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Campaigner takes on rail network

LOOKING FOR IMPROVEMENTS: Mrs Eunice McGhie-Belgrave with MP John Hemming (left) and Stechford Lib-Dem Councillor Neil Eustace

VETERAN CAMPAIGNER Eunice McGhie-Belgrave is taking on the might of Birmingham’s rail network in her latest campaign to improve access to Stechford Station.

The indomitable grandmother wants proper levelled access to Stechford Station, which she said is currently impossible to traverse for anyone using a wheelchair or a pushchair.

Mrs McGhie-Belgrave, who set up the Shades of Black community project in Handsworth following riots in the 1980s, sought to describe the situation: “Stechford Station is only seven minutes from Birmingham city centre but so many people can’t use it because there are 72 steps to climb before you reach the platform. The bus, on the other hand takes around 45 minutes.

Youngsters from Stechford Primary School and Corpus Christ Catholic Primary have collected scores of names in a petition which has now been presented to Birmingham Yardley, Lib Dem MP John Hemming.

In explaining the support of school children, she said, “Local youngsters have got involved in the campaign to improve the station because they see so many people who simply can’t use it. They feel something needs to be done.”

Birmingham Yardley Lib-Dem MP John Hemming, who received the petition, said in response that “this is an excellent station and almost 300,000 people a year use it but a lot more would use it if it had better level access. I intend to take this issue to Transport Minister Norman Baker.”

Hemming pointed out that “the previous Government invested money improving the rail network in the south east. It’s time this region had investment.”

Chris Mepham, of London Midland Rail Network, expressed sympathy at the concerns but said there was a lack of funds to undertake the necessary improvement works. “We are sympathetic to everyone’s concerns about access but there is a limited pot of money,” he said, adding that “to improve access by extending the footbridge and installing a lift would probably cost around a million pounds.”

He, however, said the rail company was “committed to looking at ways of improving the station for all our passengers”.

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