Handforth Station: Art, Flowers or Access?
A question often asked at Handforth Station is "Why does Friends of Handforth Station (FoHS) spend so much time and money on arts, flowers and station signs; why don't they install step-free access?".
FoHS have created on article on their web-site, which helps answer this comment.
FoHS know very well that the main thing missing at their lovely station is step-free access. Unfortunately, FoHS have neither the remit nor the funds to do anything about this directly themselves. Instead, they can only act as a lobbying group to try to persuade the owners of the station (Network Rail) and the operator (currently Northern Rail) to install step-free access.
The strategy of FoHS is:
- the arts, flowers and signs are in part a means to an end – that is: raising the profile of Handforth Station
- on the back of this raised profile and all our Awards, this gives us much more impact when we lobby for step-free access (and for car parking and so on)
- and here's a history of what FoHS have done over the past two decades to try to get step-free access
During their 22 years of existence, Friends of Handforth Station have welcomed the support shown by the local community for proposals to improve station access.
In particular, FoHS are pleased to see the support provided by the Handforth Neighbourhood Plan (which you can see here: https://www.cheshireeast.gov.uk/planning/neighbourhood-plans/neighbourhood-plans-g-m/handforth-neighbourhood-plan.aspx ).
The Plan section entitled "Handforth Today" provides some of the history of Handforth station and of the activities of FoHS. More importantly, the Plan, in several places, strongly endorses the objectives of FoHS. For example, Policy H17 of the Plan states "Developments which provide additional public car parking facilities close to Handforth station will be supported as will proposals to provide secure parking for bicycles. The development of a car park on the field east of the Youth Centre will be supported." For example, Policy H20 states that "Priority will be given by the Parish Council for funds that they receive ... to the following proposals: Station access for disabled persons; Station car park with secure bicycle storage facilities...."
The Neighbourhood Plan contains a number of Parish Council Action boxes. Among these, box no. 8 states "This NP recommends that the Parish Council will support proposals for the provision of improved pedestrian access to the platforms of Handforth Station."
The Submission Version of the Handforth Neighbourhood Plan has been examined by an independent inspector who commented that the plan is "timely, comprehensive, expertly written and well-illustrated" and will "make a positive contribution to the development plan for the area." The Plan will be the subject of a Referendum on Thursday 12th July 2018, in which electors will be asked "Do you want Cheshire East Council to use the Handforth Neighbourhood Plan (HNP) to help it decide planning applications in the neighbourhood area?"
In addition, Network Rail, Northern and Cheshire East are eventually engaging in discussions, and proposals are being put forward for Access For All funding from the Department for Transport.
All are encouraged to view the artwork and flowers at the station and are invited to join and support the group's hope for Access For All.
Photos: Friends of Handforth Station gathering to emphasise the need for Access for All. Hugh Everett of FoHS puts up this year's hanging baskets.