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Network Rail have closed our local level crossing  named "Suggitts lane level crossing" in Cleethorpes N E Lincs,  Not only did they close the crossing without public consultation or considering the needs of local residents, but haven't taken into consideration the impact the closure has had on local businesses too.

Network rail are hiding behind stories made by themselves of apparent misuse and near misses on the crossing,   and resorted to take a handful of pictures of people crossing the crossing, with no proof within the pictures of near misses or even misuse.

This crossing is a small crossing at the end of a lane,  the pathway across the crossing leads to our resorts sea wall and coastline,  the crossing has been open for over 156 years and has never had any accidents or fatalities in all of this time, the crossing is approx 3/4 of a mile from our local train station in Cleethorpes, so is impossible for trains to be going at great speed,  the limit is approx 30 mph at the crossing point coming into the station and outbound, In their reasons for closure as well as the apparent misuse, they stated that the trains were travelling at 60 mph and there were over 72 trains  that pass by daily and that  there are also freight trains that pass the crossing,  they have now taken this back as there are approx 50 trains per day, some days not as many,  and certainly no freight trains and as said the speed, is not 60mph but 30mph.

 From speaking with them at a local public information meeting ( not public consultation) the week before the crossing closure, Network rail were clutching at straws,  they used every excuse they could to justify the closure. 

On a page on their own website, under a heading saying " HOW WE MAKE OUR DECISION BEFORE CLOSURE OF A LEVEL CROSSING "  (or words to that effect )  it states that they have to do a public consultation, which they haven't done, it also says they have to consult with stakeholders again not done,  and they have to take into consideration the needs of the community, certainly not done.

They have to do a Public interest test, which states that Network rail have to leave an adequate access point for ALL members of the community, to be able to access the North Promenade, but also have to take into consideration people with disabilities  and the elderly .

None of this has been done at all, we have quite a number of residents  who this has had such a massive impact on, due to the factors above.

Network rail have stated that their adequate access point is a bridge named " Fuller St Bridge " this bridge has in total 77 steps and is a very high and very old railway bridge this is approx again 3/4 of a mile away from the crossing  there are 45 steps that begin on an actual street, not a pathway but onto a road, the other 42 steps on the other side of the bridge come down onto wasteland ( old sidings)  its full of long grass and on damp days is very very muddy, and slippy and dangerous as are the bridge steps once on the wasteland there is a steep embankment to climb up and the sea wall to climb over,  its more like an agility course.

As you can appreciate this is very difficult for  any resident young or old, but for people with disabilities or elderly or residents with ongoing illness this is their worst nightmare, not only has their lifestyle and freedom to access the prom area been taken away, but they are not able to climb the steps to the bridge or once over the bridge tackle the assault course at the other side.

For instance we have an Elderly man aged 90 years old that is a local resident,  every Sunday for many many years hes used the crossing to stroll across and see his friends on the promenade also friends that work in the local shops there, this is his day out that he has enjoyed every week,  this poor man is now having to get over the footbridge ( covered in mud and dog mess )  by sitting on the steps and shuffling up the  steps one by one on his bum, this poor man shouldn't have to resort to this, its either do this or miss out on something hes done for many years, this is one example of how the closure has affected a resident, there are many other residents, with a wide range of  disabilities and illnesses that stop them from going over the bridge and across the wasteland to the prom, many are wheelchair bound or need use of mobility scooter.

Other people that are affected are  also the families that enjoy  a walk to the prom and beach areas but cannot carry their prams over the footbridge, although we have seen some parents carrying their prams with baby's in,( doesn't bear thinking about if they missed their step )  we also have families with cycles,   wanting to use the local cycle hub and  cycle along the coastline as this is the most safest way to take the family on a bike ride, as opposed to the main road,  again families have changed their minds and decided against cycling along the prom as they would rather cycle along the coastline than a main road, on the other hand there are families that have struggled with carrying their bikes over the 77 steps of the footbridge and young children struggling with their heavy bikes on the steps which is an accident waiting to happen.

This is also the same as Anglers they are not able to fish there anymore as they cannot climb the 77 steps of the footbridge,with their fishing tackle and cannot walk the 1.7 miles round trip with the fishing gear, again missing out on the fresh air and socialising with their Friends and family.

The elderly are restricted for the same reasons as the people with disabilities,  this has left them isolated and lonely, Network rail hasn't considered the mental health and well being of residents and how the closure will affect them.

Then we have the local businesses, one shop has had to open their newsagent shop  an hour later in the mornings as the footfall has significantly dropped, as well as profits, businesses along the North Promenade have also noticed that compared to last year the footfall and profits is as low as 50% difference, one business owner has said that if the crossing doesn't open within the next month or so, then some businesses may be forced to close.

Network rail should compensate for any lack of business they are all suffering by since the crossing closure, as well as compensating for a drop in house prices in the immediate area to the crossing.

We would urge all of the above named  to rethink what impact this has had to the community,    and for the Secretary of state for Transport and Rail minister to intervene,    we as a community and also as a community group within the area,  could do our bit and help spread awareness of the dangers of misusing the crossing, and  of how to use and cross the crossing safely, we could do our own campaigns to do this, involving running local competitions to design safety posters, we could involve  local schools,  and also run these and place the posters through our online community groups,  please consider putting in other safety measures first  such as a a stop  / go light system or sirens that could ring when a train is  approaching , or a holding area at the crossing gates so that a barrier comes down but leaves a holding area for pedestrians, there are many things that could be considered before permanent closure, an upgraded footbridge with ramps isn't an option as there is no space available for  this sort of upgrade, and the costs from taxpayers money is immense. 

We are also waiting for an upcoming meeting with Network rail along with our local Councillors and MP's ,  this meeting was to be of a matter of urgency 3 weeks before Easter and we are still waiting, Network rail said this is to discuss possible alternatives, although we are willing to listen to what they are, the only alternative that we can see is to put in place adequate safety measures, along with help and support from the community and campaign group.