Proposal to close the Scunthorpe station ticket office is not acceptable - Holly Mumby-Croft

Recently I received an email from TransPennine Express to tell us that, in conjunction with train operators across the country, it will be consulting on closing a number of ticket offices that it is responsible for staffing and reducing the number of hours that staff are present in stations.

The proposals as they stand are for the entire closure of the ticket office in Scunthorpe station and to change the number of hours that staff will be present in the station.

Currently, it is staffed from 5.15am to 8.15pm, Monday to Saturday. That will change to 7am to 2pm. On Sundays, the current hours of 8.30am to 8.30pm will change to 9am to 4pm. That is ridiculous. It is a halving of the hours that staff will be there. To be clear, that is completely and entirely unacceptable.

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I am particularly concerned about the impact the cuts could have on elderly residents in my constituency.

Holly Mumby-Croft is the Conservative MP for Scunthorpe. PIC: ParliamentHolly Mumby-Croft is the Conservative MP for Scunthorpe. PIC: Parliament
Holly Mumby-Croft is the Conservative MP for Scunthorpe. PIC: Parliament

The closure of the ticket office will force people to use the machines or their phones, or to pay for tickets at home using their computer.

My understanding is that older travellers are less likely to be digitally connected and to have the know-how to use the machines.

I accept that for some it will be fine, but for many it will not. In the absence of a ticket office, they may find themselves stuck. They are also more likely to be dependent on cash.

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One in five older people relies on cash for payments, according to Age UK, and under these proposals it may not always be possible for people to go into a station and buy a ticket using cash. That cannot be right.

I am also concerned about the impact that the closures could have on disabled people, and that issue has been raised with me by disabled members of my community in Scunthorpe.

According to the UK consumer digital index from Lloyds bank, people with a disability are 35 per cent less likely to have digital skills for life, meaning that in the absence of a ticket office they may be left at a disadvantage.

It is just not acceptable that we would make it harder for disabled people to travel around the country.

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On top of the difficulty in accessing tickets, the reduction in staffing time is of huge concern.

In relation to disabled members of the community and passengers who need extra help, customers with hearing impairments, for example, may find it difficult to obtain information if staffing hours are reduced, particularly if they rely on lip reading.

The screens that have the information up for the trains do not always work.

Ticket machines are, of course, not infallible. They can break, and can take a while to be replaced or repaired.

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It will simply be more difficult for some passengers to get the best deal possible without having a person there to speak to.

I am also concerned about having waiting rooms open without staff supervision, which may make them a magnet for antisocial behaviour—something that we work really hard in Scunthorpe to tackle. We do not want to invite that.

I am not alone in making these objections; they are shared widely by residents in Scunthorpe.

Holly Mumby-Croft, Conservative MP for Scunthorpe, was speaking during a debate in Parliament.