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Green councillors meet rail minister and demand answers over Bristol Road station

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Green councillors Catherine Braun, Chloe Turner and Carol Kambites met with the minister of state for rail, Huw Merriman, along with MP Siobhan Baillie, to call for a decision on the campaign to reopen Stonehouse Bristol Road station, writes Sue Fenton.

The government has still not made a decision on Stroud District Council’s application, known as a Strategic Outline Business Case, to reopen the station, which was submitted in September 2022. 

The Department for Transport had promised a decision by the end of last year, and local campaigners have been very frustrated about the subsequent lack of action.

Cllr Braun, Leader of Stroud District Council, said: “We are pleased that the minister finally made good on his promises to visit Stonehouse to talk to campaigners and it was helpful to discuss the business case for the Stonehouse Bristol Road station with him, and the wider context of strategic planning for the district. Now all we need is a yes or no decision on whether the Conservative government is willing to fund the next stage of the work to develop this vital transport link.”

Cllr Turner, who chairs the stakeholder group, said: “After many years of campaigning by Stonehouse Town Council and others, we gained £50,000 from the Restoring our Railways fund to pay for the initial application. The Strategic Outline Business Case was duly submitted and since then there has been silence, despite a Green peer asking questions about this in Parliament. 

“There are a series of tests to pass in the reopening of a station, and we want to know – on behalf of everyone in Stroud District – if the government can now support us in moving to the next stage of review, or if not, what further information they need from us and our partners in the rail industry. We also want assurances that a decision is going to be made before the General Election; and we want a realistic timetable for the station being reopened.”

Cllr Kambites, who is Mayor of Stonehouse and who has been involved with the campaign for more than 10 years, said: “We asked for this visit for two reasons: to put our case to the minister, and to ask whether the government has made a decision and, if not, when they will make it. I also want to explore alternative ways forward if the Restoring Your Railways scheme won’t fund the reopening of the station.”

She added: “We were very disappointed that the minister still hadn’t decided whether we could proceed to the next stage. The re-opening of Bristol Road station would have so many advantages for Stonehouse and the Stroud valleys. We really can’t put it off any longer. Not only would it support the local economy, but it would also improve the quality of life of local people and, perhaps most importantly, would reduce the negative environmental effects of travelling to Bristol and the south-west.”

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