Sir Michael has today made clear that the Transport Secretary, Chris Grayling, needs to get a grip on the ongoing issue of train timetables.
During media appearances with BBC South East, BBC News and BBC Radio Kent, the Sevenoaks MP outlined that the Transport Secretary should use his ministerial powers to make peak time Southeastern services to stop at Eynsford and Shoreham on their way to and from London.
The Sevenoaks MP pushed for Thameslink to offer alternative transport solutions for passengers when rail services do not run properly, as well as a proper compensation scheme to be in line with the disruption that commuters have suffered. Answering questions in the House of Commons this evening, the Transport Secretary confirmed this would be rolled out, as would an independent review into the failings of the timetable implementation.
Sir Michael has this week written to the Managing Director of Southeastern, urging him to make Southeastern trains travelling through Eynsford and Shoreham stop to pick up passengers who have experienced severe delays and cancellations as a result of the Thameslink timetable changes.
The Sevenoaks MP said: “Eynsford and Shoreham are smaller villages with fewer peak-time services into London than places like Swanley and Bromley. Southeastern services stopping at Eynsford and Shoreham would ease pressure on Thameslink and I have urged them to do that so my constituents are not further inconvenienced.”
Michael has praised the “creativity and individual innovation” of local artists at an unveiling of the Eynsford Village Society Public Art Initiative installation on Eynsford Station this morning (4).
Known as “Images”, the installation is comprised of works of art, each painted in a different style by six local artists, and celebrates the unique aesthetics of the village.
Train operator Southeastern sponsored the project, and David Statham, Managing Director of Southeastern, was there to provide frames to exhibit the art along platform 1 of Eynsford Station. He said the purpose of the project is to generate interaction among people waiting for the train.
Michael said: “This is a great example of the creativity and individual innovation local people have to offer. Railway stations provide a perfect platform for public art – something that can bring people and communities together on those otherwise restive commutes to work.”
Rafferty’s, the village shop in Eynsford, was relaunched by Michael today. It is opposite Norman’s Butchers and Wards Estate Agents. The shop has recently undergone a refit and a change of direction. Lots of local produce (including Shoreham wine) is now stocked.
Many congratulations – very best wishes for the future to Rafferty’s. There was a crowd and it was great to see again Norman as well!
Michael visited three small businesses in Eynsford recently; Norman’s Butchers,Sefton Horn Winch (designers of prestigious commercial kitchens and restaurants in the UK and overseas) and G.D. Partnership, (structural engineers involved in major retail developments throughout the UK) all took the opportunity to explain their operations.
Norman’s Butchers have recently launched their 2014 Calendar entitled Hunt the Sausage, a 12-page gem featuring photographs of the village with sausages hidden within them. Images include Eynsford Castle, The World Garden, The Ford, and the butcher boys themselves.
Roger House, Chairman for the Federation of Small Businesses (FSB) in Kent and Medway said:
“The FSB was pleased to facilitate this event and for Mr Fallon to hear the experiences of real life entrepreneurs running successful companies and for them to be able to explain the challenges small businesses are facing and barriers affecting their continued growth and sustainability.”
The visits were followed by a round table discussion with representatives from several other businesses from a number of different sectors in West Kent with a common concern about employability skills and the need for students at school, college and university to be provided with more knowledge of the workplace.
Michael Fallon MP for Sevenoaks said:
“I was delighted to visit these three small businesses in my constituency as well as having the opportunity to discuss the current economic climate with various business owners and explain what the government is doing to help Small and Medium-sized Enterprises (SMEs) to grow and reach their full potential.
The UK economy is turning a corner and SMEs have a vital role in getting this country back onto a solid economic foundation. We will continue to support these businesses through the Regional Growth Fund and from April 2014 every business and charity in the UK will be given a £2,000 allowance towards their National Insurance Contributions bill. I hope these measures, amongst others, will allow businesses in Sevenoaks to flourish.”
Graham Taylor, Chairman for the FSB West Kent Branch said: –
“Businesses took the chance to express their views on a range of topics including finance and regulations and to give feedback to Mr Fallon on the merits of government initiatives to stimulate trade and exporting.”