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From the 'Suffolk Free Press' of Thursday 29 October, 12 November 1964 and 11 February 1965
May I suggest that it would have been of great value to your readers if, in your article on the 'Stour Line Threat' on October 15, you could have made it quite clear that British Railways is far from being, as you say, "almost ready to go ahead with the proposed withdrawal of all passenger services", they do not have the final say in a decision such as this.
Any proposed closures would be referred to the Transport Users Consultative Committee and objections heard. Thereafter the minister would reserve to himself the right of final decision in the light, not only of the public hearing, but, of his broader knowledge of the area's development prospects and road and rail co-ordination.
Presented in the way it was, your article could only have conveyed the impression that a railway management decision on the Thursday after polling day had full powers of final decision. Coming at the time it did, such an impression was perhaps doubly unfortunate. But be that as it may, there is now a further issue which emerges out of your follow-up story of October 22.
In the latter you say that "now that Labour is in power one can be more optimistic about its (the line's) future. Its retention, however, can still not be regarded guaranteed".
But did you not tell us on October 15 that Mr Cornish, the Labour candidate for Saffron Walden, had said quite explicitly that by voting Labour the Stour Valley line could be saved? My Labour opponent in Sudbury and Woodbridge circulated a pamphlet to similar effect.
It is my intention to table a question to the new Labour Minister of Transport as soon as the House of Commons resumes in an endeavour to clarify the situation. Meantime, I repeat what I have frequently said in public, namely that I will do all in my power to keep passenger services functioning between Colchester and Sudbury.
KEITH STAINTON, M.P.
Sudbury and Woodbridge
29 October 1964
With the statement by Transport Minister Mr Tom Fraser in the House last week, the future of the Stour Valley railway looks assured for at least the time being.
Mr Fraser said: "While regional transport plans are being considered I shall not consent to any major closure.
"I shall accordingly consider all closure proposals against the background of future economic and population trends, taking fully into account the possible economic and social consequences, including road congestion".
Welcoming the news at the weekend, solicitor, Mr Alan Phillips, formerly an acting chairman of Sudbury Railway Action Committee commented on the letter in the Free Press by Sudbury's M.P.
"Mr Stainton's parliamentary train seems to be running just a little late", said Mr Phillips. His stated intention to table a question to the new Minister of Transport was as belated as it is now likely to be unrewarding.
"I wonder why he did not put a question to Mr Marples? He had plenty of time and opportunity but perhaps not sufficient interest".
The new minister, said Mr Phillips, made his promised statement last week and it was clear it was the government's intention now to co-ordinate all forms of transport.
This, he added, was likely to slow down implementation of the Beeching Plan.
He continued: "Mr Stainton talks about the 'final say' on closures as resting with the minister and in this regard it is interesting to note Mr Marples consented to no less than 144 closures and refused consent in only 12 cases".
12 November 1964
The Free Press understands that following recent discussions between Mr Keith Stainton M.P. and Sudbury and District Railway Action Committee Mr Stainton has agreed to table a question in the House of Commons to the Minister of Transport dealing generally with the proposed closure of the Stour Valley Railway Line.
He will endeavour to obtain from the minister a decision that the Stour Valley Line is (to use the minister's own words) "a major railway line" consent to closure of which will not be given while a Regional Transport Plan is being prepared.
11 February 1965