GUISELEY and Rawdon's Labour Councillors Oliver Edwards and Eleanor Thomson have strongly condemned the Government's proposed closures of ticket offices at Guiseley and Menston railway stations.

Rail operator Northern announced earlier this month that it proposes to close ticket offices at 131 stations across its network, including Guiseley, Menston and Ilkley.

The move is being mirrored throughout the country by rail firms, which say increasing numbers of passengers are buying tickets online, via apps or from station machines.

In an official submission to a consultation which closes this week, Councillors Edwards and Thomson slammed proposals saying they will result in poorer passenger services for residents and visitors at both Guiseley and Menston, as well as threatening the jobs of locally-employed staff.

Their submission highlighted the impact on passengers, including passenger safety and support for those who might struggle to access digital alternatives.

As a member of the West Yorkshire Combined Authority Transport Committee, Cllr Edwards has joined colleagues from across West Yorkshire in registering the strong opposition from across the region to these proposals.

Cllr Thomson said: "There are a significant number of people within our communities who would struggle to use digital alternatives for different reasons. These proposals do not offer them the assurance that they can access the support they need to use our rail network with confidence."

She added "At a time when we should be encouraging more people to travel by train, these government proposals represent a significant step backwards."

Cllr Edwards said residents of all ages had highlighted the sense of safety and security that comes from staffed stations.

"Staffed stations are essential for assisting the travelling public when things go wrong and ensuring that people feel safe when using the railways," he said. "This is especially true outside of peak hours, when staff have been able to alert the police to potential trouble."

West Yorkshire's mayor has also spoken out against the controversial plans to close railway station ticket offices.

Tracy Brabin describes the proposals as "insulting", and has joined with other regional mayors to call for consultation on the plans nationally to be suspended.

Ms Brabin said: "No amount of window dressing can hide the fact this move is a smokescreen for savage cutbacks."

The consultation for Northern closes this week and residents can contact Transport Focus until 11.59pm on July 28.

Submissions can be e-mailed or sent by post, including the name of any specific stations people are concerned about.

Email (recommended at this stage to ensure it is received on time):

Freepost: RTEH-XAGE-BYKZ, Transport Focus, PO Box 5594, Southend on Sea, SS1 9PZ.