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Bill Esterson MP and Formby Labour councillors celebrate campaign success as new 'godsend' Formby Station lifts are opened

Formby Labour councillor Catie Page and Nina Killen and MP Bill Esterson with Merseytravel chairman Cllr Liam Robinson at Formby Station with the new lifts.

Formby Station's new lifts, which Bill Esterson MP and Formby Labour Action Team successfully campaigned for, have been described as a "godsend" by passengers.

The lifts are now fully operational, following a hard campaign by Bill and the town's Labour councillors.

The MP, together with Formby Labour councillors Catie Page, Nina Killen and Tim Hale, launched the campaign to get lifts installed at the station because older residents, disabled people and people with pushchairs were forced to contend with steep flights of steps to get from the ticket office down to the platform.

Bill even took the campaign to parliament where he called on the government to re-establish funding to Merseytravel to allow improved access at the station.

Despite one Tory Minister saying that the improvements were not needed at the Formby station, Bill and Labour Action Team persisted in order to get the much-needed disabled access improvements on track.

In summer last year, Merseytravel announced that the lifts would be installed on both Liverpool and Southport-bound platforms and contractors have been putting the finishing touches to the new facilities this week.

Bill, Cllrs Page and Killen met with Merseytravel chairman Cllr Liam Robinson at the station to see final preparations being made to the new lifts.

While there, passengers congratulated the team on the new improvements.

One passenger said: "These new lifts are a godsend to everyone who has trouble walking, those in wheelchairs or those with pushchairs - and they look great as well.

"I bring my grandchildren here, one of them in a pushchair. I usually have to get off the bus, then walk all the way around to get a ticket and then back around the other side to get the train. Now, with these lifts I don't have to do that. It's great.

"And the way they have been designed and built, they really fit in with the existing building. It's a brilliant job."

Another said: "I use a walking stick and I'm not too steady on my feet. In the past I have travelled to Freshfield to get the train back so I can end up back on the side where the bus stops so I don't have to contend with the steps.

"These lifts are a welcome addition. I would like to thank everyone involved in getting them for us."

The Merseytravel chairman said he was delighted to be getting the positive feedback.

Cllr Robinson said: "Just standing here for a short while with the team and we were stopped by countless passengers saying how pleased they with the lifts and with just how good they look too. It's really encouraging.

"The lifts are clearly a very welcome addition to the facilities here. The contractors have done a great job on the work and I would like to thank the Formby councillors and Bill for campaigning for these lifts.

"Disabled access is crucial to ensure that public transport is accessible to everyone. That clearly wasn't the case here at Formby before this. But now with the installation of these lifts, we can ensure that everyone, passengers from Formby and visitors to the town can all access the train system with ease."

Bill Esterson said he was delighted with the lifts

Bill said: "These lifts are a brilliant new addition, but they are also a long-overdue and crucial part of the station.

"This was a long-running campaign to get vital disabled access improvements n what is a main train station. Despite that, the government minister was very dismissive of our calls.

"Thankfully Merseytravel chairman Cllr Liam Robinson was more responsive to our calls. We had numerous meetings with him about the need for the lifts and he took swift action to get them into Merseytravel's project plans and for the funding to be found.

"But now that the lifts are here, they were definitely worth the wait and I am really pleased we kept the campaign going despite the government minister closing the door on us."

Cllr Catie Page said the lifts were a boost for all the passengers at Formby Station.

Cllr Page said: "It was perfectly clear to anyone who has ever used Formby Railway Station that the disabled access was unacceptable. The steps here are steep and impossible to use for many disabled people, or even people with pushchairs.

"It has been one of the biggest issues that residents have raised with me in the four years that I have served as a councillor, but it predates even that as it has been an issue raised with the Formby Labour Action Team for years.

"But we have finally seen positive action taken and they are a very welcome improvement to our town's main train station."

Cllr Nina Killen, who is a mother-of-three, said the new lifts will be welcomed by everyone with children.

Cllr Killen said: "If you get the bus to this station, or use the car park, it is a real struggle to then contend with either the steps, particularly if you have children in tow. But if you also have a pushchair, then you face either having to lug the pram up and down the stairs, which can be impossible if you have more than one child, or you have to make the trek all the way around.

"I'd hate to think what it would be like for people in a wheelchair.

"Now thanks to the addition of the lifts, we don't have those issues. I would like to thank everyone who supported us in our campaign over the years."

Father-of-two, Cllr Tim Hale, said the lifts will also improve safety for passengers.

Cllr Hale said: "The trek around the station is a real slog and means you have to contend with the busy road. These lifts mean you don't have to face that anymore.

"I use this station every day on my way to and from work. The new lifts will really be a bonus for people with prams, for the disabled and for older passengers, some of whom I have no doubt will have been put off from using the station in the past because of the poor disabled access.

"The construction of these new lifts are great news for everyone in Formby, residents and visitors alike, and our local businesses who rely on a regular flow of visitors."

 

Formby Labour councillor Catie Page and Nina Killen and MP Bill Esterson with Merseytravel chairman Cllr Liam Robinson at Formby Station with the new lifts.

 

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