No lifts in Ludlow station upgrade. No fully accessible taxi in town. We should stop treating the disabled as second class

Major works are underway at Ludlow station. The scheme is to put a temporary footbridge in place while the old footbridge is repaired along with the steps leading up to it. There are no plans to install lifts for those who are disabled or have limited mobility. A couple of weeks before, Shropshire Council refused a licence for the only fully disabled access taxi in Ludlow because it did not meet the Euro 5 standard. You can’t get into a Ludlow Town Council meeting if you have severe mobility problems.

In Shropshire, the disabled remain second-class citizens. We must change this.

At the beginning of the month, the government published its Inclusive Transport Strategy. Neither Network Rail’s upgrade of Ludlow Station or Shropshire Council’s meet the ambitions of that strategy.

Announcing the strategy, Nusrat Ghani, the Parliamentary Under Secretary of State for Transport, said achieving equal access for disabled people on all forms of transport is a government priority. This is not a new policy. It draws together government policies and initiatives on disabled access into a single statement and give them added impetus.

Ludlow rail station is being refurbished. The footbridge needs repairs and a temporary footbridge over the railway line is being put in place. This is welcome.

But there are no plans by Network Rail to install lifts. That means that people who are disabled or with limited mobility must struggle 600 metres from accessible the ticket office to the southbound platform. That route is partly uphill and very uneven. It is not suitable for people with disabilities and it is pitch black in the dark. It is not right that people with limited ability, such as our older residents, must struggle up and down the steps to the footbridge.

This is unacceptable in 2018. The only reason that Ludlow station is not fully accessible is a lack of will by the railway companies. As the Simply Emma blog shows, it is possible to travel by rail as a disabled person. Her’s is not the typical experience and it is very hard to travel from rural train stations like ours.

I cannot accept that a major rail refurbishment scheme is happening in 2018 without access for all being a priority.

Which brings us to Shropshire Council’s action. It has brought in a rule that all taxis must meet the Euro 5 standard. It is a good policy. In congested towns like Shrewsbury you can sometimes taste the pollution in the air around the rail station. But it also assumes sufficient volumes of business to allow taxi and private hire companies to finance an upgrade. That’s easy to achieve in Shrewsbury. It is much harder in a small rural town like ours.

Tracey’s Taxis in Ludlow has a fully accessible disabled taxi with a lift which allows people to get into the vehicle without leaving their wheelchair or mobility scooter. The taxi passed its MOT and LOLER test (which ensures the rear lift is fit for purpose). But it is Euro 4 not Euro 5.

That meant that Shropshire Council refused a licence for our only fully disabled accessible taxi. I wrote to Shropshire Council to support renewing the licence under exceptional circumstances. Councillor Viv Parry raised the issue at a licencing committee meeting but was ruled out of order.

I met Tracey a couple of weeks ago. She told me that she had exhausted all avenues to keep this vehicle on the road. She can’t afford to replace it. It is now off the road. If you need a taxi or private hire cab if you are wheelchair bound in Ludlow, you will have to call in a vehicle from elsewhere. These will not necessarily be Euro 5 if it comes from outside the county.

I live my life in the green lane supporting ever greener living. But I don’t support being green over inclusiveness in society. Problems with air quality in Shrewsbury should not override the needs of a rural town like ours where we want to ensure our society is inclusive.

Ludlow Town Council has refurbished the Guildhall where it meets. Can people in wheelchair bound get in? Not at all. The Methodist Church in Broad Street is a role model for how to be inclusive in a historic context. There is something fundamentally wrong with our policies if public money can be spent on buildings without ensuring full access.

It is time that we stopped treating disabled people as second-class citizens. Nationally, one in five people are disabled. Shropshire has an elderly population. I don’t have a statistic for disability Shropshire or Ludlow but suspect our percentage could be higher.

It is time to move access and disability into the fast lane in policy. Equality means equality. Not the current picking and choosing that favours fully mobile citizens over those who can’t enjoy an ordinary life because of a disability.

This post is about mobility. I will reject comments about trains and taxi and private hire services generally.

7 thoughts on “No lifts in Ludlow station upgrade. No fully accessible taxi in town. We should stop treating the disabled as second class

  1. Very well put, Andy. If money can be found to refurbish the existing bridge (welcome news) then money must surely also be available for any meaningful upgrade of the station to allow convenient access for all. This is 2018 – it should no longer be a ‘step’ too far for less mobile citizens. The taxi situation is also farcical – ‘horses for courses’ springs to mind. Where is common sense these days?

  2. The station footbridge already has a ramp to the southbound platform. Ten seconds looking at the bridge shows an easy route for another ramp to the northbound platform. I can’t understand why they haven’t taken advantage of the site to do this. Outdoor lifts are an utter nuisance to maintain to I can understand why they don’t want to fit them.

  3. Rich; when you rely on taxis to get you to long distance travel options, the arrival at a train station front only to be told you need to take the taxi round the back to get onto the platform costs more money, more people to explain your disability to and more feeling weak and grateful for just trying to take a train!… when you are this disabled you are probably on benefits and the cost of the taxi probably doubles to do this extra journey plus the extra time probably means you miss the train you were going for! Often taxis cant do extra bits as they have bookings so then you have to explain your disability and how useless you are – why you cant manage on your own or how bad your journey will be if you cant get to the other area, in order to try to appeal to the taxi drivers guilt hoping they will take you then giving them more tip for your thanks for helping you (another stranger you’ve had to explain your life and disability to for no reason) …do you know how that feels???
    It all sounds simple until you have to live it.
    I’m a mum of two who developed epilepsy in my late 30’s…. I cannot express how difficult our life is after losing my driving licence. We try to carry on as we did but the reality is we are in a very difficult situation – if the equality law was followed it would mean I could turn up with my children and the suitcases, get in a lift and walk over the bridge just like everybody else… without the worry of having a seizure half way up the stairs, with heavy suitcases and children to organise.
    I think you should spend a day with someone with a mobility disability and you’ll soon see how awkward and difficult life can get if there just is or isnt (maybe its broken ?!) some equipment to allow your journey to go smoothly, without having to give your life story to strangers in front of the children, maybe have no one feel pity for you! just to get on with own life.
    The worry of seizing on route is terrifying enough, but starting off by tumbling down stairs with a child and heavy suitcase a the start of your happy journey; especially when they are clearly spending money aesthetically upgrading the station, could take some worry and make our journeys as easy as everyone else’s.
    It’s frightening enough going out of the 4 walls – a lift to get us on a train without bothering you doesn’t seem too much to ask; not really

    1. Thank you J. This tells life as it is for people who struggle to get around. Everyone one of us has an equal right to travel.

  4. Andy, The resident wishes to support you and your colleagues with regard to
    access to Ludlow Station, I have lived here since 2011 and I view your regards about
    this matter as being highly important, I have sent a text to Shropshire Council to
    request support with Ludlow Town Council to make a case to the Dep.ofTransport
    to include asseccibility for Ludlow Station, let’s get onto Philip Dunne MP to raise
    the issue.

    John

  5. Thank you so much for supporting this Andy. I am a young person who is recently disabled and its incredible how difficult seemingly easy tasks now are. I am using a stick to get around at the moment but the train station is still a problem. I really struggle with stairs so id have to make the choice to go all the way around by the doctors surgery to get to the next platform, or take the stairs, which seems to me like mount everest. Either way it is exhausting and I’m sure puts people off using this mode of transport.

    1. Thank you. This is exactly what I think. Those claiming the station is fine for the disabled and those with limited mobility have often strolled to it with confidence. I wish you well Daisy

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