Northern's scooter policy is a 'disgrace', says Wakefield councillor

Coun Isherwood said the situation was appalling and called for the government to step in.
Coun Isherwood said the situation was appalling and called for the government to step in.

Train operator Northern has been criticised for its treatment of disabled passengers after it emerged a pensioner couldn’t board a service because of her scooter.

The customer was told she was unable to get on a Featherstone to Leeds train because her mobility vehicle didn’t fold.

"For years, her only joy was being taken to Leeds by a friend once a month."

"For years, her only joy was being taken to Leeds by a friend once a month."

The incident was brought to light at a full council meeting by Labour member Graham Isherwood, who took up the case.

Northern confirmed its policy currently prevents unfoldable scooters being brought onto a train because “there isn’t space”.

It said that the situation would be reviewed when it starts using a new fleet of carriages in the years to come.

But Coun Isherwood said the situation was “appalling” and called for the government to step in.

Speaking at the meeting he said: “The way Northern treats disabled passengers is absolutely shocking.

“This elderly lady came to see me at my surgery on her scooter. For years, her only joy was being taken to Leeds by a friend once a month.

“They’d have a tootle round Leeds, and then come back on the train and come home again.

“But now she can’t.

“If it’s a wheelchair that’s fine, but if a disabled person using a little shopper-type scooter and they can’t fold it up themselves, they’re not allowed on.

“I thought, this can’t be a policy, so I checked up with Northern, and it turns out, yes it is.”

Coun Isherwood said he had written to one of the company’s new directors to complain about the situation, to be told that the policy may only be changed when Northern starts using more modern carriages in 2021.

He added: ““I’m hoping we can get some support to change this. It’s 2019, not 1919.

In response, a spokesman for Northern said: “At the moment, the only mobility scooters we can take on our trains are those that can be folded and carried on as a piece of luggage

“This is due to the restricted manoeuvrability and stability of mobility scooters and the design of our current trains.

“Most of our trains were built before mobility scooters were introduced and so were not designed with them in mind.

“Our train crews are happy to assist with loading and unloading a folded scooter.”