The campaign to re-open a train station in Ilkeston has taken a big leap forward with the Transport Secretary naming the project as one of three likely to win funding.
Earlier this year, Derbyshire County Council made a bid for £4.6 million to a £20 million New Stations Fund for the remaining cash to build the project.
MP Patrick McLoughlin announced on Tuesday that Ilkeston was one of three ‘front runners’ out of a total of 14 bids the Government received from all over the country.
The campaign to bring a station back to Ilkeston has never been so close to success. Mr McLoughlin will reveal the bid winners in May.
MP Jessica Lee, who alongside the Advertiser has been campaigning hard for the station, said she was ‘delighted’.
“For me, the case for reopening a station at Ilkeston has always been compelling,” said Miss Lee, who provided the inspiration to the Government to set up the New Stations Fund.
“This will bring visitors to the town and allow residents, particularly young people, the opportunity to get to Nottingham in 15mins, helping with work and training.”
She added that this was ‘the break-through’ in making the project a reality.
Here at the Advertiser, we too have been campaigning hard, presenting a petition of 1,500 signatures to the Government in 2011.
Editor Martin Hutton said: “This is a big step but there is still hard work ahead.”
Cabinet member for transport at the county council, Cllr Simon Spencer, said he was ‘absolutely thrilled for the people of Ilkeston’ –the largest town on the rail network without a station.
Erewash Borough Council gave £100,000 towards the £6.6 million needed, alongside £2 million from the county council.
Erewash leader Cllr Chris Corbett said: “I should like to pay tribute to our MP Jessica Lee, to our Conservative county council, to all the residents who supported this campaign and of course the Ilkeston Advertiser which did so much to ensure those in power knew the strength of feeling in Ilkeston.”
Erewash Labour Group offered a ‘cautious welcome’.
Cllr Frank Phillips said he was ‘pleased’, but added: “Questions remain over the timing of the announcement, which appears to be nakedly party-partisan, coming as it does on the very day that the county council elections are called.”