RATHER than claiming on the front page that the the "railway line deal is one step closer" last week's Leek Post & Times headline should have been consigned to the back pages where it should have read something like "CVR and MCR called to account by investors".
Why the local newspaper, Staffordshire Moorlands District Council (through its Churnet Valley Masterplan), local councillors etc. ever gave the fantastical plans of these companies any credence is beyond me.
Anyone with some rudimentary knowledge of local infrastructure and land ownership and a basic understanding of market forces always knew their plans were pie in the sky.
In the item last week Tony Hancock of CVR is reported to have distinguished the two organisations by saying "CVR is a heritage company whilst MCR is a private company".
My view is that CVR is a group of hobbyists with over-ambitious ideas who run a collection of old railway engines and carriages, most of which have very little to do with the heritage of the Churnet Valley, and whose efforts would be better employed tidying up their existing rolling stock than planning extra services.
MCR is the railway company with no office, no employees, no trains and a diminishing amount of track.
What isn't a joke though, is the impact they are having on some local people.
I have heard of homeowners living in the vicinity of the railway line have had potential buyers needlessly pull out of house sales because the purchasers' solicitors background searches have revealed that freight trains are to be run along the route near what might be their new home.
And, moreover, had it not been for the unwarranted commandeering of the disused railway line by these two companies there might have been a chance of the the Pedal Peak Phase 2 cycle path, which is currently being constructed along the Caldon Canal towpath, going along what would have been a far superior route along the Stoke to Leekbrook and Leekbrook to Cauldon Lowe railway lines.
This route would have allowed cyclists to travel from Stoke-on-Trent to the Peak District on a traffic-free route, unimpeded by anglers, dog walkers, families, low bridges and boaters who will also be using the towpath. As it is cyclists will have to negotiate around these obstructions as far as Leek or Cheddleton and then travel to the Manifold Trail on public roads along with the other traffic.
In the meantime the old railway line will remain largely disused and become increasingly overgrown with vegetation. Crazy! Wendy Birks, Endon