Wednesday, September 19, 2012

Mayor of London Boris Johnson challenged to access Stanmore Station using wheelchair

By David Hardiman,

A volunteer who spent 32 years helping with the Paralympics has issued a challenge to Boris Johnson to improve disabled access at Stanmore Station.

Gordon Infield, 83, of Glebe Road, wants the Mayor of London to try using a wheelchair on the steep ramp into the station in London Road for himself to see the difficulty of accessing the platform.

Locals have spent three years campaigning for lifts to be installed to improve access, and Mr Infield believes part of the legacy of the Paralympics should be that Transport for London (TfL) spends money helping disabled people get around more easily.

The campaigner was present at the first ever wheelchair basketball match at the International Wheelchair Games in Stoke Mandeville in 1952 and volunteered as the Paralympics developed until 1984.

He said: “I’ve been having an ongoing row with TfL for years that they should stop saying that the station is disabled friendly – it isn’t.

“With Aspire and the Royal National Orthopaedic Hospital just up the road they have a duty to make it disabled friendly.

“If I’d have had someone come and stay with me during the Paralympics in London this summer they could have sued them because they wouldn’t have been able to get out of the station.”

Mr Infield, who struggled to get the media interested when he was in charge of press for the 1984 Paralympics, said he believed the success of 11-time gold medallist Dame Tanni Grey-Thompson had boosted the profile of disabled sport.

The retired charity manager added: “I’ve issued a challenge to Boris Johnson to come here and try and push Tanni Grey-Thompson in her wheelchair out the station – I’d like to see him try.”

Campaigners have long argued that the station is dangerous for disabled people because they have to share the ramp with cars accessing the car park, and the Stanmore Society even considered taking legal action against TfL two years ago to try and prompt improvements.

London Assembly Member for Brent and Harrow, Navin Shah, has also backed the campaign and raised the issue repeatedly with Mr Johnson, but said in June he had been given “evasive and unsatisfactory” answers.

The Harrow Times has extended Mr Infield’s challenge to Boris Johnson’s office but has received no reply.

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