August 2023: Letters

Unicorn looks great…shame about the shops

THE unicorn has arrived in Downend.

She looks lovely. The person who painted her did a very good job: she sparkles in the sunshine.

But it’s a pity the shops don’t look so good – they all look sad.

It’s about time they made an effort and looked cheerful to try and get some customers to look in the windows and be surprised.

We have too many estate agents and places to eat. People just look in their windows and look away, because they are boring and not very exciting.

Spending £9,700 on green screens has not done anything for Downend. People now know how much money was wasted on these screens – a year’s wages and more for someone.

Perhaps the new working group will come up with some better ideas to make people come to Downend to shop and not just eat.

Take down the tatty bunting and the crowns: it’s all over with now.

Take a leaf out of the lovely coloured unicorn Gracie, and make Downend sparkle.

Have a window competition or something, so the shop windows make people look at them.

Perhaps Gracie will work her magic on Downend, I hope so, but we will see.

The Horseshoe pub is now looking so much better after it has been painted – it stands proud in Downend.

Laura Rickards


Thanks to helpers

I WOULD like to thank the many passers-by who helped me when I fell in Downend on Saturday July 1, including the ladies from Freshly Ground cafe and Ocean estate agents.

Special thanks to two others: a lady with a young child who phoned for both an ambulance and my wife, and stayed with me, and the young man who was a first aider, with his equipment. He bound my hand and arm very well.

Unfortunately I didn’t get the opportunity to thank them personally for their kindness.

David Powell 

Ticket office closure plans are deeply worrying

I have written to Mark Harper, the Secretary of State for Transport, to express my concern over plans to close rail ticket offices in the Filton and Bradley Stoke constituency, including at Bristol Parkway station.

On July 5, the Rail Delivery Group confirmed plans to move staff out of ticket offices and into stations, with the consultation on these significant changes to last just 21 days.

That news will be deeply worrying to elderly and disabled residents, people employed in our rail industry and all those who rely on the support and advice provided by staff in ticket offices.

One in nine tickets are still sold at physical ticket offices – over 150 million of the 1.4 billion rail journeys recorded over the past year.

Given that many of those passengers relying on ticket offices will be elderly and

disabled rail users, who may otherwise struggle to use digital alternatives, it is vital that they still have access to the support they need to use our rail network with confidence.

I have asked the Transport Secretary to tell us what will happen to the rail staff currently deployed in rail ticket offices, the impact on their job security, the impact on the safety and accessibility of the rail network for disabled and elderly passengers, and when digital and pay-as-you-go ticketing technology will be available across the whole network.

Under this Government, private operators have been allowed to profit whilst cancellations

have reached record highs, basic services like Wi-Fi are at risk of being taken away, plans to

bring reform have been scrapped and now ticket offices are facing closures, without thought for the vulnerable users that rely on them.

Our rail network is already failing passengers here, and is in desperate need of reform.

Claire Hazelgrove

Labour Parliamentary Candidate

Filton and Bradley Stoke

Closures will take away my independence

The proposed mass closure of rail ticket offices will have a hugely detrimental impact on blind and partially sighted people’s ability to buy tickets, arrange assistance and, critically, travel independently. 

Ticket offices are not just about selling tickets. They provide a reliable first point of contact for many kinds of staff assistance, such as arranging sighted guidance through the station and safely on to the train, to advising on any changes to a journey that may be required. 

I have sight loss, and I cannot use the touch-screen ticket machines that rely on the customer being able to see the screen. If the ticket offices close, I will not be able to travel independently.

The Government claims it wants to “bring staff out from behind the glass” but in truth it risks leaving blind and partially sighted people behind a new barrier.

Modernisation of our railways shouldn’t be a byword for apps and touchscreens; modernisation should mean building a rail network that takes into account everyone’s needs and doesn’t leave anyone behind.

I urge the Secretary of State for Transport to rethink these proposals. 

Steve Hyde  

Regional Campaigns Officer South West 

Royal National Institute of Blind People