- Posted by: Valerie Vaz MP
- Category: News
On Friday 3 November, I organised a meeting with Network Rail, West Midlands Trains, and the Office of the Mayor of the West Midlands at Bescot Stadium Station to discuss the issue of disabled access at the Station. Denise Wetton, Central Route Director at Network Rail, a representative from West Midlands Trains, Mal Drury-Rose, Director of Rail for Transport for West Midlands (TfWM) and Executive Director of the West Midlands Rail Executive (WMRE) were present. Ray Dale, Secretary of Walsall FC Trust, Bob Thomas, Vice Chair of Walsall FC, Helen Thorpe-Wood, Walsall FC Disabled Supporters Officer, and Joanna Sainsbury, a Walsall FC fan who requires a wheelchair to move and travel were also there to make the case for an accessible station.
The representatives of Network Rail and West Midlands Trains heard the concerns that the Station needs a lift. Joanna Sainsbury who is in a wheelchair was unable to use the Station. She got as far as the steps. This inaccessibility also affects parents with prams.
I met with Minister Huw Merriman to access funding on 5 July 2023. I followed this up with letters to the relevant authorities and a petition was circulated which I presented in the House of Commons on Tuesday, 24 October. I said:
“This is a petition of the residents of the United Kingdom And there are 474 signatures to the petition in similar terms Who say that Bescot Stadium Station served over 90,000 passengers between 2021 and 2022. and that passengers can only access the platforms via stairs to a footbridge without any accessible route from the platforms to the station car park other than by stairs. The Petitioners say that Perry Barr and Witton Station, on the same line, have been upgraded for the Commonwealth Games making them accessible.
The petitioners therefore request the House of Commons to urge the Government to recognise the need for lifts at Bescot Stadium Station to make it accessible and to work with the appropriate body such as Network Rail.“
The petition has been forwarded to the Department for Transport for their initial consideration. Substantive petitions normally receive a response from the relevant government department, and this should normally be within two months of the petition being presented.
The meeting was constructive and a potential position for the lifts was identified. I stressed that the funding should be available as soon as possible as members of the public need to access the Station and other facilities in the area and this has been ongoing for some time. A feasibility study will be undertaken, and I hope there will be a report to progress disabled access shortly.
It is vital to ensure that our public transport is accessible to everyone.