Guest column: Safety must improve on Bassetlaw’s level crossings

John Mann MP
John Mann MP

We now have 23,000 local people who have signed the petition to reopen the children’s ward at Bassetlaw Hospital at night.

And we have offered to work with the hospital to attract new staff.

Existing staff can be reassured that we intend to ensure the future of Bassetlaw Hospital, and that cuts to breast cancer care and the children’s ward will not be acceptable.

In addition, I have repeatedly proposed the building of intermediate care housing on the hospital site, allowing a middle way between staying unnecessarily in a hospital bed and going home.

This intermediate care is very good for the patient, but also saves the NHS a lot of money.

Too many elderly people stay in hospital because they cannot manage just yet at home and my proposal is a tried and tested solution.

Readers may remember the disgraceful closure of this facility at Westwood five years ago.

We warned then that the NHS would pick up the bill and we were right.

It has emerged that what Network Rail calls a ‘suicide cluster’ has formed locally on the East Coast Main Line.

There were five suspected or confirmed suicides in the area from 2014 to 2016, including four in the space of nine months last year.

I have asked the Government what assessment they have made of the ‘suicide cluster’ and of the safety of level crossings in Bassetlaw.

At a meeting with Network Rail earlier this year I repeated my concerns about safety in the area and I will meet with them again to go through what they need to do to keep local people safe.

Our local railway lines have been shown to be dangerous because of the large number of level crossings in the area.

We must never forget the 2012 accident when a four-year old girl was killed in Bassetlaw after a train hit the car she was travelling in on a level crossing.

The Rail Accident Investigation Branch subsequently found that the lights at the crossing were faulty.

Having met with the girl’s grandfather and been to visit the site of the fatal crash on numerous occasions, I called for an inquiry into level crossings and wrote to the chairman of the Transport Select Committee in Parliament to raise my concerns about Network Rail.

The committee’s subsequent report made several conclusions regarding Network Rail.

Network Rail did begin the process of closing level crossings in Bassetlaw in a bid to stop such a tragic incident from ever happening 
again.

However, in 2015 Network Rail shelved its plans.

If you or anyone you know is feeling suicidal, the Samaritans runs a 24-hour, off-the-record service that can be accessed by calling 116123.

You can also write to Freepost RSRB-KKBY-CYJK, PO Box 9090, STIRLING, FK8 2SA or email jo@samaritans.org.