Monday, 27 April 2009

Feedback On Southeastern Meeting

On Saturday Mark Reckless launched the new Reckless Direct feature on his website which allows Mark to report back live to constituents on local issues that are of concern. Making use of Web 2.0 software made popular by leading bloggers such as Guido Fawkes and Iain Dale, Mark Reckless is once again showing how recent innovations in online interactivity can be used to provide a better experience for local constituents at no cost to the taxpayer.

Mark chose to launch this new feature by using it to report back to commuters who participated in his recent Passenger Survey. As part of his campaign to get a fairer deal for Medway commuters, Mark Reckless recently met with Mr. Mike Gibson of Southeastern trains to discuss issues that were raised by the public, and some of these are summarised below. You can read the full transcript of Mark's feedback on the Reckless Direct page of his website.

There were three main issues discussed at the meeting, and they were;

1. Train company complaints about THEIR difficulties in the recession and lobbying to prevent passengers getting any benefit from any fall in retail prices.

2. Southeastern's proposal to charge a 30-35% premium on CTRL fast services to St Pancras

3. The very large amount of feedback Mark received that the fast(ish) services to Cannon Street and Victoria should stop at Rochester.

With regards to issue 1, Southeastern now accept that they will be held to their RPI linked fares franchise and are no longer lobbying for changes. They accept that they need to find efficiencies internally and that the recession is properly pushing them to do that.

Issue 2, Southeastern say they have done a lot of market research with City and Canary Wharf business associations, etc and this says that people think that it might be attractive to commute in from Medway, even at a 30-35% premium.

Mark pointed out that that is all very well, but those people are not living in Medway now! People here tend to commute to work that is near to Victoria and Cannon Street and will not gain much, if anything, from faster services to St Pancras.

It is possible that over time, say 5-10 years, people with jobs convenient to St Pancras may be tempted to move to Medway, but they are not here now and Mark cannot see the services attracting many people if that premium is much above 10-15% initially.

Mark pointed out that the 30-35% premium is not commercially sensible since they would make more money from 6,000 commuters paying a 15% premium than 2,000 commuters paying a 30-35% premium.

Mark Reckless's bottom line is that 30-35% is much too much, and Mr Gibson has promised Mark that he will be allowed to put his case and concerns to their Pricing Team before the decision is made.

And finally on issue 3, Mark pressed Southeastern strongly on getting fast services to Cannon Street and Victoria to stop at Rochester during rush hour. This was a major issue raised to Mark in the feedback to the survey.

Southeastern really listened to Mark that this would encourage more people to use the service as there are a lot of people in Rochester who can comfortably walk to Rochester, but not to Chatham.

This would also bring environmental benefits - and this is an important issue too for Southeastern with it receiving a public subsidy. Many people would no longer need to drive to Chatham station from across Medway, and Mark has agreed with Cllr Phil Filmer that the Council will support Mark in pressing Southeastern on this.


Friday, 24 April 2009

Southeastern Update - Live Webchat 25th April At 4pm

Once again I would like to thank everyone who took the time to respond to the recent transport survey I undertook as part of my campaign to get a fairer deal for Medway commuters on Southeastern trains.

I recently met with representatives of Southeastern to discuss the concerns that were raised through this survey and I would now like to report back to you on the results of this meeting.

Tomorrow (25th April), in what will be a first for local politics here in Medway, I will be hosting a live webchat on this site to take your questions on commuter services as they are now, and how they will look in the future. With the inflation-busting fare increases in January, possible future increases, and the new high speed service to St Pancras due to start running in December there's plenty to discuss.

If you wish to take part in this exciting new initiative, then please make sure you log on to this site tomorrow at 4pm, go to the Reckless Direct page and put your questions and feedback direct to me.

Unlike the representatives of other political parties here in Medway, we don't just talk. We listen. And this is your chance to be heard, so please join me tomorrow.

Wednesday, 22 April 2009

A Sad Day For Britain

In the mid 1990s I worked as UK economist for what was then Warburgs and stayed up late after every Budget to analyse the small print.

This time the headline is enough and it is a terrible day for our country - borrowing next year of £175bn - a number barely conceivable when Labour attacked us back then for a peak in borrowing of £46bn.

We returned that deficit to surplus within five years. It will be a lot harder this time and for one main reason. Labour aimed to borrow in the good times. At least we tried to balance the budget over the cycle. Instead Labour's policy was to aim to borrow enough so that our debt expanded in line with the economy. Of course, as soon as things went off track - as they always do - the deficit ballooned.

Labour then made it even worse by purposely borrowing even more. America may (or may not) be able to give some boost to its economy through fiscal means but sterling is no longer the world's reserve currency. As a medium sized economy heavily dependent on foreign capital we have to reassure those investors that we are solvent and good for their money.

Gordon Brown has done the opposite. Instead of trying to bolster confidence and slow the outflow of foreign money he has driven it away by announcing borrowing that those investors know we cannot afford. The consequence is a collapse both in sterling and in lending for our homebuyers and businesses.

Confidence will only come back when government shows that it will put it's house in order to get borrowing under control. Year after year the public sector has been feather bedded. 10% three year pay deals have been given away. As inflation falls they are going to become much more valuable to their recipients than expected, at the same time as hundreds of thousands lose their jobs in the private sector. Many would be more than happy to replace their public sector counterparts for significantly less pay and without a gold-plated pension.

However, this government ignores that and goes on wasting our money. It pretends to it's clients that it can carry on with this munificence and that only the Conservatives would make cuts.

Of course that it rubbish because no British government will be able to borrow this much money for very long.

There are only two options:

- either Britain votes in a Conservative government to sort out the mess and push through big savings planned as well as we can;
- or it re-elects a Labour government that before long will be making whatever cuts it is told by the EU and the IMF.


Tuesday, 21 April 2009

Forthcoming Events

Just a quick note to tell you about some exciting events we have coming up in the next couple of months that are open to all, members and non-members alike. For more info and booking details on all the forthcoming fundraising events we are running here in Medway along with a general guide to the multitude of local festivals taking place in Rochester and Strood over the summer, make sure you visit my Events page - Click Here

On April 30th we are hosting the first in a new series of political discussion groups with the first theme being 'The EU: A Conservative Perspective'. Our guest speaker for the evening will be former Gravesham MP Jacques Arnold and tickets are priced at a very reasonable £5 per person which includes a light buffet. The venue is Strood Conservative Club, 40 Cuxton Road. Given the forthcoming European elections we are expecting interest to be high for this one, so don't delay in booking as spaces are limited.

And on 11th May I am hosting a special evening at the Shozna Indian restaurant in Maidstone Road, Rochester. This restaurant is a real favourite of mine and has been serving up award-winning food for many years. Tickets for this event are priced at a very reasonable £20 per person and reservations must be made by 7 May due to expected high demand. You can find out more about the Shozna restaurants by visiting their websites - Click Here

And finally, on 21st May we will be holding the second in our new series of political discussion groups, again being hosted at the Strood Conservative Club. Our guest leader for this evening's debate will be Adam Holloway, the current MP for Gravesham. Tickets are again priced at a recession-busting £5 and all are welcome, but make sure you book early to avoid disappointment.

Remember, by attending events like these you are not only helping the efforts of your local Conservative party, you are also helping to bring about the change this country really needs. Fighting an election against this incompetent Labour government doesn't come cheap so any help you can give us is very much appreciated.

Booking Info and More Events - Click Here


Tuesday, 14 April 2009

It's Time To Back-Up The Law Abiding Majority

Chris Grayling has spoken about the urgent need to "tackle the blight of antisocial behaviour" in order to fix our Broken Society.

The Shadow Home Secretary highlighted Home Office statistics showing three million acts of antisocial behaviour recorded last year, adding, "And that's only a tiny fraction."

Pointing to the tragic events in Doncaster this week as an example of "a society that is losing its way", Chris said, "They are only the latest and probably the worst example of a whole series of incidents where children are killing or maiming other children."

We have proposed:

- Strengthening the hands of the police to deal with the problems
- Introducing grounding orders for young troublemakers, which can be easily enforced
- Making those who commit serious acts of antisocial behaviour pay for the damage and do community work.

Chris said, "Antisocial behaviour will be punished and the payback will be fast and tough."

And he stressed, "Too little has been done in the past decade. Under a Conservative Government that will change."


Thursday, 9 April 2009

Wishing You A Happy And Peaceful Easter

I would just like to take this opportunity to wish you all a happy and peaceful Easter.

If you're not getting away for the weekend and are stuck for something to do then why not take yourself and the family to the Historic Dockyard in Chatham to enjoy the Medway Festival of Steam which is being held on the 12th and 13th April. I might just see you there.

Hundreds of spectacular steam and transport exhibits! Favourites like vintage cars and classic motorbikes, commercial and military vehicles, steam traction engines and locomotives to name just a few. This year's festival, supported by KOS Media and Old Glory Magazine is THE Easter event for all the family not to be missed!

For more information - Click Here

*Image reproduced with permission


Wednesday, 8 April 2009

Southeastern Update

Just a quick update to say thank you to everyone who took the time to fill out and return the commuter surveys we handed out a couple of weeks ago, or who responded via our online transport survey. It was very interesting reading the wide range of views from rail users across Medway regarding Southeastern's performance, and it's fair to say that a large proportion of the respondents aren't really happy with the service they are getting from our rail service here in the Towns. That has got to change.

I am happy to announce that I have now met with representatives from Southeastern, and I think we have made some real progress in addressing some of the issues raised and I will be making an announcement on this in the near future as well as inviting you to take part in a proper debate on the service provided by Southeastern, so make sure you check back regularly. This is your chance to have a real say on how you would like to be treated as a hardworking commuter and taxpayer so make sure you don't miss out.

If you would like more info on taking part in our debate or would like to keep up to date with my progress regarding Southeastern or any of the other pressing issues here in Medway, then please make sure you sign up for my free email updates - click here. It doesn't cost a thing and we promise you won't be sent loads of spam email, so what have you got to lose except Gordon Brown's debt?