Scores vote in EADT rail ballot

By David LennardSCORES of people have already cast their votes in the East Anglian Daily Times' ballot on the issue that has split north Suffolk.The Southwold Railway Society's £6.

By David Lennard

SCORES of people have already cast their votes in the East Anglian Daily Times' ballot on the issue that has split north Suffolk.

The Southwold Railway Society's £6.5million plan to revive the historic narrow rail link between Southwold and Halesworth has sparked interest from far and wide.

The EADT feels it is vital residents have an opportunity to add their voice to the consultation that will decide if the proposal continues to a full planning application.

The 8.5-mile track through the Blyth Valley would see the two towns linked by rail for the first time since 1929 when the original line closed.

Southwold Town Council is against the proposal, while Halesworth town councillors think the scheme should be supported.

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More than 200 people have protested against the rail link before a meeting of Southwold Town Council and there have been more than 300 letters of objection sent to the Town Hall.

But a survey by the railway society of public opinion on the proposal showed more than 80% of those responding were in favour of the steam trains making a return to the area.

The rail link will not only affect people living in Halesworth and Southwold as it will have a big impact on residents living in villages along the route, including Wenhaston, Blythburgh and Reydon.

Blythburgh, in particular, would be affected as the proposed route would see the track installed close to the village's famous Holy Trinity Church.

There are also plans for a park-and-ride scheme with a restaurant on land close to Toby's Walks picnic site on the edge of the village.

As part of the proposal announced by the railway society, there would also be a level crossing for the new line on the only road in and out of Southwold at Mights Bridge.

A coupon giving residents an opportunity to take part in the EADT ballot is printed in today's paper.

Completed coupons can be handed in at David Patrick's newsagents in Market Place, Halesworth, John Purdy's newsagents in High Street, Southwold, or Reydon Post Office.

Coupons will also be accepted at the EADT office, 25 Market Place, Halesworth, or by post to the EADT Newsdesk, 30 Lower Brook Street, Ipswich, IP4 1AN.

John Bennett, chairman of the railway society, has said the scheme can only progress if it has the support of the public.

We want as many people as possible to take part in the ballot to give a full picture of local opinion on this issue.

The results will be passed on to Southwold Railway Society, Southwold Town Council and Halesworth Town Council.