Railway idea not ‘pie in the sky’

PUBLISHED: 13:23 03 April 2013 | UPDATED: 13:23 03 April 2013

Honiton Town Council discuss a potential project to restore railway lines in the town.

A Honiton councillor has urged the council not to ‘kill off’ proposals to restore old railway lines running through the town.

The matter was raised during the town council’s monthly meeting after it received a letter from local resident Alan Cameron.

Mr Cameron has written to Prime Minister David Cameron and the Department for Transport about a potential project to restore the lines.

Councillor Roy Coombs said: “There is an opportunity here.”

He explained railway lines had been restored in other areas including West Somerset and East Somerset.

Cllr Coombs added: “It has paid off in other parts of the country why would it not pay off in this area?

“There is some mileage here – it is not a pie in the sky idea. If the council says it has no time it will kill it off.”

Cllr Coombs felt the project would help reduce traffic in the town and benefit the local economy.

The Mayor, Councillor David Foster, felt such a project should be undertaken by groups in the community rather than “burden” more officers at the town council with more work at this time.

Councillor John Zarczynski said these types of railway projects were good tourist attractions and that funding had been made available for a similar project in Swanage.

He said: “This proposal should receive the council’s backing. Whoever wants to proceed with this and take this further can see what funding can be obtained.”

Councillor Vernon Whitlock added: “I take the opposite view – this is something that is completely unrealistic.

“Swanage railway was there already and there was already a link to the main line.

“This is something far beyond any bounds possible in my lifetime even if it goes on the wish list. It is in the same category as me having a full head of hair – I don’t think it is going to happen.

“As a town council we have got lots of issues to deal with, aspects like economic development of High Street and the community centre. We have to meet the needs of financial difficulties in the town.”

Councillor Vivienne Ash said the town council should be looking to the future and said there were enough railway enthusiasts that could run with such a project and the council should give them support if they wished to pursue it.

Councillor Whitlock added: “The Feniton line has had houses built on across where the junction went. I really have great concern about the town council office spending any time on this when they are already overloaded with work.”

Councillor Coombs said: “We should not try to kill this dead it could be considered in the long term.”

He said the communities and other councils in other towns and villages affected could work together.

It was agreed to support the proposal to keep it open for further investigation.

The proposal to restore the old railway line from Honiton to Sidmouth was previously discussed last year when the council was drawing up a ‘wish list’ as part of the infrastructure community levy.

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