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A ReachTEL poll of Dorset residents found the majority support reopening the North-East line for tourist rail services – but questions have been raised about possible poll bias.
A telephone survey conducted between October 3 and 5, contacted 693 electors in the Dorset municipality.
The poll, commissioned by the North East Residents and Farmers group, found 70 per cent of Dorset residents were in favour of the rail line being reopened for rail services – rather than a cycle corridor.
North East Residents and Farmers chairman Stuart Bryce said the polling showed people were opposed to building a cycle path on the old railway.
“This polling vindicated the strong stance taken by supporters of heritage rail,” he said.
“All through this process we have maintained that Dorset Council did not have the level of public support required to rip up the railway and replace it with a bike path.”
But Dorset mayor Greg Howard – whose popularity was polled – said it was biased.
“They’ve asked questions to get the outcomes of they want,” he said of the group.
Mr Bryce said Cr Howard’s support of a cycle trail and the Dorset council managing the corridor had affected his chances of reelection.
The ReachTEL poll found 34 per cent of voters would vote for Cr Howard if an election was held now.
Forty per cent said they would not and 25.9 per cent were undecided.
“This confirms everything we have said and shows that Dorset residents have no confidence in mayor Greg Howard,” Mr Bryce said.
“This is an indictment of his abrasive and dismissive manner towards anyone who disagrees with him.”
Cr Howard said he had “no faith” and was “not even remotely interested” in polling.
A state government feasibility study into fixing the rail trail for tourist train services is due to be released soon.
“We know the number is going to be large – in terms of how much it’s going to cost to fix it up,” Cr Howard said.
“Heritage railways lose money everywhere they operate– except up in Cairns.”
With an assertive tone, Mr Bryce declared “not one piece of rail will be removed from that track”.
“Neither the Dorset Council nor the state government and members in Bass have listened to the people.”
This article first appeared on www.examiner.com.au
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