A step back on step free access
Today the Department for Transport announced that it had turned down an application for funding to make Raynes Park and Motspur Park train stations accessible for all.
The decision follows a major campaign by the Merton Lib Dems calling for the installation of lifts or ramps and the two stations, and comes as a shock to the local community who were very supportive of the campaign.
Currently some platforms at Raynes Park station and both platforms at Motspur Park station can only be accessed via stairs, meaning people with prams, wheelchair users and those with mobility problems find it difficult to use the stations.
“We are incredibly disappointed that the Department for Transport has ultimately refused to fund step free access at Raynes Park and Motspur Park stations”, said Cllr Anthony Fairclough, Lib Dem councillor for Dundonald and one of the leaders of the campaign to make the stations step free.
“As a local parent myself I know full well the struggles people have to go through because of the lack of a lift or ramp at Raynes Park and Motspur Park sations. Yet, despite our compelling case for making the stations accessible, the Government have chosen to ignore the plight of local residents.”
“This is a real kick in the teeth for our community, which has had to put up with the lack of accessible stations for far too long”, added Cllr Eloise Bailey, Lib Dem councillor for West Barnes. “But this is not the end of the story. We will continue to lead the campaign for accessible access at Raynes Park, Motspur Park and all stations across the borough.”
Cllr Bailey and Cllr Fairclough have been working since summer 2018 to encourage the train company to apply for this funding, and to get Merton Council to agree to look at a financial contribution to help the application.
As a result of their campaign, South Western Railway applied for the monies to improve the stations and Merton Council agreed to provide a letter of support for these improvement works, indicating that they would consider supporting the projects financially should the applications be successful.
And in September 2018, Council bosses accepted a Lib Dem proposal to work to support access improvements at stations across the borough.