From the 'Suffolk Free Press' of Wednesday 10 April 1963


Labour may have to put track back

Labour Party speakers at Long Melford on Wednesday urged the public to organise petitions and protest as loudly as possible against Dr Beeching's railway plan.

Mr Frank Woodbridge, the prospective Labour candidate for Sudbury and Woodbridge, said public pressure would certainly delay the plans to close local stations, and a big volume would make the government 'stay their hand'.

He said the Beeching recommendations would take time to put into effect, and he thought it unlikely they could be put into operation within the next year.

Mr R Oakman, secretary of the Long Melford branch of the Labour Party, reminded him that a petition was organised to oppose the closure of the Lavenham line.


"Before they could get it through the lines were whipped up", he said. "We were told one week and the lines were gone the next".

The Rev Hampden Horne, a former Labour candidate for Saffron Walden, said he did not think that could happen over the country as a whole.

Asked by a member of the audience that if the plans went through before an election, and Labour got in, could they stop it, Mr Woodbridge replied: "If it comes to the question of relaying them, then we will have to go that far".

On Beeching and the railways, Mr Woodbridge said: "I do not think we can blame Dr Beeching - he was told to re-shape the railways to show a profit. But even if these drastic measures are carried out almost immediately, there is no guarantee the loss will be completely eliminated.

"I have never accepted the fact that the railways should have to pay and Japan is the only country I have heard of where they do make a profit".

He said to make a profit British Railways would have to fourfold their takings, and it had been suggested that they should cut the fares by half.

"If that is done you still may not fourfold them", he said "but if you multiply them by two or three it would considerably increase the takings".


He said if the stations were closed a much bigger amount would have to be spent on the roads. In many places there were no adequate bus shelters etc. and a great deal of money would have to be spent on those.

Mr Ted Harvey, the Constituency Party chairman, remarked, "It seems to be the object to keep death on the roads, rather than off them".

Mr Oakman said a case had arisen in Melford where one bus company were running a service to Bury St Edmunds because another had refused, and now passengers were being charged 3.5d more.

"I imagine this will happen all through the country", he said.

On the question of overspill, Mr Woodbridge said, "If we can get overspill into this part of the country we can win the seat, and the Tories know that cutting the railway will drastically affect overspill".