STONE councillors are urging Network Rail to install ramps at the new town’s railway crossing – two years after ramped crossing plans were slammed as a “metal monstrosity”.
When Network Rail first unveiled plans for a ramped crossing at Stone railway station they were branded unsightly by residents, and rejected by Stafford Borough Council for impacting on a nearby Grade II listed building.
Replacement plans for a stepped only crossing were passed and the new bridge opened in May. But disabled users and parents with pushchairs and prams have been struggling to get across ever since, Stone Town Council heard last week.
Whitebridge Manor Estate resident Brian Clews called on the council for support in getting the much-needed ramp, as well as lighting and non-slip surfacing to ensure safe crossing in the winter months.
He said: “I am not disabled, but I have a slight heart problem and a knee which is likely to give way under me if I don’t take care. I get out of breath very easily.
“There is an equivalent amount of steps, each end of the bridge, for a four storey house. I find it hard to climb more than one section without stopping to get my breath back.
“I have already sent an email to Network Rail regarding the provision of lighting on the bridge, which does not appear to have been taken into account. In winter months it is dark early, when children are coming from school. And the present lighting in Whitebridge Lane is not going to be sufficient to light the bridge, rendering it, in my opinion, more dangerous than when we had to cross the railway bridge.
“Although the bridge and steps have been covered by a good non-slip surface, the top landings, each end of the bridge, appear to have only been covered with what appears to be nailed-down roofing felt. This is already creasing, it could soon create a trip hazard.”
Councillor Jill Hood, who brought the issue to the council for discussion alongside Councillor Joyce Farnham, said she had been shocked by the height of the bridge when she first used it recently.
“We could speak to Network Rail to help but I think it is closing the stable door after the horse has bolted”, she said.
Councillor Farnham, who called on the council to ask Network Rail for the ramps, said: “I spoke to a mother who can’t use the crossing any more because she can’t get a pram up there.
“We have made no provision for the disabled or for mothers. It is a mea culpa (through my own fault) situation.”
Councillor Philip Jones said: "I have every sympathy with Councillor Farnham's position here. The design of the bridge was brought before this council on several occasions and there was vociferous opposition from people living in Whitebridge Lane."