FORMER Beirut hostage Terry Waite has criticised the state of Chester’s Railway Station.
Styal-born Mr Waite CBE, who wrote to The Chronicle, was unaware of a phased £11m refurbishment programme but said there was “no excuse” for weeds.
He wrote: “Dear Sir, As one who was born in Cheshire I have an affection for the City of Chester.
“Normally I visit by car but recently I decided to travel by train. I was totally depressed by the state of the railway station.
“Large weeds were growing between the tracks and the station, potentially a beautiful building, looked absolutely dreadful.
“Do not the authorities realise that for many visitors the railway station is the first impression they gain of the city? It’s enough to make them leave immediately on the next return train. Who is responsible for this disgraceful state of affairs and what do they intend to do about it?”
Speaking from his home in Hartest, Suffolk, Mr Waite continued: “I was born in Styal and I used to cycle to Chester from Styal, through Frodsham and Helsby. My recollections of Chester are of a very fine city in many ways and with quite a handsome station.”
Mr Waite had no problem with the external appearance of the station or the concourse, which have just been revamped, but said the platform area needed attention.
On a positive note, Mr Waite, said the two-hour express train from London to Chester, was “a good service”.
Mr Waite, who recently received an honorary degree from the University of Chester, is also concerned about the state of the city centre.
“Many local businesses are put out by high rates and high rents. I understand there are a lot more empty shops and charity shops and that’s not worthy of Chester,” he said.
But Rail Magazine journalist Barry Doe, gave a completely different version of the station, which he described as ‘well-maintained’ in a recent column.
But he was critical of confusing sign-posting and the ‘filthy’ subway en route to the city centre, ‘occupied by a few drunks’, one of whom asked him for spare change .
“This is the worst entrance to any town I have come across and is a disgrace. So where was I? Welcome to the city of Chester with some of the finest buildings in Britain and served by a fine station, I hope the City Fathers hang their heads in shame,” he wrote.