The Government has rejected a bid for funding to improve disabled access at Keynsham train station. After several years of campaigning to have a new ramp installed at the station, local Conservative Councillors have described the news as “bitterly disappointing”.
Despite funding towards the cost of the ramp being offered by Bath and North East Somerset Council, the Department for Transport rejected the bid without detailing the reasons for the refusal. The Government has simply stated that the Keynsham scheme was ‘considered to be of less direct relevance to disabled people in removing fundamental barriers to travel than other bids we received’. Believing that the long-awaited ramp had been on the cards, Keynsham residents have reacted with disbelief at the news.
The Government had been asked to add an extra £100,000 to the £50,000 being put towards the scheme by B&NES and £50,000 offered by First Great Western. Having worked to secure the money from the Council, Local Councillor Charles Gerrish (Con, Keynsham North) has said that he cannot understand why the Government funding has now been rejected.
“Along with local residents and train users, I’ve been working on having this ramp built for several years, and this rejection of funding is a serious blow. We had managed to secure support from First for the project and the council has money earmarked for the scheme too, so it’s bitterly disappointing that the Government won’t stump up some cash. Without a ramp, it makes life extremely difficult, if not impossible, for elderly and disabled passengers to get to the west-bound platform. I will contact the Department for Transport to see if there is any possibility they might review their decision in the near future.”
Jacob Rees-Mogg, the prospective Conservative MP for North East Somerset, added:
“If the Government is truly committed to encouraging more of us onto public transport then decent facilities are crucial, particularly for the elderly and disabled. This is another example of how the Government wants a massive expansion of Keynsham and the surrounding area, but is not willing to provide the infrastructure and services to go with it. This is typical of how the Government promises so much but then fails to deliver. I hope they reconsider this decision.