I went to Eastbourne Railway Station with my team last Friday to speak to passengers about proposals to close the station’s ticket office.
There was quite some concern over the plans – which I share - and I thank everyone for talking to me about them.
Many talked about the operability of the machines especially for complex journeys.
Southern says that support staff will be on hand for longer hours than the ticket office is open to help and support ticket purchases.
The challenge for anyone with auditory impairment on a noisy concourse and several others specific issues for disabled and elderly passengers must be fully recognised when it comes to how the railways consider any change. Many older and vulnerable people feel they are being ignored and disenfranchised by these proposals.
But we can have our say as a consultation is taking place so everyone can give their view. It is important we engage with this process.
Moving forward, the rail minister Huw Merriman is due to come to the station soon to meet with concerned groups and I have a meeting booked with Southern in the near future too where I will be going into great detail about what I have heard from residents and groups.
Of course, I do accept that the way the majority of people are buying tickets has changed with more online purchases taking place. This must not however lead to sections of our community being left behind.
From trains to planes and Airbourne is coming back to Eastbourne next month for four days of all spectacular flying. This is a huge date in our calendar, and it attracts hundreds of thousands of visitors. The team pull it off brilliantly.
I’m delighted it’s being staged after campaigning for it last year, but the council’s leaders have not given the greenlight beyond this summer despite its own figures saying the event brings in some £27 million to our town.
Our carbon-neutral commitment is important, but we must find ways to achieve this without a huge blow to our visitor economy. I’ll be a ‘bucketeer’ once again because the event also raises important funds for local charities. I hope to see you there!