall to talk about Ilkeston station

LEADING county councillors still need to agree how they will secure the money for a train station in Ilkeston – despite promises that officers would advise the cabinet of the preferred funding option this week.

Following a meeting between Advertiser editor Peter Hemmett, Erewash MP Jessica Lee and representatives from Derbyshire County Council in August, we revealed that officers would be in a position to pick the best way forward at a cabinet meeting on Tuesday.

But despite that pledge, the plan has been delayed again as officers have set out the four options but still need to go away and prepare another report to pick the best one.

As we revealed following our meeting with the county council, £1m of funding has already been secured through the Greater Nottingham New Growth Point funding source.

The first of the four options to find the remaining £4m could be to apply to the £1.5bn Major Scheme fund from the Government’s Department for Transport.

But this would not be available until after 2014-14, which would mean the loss of the £1m already set aside and would be more than a year after the planned opening date.

Another option would be to borrow the cash ensuring that the loan could be repaid in the future on the basis that nearby business rates, paid to Erewash and Broxtowe borough councils, would increase as a result of opening the station.

A controversial third option would see the council to withdraw completely as promoter of the station and concentrate on influencing and lobbying the decision – leaving the funding issue to be figured out by the Department for Transport and Network Rail.

The drawback here is that it creates even greater uncertainty over whether the station would ever be built.

The final option would be to take the money from the county council’s £8.6m transport allocation for the next two years. This would mean half of the council’s budget for transport would be spent on just one project leaving little cash for other projects across the county.

Despite the latest delay, councillors reaffirmed their commitment to build the train station in Ilkeston by December 2013.

Members said they were ‘disappointed’ that two previous options to raise the cash, including one from the Regional Growth Fund, had failed.

West Hallam councillor Carol Hart told the meeting that the plan was still very popular in Ilkeston and praised the work of Erewash MP Jessica Lee and the Advertiser in keeping the campaign alive.

She said: “Despite these setbacks, I am very pleased that we have got this paper out there.”

Cllr Simon Spencer, who is in charge of highways and transport at Derbyshire County Council, told the meeting that he was due to meet with transport chiefs in Derbyshire and South Yorkshire this week and next week to discuss the plans.

“I will be looking very carefully at how each of those could contribute towards the scheme,” he said.

n See page six to read editor Peter Hemmett’s opinion piece about the meeting.