Petition calls for better disabled access at Needham Market railway station

Jen Overett has set up a petition to improve disabled access at Needham Market Railway Station. 
Sylvia Watson, Wendy Marchant district councillor, Cllr Mike Norris, Stephen and Fiona Andrews and Jennifer Nott. 
Picture Mark Westley
Jen Overett has set up a petition to improve disabled access at Needham Market Railway Station. Sylvia Watson, Wendy Marchant district councillor, Cllr Mike Norris, Stephen and Fiona Andrews and Jennifer Nott. Picture Mark Westley

More than 200 people have signed a petition calling for better access for disabled people at Needham Market railway station.

The petition, launched two weeks ago, hopes to address a long-standing issue which means passengers have to take two flights of underground stairways, 50 steps in total, to get to the Ipswich-bound platform.

Campaigners also say a ramp to the Cambridge-bound platform is above a maximum 1 in 12 gradient, contravening Building Regulations and also making it difficult for the disabled.

Greater Anglia, which runs the line, invested £700,000 in improvements at the station in 2015.

“Access has been a problem for years and many people feel strongly, including local groups, shops and residents,” said Needham Market resident, Jen Overett, who launched the petition.

“For wheelchair users and people of limited mobility, the platform is completely inaccessible, which is why I started the petition.

“I was also concerned to see elderly people, passengers with buggies, heavy suitcases and cyclists struggling to use the two sets of staircases.”

Greater Anglia’s investment at Needham Market saw improvements to the platform, subway and stairs.

According to Mid Suffolk District Cllr Wendy Marchant, a feasibility study for improved access for the disabled was carried out in 2005 on behalf of Suffolk County Council and Mid-Suffolk District Council.

“The work would have cost around £250,000 at the time and was deemed too expensive,” said Cllr Marchant.

“Needham Market is a growing town and in terms of disabled access, in this day in age, the station is simply behind the times.”

Needham Market Town Council has also supported the campaign and signatures have been collected from 
Mid Suffolk Disability Forum.

A spokeswoman for Greater Anglia, said: “There is step-free access to the Norwich-bound platform at Needham Market station. Greater Anglia pays for London-bound disabled passengers to travel via taxi to Ipswich, where they can continue their journey.

“We care about our customers and want to make sure that everyone is able to complete their journey.

“Our accessibility manager would be very happy to meet campaigners to explain and discuss this further.”