Shropshire

Bucknell WI's railway garden hit by safety fears

Garden at Bucknell train station
Image caption The award-winning garden is becoming overgrown

A Women's Institute says it has been forced to give up tending a garden on a railway platform over safety fears.

Bucknell Women's Institute (WI) in Shropshire said tending the garden at the disused platform in the village had been a source of pride for 26 years.

However, the group stopped after being told by Network Rail it needed health and safety assessments and insurance.

Network Rail said the garden was next to the line and it aimed to protect lives.

However, the WI members described the measures, which include fencing off the garden, as "overkill".

Bucknall WI president Beryl Starr said: "The more barriers are put in the way of people who are trying to undertake a community project, the less likely they are to want to actually be involved in carrying it out.

"It just makes it very difficult."

In its hey day the garden twice came second in the Wales in Bloom awards.

'Lives at risk'

Philip Dunne, the Conservative MP for Ludlow, has taken up the case, which he called a classic example of regulations getting in the way of voluntary work.

Network Rail said it aimed to provide a "secure and safe working zone" and had guidelines in place which were used by about 40 community groups.

"We are disappointed that Bucknell WI does not share the same principles to protect their members' safety, as we believe that it is wrong to put people's lives at risk and act after tragedy has happened," a spokeswoman said.

Network Rail added it would pay for the group's insurance.

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