The pressure is building over the government’s (inept) handling of the Southern Rail dispute, which is causing so much damage to our local economy as well as tremendous inconvenience to many Eastbourne rail users.
As you will remember from last week my question to both Theresa May at PMQs and the Transport Minister was ignored. If they think that sweeping inconvenient questions under the carpet by not answering them will work, they clearly do not know me very well. As I have flagged many times over the years I’ve absolutely no hesitation whatsoever in being unreasonable on behalf of Eastbourne!
So I submitted in Westminster a further written question to the Secretary of State for Transport. It reads: “To ask the minister why he has refused to meet with the RMT and ASLEF unions together, at the same time and in the same room, with no pre-conditions, to bring this long-running dispute to an end.”
The Dft have to answer so I will let you know what they say as soon as. The reality is this dispute is at a complete impasse and someone or something has to move to break the logjam. In my opinion that should be the Department of Transport (Dft) and Chris Grayling as they’ve got us into this mess by trying to ram through Driver Only Trains, which the majority of the public simply do not want.
My advice is the Secretary of State and Dft should actually start talking to the unions together, all parties around the negotiating table, rather than spending their energy in trying to play the unions off against each other. Not least as 16 months into the dispute, the government’s divisive approach is clearly not working.
Jaw jaw, not war war is what Winston Churchill said and he knew a thing or two.
Meanwhile. Good news. I finally have my office in Westminster. Still short of furniture, IT a bit wonky, and very limited stationery but, at last, I’m in-situ. It’s quite bizarre really just how haphazard the legislative handover is in parliament from MP to MP. Other countries have a handover period where the outgoing MP handles the casework for a month or so whilst the incoming parliamentarian sets up their office and new staff, but not in dear old Blighty. Anyway, we’re (almost) there and I would like to take this opportunity to thank the readers of the Herald who have already contacted me either for casework or on policy, issues for their patience.
It was good to join colleagues on the Save the DGH stand at our brilliant 999 emergency services event over the weekend on the Western Lawns. We were asking the public for any experiences they may have had, positive and negative, of using the DGH and the Conquest. This helps us get a broader picture which can be more enlightening than pages of statistics. Our cross-community campaign group under Liz Walke’s leadership remains very much in place and at the weekend we were able to remind people of that, as well as listen to what local people had to say. Bringing back consultant-lead maternity was as much of a request as it’s ever been so it was a valuable opportunity to reassure residents that it remains one of our key objectives. And hat tip to Cllr Kathy Ballard, a newer member of the campaign group, for organising the tent and rota for the two days. Thanks Kathy. It was also a pleasure to walk around the Western Lawns afterwards and say hello to the many stall holders. Our emergency services do such an important and valued job in Eastbourne so it was a privilege, as your MP, to show our appreciation and to say hello to so many old friends.
Finally - we had our general election thank you party a few days ago. With 230 people attending it was a great event and an absolute pleasure to welcome them all. Seems an age ago when the Prime Minister Theresa May called the snap election, I suspect she’d un-call it if she could but that’s politics for you! From our perspective locally the most astonishing aspect of the election was the numbers of people, the majority never having helped a politician before, who actively stepped up for me. Over 1,400 people either donated or volunteered to help in my campaign, culminating in the election result on June 8. A genuinely humbling experience that I will never forget. Thank you all, truly.
Have a good weekend folks. Hope to see you around town.