‘Antisocial behaviour’ closes station entrance

PUBLISHED: 08:00 20 July 2015

Views of Weston Railway Station.

Views of Weston Railway Station.

Archant

AN ENTRANCE to Weston-super-Mare train station has been closed, sparking concerns about access for disabled passengers.

Station operator First Great Western confirmed the entrance from Sunnyside Road, which provides access to platform one of the station, has been closed due to ‘antisocial behaviour’.

The entrance closure means platform one and its car park can now only be accessed via a footbridge from platform two, as Weston station is not fitted with passenger lifts.

A spokesman for First Great Western said: “Customers can reach both platforms via the footbridge or with staff assistance using the barrow crossing.

“We also offer an assisted travel service and, with prior arrangement, we are happy to allow access until improvement works are completed.”

When contacted by the Mercury, Network Rail, which is responsible for improvement works at Weston station, confirmed it is due to receive a share of £100million in funding for improvements to access for disabled passengers under the Government’s Access for All scheme, although this is said to be at a ‘very early stage’.

Passenger Alan Rice, aged 65, told the Mercury: “I use the station a lot and I cannot see what the problem is with antisocial behaviour.

“I cannot get any information from First Great Western – I don’t know why they are being so evasive. If there is a very good reason for closing it, then so be it, but there doesn’t seem to be one.”

North Somerset Liberal Democrats leader and councillor for central ward Mike Bell said: “The only suggestion from First Great Western I’ve had, via Twitter, is that people should contact them in advance for assistance. This is just not good enough.

“Should everyone contact First Great Western in advance and ask for access every day? It seems like a really strange decision that makes life more difficult for passengers – especially those with disabilities – which has not been justified.”

Another Weston councillor described the closure as ‘disappointing’ and said First Great Western had not informed the council of any problems regarding antisocial behaviour at the station.

Richard Nightingale, who also represents Central ward, said: “Clearly it is of paramount importance that all members of the public are able to freely and easily access the station, and I will be visiting them later this week to make sure this is still the case.

“It is disappointing that First Great Western had not discussed any antisocial behaviour problems with the council before making this decision.

“I am pleased to report, though, that after lengthy discussions with First Great Western, the company has promised to review this decision if it’s shown to cause inconvenience to rail passengers. It is something I will be closely monitoring moving forward.”

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