Councillor complains over station waiting room closure at Lewes

Cllr Carolyn Lambert: 'Vulnerable customers would have been unnerved'
Cllr Carolyn Lambert: 'Vulnerable customers would have been unnerved'

A Lib Dem county councillor has made a formal complaint to Southern Rail about the closure of a waiting room at Lewes Railway Station – and the “dismissive and rude” reaction of staff.

Cllr Carolyn Lambert said the purpose of a waiting room is to provide shelter and warmth for paying passengers but found the facility on Platform 3 at Lewes full of men in high viz jackets on Monday afternoon (November 5).

She said: “When I walked in and sat on the one remaining seat, braving the somewhat intimidatory atmosphere, one of them said ‘You can’t sit in here – this is a mess room.’

“I thought this was a joke, so replied, ‘That’s OK, I’m messy.’ A few minutes later, another official arrived and informed me that the waiting room was being closed and locked to paying passengers so that staff could keep their bags secure. I was then forced out onto the platform to wait the remaining 10 minutes for the Seaford train.

“There was no sign on the door nor was there any prior warning that this service would not be available but then why should I be surprised?

“The attitude of staff was dismissive and rude and certainly did not demonstrate any concern for customer welfare.

“Luckily it wasn’t raining and I am neither frail nor disabled. More vulnerable customers would have been very unnerved.”

Cllr Lambert, of Chapel Close, Seaford, added: “Southern Rail is clearly being run not for the benefit of paying passengers but for the convenience of its staff.”

A spokesman for Southern said: “We close one of Lewes station’s three waiting rooms during the afternoon of every Lewes Bonfire day for use by the police and security officers working at the event.

“Our station manager explained this to the few passengers in the room at the time, who were welcome to use one of the other nearby waiting rooms while their train arrived. We apologise for any inconvenience.”