Mid Suffolk District councillors announce plans to take Needham Market station access campaign to the Ministry of Transport

A petition calling for Needham Market Railway station to improve its mobility access is headed for W

A petition calling for Needham Market Railway station to improve its mobility access is headed for Westminster. Picture: GREGG BROWN

A number of Mid Suffolk District councillors have announced their plans to take the campaign calling for better mobility access at Needham Market station to Westminster.

A group of Mid Suffolk District councillors have announced their plans to take the campaign calling for better mobility access at Needham Market station to Westminster.

In their February report, councillors Wendy Marchant and Mike Norris said they hope to take the petition to improve access to the station, which has already gathered over 1,400 signatures, to the Ministry of Transport in London.

The councillors have asked Mid Suffolk’s County Councillor Anne Whybrow if this can be arranged at a time convenient for the region’s MP, Jo Churchill.

A group of cross-party representatives, as well as residents who started the petition, would then travel to the capital together to meet with the relevant parties.

The campaign was launched in May 2017, when a number of commuters expressed their frustration at the fact that the Ipswich-bound platform is accessible only by a steep underground stairway - meaning wheelchair-bound passengers en route to London are forced to take taxis for the first leg of their journey.

This is despite a £700,000 improvement scheme carried out at the station in 2015 by Greater Anglia, promising improvements to the platform, subway and stairs.

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Throughout last year support grew among prominent influencers, when Needham Market Town Council, the Campaign for Better Transport and several business leaders put their names to the cause.

Then in October 2017 Suffolk County Council confirmed it would be writing to Chris Grayling, Secretary of State for Transport, informing him it will be applying for an Access for All Grant on behalf of campaigners.

Wendy Marchant, one of the district councillors supporting the campaign, said this Access for All Grant was the key to securing improvements at the station.

She said: “We would very much like this improved access. At the moment, it is very difficult for people in wheelchairs and mothers with buggies to access the station.

“If the grant is confirmed, Network Rail will carry out a feasibility study, which will determine the changes to be made.”

One potential solution is to install a lift at the station. Alternatively, passengers may access the platform via a slope.

Ms Marchant added: “It all depends on the Transport Minister Chris Grayling saying we can have the grant.”

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