Flitwick dad takes railway station disability fight to Westminster law-makers - and you can help by signing his petition!

Ian Cook wants all railway stations in the UK to be disability friendly
Ian Cook wants all railway stations in the UK to be disability friendly

A Flitwick dad who is sick of accessibility problems whenever he needs to get on the train is taking his fight for disability access at railway stations national.

Ian Cook, believes that all railway stations in the UK should be upgraded to ensure that all passengers can board and alight safely.

Ian Cook as a child, when he was suffering from polio and had to wear a full body cast

Ian Cook as a child, when he was suffering from polio and had to wear a full body cast

Mr Cook suffered from polio as a child after going into hospital with tuberculosis of the spine which has left him having to wear and full body cast.

As a result he suffered with lifelong mobility problems.

Since 2010 he is experiencing the effects of post polio syndrome, a condition which means that muscles which were previously used to overcome his mobility problems are weakening. This means that he has to walk with a crutch and has a stair lift at home.

He travels frequently to London to St Thomas' Hospital for treatment and the train is the quickest option, but like many other people with mobility problems, he struggles to negotiate steep steps at his nearest railway station.

So now Mr Cook is taking matters into his own hands, launching a national petition calling for funding for accessibility at all stations.

He said: "Getting on the train at Flitwick is very difficult and it affects lots of other stations too. Some of my friends who are in wheelchairs can not use Flitwick Railway Station.

"I've also noticed that the closer you get to London the more accessible the the stations do get, which is very galling to be honest. The councils can apply for a grant to make alterations, but that only happens every five years, and they have to pay to make a bid. It should be universal and funding should be made available."

He added: "At Flitwick they do put on a taxi, but that takes you to Luton Airport Parkway, which puts an hour on to the journey. I just think why should we, and it seems like a very odd way to solve the problem.

"Around 40% of the stations in the UK are not accessible, also new stations being built do have lifts, but staff need to put a ramp up to the train for wheelchairs, etc to get on the train, very bad design as the platforms could be raised, as they are in London."

Mr Cook is now considering setting up a crowdfunding campaign, and is in talks with the Disability Law Service. He has also written to his MP Nadine Dorries, and received tweets of support from Paralympian Baroness Tani Grey-Thompson and football star Gary Linekar.

But the aim of speaking out is to get as many signatures on the Government petition as possible, and Mr Cook hopes that Times & Citizen readers will join in his campaign by following the link and adding their name HERE

If the signatures on the petition reach 10,000 the Government has to respond, and if it reaches 100,000 signatures it will be debated in Parliament.

Mr Cook added: "The Government does have a budget for improving accessibility but it is tiny compared to what is needed to ensure step free access on the network.

"There is generally good-will it requires a culture change in a number of areas as well as the funding to go with it.

"I do think that people without mobility problems are making decisions, which leads to misunderstanding and no knowledge of what is actually needed.

"I also feel that too much emphasis is paid on upgrading the main stations, in London and other cities, at the cost of our local stations.

"I have also contacted Thameslink and they say that the infrastructure is from the Victorian age, Queen Victoria died in 1901, so the railway network has had 118 years to be user friendly."