More support needed for Battle station step-free access

Bev Marks who's campaigning for step-free access at Battle Train Station. SUS-151020-160914001
Bev Marks who's campaigning for step-free access at Battle Train Station. SUS-151020-160914001

Campaigners trying to get step-free access for Battle train station have been told to get the council’s backing to bolster their pitch.

Battle Ramblers communications officer Bev Marks was told by Southeastern the support of the town, district and county council’s would help the group’s case.

The rail company said the Department of Transport (DfT) would be more likely to giv money to install ramps and make other changes with the backing of local authorities.

Both Rother District Council and East Sussex County Council have remained coy on the subject but Mr Marks believes Battle Town Council is fully behind him.

“I can’t see any reason why they would not support it as it would be very silly if they didn’t,” he said.

“I think it’s important. One specific reason is the Battle local action plan group survey found transport and traffic to be the most important domain out of four.

“It’s one of the important things that needs to be done in Battle.

“If you look at it from a visitor point of view, it’s important because it affects decisions that less-abled people need to make when visiting Battle.

“I feel hopeful all round that we are near to getting overt support.”

Currently, the Hastings-bound platform two is only accessible via a bridge over the tracks.

Mr Marks said there is a taxi service between Battle and Hastings for disabled travellers but it is seldom used as few people know about it.

He wants to make the station easier to access for wheelchair users and others with mobility issues, as well as families with pushchairs.

Southeastern’s accessibility and inclusion manager Justin Ryan said the company did its ‘upmost’ to help customers to travel.

“Battle station was put forward to receive Access for All funding in 2014 to fund a bridge and lifts – the safest and most practical option for improving access,” he said.

“Funding is limited and the Department for Transport has to prioritise work accordingly.

“A path from the level crossing is not a safe or practical option. The route from the crossing is very long and would also force pedestrians, motorists and cyclists to stop dangerously close to the level crossing.

“We understand that for those with disabilities or parents with small children this is unsatisfactory. ”

Mr Marks is hopeful Battle will be high up in the next round of improvements but it is unclear when that may be.

The district and county councils both said they have been contacted and will be discussing the proposal further before making any concrete statements.

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