My Week

On Monday I met the General Secretaries of the RMT (guards) and ASLEF (drivers) rail unions to discuss Southern Rail’s service.


Serious ongoing disruption to the trains has massively inconvenienced my constituents, most of whom blame Southern.  But while I have been fiercely critical of the company in the past, I am sure that the current problems are being caused by industrial action.


The unions are objecting to the introduction of new trains with driver operated doors, despite the fact that these are already used extensively across the network.  No staff will lose their jobs, and most trains will still have another staff member on board, in addition to the driver.


As well as strikes there have been inexplicably high levels of staff ‘sickness’, and staff have not been making themselves available to work overtime as usual in addition to their four-day week, resulting in a serious shortage.


I have repeatedly raised these problems with ministers, and next week I will speak in yet another Commons debate which has been called on the issue.


I will be clear: while I am more than ready to arraign Southern or Network Rail for their failures, no-one should be in any doubt that the current disruption is mostly being caused by an effective work-to-rule by rail staff.


It is totally unacceptable to inconvenience the public in this way, and passengers’ interests should come first.


On Tuesday I spoke at a seminar about police transformation and later I attended a Cancer Research UK meeting with a wonderful new local charity, Cancer United, about how the risk of cancer can be reduced.


On Thursday evening I will attend the Steyning Area First Responders dinner in Steyning.  On Friday I will visit Clapham & Patching School, and will then attend the West Sussex Community Minibus Association AGM in Fittleworth.  Later I will hold my constituency surgeries in Arundel and will then attend a photocall at the Black Rabbit pub for The Kennel Club to support promotion of their Be Dog Friendly Awards.


In the evening I will attend a Reception of the Arundel & South Downs Conservative Association’s Patrons' Club in Arundel which is being addressed by Mims Davies, the newly elected MP for Eastleigh.


On Saturday I will be going on a tour of the popular Arundel Brewery in Ford, and in the evening I will attend a summer dinner of the Steyning & Downland Conservatives.


No doubt a topic of conversation will be the Conservative Party’s leadership and who will be the next Prime Minister.  And on that subject … more later.

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7 July 2016

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