Photography by Matt Buck https://www.flickr.com/photos/mattbuck007/9173857381/

Campaign for step-free access at Mile End tube

Disabled local residents will be able to travel step-free on Mile End tube, if a new petition to install a lift at the station succeeds.

The campaign needs your support to make travel easier for East Londoners with decreased mobility, such as wheelchair users, parents with buggies, elderly people, or customers with heavy bags.

The petition calls on Sadiq Khan and Transport for London to install a lift in Mile End tube to improve accessibility and reduce danger for these individuals. This comes after the station was snubbed from The Mayor of London’s list of 13 stations set to go step-free by spring 2022.

Councillor Val Whitehead, Tower Hamlets Labour representative for Bow West, began the ‘high priority’ petition after a resident raised their concerns to her about accessibility for all.

The Councillor, who has lived in Bow West for 25 years, said: ‘Part of the Olympics was that people were really excited for inclusivity. A little bit of that has fallen by the wayside, or not happened as quickly as it was meant to’. The lift ‘will allow people in wheelchairs to be involved in London life’, she added.

The lift would positively impact the lives of 1,100 Bow East residents who suffer from a long-term health problem or disability which limits their day-to-day activities ‘a lot’, according to the 2014 Census.

The campaign has been raised at City Hall by Unmesh Desai, the Labour representative of City and East in the London Assembly. He said: ‘Yesterday I flagged the need for step-free access at the highest level possible – with the Deputy Mayor for Transport, Heidi Alexander. So now the Mayor of Tower Hamlets and The Mayor of London have it on record.’

To reject the petition would be ‘discriminatory’, as ‘equal access is the sign of a modern transport system, it should be open to all’, Desai added.

‘I’m pleased to support and join the campaign as Mile End deserves step-free access, the need is obvious.’ He pledged: ‘I will keep doing what I can at City Hall to raise the issue’.

Desai hopes to recreate the success of the campaign to install lifts at Bromley-by-Bow, which became London’s 73rd step-free station in March 2018.

Stuart Wilson, marketing and communications coordinator for Ability Bow, London’s only inclusive community gym, hopes the lift will help his disabled gym-goers. He said: ‘Acceptable access for vulnerable people is obviously really important.’

A lift in the busy Central Line interchange station ‘could really help somebody with severe complexities, disabilities or long-term health conditions.’

Without the lift, climbing Mile End tube station’s 45 steps would leave someone with a heart condition seriously out of breath, and would be dangerous for someone with limited sight or hearing, he warned.

Ability Bow’s specialist equipment and trainers support people who feel they cannot use other gyms. Of the 4,000 disabled members who have joined since it started 13 years ago, Wilson said: ‘Few of our members use underground services and this is possibly because of accessibility. Only one or two use the tube.’

In total, £200m is being invested as part of the largest boost to step-free access in the Tube’s 155-year history. This will make 40 per cent of the Tube network step-free by 2022 – an increase on the current level of 27 per cent.

Will you Join the fight to help Mile End tube become accessible for all, too?

woman helps man in wheelchair on road

 


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