Campaigners say Wednesbury sleeper factory would 'tear their lives apart’
Campaigners staged a protest over plans for a factory, which they say ‘will tear lives apart’.
More than 4,000 people have signed a petition opposing the railway sleeper factory amid fears over pollution, extra traffic, and excessive noise.
The Network Rail development, which is set for the Friar Park area of Wednesbury, would produce 600,000 concrete sleepers a year and bring 100 jobs to the area.
Bosses identified the site at Bescot Sidings that sits alongside the M6 just south of Junction 9 as their preferred location for the factory.
But residents have said it will ‘ruin lives’. Many of them, armed with handmade signs, gathered outside Sandwell Council House in Freeth Street on Tuesday ahead of a full council meeting where members were presented with the petition. Jenny Lloyd, aged 40, helped launch the ‘Say No’ campaign and has called the development ‘inappropriate for a residential area’.
The mother of two, who lives in Durham Road, said: “This will tear lives apart. There are so many bigger places than this where they can put this factory.”
Councillor Simon Hackett joined the protest ahead of the meeting. He said: “I’ve never seen the community come together so quickly and so united against a development – and with more than 4,000 signatures in a matter of weeks. I’ve never seen them so angry. I think what this says to Network Rail is think again and find a non-residential area.”
The factory will replace one in Washwood Heath, Birmingham, which is to be demolished to make way for the controversial HS2 line.
Network Rail announced the scheme in December and said it would secure 100 jobs in the region. Brenda Cowley, 68, said the building of the 10-metre tall building right by her home in Sandy Lane would be a ‘death sentence’ for her and many other elderly residents.
She said: “I know three residents who have respiratory problems already because of the M6 pollution. I need this mask and medicine to breathe. I wouldn’t want my grandchildren breathing this in.”
A spokesman for Network Rail said: “We continue to listen to feedback on our plans for a new sleeper facility in Bescot as we prepare to submit our planning application.
“Our plans will rejuvenate the existing railway land and secure manufacturing jobs in the West Midlands. A further public information event is being planned and details will be confirmed as soon as possible. We urge people to make any comments on our plans through the formal planning process.”