Mayor holds private meeting to consider southern EWR routes

1 Feb 2024
Intercity train at Bedford Station

The Conservative Mayor is holding a private meeting, away from the public’s view, to consider alternate East West Rail southern routes. Bedford Borough Liberal Democrats have demanded that the Mayor “lifts the veil of secrecy” and publishes the alternate routes he is considering ahead of the meeting. Residents in Kingsbrook, Elstow, Shortstown, Cotton End, Willington and the Priory Country Park area could be impacted by these proposed routes.

Liberal Democrat Group Leader Councillor Henry Vann said “There is a shocking lack of transparency. The Mayor has used taxpayers' money to pay consultants to examine these routes and is now failing residents of Bedford Borough by not making the routes available to the public.

“The Conservatives’ secret meeting is an insult to residents in Kingsbrook, Riverfield, Elstow, Shortstown, Cotton End and Willington. What makes this worse is that the Mayor could’ve brought this report to Full Council just 24 hours later, as a matter of public record, but he has deliberately chosen to hold this private meeting away from the public eye. There is a complete disregard for transparency and proper scrutiny of the Mayor and his decisions. The maps must be made public now.”

Bedford Borough Liberal Democrats had plans to hold the Mayor to account on this issue at Full Council on 7th February. There are concerns that some of the routes the Mayor is considering will run through his proposed leisure village.

Shortstown Ward Councillor Leigh Coombs said “My residents need the Mayor to lift the veil of secrecy. They are wondering what is going on. Last year we had the government announce the confirmation of Route E as the selected route alignment north of Bedford. This was following years of consultation and consideration of the other routes, including a number of southern options – all of which were rejected by EWR. So residents are rightly confused by what he’s up to. As 2 out of 3 of his southern routes go through his proposed Leisure Village, only his route through Elstow, Shortstown, Cotton End, Cople and Cardington remains! Residents deserve to know if they should be worried about their homes being impacted, but the Mayor is dodging public scrutiny and hiding in private meetings.”