Bedford’s Mayor accused of dodging a question on East West Rail’s northern route

Mayor Dave
Mayor Dave Hodgson

Bedford’s mayor has been accused of not answering a resident’s question on East West Rail’s northern route.

During Wednesday’s Full Council Meeting (22 March) she said she had not had a response when she asked the mayor on Facebook whether he would withdraw his support for East West Rail (EWR) if the six-track option goes ahead.

Marie-Jo Pace-Maund said: “A few weeks ago our local councillor, Colleen Atkins, wrote to residents in Poets reinforcing that she was opposed to the demolition of homes in our area.

“In addition to this, and for the first time, she wrote to say that she would withdraw her support of the northern route if EWR decided that six tracks were needed.

“On 16 March, you mayor Hodgson posted the BBC’s update from the 2023 budget stating that the Bedford to Cambridge leg of the route would be allocated funds.

“In your personal comment, you declared that you had always made clear that the council does not support the six-track proposal requiring the demolition of homes north of Midland Road station,” she said.

“I posted a comment as follows, ‘however, you have not stated that you would withdraw your support if the proposed plan was for six and not four tracks’.

“To which you did not respond,” she said, “would you please respond to the question that I posted on Facebook?” she asked.

Bedford mayor, Dave Hodgson (Liberal Democrats), replied: “I have met with the chief executive of East West Rail and I continue to press for a decision.

“[The delay] puts the people in Poets in an unenviable and a terrible situation, this has been going on for almost two years.

“We continue to say that these decisions need to be taken, we’re told now it will be late May and we need to do that because it is unfair on the residents.

“I continue to say that we only need four tracks, there are four tracks from Bedford all the way down to London. For 800 yards we don’t need eight tracks.

“We all wait for the government’s decision and we will actually respond when the government’s decision comes,” he said.

Ms Pace-Maund said: “That actually doesn’t answer the question.

“Which was, if the government’s decision and if EWR’s proposal based on their structural surveys are that six tracks are necessary, will you, as the mayor, continue to support the northern route?

“That was the question,” she said.

The Local Democracy Reporting Service asked the mayor’s office for a statement on why the question wasn’t answered.

A spokesperson said the mayor did answer the question – there will be a response once the government’s decision is made.

by John Guinn
Local Democracy Reporter