Access campaigners head to Westminster

Needham Market train station
Needham Market train station

Campaigners calling for improved access at Needham Market train station will take their appeal to the Secretary of State for Transport on Wednesday.

Mid Suffolk district councillors Wendy Marchant and Mike Norris are set to take a 1,400-signature petition calling for better mobility access to Westminster and hope to present it to Chris Grayling in person.

The campaign launched in May last year, when commuters said they were frustrated the Ipswich-bound platform was accessible only via a steep 49-step underground stairway.

Wheelchair-bound passengers travelling to London are forced to take taxis for the first leg of the journey and it makes access difficult for mums with buggies, cyclists and the elderly with luggage.

Cllrs Marchant and Norris, who have championed the cause, thanked county councillor Anne Whybrow and MP Jo Churchill for their support in making the Westminster visit a reality.

They added: “Thanks are due to the town council, which has always given its support to this project from 2011/12, when it financially supported a feasibility study, as did Mid Suffolk and Suffolk County Council, which Wendy had campaigned for.”

Jen Overett, who started the petition, and town councillor Terence Carter were also praised.

Suffolk County Council, which is backing the campaign, has informed the Secretary of State for Transport of its intention to apply for an Access for All grant.

If the grant bid – which will be decided by the Department for Transport – is successful it would enable Network Rail to carry out a feasibility study to determine changes.

Access improvements could include installation of a lift or slope.

Cllrs Marchant and Norris added: “We all could not have worked harder for this objective.”