By Geoff Courtney
A controversial survey by an MP who opposes plans to link two heritage railways has revealed a deep divide between her and a neighbouring Member of Parliament who is fully supportive of the £4½ million project.
The email survey was carried out by former Home Secretary Amber Rudd, the Conservative MP for Hastings & Rye, and appears to illustrate her opposition to the scheme, which would see the Rother Valley Railway linked with the Kent & East Sussex Railway.
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Her decision to seek the views of her constituents on the A21 level crossing that would be part of the project has caused concern among a number of its supporters, as neither of the two railways is in her constituency.
In her survey, Ms Rudd claimed compulsory purchase orders had been served on local farmers who do not wish to sell their land to enable the link to be built, and claimed a number of residents had voiced concerns that farmers had been subjected to a great deal of strain from the pressure, influence and wealth set against them. She also claimed Network Rail closed 1100 crossings between 2009 and 2017 due to safety concerns.
“As your MP for Hastings & Rye, I want to find out how many local residents support or oppose the A21 proposed level crossing,” she wrote.
Supporters of the project who challenge her claims say compulsory purchase orders have not been served on the two farmers who do not wish to sell any of their land. They also deny the farmers have been subject to pressure, and say that the A21 level crossing has been approved by both Rother District Council and Highways England, which they believe Ms Rudd should have mentioned in her survey.
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