DEFIANT community leaders have launched a petition to save Castleford’s long-awaited £14.5m bus and rail interchange from government spending cuts.
Coun Mark Burns-Williamson, chairman of Castleford Town Centre Partnership, Pontefract and Castleford MP Yvette Cooper and Coun Tony Wallis are urging residents to pledge their support to the ambitious scheme to build a state-of-the-art transport hub in the town, which is facing the axe after the Department for Transport announced it was reviewing its funding.
They want townsfolk to back their campaign to save the project by signing a petition, which will be presented to government chiefs before they make their decision in the next month.
Coun Burns-Williamson said: “This scheme is absolutely crucial and would be a catalyst for regeneration and attracting new businesses to that part of town.
“It’s worrying to think its funding could be cut and we will do everything we can to keep the project on track.
“Almost ten years of hard work by the partnership, Wakefield Council and West Yorkshire Metro have gone into this scheme, which is vital for the town in providing desperately-needed modern public transport facilities on one of the few sites where a properly integrated scheme can be delivered.
“Everything is ready to go at the site – all the necessary agreements with landowners have been made and there has been extensive public consultation and support.
“One of the aims of the scheme is to allow the reopening of the route back out to York and the east coast, which would provide a much-needed boost to the long-suffering passengers and public who deserve to see this project get the support it needs and was promised.
“We are all determined to fight for the delivery of this long-overdue facility for Castleford and hope residents will support our campaign.”
In November, representatives from Metro and the council, which are leading the project, met chiefs from the government department to discuss how they could ensure the interchange is among the schemes to be given the go ahead.
Government ministers last November announced they would need to “undertake further analysis” before making a decision on whether to give cash to the project.
Ms Cooper said: “Local people were promised a new rail and bus station and it would be outrageous for the new government to break that promise so late in the day when all the work has been done.
“Cutting this now will just cost us more through fewer jobs, less business and higher unemployment for Castleford.”
To sign the petition – or to receive copies to distribute – call Ms Cooper’s office on 01977 553388 or the town centre partnership on 01977 550678 before Monday January 24. Visit www.pontefractandcastleford express.co.uk to sign a copy of the petition online.