Councillor labels plan to re-open Wisbech to March rail as ‘madness’ with money better spent on roads and young unemployed

Cllr Gordon Gillick. Picture: Steve Williams Cllr Gordon Gillick. Picture: Steve Williams

Saturday, March 29, 2014
2:46 PM

A Wisbech county councillor opposed to the reopening of the rail line to March says the £50million or more cost is “madness”.

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Cllr Martin Curtis. Picture: Steve Williams.Cllr Martin Curtis. Picture: Steve Williams.

A Wisbech county councillor opposed to re-opening of the rail line to March says the £50m or more cost is “madness”.

Councillor Gordon Gillick, one of three UKIP councillors elected in Wisbech last year, said the money would be better spent on roads or helping young unemployed.

“Did you know for instance that in Wisbech 46 per cent of the 18 to 25 year-olds are out of work?” he said. “That ought to be someone’s priority surely.”

Cllr Gillick said: “It would be madness to resurrect the ancient railway from Wisbech to March. Times have changed! Nowadays, cutting through a landscape that is criss crossed with public and service roads would create chaos.”

But outgoing leader of Cambridgeshire County Council Martin Curtis criticised Cllr Gillick and said that “once built the line will wipe its feet operationally and will work.”

He said the rail line would open up the potential for commuting to Cambridge where, in coming years, up to 45,000 new jobs will be created.

Cllr Curtis said the initial capital cost of £12m- now expected to be £50m- was never realistic but we should put the costs into figures.

“What it will cost probably equates to half a mile of tunnelling for the HS2 railway and that makes it sound more realistic,” he said.

Cllr Curtis said Wisbech “needs better than what the UKIP councillors have to offer- they need to either come up to speed or recognise they are not doing the job and stand down”.

But on the March rail link Cllr Gillick remains adamant it is unlikely to happen with the number of level crossings needed and a possible rail bridge over the A47 putting it beyond reach.

“On flat ground such as we have in the Fens, road and rail are at odds with each other,” he said.

“It is a common experience to find oneself sitting in a long line of traffic at a level crossing, watching a four million pound train passing by with less than a dozen, heavily subsidised passengers on board.

“Passenger rail travel has not covered its costs for mover a hundred years.”

Rail travel, said Cllr Gillick, needed vast subsidies “which over-spent governments take out a pay day loan from interest sharks and then expect you to pay back through your taxes for generations to come.

“In any case this railway idea was never more than a fantasy proposal, as it has had no real money allotted to it”

He said: “It is in fact just a promotional exercise to placate the poorer people in the north of the county while huge sums are actually being spent in the rich south.

“Road transport has become the engine for our national economy in recent decades. It provides personal freedom, flexible workings hours 24/7 and is an independent, profitable, self funding system that generates tens of billions in taxes for wasteful governments to squander.”

Cllr Gillick added: “The Fenland area has 50 or more firms of hauliers who deliver our fine local products hourly throughout the year to the nation.

“Just build us proper roads and dual the A47 and there will be no need for these patronising fairy tales about railways.”

On Tuesday the county council passed a motion in support of the rail link but Cllr Gillick was one of those who abstained in the vote.

6 comments

  • He can't oppose it that much if he abstained from the vote. Do your job Cllr and vote yes or no. Don't be a chicken and abstain

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    wilcochris

    Saturday, March 29, 2014

  • I totally agree with the comments made earlier about Gillick. Having had some knowledge about the man over a number of years he is as bombastic now has he always has been. His opinions are not worth the paper they are written on, he should step down and get him self a "proper" job, however, I some how think that this will; not be the case.

    Report this comment

    Bolehillguy

    Thursday, April 3, 2014

  • Cllr Gillick is well out of touch with Britain in 2014 and epitomises why Wisbech has been without a rail facility since 1968. Thanks to people with narrow minded views like his, we are still waiting to join the train to paradise and prosperity. Thank goodness that we now have some forward thinking people who can see the potential of a commercial railway to Wisbech, rather than the well meaning but misguided people who say that a heritage line is our only hope.

    Report this comment

    nene-sidings

    Thursday, April 3, 2014

  • How is this ridiculous man even allowed to have a view published let alone represent his party as a councillor.

    Report this comment

    Wisbech

    Saturday, March 29, 2014

  • I believe that as part of wisbech 2020 vision we are starting to finally realise the ambition and scope that has been created by councillor Curtis as well as all the previous councillors.When the people of Wisbech vote for their next councillor just remember who stood up to be counted not UKIP I suspect.

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    richard bell

    Sunday, March 30, 2014

  • If Cllr Gillick really is so worried about the local unemployed then he should take off his blinkers and look at what has happened elsewhere. Wherever other railways have reopened, they have acted as a catalyst to regenerate dying towns and created hundreds of new jobs. Nearly every railway that's reopened in the last 10 years is carrying 3 or 4 times the number of passengers originally projected, and are hugely popular with most of the general public. If only this area had more positive thinkers like Cllr Curtis and fewer negative ones, this area might start to get back on its feet.

    Report this comment

    Citizen of EUSSR

    Saturday, March 29, 2014

The views expressed in the above comments do not necessarily reflect the views of this site

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