Lack of disabled access at Flitwick railway station branded “a moral outrage”

Disabled access at Flitwick railway station has been branded “a failure and a moral outrage”.

Flitwick’s Independent councillor Gareth Mackey said that Central Bedfordshire Council needed to fund step-free access, at a meeting of the full council on September 26.

And he said that the town was poorly served, both by 21st century standards and compared to other nearby towns.

Cllr Mackey said: “Currently many people have to travel to Bedford by taxi to access the lifts they need to access the trains for their everyday travels.

“In modern Britain, one of the richest nations in the world, it is a failure and a moral outrage.

“The inaccessability of our station is not merely a case of an annoying detour to get where you want.

“It is an affront to the dignity and the freedom of those who cannot use the station like their able-bodied neighbours.”

He added: “I point to Biggleswade which secured its funding, a station which services some half a million passengers a year fewer than Flitwick station.

“I call on this council to grasp the nettle and put up match funding to lead this campaign by being at the forefront of the fight.

“Let us show the residents that they are right to expect us to fight their corner.”

Conservative Caddington councillor Kevin Collins replied that the council had supported bids for government cash from rail operator Govia Thameslink.

He said: “Step-free access presents a significant challenge to update and adapt stations built when less consideration was given to such matters.

“This council has been engaging with the challenge over many years.

“The most recent bidding round was in November 2018 and this council supported Govia Thameslink in submitting two applications.

“A little under a quarter of the overall bid was successful and sadly Flitwick was not one of them.”

Cllr Hayley Whitaker, Independent councillor for Biggleswade South, said: “I absolutley back the motion because Biggleswade does have funding for step-free access and we are incredibly lucky that is the case.

“You do need step free access because those that are disadvantaged are the ones which suffer most when public transport lets us down.”

Conservative Dunstable Watling councillor Nigel Young said: “I recall in Flitwick, when we worked hard with Govia and Network Rail, we did actually offer to fund lifts on either side of the station platforms.

“Govia declined to provide any lifts for Flitwick. It’s not a problem which is unique to Flitwick.

“It’s an issue which we will continue to tackle, a multi-directorate approach to getting step free access to all our railway stations.”