94% NOT FOR Ticket barriers at Sheffield Station:

The people of Sheffield have spoken – a staggering 94% of people taking part in a Council online poll remain opposed to introducing Ticket barriers at Sheffield station. Over 4,000 people have given their views online. When faced with three possible solutions the vast majority of people rejected the options of spending public money on a second bridge or issuing electronic passes. Instead 94% of people voted in favour of keeping the existing bridge open.

Now Council Leaders are urging the new Secretary of State for Transport, Lord Adonis, to listen to the people of Sheffield.

Councillor Paul Scriven, Leader of Sheffield City Council said:

“The new Secretary of State must listen to the views of people in this city. It seems they have overwhelmingly rejected the options of electronic passes or spending more public money on another bridge. They want the existing bridge, which they have paid for through their taxes, to remain open”.

“Introducing ticket barriers which block off access through the station is a bridge too far. It cuts a city in half and affects real people going about their day to day business. East Midland Trains need to find another way of tackling fare dodgers. We need Lord Adonis to engage with the people of Sheffield and listen to our united voice.”

Lord Adonis replaced Geoff Hoon as Transport Minister in the Government’s recent Cabinet reshuffle. The Council previously requested a meeting with Lord Adonis to discuss the station ticket barriers back in April, when he was Minister for State for Transport, but is yet to receive confirmation of a date. It is the Council’s intention to invite Lord Adonis to meet with them in his new capacity to address this important issue for the city.

East Midlands Trains (EMT) recently started to implement human barriers at the station, and want to install permanent barriers which will block off access through the station. The station footbridge provides pedestrians with a safe, well lit, secure route between the City Centre and the Park Hill and Norfolk Park.

The online Council poll which runs until the end of the week has been asking Sheffield residents to vote for a solution to end the row over proposed station ticket barriers at Sheffield Station.

Three possible solutions are being proposed as follows:

(A) Don’t install barriers blocking off public access over the bridge and ask EMT to find another way of stopping fare dodgers

(B) Install barriers and give some local residents an electronic pass

(C) Install barriers and consider turning a service bridge into a new public walkway at a cost of around £1.5m

A Bridge Too Far:

East Midlands Trains have launched an attack on free space and freedom of movement in Sheffield, closing off public access to our railway station. Their plans to install ticket gates at the bridge through Sheffield station, cutting off access to a vital route, have faced determined opposition from the grassroots group Residents Against Station Closure, and a poll on the subject found 94% of Sheffield residents opposed it, but EMT have refused to listen to objections. They claimed they were going into negotiations, and then suddenly closed the route off without issuing any warning. Residents of Norfolk Hill and Park Hill, and anyone using the tram stop at the back of the station, will be forced to use a longer and more inconvenient route, making life much harder for disabled people and those with young children.

But this issue doesn’t just affect them: it’s a sign of a much larger and more worrying trend. A spokesman for East Midlands trains said that “a line had to be drawn”, and we agree – by making this decision, EMT have put their profit margins ahead of the views of the 2,076 Sheffielders who signed a petition opposing the barrier, and we can’t let them get away with it.

It raises serious questions about democracy when a scheme so universally unpopular with pretty much everyone can be pushed through. As for our elected representatives, MP Richard Caborn boasts that he’s “told them not to do a daft thing like this again”, but what’re the chances of them actually listening to him? If we’re going to defend the principle that public needs come before private profit, it’ll take more than fine words from politicians – we need to build a large and militant movement, capable of scaring the arrogance out of bosses who’ll never listen to our views unless they’re forced to.

As Sheffield Anarchists, we support Residents Against Station Closure and their fight against East Midlands Trains closing off access to our station. We support RASC because the arguments they make are true: this will make access much harder for disabled people and those with young children, as well as closing off a vital route for local residents and workers. But as anarchists, we also think that this is a bigger issue than just ticket barriers.

Over the last few years, we’ve seen public spaces in Sheffield grow more and more closed off and regulated. As the old city centre is torn down to make way for new glossy corporate investments, any hint of individuality has to be driven out. The eviction of the Matilda Social Centre, and other, more short-lived attempts to set up social centres, are just one example of this. We’ve also seen an increase in CCTV, in “community support officers” who harass bored teenagers in an attempt to distract attention from the fact that they don’t actually have any real powers to fight crime, and other similar forms of control. And this isn’t just a local issue: the government’s plans for ID cards and national databases show the kind of total power over our lives they hope to get – if we’ll let them.

This certainly isn’t just a government problem – as these tickets barriers show, big companies are equally keen to crack down on our freedom of movement and access to public space, especially if there’s a chance they’ll make a bit of money out of it. as anarchist we want to help win the fight against ticket barriers, but we also want to see it as the start of a much wider campaign for free spaces and freedom of movement.

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