Norfolk MPs give Brandon station campaign a boost

The campaign to revitalise Brandon station and make it a 'gateway to the Brecks' was given an extra shunt yesterday when two MPs visited the station.

The derelict and dilapidated station building has wooden boards covering the windows, paint peeling from the walls and doors and stained carpets.

But the Friends of Brandon Station group hopes to transform the building and the neighbouring stationmaster's house into a community facility and received high profile support from two of the area's MPs – South West Norfolk's Elizabeth Truss and Matthew Hancock, who represents West Suffolk.

Miss Truss said a regenerated station could be used to help bring more tourists into the Brecks region.

She added with Cambridge expanding as a city, the station could become an even more important asset and said funding could be sought from such bodies as the East of England Buildings Preservation Trust, which helps regenerate important community buildings.

'This is the first time I have been inside the building and I think we could be able to use this building better so I am very supportive of what is happening,' she said.

Mr Hancock spoke to the Friends and joked about the importance of the station to him– so much so that he had ventured '15 yards' outside his constituency to promote the campaign.

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He said: 'I think it is important to the whole of Brandon because if you look to the future and what Brandon can be, one of the great areas of growth is Cambridge and right here we have a train link into the centre of what is one of the leading scientific research cities in the world.'

The long-term goal of the Friends is to restore the building and make it available for a variety of uses including passenger facilities and a booking office, new community rooms for hire to businesses and local groups and an information centre with details of local tourist attractions.

However, Tony Wojtasz, the Friends' vice-chairman, said the cost of achieving this vision could be in the region of �200,000.

The Friends also needs to secure agreements from the bodies which have a stake in the station and to persuade Network Rail to extend its two-year lease on the building.

He said proof of the station's popularity was that the number of passengers visiting it had increased from 17,000 in 2006 to 70,000 this year..

dominic.bareham2@archant.co.uk

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