Longton Businessman Jon Beech has contacted Pits n Pots asking us to publish his letter about Longton Railway Bridge.
There was a letter published in The Sentinel recently about Longton Bridge by Barrie Roberts. I have written to the Editor in response,
I agree that the railway bridge’s poor condition and appearance is certainly of great frustration to the local citizens and is also very detrimental to the Town of Longton’s future regeneration.
However, the Tyneside bridges he refers to are unlike ours in that they are highways structures and owned by their respective councils. In contrast, the Longton Bridge is owned by Network Rail, a private company and its maintenance is subject to its own national policies, which apparently exclude any requirement for a reasonable appearance!
I am aware that the City Council, and our own MP Rob Flello, have repeatedly strived to convince Network Rail and other influential bodies that the condition and the appearance of this bridge is most certainly not of a satisfactory standard ““ particularly given its central location in the heart of a major town such as Longton. I believe Network Rail has claimed that the cost of the Bridge’s remediation would be around £750 thousand and that it would only be prepared to contribute a small amount of this fee itself ! !. The Company also strictly restricts anyone else except its own contractors from undertaking this work, so there is limited scope for reducing the cost by using volunteers for example.
In his letter Barrie implies a common assumption that our City suffers from poor attitude and hope. As local people, perhaps we can demonstrate that we suffer from neither and by supporting Rob Flello and the Council’s efforts to convince Network Rail of the importance of improving the appearance of this iconic structure which incidentally is 30 years older than the Titanic!. I would suggest it is time to dispel this apathy myth and at the very least we the citizens of this city get together a petition headed by our local mp Rob Flello and supported by the city council to be submitted to its regulating body, the Office of Rail Regulation. Would anyone like to help me in co-ordinating such a petition?
Jon Beech, Longton
We have a long history of discussing Longton Railway Bridge here on Pits n Pots and it is one of Warrens’ favourite subjects. What do you think, should we just accept that the bridge will not be painted or should we start a campaign to try and shame Network Rail, in to spending less than £1million on refurbishing the bridge which is a gateway in to one of our towns?
To put £1 Million in to perspective, that is 1/60 of the reported overspend on the luxury Kings Cross offices for Network Rail. That is £60 Million that will never be seen by the public and has no benefit to the travelling public what so ever.
The 162 year old Longton railway bridge is due to be painted this weekend.
Unfortunately Network Rail have not relented and decided to give the bridge its first make over in some 50 years, but local artists and members of the public will be setting up their easels in Times Square between 1100 & 1500 this Saturday (7 August) and painting or sketching the bridge.
Come down to Longton and take part in what will be a really unique event ““ bring your energy, ideas and be ready to paint!
The bridge can be seen from many perspectives as a gateway to the town, so how could we make it more picturesque and welcoming?
Could it be made a focal point to give the town an enhanced sense of pride?
We want to use the bridge as a vehicle to build interest, passion and positivity within local community, so to address this structure and how it affects the morale of the town.
Last year Network Rail, who own and are responsible for maintaining the bridge, refused to paint it saying in a statement that ‘the bridge was safe and fit for purpose. Although it is in need of a lick of paint, we have to prioritise maintaining a safe and efficient railway over aesthetics. Ã‚ they suggested it would cost upwards of £1m to repaint it.’
Mick Downs of Urban Vision said, ‘Longton railway bridge is an iconic feature in the town centre, but it is in poor condition and becoming an eyesore. Local people, the City Council and the MP Rob Flello have been campaigning for a long time to get the owner, Network Rail, to stop the bridge from deteriorating further and improve its appearance. Our project aims get the message across that this kind of neglect not only brings down the quality of the town centre but also increases the cost of refurbishment in the long run.’
So if you are in or around Longton on Saturday, why not go along and paint the bridge and show how you think it could look if Network Rail could be convinced to paint it.
Network Rail have said that it has not got the funding to paint Longton Railway Bridge, claming that the job would cost around £1 million. They say that the bridge is indeed safe and fit for purpose, a fact that has never been questioned. But it stands that the last time it was painted was over 50 years ago.
The people of Longton, local councillors, and MP for Stoke on Trent South, Rob Flello, have been highlighting the state of the bridge. Mr. Flello has been concerned with the state of the bridge for at least 4 years and as brought its repair up at Westminster, which was met with ‘lots of sympathy’ from ministers involved. He told the BBC’s Staffordshire website that the ‘Buck does stop’ with Network Rail. He went on to suggest that the city council could perhaps give some money to help the track provider with costs. The council insist that the bridge is not its responsibility.
Longton town center manager, Alan Smith said on the subject that “We’ll continue working with Network Rail and continue lobbying them” (although he thought it was a waste of fine food, no he didn’t, made that one up.) He told the BBC’s Staffordshire website that her was “Engaged in commissioning a masterplan witch would be a vision to the town.” Best of luck with that one mate. He also said that Longton must “prioritise maintaining a safe and efficient railway over aesthetics.” Now, on that I can agree with him.
So over to you, Network Rail inform us its not going to fall down any time soon, its stuck tegether with bird s**t, council say its nowt do with them, and there’s still a ruddy big advert for a sex shop under it, do you think it needs a good painting?
Everyone who follows our blog will know by now that until recently I was an active member of the Labour Party. I resigned from the party because I was not happy with the direction that the Labour Elected Mayor was taking our city and also that no one from within the party would go public and distance the party from the actions of what I feel was a Mayor working on a West Midlands Labour Party agenda rather than a Stoke Labour Party agenda. Continue reading →