Blue light vehicles ‘blocked’ for days

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A county councillor is on the warpath after blue light vehicles were denied their usual access to parts of Deeping St James during Network Rail’s level crossing works.

Coun Phil Dilks says Network Rail promised to keep the Station Road crossing open for 999 vehicles – police, fire and ambulance – but they couldn’t cross for at least five days during the first week of the July works.

He says a lorry load of stones was dumped on the crossing and also the surface was taken up, making it impossible for anything other than a tank to get over the raised lines.

“That should never, ever have happened,” he said. “Had there been a fire across the other side of the line, or some sort of emergency, then we would have been in real trouble.”

Coun Dilks is taking up the fiasco with Network Rail and Lincolnshire County Council highways to make sure procedures are put in place to prevent anything like it happening again.

The councillor and about 25 residents met Network Rail on-site five days into the closure and the company then put down a temporary road surface overnight to re-open the crossing for emergency vehicles.

Coun Dilks said a resident called Lincolnshire Fire and Rescue control room dispatchers to see if they were aware of the closure – and they weren’t – and police were also unaware because they diverted traffic through Deeping St James after a car hit a house at Hop Pole.

He said: “Drivers were being diverted to a closed crossing. People were arriving not knowing where they were or how to get out – and they had to go back and go round Pea kirk Way.”

South Kesteven District Council had to send in a second refuse collection vehicle because the usual bin lorry would not have been able to cross after collecting from the main part of the village.

“The whole thing was complete chaos and not well managed at all,” he said.

Coun Dilks added: “During that period of about three-and-a-half or nearly four weeks the diversion was closed as well because the crossing at Deeping St Nicholas was also closed for maintenance.”

A spokesman for Network Rail said: “Provision was made for the emergency services to use the temporary diversion around the level crossing at Deeping St James while the work took place, which was agreed with the local highway authority. However, following discussions with the local community, we swiftly worked to place a temporary surface on the crossing so emergency services could use it if needed.”

Lincolnshire County Council declined to comment, saying only Network Rail could do so.