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Bonkers Blog September 2015

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2 September (Part 2) - Claws out

It’s been a while since I found something in the News Shopper annoying but their letters page did it for me this morning.

Whatever was Anna Firth thinking of? I immediately thought ‘bad loser’.

She has a valid point when stating that the Labour government’s rail fare formula was a savage attack on commuters and the Coalition’s amendment was a little less so, and she should have stopped there. Instead she descended into an unbecoming cat fight about things she exhibited total ignorance on during the May 2015 general election campaign.

Anna Firth complains of 26% [Southeastern] rail fare rises under Labour but if she had looked at more recent TfL fare rises she could easily have beaten that figure. At some time or another during his seven years in office Boris Johnson has imposed double digit annual percentage increases on Travelcards, bus fares, bike charges and the Congestion Charge. A little research will find figures of 25%, 38%, even 100% quoted.

Being selective with the facts and targets for attack is to be expected from almost any politician but does Sevenoaks Council Cabinet Member Anna Firth have to make it so personal?

She started her Erith and Thamesmead campaign in January pointing at rubbish in the streets and standing at railway stations and her letter implies that Teresa Pearce ignored the issues by sitting on her bum elsewhere. In a manner of speaking that is true. Teresa was sitting on the green benches in the Commons when she wasn’t confined to a meeting room in Portcullis House as a member of the Treasury Select Committee. Her campaign couldn’t start until three weeks before the election.

One of the few things I have in common with Teresa Pearce is that we have both been using the North Kent railway line for around 30 years, 1984 in my case, 1985 in hers I believe. I think I know it pretty well, Teresa will likely feel the same.

One thing we both know far better than a resident of Sevenoaks, well Halstead if you must be pedantic, is that Woolwich Dockyard station, sandwiched between two tunnels, will only ever be able to take ten coach trains. Anna Firth may think she can wave a magic wand and see twelve coaches stopping there but until we get new trains equipped with selective door opening, it’s a non-starter. And that isn’t going to happen because Anna’s government hasn’t ordered any.

The cat woman says Teresa Pearce MP “had more important issues on her agenda” than campaign for better train services. Anna is absolutely right, Teresa Pearce was engaged in Parliamentary business.

Now that the electorate has declared Anna to be a loser, Teresa has been able to devote more time to Southeastern trains. She too has had a meeting with Claire Perry the Under Secretary at the Department of Transport. Improving Southeastern is a hard nut to crack. That last meeting didn’t go too well because the government has extended Southeastern’s franchise without them having to go through the bidding process.

Undeterred, Teresa is due to tackle Claire Perry again next week. What’s Anna doing? Is the Sevenoaks line so very much better?
News Shopper
Click letter for the News Shopper’s August 19th report.


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