Wednesday, 19 August 2009

Medway Unfairly Singled Out For Rail Fare Hike

Medway commuters who have read London papers saying commuters are set to see an across the board fares reduction are in for a rude awakening.

Southeastern have confirmed that commuter fares to Medway and elsewhere in Kent will go up by 1.6%. This is because, while nationally regulated rail fares including commuter season tickets are limited to RPI + 1%, the government lets Southeastern put fares up by RPI + 3%. Therefore, because the July RPI on which fares are based fell by 1.4%, commuter fares nationally will fall by 0.4%, but for Southeastern and Medway they will go up by 1.6%, or about £50 for an annual season ticket to London.

It is reported in the press that this is to allow Southeastern to "increase capacity". However when Mark Reckless, Conservative Parliamentary Candidate for Rochester and Strood, put that to Southeastern previously, this was denied and Southeastern stated that the bigger fare hikes had nothing to do with the High Speed 2 ("HS2") line or increased capacity, as well they might given that capacity on other trains is being cut for HS2 which plans to charge a 30-35% fare premium!

Instead, Southeastern said they were allowed to raise fares more because the service had 'improved since Connex.'

Mark Reckless said:

"The government and Southeastern have never got their story straight as to why they are hammering Medway with bigger fare hikes than everywhere else. If it is, as Southeastern claim because the service has improved since Connex, perhaps they can explain why fares went up the same as everywhere else under Connex, but now under Southeastern Medway commuters must pay more for a service the same as everywhere else, just because they suffered a worse service under Connex?"


Tuesday, 11 August 2009

Rochester and Strood Conservatives Welcome Georgian Ambassador

Rochester and Strood Conservatives were delighted to welcome the Georgian Ambassador, His Excellency Giorgi Badridze (second from left in photo), on Saturday.

The open air dinner, kindly hosted (under a range of gazebos and umbrellas!) by Jim and Merita Jones at their home in High Halstow, marked the anniversary of Russia's invasion of Georgia last year.

At the time Gordon Brown did nothing while David Milliband merely expressed concern and called on both sides to withdraw forces, a rather puzzling response to Russia having invaded Georgia.

In contrast, David Cameron immediately flew to the Georgian capital, Tbilisi to offer support to the beleaguered democratically elected government. The ambassador identified this as the key moment which pushed the British and European governments to give diplomatic support to Georgia and negotiate a Russian ceasefire short of Tbilisi.

I was honoured to introduce the ambassador and assure him that a democratic Georgia would always have a staunch friend in Britain under a Conservative government.