We are concerned about the impact of recent upgrade to the pedestrian rail crossing in Poole High Street and likely future increases in rail services on the line. It is noticeable, following the upgrade, that the barriers are dropped earlier, resulting in more people having to wait at the crossing for longer.
At times, there is so much congestion when the barriers lift that there becomes a logjam. One constituent has reported that on one occasion the barriers lifted only for a short period resulting in a mini panic as many people were trapped on the crossing as the warning signals were initiated.
Maintaining good pedestrian access over the railway line is critical for the future health of the town centre. The High Street is already struggling, partly because of its length and the time it takes to walk from one end to the other. Difficulties in crossing the railway line will inevitably deter more visitors from walking from the Dolphin Centre along the High Street.
The situation is particularly acute for people with disabilities or who have young children as the pedestrian bridge over the railway at this point is not DDA compliant. Poole has an ageing population and more and more people will be using electric buggies in the future. The pedestrian bridge, which is owned by Network Rail, is itself in a poor state of repair.
The Town Centre North Action Plan, now a historic document, did propose a pedestrian bridge from the Sainsbury's site to the Seldown car park (opposite the Lighthouse). The Council is now revising its Core Strategy and it is essential that the access issues relating to the railway are addressed in this high level strategic plan.
In his motion to the Poole Town and Hamworthy Area Committee, which took place on 16th July 2014, Poole People Leader and Poole Town councillor Mark Howell asked the Planning and Transportation departments to assess the issue and engage Network Rail in discussions about future access over the railway line. The motion was approved unanimously by Poole Town and Hamworthy councillors.