It wouldn't happen in Manchester or Leeds, says Hull councillor as northern leaders unite over closure of Paragon station entrance

Transport for the North chairman John Cridland is to write a letter to TransPennine Express setting out northern leaders' "disquiet"
Transport for the North chairman John Cridland is to write a letter to TransPennine Express setting out northern leaders' "disquiet"
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The body representing northern transport leaders has urged under-fire rail operator TransPennine Express to reconsider its closure of an entrance to Hull's main railway station after being told the move had united the entire city in opposition.

Strategic transport body Transport for the North (TfN) is to write to TransPennine about its pilot scheme which has seen the Anlaby Road entrance to Hull Paragon Interchange closed for seven hours a day since June 17.

Greater Manchester metro mayor Andy Burnham

Greater Manchester metro mayor Andy Burnham

The measure was introduced after a 50 per cent increase in anti-social behaviour and the operator says it sees more incidents at Hull Paragon than any of its other stations, despite it not being the biggest site it operates.

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Read more: Closing station entrance at Hull Paragon is 'absolutely bonkers' says council leader

Other measures include piping in classical music at the station and laying on extra security. The closure is a trial and TransPennine says it has already resulted in a big drop in anti-social behaviour since being introduced in June.

Darren Hale, the deputy leader of Hull City Council, told a meeting of TfN's board in Leeds that the gate shut by TransPennine is where all private hire drivers drop off passengers for the railway station, meaning they have to walk through a private hotel car park or take a longer detour.

He said: "We are absolutely adamant as a local authority from the chief exec downwards that no council officer has agreed or ever consented to that. To be informed that something is happening is not the same as being consulted."

The Labour councillor added: "Disabled people are told that they can ring a bell and it will be opened. This is not the way to treat disabled people in our view. Unfortunately some people are attending and pressing the bell and are being told they don't look very disabled.

"We are a ferry port to Europe so often it is people arriving by train who also want to go off or arrive at the ferry terminal."

Coun Hale told the meeting that the rail unions were unhappy at their members "getting the flak" from people angry at not being able to enter.

He said: "People are never unanimous in Hull, we are quite a troublesome bunch on occasions but somehow TransPennine have united the people of Hull on this issue, with two Lords, three MPs and a unanimous council motion.

"It is a bigger issue than just this gate. We are supposed to be partners with this rail franchise, how can this happen without consultation with this body or with us as a constituent member. The wider issue is, this would not happen in Manchester, this would not happen in Leeds, so why could it happen in Hull?"

Responding to the claims, Greater Manchester metro mayor Andy Burnham said the TfN board should give its "wholehearted backing" to Hull council.

He added: "It follows a pattern. I think it could happen in Greater Manchester or happen in Leeds. It is an industry that I don't think has learned the lessons of last year, that is running itself for its own convenience and not thinking about the wider impact on cities and what goes on in cities.

"They have got to be working very hard in my view to regain the trust of local authority partners and have gone back into the mode of running their own thing and would rather shut everything else out, it is not acceptable. It could be any of us next."

TfN chairman John Cridland proposed to write a letter from the board to TPE to "express our disquiet" and urge them to enter into talks with Hull council about having a "proper consultation".

During the meeting, the TfN board backed a raft of measures to give the North of England greater scrutiny of the region’s railways, based on recommendations made in a report by Leeds City Council leader Judith Blake.

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Responding to the timetable chaos in the North last summer, the report suggested the creation of a ‘Passenger Promise’ with the train companies as well as a greater link with passenger groups.

Describing the situation in Hull, Coun Blake said: "This goes to the heart of the problems with the timetable disaster last year.

"The whole industry is failing to put the needs of the passengers first. Perhaps we could use this as the first example of how we could put some teeth behind our words."

A spokesman from TransPennine Express said: “Year on year, before the trial, we had seen a 50 per cent increase in anti-social behaviour incidents at Hull Paragon station, and doing nothing about that was simply not an option.

"We consulted with local leaders in January, and since then have taken onboard recommendations from the British Transport Police, working with them on a Crime Reduction Plan with the aim of decreasing the amount of anti-social behaviour and vandalism that Hull Paragon station experiences.

“The trial closure of the Anlaby Road entrance between 09:30 and 16:30 is one of the initiatives that is being implemented, and there is also an increase in targeted patrols at the station, as well as extra security and the playing of classical music.

"So far during this trial we have seen a noticeable decrease in anti-social behaviour and vandalism when the Anlaby Road entrance is closed.

“Customers who are vulnerable, have a disability or those who require extra assistance can still use the Anlaby Road entrance and should call the dedicated number which is clearly signposted. We have also installed a motion censored PA system that plays out the number for anyone who may be partially sighted.

“We believe that this trial is a step in the right direction in tackling anti-social behaviour at Hull Paragon Station and we hope to create a safer and more enjoyable environment for our customers and colleagues.”