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Monday, 21 February 2011 (3012313)
Bill's got it wrong
by David Simister

AN AINSDALE group has this week hit back at a campaign led by travel author Bill Bryson which attacked the amount of litter surrounding the village's railway station.

Last week The Champion reported that the Campaign to Protect Rural England, of which the Notes From A Small Country author is president, had highlighted the village in a list of nationwide rail grotspots, but the Ainsdale Civic Society has now hit back at the claims, saying the station has “very little” litter.

“I read in amazement this week an article in our local paper regarding comments you made about the railway station in our village. I have to tell you that this has caused great concern and anger amongst our residents. You say that our station has been identified as one of those targeted in a legal battle to clear litter from the nation’s rail network,” said Joan Major, the society's secretary.

“Where, I must ask do you get your information from? Our station has recently been refurbished at a cost of £130,000 so that waiting rooms are enhanced for the traveler, whilst the station retains some of the Edwardian features and it is regularly cleaned and there is very little litter in evidence.

”This society is a member of CPRE but if this is how you conduct yourselves, I think our membership will be asking if we should have a rethink on this.“

The comments came after the organisation instigated a campaign to launch legal challenges called Litter Abatement Orders, which would force Network Rail to clean up litter alongside stretches of railway tracks, and mentioned Ainsdale station as one of the areas it would be targeting.

The Champion approached the CPRE for a response on the issue, who - despite specifically mentioning ”Ainsdale Station“ in their original statement launching the campaign - said that it was focusing on the tracksides on the approach to the station rather than Ainsdale station itself.

”We're very sorry that the society feels this way and that they feel that their station has been targeted unfairly,“ said Jack Neill-Hall, spokesman.

”Ainsdale Station itself is very nice and well looked after but as you approach it on the train you go through some very unpleasant and littered land. We haven't just thrown some darts at a map of the country and then picked wherever they land as stations to target, all of our case studies are in fact based on local campaigns, and in this case from a campaigner who feels very strongly about it. We are in fact very keen to work with people locally to improve their area, which is what this campaign is all about.“


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