WAREHAM’S hotly-debated pedestrian level crossing, which has been named as the most dangerous in the south west, has forced its way onto the parliamentary agenda.

Transport minister Chris Mole, speaking during a House of Commons adjournment debate secured by Dorset MP Annette Brooke, yesterday, warned “the risk of fatality is very high” should the crossing be allowed to remain unmodernised.

However, he did insist a balance needed to be struck between the community needs of Wareham residents and these pressing safety issues.

The debate followed fierce opposition to plans to close the crossing between Wareham and Carey from residents who feel it will cut the town in two.

But Network Rail has highlighted the crossing as the most dangerous in the south west – and one of the worst in the UK – with more than 80 recorded incidents of misuse in the past four years, including nine near misses since January.

Shortly after the Westminster debate, Network Rail told the Daily Echo it had recommended to Dorset County Council – which will make the decision in conjunction with rail bosses – to close the crossing and jointly support building a new footbridge, complete with ramps.

However, county planning bosses have made no final decision to date.

Mr Mole said Wareham residents had contacted him, worried that the crossings closure would hit the elderly and vulnerable the most.

He added: “Whilst safety concerns are of great importance, the severance of communities and reducing the accessibility of key transport routes are no less important.

“On that basis I would encourage Dorset County Council, in conjunction with Network Rail, to ensure that all appropriate options, in both the short and long term, are considered for the future of the crossing.”