Wednesday, 29 August 2012

We just want a fair commute and people to visit our town

The adage goes "you can't win the Dover constituency if you don't live in DEAL", amazingly the constituency is officially just called Dover even though the population trend would surmise it should be called DEAL and Dover.

One of the key fundamentals to a thriving town is its railway services and this is even more prevalent in a town like DEAL which has a very low job to working population ratio and an aspiring tourism industry. Charlie Elphicke Conservative MP for DEAL and Dover acknowledges this and has supported the campaign for a full highspeed rail service and has ambitions to make DEAL a high-speed town, but there may be trouble ahead.

The Southeastern franchise is up for renewal and Kent County Council and Trains4Deal want any new franchise which will start in 2014 to have a full highspeed rail service implemented for DEAL. However it is unclear whether Dover District Council support this. Their latest strategic transport priorities appear to only back the construction of an unwanted multi-storey car park at Dover Priory, presumably to force the district to drive into Dover and boost dwindling passenger numbers at Dover Priory. Many people in DEAL and Dover are increasingly questioning if Dover District Council led by Paul Watkins have the full confidence of the districts population.

Of course you could have the best rail service in the country, but if commuters can't afford to travel on it to work or if tourists can't afford to travel on it to boost tourism and the local economy it ceases to be an asset.

The government plan to raise rail fares from January next year by at least 6.2% and potentially as high as 11% on some routes. At a time when families are struggling to stay financially afloat this is pure madness. If anyone tries to fool you with the word 'investment' I suggest you take a look at the dilapidated station sign at DEAL which can no longer be read, the station clock which displays strange numbers or take a trip on the notorious mainline service. Some Kent Conservative MP's have spoken out strongly at the planned increases, surprisingly Charlie Elphicke has not.

If Labour had not have awarded Southeastern the franchise in the first place maybe some of these problems wouldn't exist. Certainly the blame for a lack of highspeed services to DEAL is entirely the last Labour Governments fault.

Clair Hawkins is the Labour Parliamentary Candidate for DEAL & Dover and has written to the Dover Express about unfair rail rises, a local girl with a lot of ambition is my initial impression of her.

The next general election will be a straight fight between the Conservatives and Labour. The 'must' win seat in the South East will be DEAL & Dover and rail services will be one of voters top issues.

Update 30th August 2012

Charlie Elphicke and Clair Hawkins have both reponded to this blog via twitter:

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