Thursday, 28 April 2011

Deal goes highspeed in October

Tonight Wednesday 27 April 2011 at Kent County Council's 3rd Rail Summit it was announced that from October, Deal and Sandwich will gain inclusion into the Southeastern highspeed network.

Three morning services will stop at Deal at 05.56, 06.22 and 06.52 with three services stopping in the evening departing from St Pancras at 17.40, 18.40 and at one later time to be announced nearer to the launch.

This is fantastic news for Deal and long overdue, the campaign to get all day highspeed services and improved mainline services for Deal must continue.

The immediate challenge now will be to make sure Deal is ready and able to maximise the benefit to the local economy that highspeed services can deliver.

I would like to take this opportunity to thank Conservative cllr Julie Rook for making sure that Deal had a voice in the KCC Rail Action Plan. Over the last few months I have given Deal & Dover MP Charlie Elphicke a hard time which I am unapologetic but as I wrote in a previous post this was a key issue for his constituents and it appears he has delivered.

Monday, 18 April 2011

Charlie Elphicke: Ministerial ambition threatened by Southeastern

May to September 2010
Cast your mind back to last May, one of the key marginal’s the Conservatives needed to gain in the election to have any chance of returning to power was DEAL & Dover. Tory newcomer Charlie Elphicke was victorious and by September had held talks with Southeastern and Network Rail to discuss bringing highspeed trains to Deal and Sandwich. He commented "I am very grateful to Network Rail and Southeastern trains for agreeing to review connections. And for providing me with costings so I can make our case to the Rail Minister. I do not want anyone to get their hopes up yet - this is going to take time. Yet I am cautiously optimistic."

November to December 2010
Just a few days after failing to attend the Rail Stakeholders Forum attended by Vince Lucas, service delivery director of Southeastern to argue for the highspeed extension for Deal. MP Charlie Elphicke told the Express he would not be indulging in "populist" bashing of the train operator over the "service failure" on December 1st.

He said: "Of course it's frustrating, but everyone knows that thankfully this doesn't happen all the time and we need to get it clear as soon as possible. I'm not going to jump on the bandwagon, it's difficult for everyone."

January to February 2011
Maidstone and the Weald MP Helen Grant was not as forgiving to Southeastern over the service failure on December 1st which left Kent commuters abandoned and with no information. She arranged and attended meetings with Southeastern and Network rail to demand improved services and object to the extortionate fare increases imposed in the first week of January, 6.2% on average (12.7% for Deal).

March to April 2011
Maidstone and the Weald MP Helen Grant welcomed Southeastern's announcement of a new High Speed service from Maidstone West to St Pancras International, which is to come into service at the next timetable change on 22 May.

Recently Charlie Elphicke has stated that his "Peoples Port" proposal had taken up a significant amount of his time. The pinnacle of this proposal being the farcical referendum costing council tax payers £15K which was portrayed as The Big Society in motion for Dover District yet excluded Deal, Sandwich and the villages from a vote.

Residents in Deal will have also recently received their council tax demands from Dover District Council who have decided The Parish & town precept gross spend for 2011/12 is £805K for Dover and £376K for Deal, a huge financial imbalance as Deal has a higher population. My personal view is that Dover District Council can no longer be trusted with the best interests of Deal and on the 5th May council elections I will be marking my voting slip with "NO2DDC" (NO to Dover District Council).

The argument to the importance of Deal being included into the Southeastern highspeed network has already been won and is a key priority in the Pfizer Task force 30 day report. The recent Kent County Council rail action plan also states it as a key requirement of any new franchise award. But with an imminent announcement expected that Southeastern will stop highspeed services at Sandwich station during the July British Golf Open. The case for an immediate inclusion for Deal and Sandwich has never been stronger and rests with the Department of Transport. Our MP Charlie Elphicke is responsible for making the DfT see sense and as it is such a key issue for Deal it will be a decisive judgement on his ability from his constituents that put him in power.