Dozens of commuters gathered outside a Tube station on Saturday morning to celebrate the upcoming arrival of step-free access following a five year campaign.

The lifts at Newbury Park Station, on the Central line, are expected to be up and running next month, news which has been welcomed by Underground users, particularly the elderly and disabled.

David Stephens, chairman of Seven Kings and Newbury Park Residents’ Association (SKNPRA) which was instrumental in the project, said “There has been a long campaign by local residents to get lifts installed and this sees all that hard work rewarded by the opening of the new lifts to both platforms for early November.

“This will make travelling so much easier for so many people, particularly those with disabilities, parents/carers with babies and the elderly.

“People working together can achieve great things.”

While the original project started in 2007, it was abandoned two years’ later due to the contractor at the time, Birse Metro, falling into administration and Transport for London (TfL) money for the project not being ring-fenced.

In 2013, SKNPRA organised and led a campaign supported by Aldborough Hatch Defence Association (AHDA) for the lift works to be restarted.

The community groups sent letters, emails and made speeches at Redbridge Council meetings and at the Mayor of London’s question time.

The groups’ petition which gained more than 7,600 signatures was presented to then GLA Deputy Mayor for Transport, Valarie Shawcross, in March 2017.

Redbridge councillors from across the political spectrum and Wes Streeting, MP for Ilford North, and Mike Gapes, MP for Ilford South, backed the campaign.

The groups’ efforts to persuade the former Mayor, Boris Johnson, and then his successor Sadiq Khan to restart the project paid off.

In August 2017, Mr Khan gave the go-ahead for the lift installation works for both the eastbound and westbound platforms, and provision of a disabled toilet next to the lift serving the westbound platform.

On Saturday, October 27, members of the residents’ associations met outside the station holding banners to mark the end of their hard work.

Mark Kennedy, membership secretary and press and publicity officer at SKNPRA, said “People at the time said that we had no chance of persuading the Mayor of London and TfL to complete the works at Newbury Park station.

“Our hard work in the community, supported by members and residents, working together with AHDA proves that great things can be achieved if you believe in what you are doing and can bring good things and benefits for everyone in the community and visitors to the station.”

Newbury Park station is the first point of entry to the underground system for people living along the A12 route as far away as Romford, Chelmsford and Colchester.

It is one of the few underground stations in the area with significant car parking facilities, 456 spaces, including 6 disabled bays.

Jenny Chalmers, chairman of the AHDA, said the opening of the lifts is a “vindication of residents’ concerns” for vulnerable commuters.

Ron Jeffries of AHDA, called it “a good day for the power of protests by residents”.