Off the rails - Mirfield station access embroiled in political row

IMPROVEMENTS NEEDED From left, Paula Sherriff, Mary Creagh, Sarah Cook and Michael Hutchinson.
IMPROVEMENTS NEEDED From left, Paula Sherriff, Mary Creagh, Sarah Cook and Michael Hutchinson.

The Labour Party is using the longstanding issue of access to the town’s train station as a political football, a Mirfield councillor has said.

Conservative Mirfield councillor Martyn Bolt hit out after a photo call was organised by the Labour Party to highlight the issue of disabled access to Mirfield station.

Coun Bolt said correspondence from as far back as 2001 and several appeals to ex-Labour MPs Ann Taylor and Shahid Malik, as well as local Labour members, had done nothing for Mirfield station.

Coun Bolt said: “Yes, access to Mirfield station is an issue that needs attention. But the honest thing is that in 13 years of Labour in power, nothing was done about it.”

The busy route to Leeds is only accessible up a steep stairway from Station Road.

Shadow Transport Secretary Mary Creagh, Labour’s parliamentary candidate for Dewsbury and Mirfield Paula Sherriff and Labour’s candidate for the Mirfield ward in May’s local election Michael Hutchinson met passengers at the station last week.

Coun Bolt asked for firm commitments to be made to improve disabled access to the eastbound platform and better parking facilities rather than “pie in the sky” offerings.

He added: “Let’s treat the people of Mirfield with some respect. Rather than just breezing in and out, say what you are actually going to do.”

Coun Bolt said short-term franchise agreements for the station meant it was not feasible for Northern Rail to invest in improvements.

He added: “The only people with the money to resolve this problem is central government. Let’s have a manifesto commitment from Labour to make money available for Mirfield transport. Otherwise it’s all just hot air.”

Miss Sherriff said: “I am sad to see Martyn Bolt suggest this was a publicity stunt.

“We are trying to achieve the best for the people of Mirfield and beyond. Rest assured we will not be leaving it there. We will be actively campaigning to apply pressure to the relevant budgets.”

Labour councillor and Metro deputy chairman Coun Eric Firth said he had battled to get lifts installed at Dewsbury station – adding that a new transport fund could see cash come Mirfield station’s way.

He added: “Unfortunately there are many stations in West Yorkshire that suffer from this problem.

“It is certainly an issue for local people and I will be happy to raise it.”