East West Rail campaigners confront Mayor Dave on his village tour

Mayor Dave Hodgson faces EWR campaigners on his Village Tour

Mayor Dave Hodgson’s annual Village Tour has given rail campaigners the opportunity to share their views on the East West Rail’s Route E option, which passes through the north Bedfordshire villages.

The 2021 Village Tour began last Saturday (18 September) with the Mayor meeting residents in Elstow, Kempston Hardwick, Stewartby, Cople, Willington and Great Barford. It was delayed due to the pandemic and continues until Sunday 10 October.

It’s the first time residents in the north Bedfordshire villages have been able to let their feelings be known ‘face-to-face’.

Mayor Dave Hodgson said: “I am glad that we are in a position to go ahead. I will be visiting villages across Bedford Borough to listen to residents’ views and answer any questions.”

Details of the tour can be found at mayordave.org.uk/VillageTour2021.

A number of residents opposed to East West Rail Company’s Route E attended the opening weekend’s events in Renhold, Wilden and Ravensden.

A spokesperson for campaign group BFARe told the Bedford Independent: “It is clear that people do not want the train line in the North.

“Mayor Dave struggled at times with the public anger and questioning his decision to support route E and all that goes with it. Whilst asked several times to rescind his support he is still not willing to do so.”

The Mayor told the Bedford Independent that it had been good to meet residents at each of the nine villages he visited over the weekend and reiterated the Council’s response to the East West Rail Company’s consultation.

“A number of issues were raised from Coronavirus and the need for vaccinations to more localised issues relevant to individual villages and residents, and of course East West Rail,” he said.

“I know a lot of residents in the villages along the proposed East West Rail routes north of Bedford are concerned about the route options and electrification.

“The Council has submitted its response to the Government’s East West Rail Company’s consultation including reiterating that the route need only be four-track coming out of Bedford Midland station negating the need for any homes needing to be demolished in the Poets area and the need for the line to be electrified from the very start.

“We are now awaiting the Government’s East West Rail Company announcement of the route alignment and the next phase of the consultation.”

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