Developer turns down second public meeting for ‘locked-out’ Northamptonshire villagers

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Developers behind the huge rail depot planned for near Northampton have declined an invitation to attend a public meeting with villagers.

Ashfield Land gave a presentation at Blisworth Village Hall on January 4 but so many people turned up that many were locked out.

And, with no public address system, those who managed to get in struggled to hear what the firm’s representative had to say.

However, despite the firm agreeing on the night that a rescheduled meeting at a bigger venue was a good idea, an invitation by the No Rail Interchange action group has been declined.

Mark Redding, who is leading the action group, said: “We went to Ashfield Land following discussion between our group and told them there was demand for a second public meeting.

“But they quite clearly don’t want to to put themselves through that and don’t feel able to answer the type of questions asked at the first meeting.

“I’d like the chance for everyone to say how they feel [in person], but that won’t be happening.”

Ashfield Land said it preferred to inform people by way of leaflets, ​which will be delivered to residential and Royal Mail-registered addresses in Blisworth, Milton Malsor and Roade by next week.

​Ben Copithorne, who presented the Rail Central information at the January 4 meeting, said residents were seeking answers that Ashfield Land did not have, as the application was not yet complete.

As a result, the company did not believe a second meeting would achieve much.

He said : “The proposals are at a very early stage and we’ll be having detailed public consultation in the spring as well as working locally to make sure we’re keeping people updated.

“The information leaflet that’s being issued this week right across Blisworth, Milton Malsor and Roade is also designed to ensure everyone with an interest in the project knows more about it in a way which is straightforward and useful.”

Ashfield Land plan to hold a formal public consultation in the spring, including public exhibitions of the proposals in neighbouring villages.

​In the meantime, the website​​ ​will be updated.​

The company is also looking to set up a local liaison group featuring parish councillors from the three villages and others.