Beckton wheelchair-user blasts candidates

From left: Samir Jassal, Stephen Timms, hustings chair Jean Eveleigh, Rachel Collinson and Paul Reyn

From left: Samir Jassal, Stephen Timms, hustings chair Jean Eveleigh, Rachel Collinson and Paul Reynolds - Credit: Archant

A wheelchair-user told four parliamentary candidates they had make her feel “worthless” on Wednesday.

East Ham Conservative Samir Jassal, East Ham Labour candidate Stephen Timms, West Ham Green Rachel Collinson and West Ham Lib Dem Paul Reynolds were at a question and answer session at St Mark’s Church and Community Centre organised by disability rights group Transport for All.

Shani Thomas, of Beckton, told them she was angry with their lack of engagement with disability groups.

“I’m very angry not one of you came before a pressure group asked you to,” she said. “It makes me feel worthless.”

She accused them of only coming to speak to the group for election support.


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“Why does it take a general election?” she said.

“Why did you not think of this before?”

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Green candidate Rachel Collinson said she sympathised.

“I spent a year in a wheelchair and transport was horrendous,” she said. “We are committed to re-nationalising the railways.

“I would rather trust disabled access to a joined-up rail track in national hands,” she said. “The East Coast Rail Service managed much better than the failing franchise we took it over from.”

She also wants to introduce a 20mph speed limit in urban areas.

Transport for All presented an election demand that candidates commute with a disabled person.

Mr Jassal said he would love to come along: “Unless you get first-hand experience you don’t realise how difficult it is.”

Both Stephen Timms and Rachel Collinson said they would be “delighted” to do so. Transport for All will arrange a trip with the candidate elected on May 7.

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