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Row over axed Woolwich station deepens

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 Bill select committee that it was 'standing by our position, and the decision still stands'. 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 and Greenwich Nick Raynsford has tabled an early day motion to restore Woolwich station to the Bill, saying he expects, 'considerable cross-party support'. 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 the bulk of these in its response earlier this month, but rejected the committee's strongest recommendation - to build a station in Woolwich - as too expensive. '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. 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 and issue its report it would be 'explosive,' said Raynsford. The committee had already said 'it is unprecedented for a government to refuse to act on the Committee's decision at this stage of a hybrid Bill'. Mayor Ken Livingstone said that he supports the Crossrail station at Woolwich but that 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 its recommendations. 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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