Network Rail faces criticism in ongoing Uppermill fence row

NETWORK Rail “don’t give a toss” according to a local councillor as the furore over Den Lane’s metal fence and widespread tree felling intensifies.

The rail operator is now under attack from three sides as campaigners continue their fight to have the 800-foot barrier in the Uppermill conservation area re-located closer to the track.

Addressing the Saddleworth Lees and District Partnership, Cllr Garth Harkness said: “So far they (NR) have been very unreasonable and effectively just stuck two fingers up to everybody else and said ‘we don’t really care’.

“They don’t seem to give a toss about what we want.

“Now, they’re talking about building fences across their whole network. What a waste of money. It’s an absolute joke.”

The Independent revealed in our July edition how Network Rail plan to erect fencing alongside the entire length of the TransPennine route in Saddleworth.

Cllr Derek Heffernan added: “We have written to Mark Carne (outgoing NR chief executive) asking him to confirm this.

“But they are collecting materials together for this new, longer length of fence, we’re told, and it’s the same stuff that’s up now.

“They have looked at his team’s idea of using quick-growing ivy to cover it.

“But the chance of that damaging the wall under will be very high.

‘So we may have a fence that is standing in mid-air because the wall underneath it has fallen down.”

A 468-name petition has been sent to Mr Carne whose final day of his four-year tenure as CEO has been confirmed as August 13, 2018.

A spokesperson for the protestors’ group said: “We are persistent and we want to make the point, we are not going away.

“Just because they ignore us doesn’t mean we will go away. They may be big and bureaucratic but they are still accountable.

“This lack of response is disrespectful. We want to know when they will move the fence.”

Oldham Council’s arboriculturist Nik Anderson has now stepped into the row and visited the area where swathes of trees and vegetation have been removed “to keep trains running safely and on time”.

The Independent understands OMBC has expressed disappointment to Network Rail at the lack of consultation and inclusion of stakeholders in some of the decision making.

Cllr Adrian Alexander, deputy Mayor of Oldham, told the District Partnership: ”Nik Anderson is looking into how the planning allowed it. He feels they did it wrong. So, just leave it at that.”

However, Cllr John Hudson added: “Some people have made it clear to me that they’re happy with the fence going up because they think it will stop people going onto the railway line.”

A spokesman for Network Rail said: “At our meeting with residents in Uppermill, we were asked by the community to consider a number of options for the area.

“We reviewed all of them and sent our views back to the Friends of Saddleworth representative and are currently awaiting feedback on which option they would like to explore.”

Oldham Council were asked to comment on July 25, 2018 but hadn’t responded when the Independent went to press on Wednesday, August 1.

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