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News and Comment January 2012

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15 January - The other Teresa

Erith Station Erith Station Erith stationThere are three MPs with responsibility for the borough of Bexley, though if you read the local newspapers you might be forgiven for thinking there is only one; Teresa Pearce, MP for Thamesmead and Erith. If there is a local event she is there, if the last remaining river view is threatened by Bexley council, she will hand in your petition for you or if you relish the sight of an MP dressed in rubber and waist deep in canal mud then she is your girl.

Raising local issues in Parliament is her specialty, a pity more MPs don’t remember that that is what they are there for. Last week it was disabled access to Erith station, or rather the lack of it.

Teresa PearceTeresa Pearce: Whether her Department has conducted an impact assessment of the proposal in the McNulty report on closure of ticket offices.

The Minister of State, Department for Transport (Mrs. Theresa Villiers): No impact assessment has been conducted of this proposal in the independent report undertaken by Sir Roy McNulty.

Teresa Pearce: Disabled people in my constituency already have trouble accessing work and leisure opportunities in London because Erith station’s London-bound platform has no disabled lift or step-free access. They are advised by the train operating company to travel in the opposite direction for 15 minutes and then change trains. The closure of the ticket office at Erith will further disadvantage this group of people. Will the Minister consider an equality impact assessment on the proposal and reject McNulty’s plans to close ticket offices, particularly at places such as Erith, where disabled people already face a difficult journey?

Mrs. Villiers: In considering the recommendations of the independent McNulty report and before any decision was made on changes to future ticket office rules, it would of course be vital carefully to assess the needs of disabled communities and pensioners. That would be a very important part of any decisions made on future reform of ticket offices.

Southeastern’s leaflet on disabled access shows Crayford to be no better than Erith and Albany Park to be worse but neither seems to have an MP willing to speak up for them.

Erith Albany Park Crayford

This subject is a little off topic for Bonkers but as I am just off to visit my disabled daughter by train I thought I would indulge myself with giving Teresa’s campaign a little plug. It is a subject more up Hugh Neal’s street than mine, he has covered it on his ‘Maggot Sandwich’ blog several times already and it is more than likely he will do so again later today. If he doesn’t, you may wish to consider descending on him with flaming torches and pitchforks. (Apologies: ‘in’ joke.)


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