Network Rail have written to Michael Fallon MP following his visit to London Bridge Station to confirm that they will be acting on several changes which he has been calling for. Michael said:
“Following my deep concerns about capacity on platforms 1 and 2, Network Rail have assured me that they will be demolishing two of the buildings on the platforms to make extra room for passengers. Additionally, they have extended the canopy on platform 1 to encourage passengers to use the full length of the platform.
“Changes to passenger information have also been put in place with additional information screens installed.
“I welcome Network Rail acting after my visit and I will be continuing to monitor the situation at London Bridge very closely.”
Michael met managers from Network Rail today to discuss commuters concerns regarding the London Bridge Station closure and the proposed new Otford railway crossing.
Michael Fallon MP said: “Network Rail have apologised for the recent overcrowding at London Bridge station and the ensuing disruption. The train drivers should have been better informed and trained to cope with the new lay-out. I have insisted that they also improve the clarity and authority of passenger announcements, and move people more rapidly to less crowded areas.
“We face nearly two years of disrupted travel. Although the revised timetable has been trialled, I will be monitoring how it works in the coming weeks, and if there is further disruption I will be calling Network Rail back to answer questions.
I welcome Network Rail’s commitment to work with Otford Parish Council, local District Councillors and residents to secure the best option for a new and safer railway crossing. I have made it clear that residents’ views must be heard and taken into account before a final decision is made. I urge all local residents to attend the Public Information Event at Otford Village Hall this Wednesday 14th January (5-9pm).”
Sevenoaks MP Michael Fallon met Southeastern Chief Executive David Statham on Friday (16th) to review the first days of timetable changes at London Bridge and to register his constituents’ dissatisfaction with the current services.
After the meeting Mr Fallon said: “Sevenoaks commuters have too few options. The current tube and bus concessions should be extended to other stations, including Victoria and Bank. I am pressing TfL to look again at the potential numbers at each station.
“There is still too much confusing information. Apps, websites and station indicators are all reporting slightly different service information. I want Southeastern to speed up a single version of the truth so that all passengers have the same information at the same time.
“David Statham will be travelling in from Sevenoaks early one morning this coming week, and I will be at London Bridge on Tuesday evening to see for myself if the peak hour crowd handling has improved.
“I have pressed Southeastern on compensation. The length of the London Bridge works and the uncertainty about the actual effect on journey times as the works move into the next phases, justify a discount for season ticket holders. I also believe that there is a strong case for reducing the compensation threshold to 20 minute delays, at least for the period of the rebuild, and I have asked Southeastern to cost this.
“Finally I have asked Southeastern to be ready to make minor changes as necessary, for example to train lengths, without waiting for the next formal timetable reviews.”
I have been made aware of residents’ concerns about an increasing number of criminal acts which have occurred in and around Ash recently. I would like to assure locals that I have been working with Kent Police and local District Councillors to try to get this spate of crime reduced.
Michael joined members of the West Kent branch of the Federation of Small Businesses (FSB) in Otford today to provide support and advice to their members. Among the shops he visited in the High Street were Mille Fleurs (bespoke hats) and the Bill Skinner Studio (bespoke jewellery).
Jane Cave has been a milliner since 1982 and set up the shop Mille Fleurs in 1997. The shop also hosts a workshop, where bespoke hats are made on-site using traditional millinery techniques.
The Bill Skinner Studio creates collections using traditional techniques as well as state-of-the-art technology such as 3D printing. The company employs 14 people at three different locations and exports internationally following extensive restructuring three years ago.
Michael said: “The small business rate-relief has helped many businesses. However, I am also keen to support the cutting of red tape in any way possible. Small businesses in small villages don’t get the same footfall as in the larger towns. There is strong competition from the internet so anything that we can all do to help to promote local small businesses must be worthwhile.”
Sevenoaks MP Michael Fallon is due to meet the new Chief Executive of Southeastern Rail, David Statham, and Network Rail managers in the next week to discuss the closure of London Bridge Station, rail fares and the general standard of service offered to commuters.
Michael said:“Sevenoaks commuters deserve a better standard of service. I will be calling on Network Rail and Southeastern to work more closely together to ensure that disruption is kept to a minimum. I will also continue press for commuters to be allowed to use alternative stations to complete their journey at no additional cost for the duration of the disruption.
Rail fares increases have been at the maximum allowed each year. Commuters are already paying very large amounts – it’s time they had a break.”
Small Business Saturday is a day to celebrate our all our small businesses and encourage everyone to support them in the next few weeks and beyond.
Michael said: “Small businesses are the lifeblood of our economy. They have played an instrumental part in creating jobs here in Sevenoaks and Swanley and are vital to our continued economic prosperity.
“I am urging us all to think ‘small’ on Saturday, 6th December and in the future – to support all the small businesses in our local communities.”
HW Coldbreath Butchers is a historic firm which traces its origins to 1861. The business, now run by Master Butcher Robert Martin, is being expanded with support from Barclays. It closed recently for refurbishment for several weeks but it is now back in action with more space and better equipment.
Robert was trained by his late father, Chris, who had over 40 years’ experience in supplying premium quality meat and poultry having taken over the business in 1976.
Michael performed the re-opening ceremony, congratulated Robert and his team on the new look premises and wished them well for the future.
The Martin family has a prize-winning herd of cattle based at Ightham which provides the business with its own home-grown beef. Their commitment to quality means that they have expanded beyond their loyal local customer base and now supply the National Trust, local independent schools, restaurants and golf clubs. They also have a popular catering service which specialises in hog roasts – one of which was being put on at the time of the re-opening.
The ECA’s south-east regional office is based in Sevenoaks and Michael met ECA staff and representatives from member companies today to discuss their concerns over proposed changes to apprenticeship funding.
The ECA has some 2,800 members ranging from local electricians to national companies with several branches employing thousands of contractors. Around 80% of the membership is made up of SMEs.
Potential solutions to help small businesses to continue to employ and train apprentices by reducing extra bureaucracy and red tape were covered. Michael agreed to report back to Nick Boles MP, the Government’s Skills Minister with the very useful points that were raised at the meeting.