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Row over axed Woolwich Crossrail station deepens

News

MINISTERS THIS week plunged deeper into a row with the government's Crossrail Bill select committee after refusing to reconsider plans to drop Woolwich station.

In a meeting on Tuesday the government told the all-party committee that it was standing by its original decision not to build the station.

The committee immediately cancelled all Crossrail hearings for a week to consider what to do next.

The row is set to erupt further next week when the Bill is debated in the House of Commons.

Labour MP for Woolwich & Greenwich, Nick Raynsford, has tabled an early day motion demanding that Woolwich station be reinstated. He said he expected, 'considerable crossparty support' (see Viewpoint p15).

Should Raynsford's amendment pass through the House, it would be a severe embarrassment to the government as the station would go ahead despite its objections.

The Crossrail Bill select committee issued its recommendations on the Crossrail project, at the government's request, in July. The government accepted most of these in its response earlier this month, but rejected the committee's strongest recommendation - to build a station in Woolwich - as too expensive (News last week).

'We were extremely disappointed, actually amazed, to learn that the government had decided to refuse the committee's request to build a station at Woolwich, ' said the committee in a statement. It then threatened to submit a special report to MPs if the government did not change its mind.

Should the committee carry out its threat it would be 'explosive', according to Raynsford.

The committee had already said that 'we believe it is unprecedented for a government to refuse to act on the Committee's decision at this stage of a hybrid Bill'.

Mayor of London Ken Livingstone said that he supported the Crossrail station at Woolwich. However, he would not want the Woolwich issue to jeopardise the project.

'The most important issue of all is that Crossrail proceeds, ' said a spokesman.

To further consolidate its position on the project the Crossrail committee went back to the Woolwich site last week to re-consider their recommendations.

It said that it found, 'more than ever, that the Crossrail Bill must include provision requiring the promoter to build a station at Woolwich'.

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