Deeping St James signal box plans are ‘not good enough’

Councillors Judy Stevens and Phil Dilks at the public meeting about Deeping St James signal box
Councillors Judy Stevens and Phil Dilks at the public meeting about Deeping St James signal box
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Campaigners fighting to save their signal box told Network Rail their response was “not good enough” at a public meeting.

More than 40 people packed into Deeping St James Scout Hut on Tuesday.

They were joined by a representative from Network Rail, the company which wants to demolish the signal box in Station Road, Deeping St James, to make way for new automated barriers.

The work is part of a £280m modernisation of the Great Northern Great Eastern line between Doncaster and Peterborough.

But people in Deeping St James believe the 19th century building is a historic landmark in the village, particularly as it is the only place where you can still see a sign with the village’s original name, St James Deeping.

Communications officer for Network Rail Mark Walker told people at the meeting: “Over the last couple of months, the Deeping St James community has been very active on the future of St James Deeping signal box and we understand your desire to protect part of the heritage of your community.

“Since the campaign started, a lot of people in our project team have been trying to devise some sort of solution to ensure that the signal box, or some elements of it, are transferred into your custody.

“Although we will demolish the structure, we will be donating the bricks as a kind of kit for you to rebuild the signal box in a location of your choice.”

But Deeping St James parish councillor Judy Stevens, who chaired the meeting alongside county councillor Phil Dilks, said: “I’m really glad that Network Rail has taken on the thoughts and concerns of the people of Deeping St James and I thank them very much for coming up with a plan which we all appreciate them doing.

“But it’s not good enough and we’ve all made our position very clear.”

Deepings MP John Hayes (Con) also attended the meeting and delivered a letter from Minister of State for Transport Baroness Kramer, who promised to review Network Rail’s plans to see if the signal box could be kept intact.

After the meeting Mr Hayes said: “The case I made to the minister was if this is happening in Deeping St James, it must be happening in other places as well.

“I totally support this campaign and I don’t want to see any historic structures destroyed, damaged and lost.

“If we don’t fight this, next time it will be something dearer that we’ll lose.

“You have my support and I’ll take this to the very top.”

Coun Dilks (Lab) added: “Network Rail have failed to make a sound engineering reason for demolishing a much-loved local landmark.

“I’m convinced that railway modernisation can be achieved without sweeping away our heritage.”