UPDATE: Terms agreed to Â£20,000 feasibility study for bringing back Ripon's railway
The terms of a Â£20,000 study investigating the feasibility of bringing back Ripon's railway have been approved by the city council.
The project will now be put out to tender, and Coun Adrian Morgan, who has led the reinstatement campaign for 30 years, said the outcome of the feasibility study should be known by Christmas.
Representatives from Littlethorpe Parish Council attended the full meeting of Ripon City Council on August 8 where the terms were agreed, and former chairman John Edmonstone has since contacted the Gazette to express his anger and disappointment at the impact their scope could have on Littlethorpe.
The document detailing the study’s terms refers to the need to get an “estimation of the cost of acquisition and demolition of the houses that have been built on the track-bed at the former Littlethorpe crossing”.
Ripon City Council has refused to include Littlethorpe in any of its consultation for the feasibility study and reinstatement - a decision that Mr Edmonstone said disregards the opinions of the residents from the areas “most affected” by the project.
Mr Edmonstone said: “We wrote to the Ripon Gazette expressing our disappointment, and Ripon City Council then said this is a Ripon City Council matter.
“From Littlethorpe Parish Council’s point of view, the worry is that this has been going on for 30 years, led by Adrian Morgan, but in all those 30 years, there has been no consultation about this matter between Ripon City Council and Littlethorpe, which is the most affected area, together with Bishop Monkton.
“The council is discounting our views, and the terms are news to the people in those six houses.”
Coun Morgan said: “We have got to cover all contingencies, it is a long time before the routes are chosen.
“The study does include looking into the cost of purchasing and demolishing those properties if that route was chosen, but it is not a definite.
“We have got to cover all possibilities for costing.
“Littlethorpe won’t be involved in the consultation, it is not a Ripon City Council area, and Littlethorpe has not contributed funds to the feasibility study.
“But I know that a lot of people in Littlethorpe are in favour of it.”
The feasibility study will take between eight and twelve weeks to complete, and Ripon City Council agreed to underwrite £18,000 to fund the study - but the remaining £2,000 has been raised by Coun Morgan, and also comes from North Yorkshire County Council’s locality budget.
Mr Edmonstone said the project is a “waste of time”, and will continue to hold Ripon City Council to account.
He said: “My personal views are that one there is no need for a railway reinstatement at all, I think it is a waste of money.
“My views are I think similar to those of Littlethorpe Parish Council. We consider it as something of a vanity project, and we object to the cavalier way that Ripon City Council has conducted itself, saying that they regard the railway reinstatement as solely a Ripon City Council matter.
“Ripon City Council is not a planning authority like Harrogate, it has exactly same powers of any other parish council, but it just has more money to play with because of the size of the population of Ripon, and the money raised from the precept.”
Coun Morgan said: “When it comes to choosing the consultancy, we will go with the one we think is the most comprehensive - not necessarily the cheapest one for a quote, but the one that is the most beneficial.
“I am relieved that the council has agreed, my two advisers and myself have put 200 man hours into this over the last three months and had many meetings in Leeds and York about it.
“I look forward to the results of the study, hopefully by Christmas time.”
Ripon lost its way railway in March 1967 - Coun Morgan and campaigners are now waiting for the results of the feasibility study 50 years on.