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Tube needs to be more accessible: Visually impaired South Woodford councillor falls in the gap

PUBLISHED: 12:15 05 July 2019 | UPDATED: 13:01 05 July 2019

More needs to be done to help people with additional needs, a South Woodford councillor said. Picture: Mike Brooke

More needs to be done to help people with additional needs, a South Woodford councillor said. Picture: Mike Brooke

Archant

A councillor with a visual impairment has fallen into the gap between the platform and Tube three times.

Speaking at a transport external scrutiny committee meeting, Cllr Rosa Gomez said more needs to be done to help make the Underground more accessible.

"I have fallen into the gap three times," she said yesterday, July 4 at Redbridge Town Hall, High Road, Ilford.

"There is often not people there to assist and I need help.

"Just yesterday I had arranged help - I was travelling from Hammersmith and needed to change at Mile End.

"No one came - I complained to staff at South Woodford and they said they were really busy. But where does that leave people like me?"

Cllr Gomez explained that it often wasn't getting on the train that was difficult but getting off and navigating the space between the floor and door.

She also said she felt like the doors on the Central line close faster than other lines.

Councillor Bob Littlewood also highlighted how hard it can be to use buses if you have additional needs.

"We as a collective are a disgrace when it comes to disabled people getting on and off," he said.

"Especially around Ilford town centre, bus stops.

"The simple explanation is that the buses come in sixes and sevens and you have to be quite fast to get the bus you want - it won't wait and pull out.

"The last time I raised this I was told drivers have training and are sensitive.

"The other point [I raised] is that the bus stops are too close together.

"Can we have more bus stops with fewer buses [serving the stop], it is so simple."

A Redbridge Council officer said Transport for London (TfL) produces guidance for local authorities and the key thing it has to get right is making sure kerb heights are maintained at 125mm.

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"The issue is where would they be replaced there isn't a lot of space," he said

"We have moved the bus stop outside Bodgers, and created one outside the flower stall."

The TfL representative underlined that accessibility on buses and trains is a serious matter and it tries to make journeys "as accessible as possible".

In regards to the Central line, he said: "It is not a new metro system where we can install new lifts everywhere but a 60-year-old system.

"Having said that, we have an aspiration that people can use the network independently.

"[Not having staff turn up to assist when arranged] is a serious issue and a customer service issue and it is not right."

The representative asked Cllr Gomez to email dates and times of incidents and he would take it up with TfL.

A member of the public also asked the room about bus laybys.

She said since the removal of spaces to pull in, buses are forced to stop in the road when passengers want to disembark.

This causes traffic behind to have to idle with their engines on creating more emissions.

Chairman of the committee Cllr Khayer Chowdhury said councillors in Ilford South worked together to plan laybys in Ilford Lane to stop the congestion but TfL was not interested.

"We told TfL how they could shape it and gave them the space for laybys, but they told us to jog on," he said.

"We did all the groundwork for them.

"Ilford Lane would have become unplugged."

London Assembly Member Keith Prince explained that when there were more laybys the bus drivers couldn't get back out into the flow of traffic.

He said the Mayor of London prioritises buses and he wants "80per cent of journeys made on foot or on public transport".

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