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Fears over safety of railway crossing do not add up, say conservation group

By WMNlynbarton  |  Posted: September 11, 2013

Long Rock railway crossing

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The controversial closure of a shortcut to a Cornish beach has enraged a national conservation group who have dismissed safety fears as groundless.

The railway crossing at Long Rock, on the outskirts of Penzance, was shut by Cornwall Council last year after a coroner examining the death of a woman hit by a train raised concerns.

It prompted a backlash from local residents who say the loss of the thoroughfare near the Mexico Inn, which is popular with walkers, means an alternative route of a kilometre.

They have now received support from Britain’s oldest national conservation group, the Open Spaces Society, who argue there is scant evidence it is dangerous.

Kate Ashbrook, spokesman for the group, urged Cornwall Council to think again.

“There is little if any evidence that the crossing is unsafe,” she said.

“The council has made no comparison with the danger of the alternative route, the busy narrow Marazion road, which walkers would be forced to use if the crossing were closed.

“Walkers use the crossing regularly, at all times of year, and it is immensely important to the people of Long Rock and visitors from further afield, providing a direct route to and from the beach.”

Ms Ashbrook said the Open Spaces Society, would be backing the Friends of Long Rock Mexico Crossing (FLRMC), in its bid to “save this ancient way from closure.”

The campaign to keep the crossing open was launched last year following an inquest into the death of 73-year-old Jeanette Nicholls in 2011.

Her death was the second on the crossing and followed five near misses and two other incidents to have occurred on the line since June 2007.

Cornwall’s assistant coroner Barrie Van Den Berg made the recommendation that the crossing was closed in favour of a level crossing further down the line.

Cornwall Council is currently consulting on the closure of the crossing and around 90 objections have been made.

Rob Nance, chairman of FLRMC, said the support they have received from outside Cornwall has given their campaign a much needed boost.

“We are really glad that such a big organisation is supporting us,” he said.

“The Ramblers Association also support us, as well as lots of ex-residents of Long Rock and even holidaymakers.

“It all helps our campaign.”

Peter Marsh, Cornwall Council’s director of environment, said; “Having carefully considered all the representations made, the council proposes to make an order to ‘stop up’ the public footpath at Mexico crossing.

“A further opportunity to make representations to the Council will be available on making of the Order.”

He said the matter may then be referred to the Secretary of State for a final decision.

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