A wheelchair-bound woman has petitioned Brighton and Hove City Council for help over the Hove Station footbridge.
The bridge is the responsibility of Network Rail but Jennifer Keeble hopes that the council will work with Network Rail to make the station more accessible.
The petition was signed by more than 250 people and said: “We the undersigned call on the Department for Transport and Network Rail to fund improved access to the station via Hove Station footbridge.”
At a meeting of the council at Hove Town Hall yesterday (Thursday 27 March) she said: “I’m Jennifer Keeble, a disabled person, wheelchair bound when I’m out.
“I need to travel to London by rail to see family and friends.
“I need to visit specialist clinics in London and I want to travel to see the Sussex countryside.
“But there is no access for people like me on the north side of the passenger bridge.
“This is a large residential area. In Wilbury Avenue alone there are three care homes and the managers tell me that residents, who cannot afford taxis, feel marooned.
“The Blatchington Trust has just opened an education and activity centre next to this footbridge and it’s for partially sighted people, including children.
“These clients need better access.
“I sat at the bottom of the steps for just two half days and collected over 70 signatures from passengers crossing over.
“Passengers stated to me that the steps are not fit for purpose.
“I observed parents carrying buggies up and down steps with a baby in the buggy and a toddler following alongside but this exercise was often achieved with the help of fellow passengers.
“Luggage carriers, including older folk with obvious mobility problems, hauling luggage up and down.
“These are accidents waiting to happen.
“And many travellers expressing concern about the legality of poor access.
“There are disabled people who do not have a long future ahead of them.
“So we not only want access, we urgently need it now.”
She was supported by Linda Freedman, who is standing in Goldsmid ward for the Conservatives in the local elections next year.
She said: “The current disability law provides that there should be step-free access to all public buildings, including stations.
“In January 2013 a Network Rail spokesman said: ‘With regard to Hove, we are happy to work with operators and authorities.’
“So something can be done.
“There are at least six care and supported living homes close to the north side of Hove Station.
“1.4 million people per annum use this major city hub, including those passengers Jennifer just mentioned.
“Hove Station development is in our City Plan. Is step-free access in your City Plan and what’s the timetable?
“We need step-free access now – not in 10 or 15 years’ time when many will not be around to use this facility.”
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