Back in the day, in 2010,
the West Lancashire constituency election featured Rosie Cooper defending her seat against Conservative local councillor Adrian Owens. Amongst the local issues was concessionary travel, vis a vis Merseyside and West Lancashire older people, many of whom were strident in pursuit of equality.
Cllr Owens produced a detailed “What You Should Know About Concessionary Travel” guide that highlighted the discrimination, including a) concessionary transport is funded by central government b) West Lancashire receives c. £1million or around £9 per head of population in central government grant c) Merseyside Integrated Transport Authority receives c. £85million or around £62 per head of population in central government grant.
“Merseyside therefore receives nearly seven times as much government grant as West Lancashire. With this massive and unfair funding gap it’s not surprising that Merseyside’s older people enjoy greater travel concessions than those in West Lancashire”.
Cllr Owens went on to accuse our MP for the past five years of not addressing this unfair funding. “Instead she blamed the local council…yet to attempt to provide a similar concession to that in Merseyside for all West Lancashire’s older people might add 15% to the borough council tax”. And he would “if elected campaign for fairer transport funding at central government where the unfairness arises”.
Now, in 2020, West Lancashire MP Rosie Cooper has received assurances from the Liverpool City Region about Merseyrail’s continued support for those who require taxis from Aughton Park train station to the next nearest accessible station. Yes, LCR money for some disabled West Lancastrians!
The update came following confirmation from the Department for Transport and Merseyrail that there is currently no funding available for converting Aughton Park train station to step-free access.
Rosie Cooper MP wrote to the Transport Secretary urging him to bring forward more funding to increase accessibility and further contacted Network Rail and Merseyrail. Merseyrail confirmed that the cost of delivering step free access at Aughton Park would likely be in excess of £4m, and would not be funded by DfT. Yet they built a brand new station just over the border, cost in excess of £14million!
MP Rosie however received assurances from Liverpool City Region that Merseyrail would provide a taxi for any customer that needs to travel from an inaccessible station upon request. Rosie Cooper said “It is disappointing that the Department for Transport are not providing funding to enable Aughton Park to become a step free access station, but I will continue to campaign for the funding at every opportunity.
“In the meantime I am pleased that Merseyrail are continuing to support my West Lancashire constituents who would use Aughton Park station but are unable to do so due to its inaccessibility, with the provision of taxis to the nearest step free access station, at Ormskirk or Town Green. I would encourage those who are eligible to use the scheme to make full use of this additional support”.
And that’s it! Taxis to the nearest step free access station and then pay full fare, there still being no concession and no equality. An admission of guilt of discrimination at cost of a few quid!
The Aughton Park steps have been an issue in local elections too, and we show Cnty Cllr Paul Greenall posing on them, sadly without success. Read about it below.