Rail access petition given to transport secretary

Jo Churchill MP, Jen Overett, Terence Carter (Needham Town Councillor), Chris Grayling MP, Wendy Marchant (Needham District Councillor)
Jo Churchill MP, Jen Overett, Terence Carter (Needham Town Councillor), Chris Grayling MP, Wendy Marchant (Needham District Councillor)

Campaigners calling for improved access at Needham Market train station took their fight to Westminster on Wednesday.

Organisers and supporters of a petition calling for Government funding to improve access at the station handed the 1,400-signature document to transport secretary Chris Grayling.

Jen Overett, who initiated the petition, said: “The access arrangements at Needham Market station are woefully inadequate and deter many residents from even using the trains. I believe we have a strong case for Government funding to redress these problems at last.

“This campaign has a fantastic level of support from residents and businesses, who have all helped to create this opportunity to present our case in person to the Secretary of State for Transport.”

The campaigners are hoping to win an ‘Access for All’ grant to fund alterations, which could include the installation of a lift or slope.

Terence Carter, town councillor, said the 49 steep steps to access the Ipswich-bound platform were not only prohibitive for wheelchairs.

“It’s a physical challenge for passengers with limited mobility, buggies, small children, bikes or heavy luggage too,” he said. “The station is not staffed and it’s not an unusual occurrence for rail-users to arrive at our station to find they literally cannot exit the platform.”

Wendy Marchant, district councillor, said: “This has been a priority need for Needham and surrounding areas for many years.

“I am optimistic the campaign will be successful this year.”

MP Jo Churchill said: “Having previously visited the station on numerous occasions, I am acutely aware of the concerns raised by this campaign. It cannot be right that residents with limited mobility or with a pram, for instance, cannot access both platforms. I am very glad to give my support to this campaign for improved access at Needham Market station and to ensure this important case is put to the Secretary of State for Transport.”

A spokesperson for the Department for Transport said the petition would be considered ‘in due course’.