Saturday, 11 February 2017

Our MP, Chris Philp, Update



Dear Resident,

Below is an update on some of the local issues I have been working on recently. This includes: the proposed 20 mph zone; Southern Rail; new strike laws; Purley Skyscraper; Westfield/Fairfield Halls/Lion Green Road and local district centre parking.

Proposed Blanket 20 MPH Zone

The council is proposing to introduce a blanket 20mph speed limit on almost all roads (except a few main roads) in the southern half of the Borough. In the north, they had a proper yes/no “referendum” a few months ago but in our area it is just a consultation in which you can object but cannot “vote” (this is because the council fear there would be more votes against than for). While I agree that there are many places – such as near schools – that would benefit from a 20 mph limit, a blanket 20 mph limit seems like a very blunt instrument. I have a number of concerns. The cost of implementing it is very high – £1.5m. The Police have said there are no additional resources to enforce it, creating a false sense of security for pedestrians. There is more pollution and congestion at low speeds and existing 20 mph zones will lose their significance. Personally, I think the £1.5m would be better spent on properly targeted and enforced action at accident blackspots or where residents on a particular street want a 20 mph limit.

Please do respond to the consultation by 15th February by emailing objections@croydon.gov.uk giving your views, with reasons. You need to quote a reference number as follows:
Coulsdon, Purley, Kenley, Waddon (south of Duppas Hill), Sanderstead (west of Limpsfield and west of Sanderstead Rd/Hill): PD/CH/A63 (zone 5)
Waddon and Old Town north of Duppas Hill Rd: PD/CH/A61 (part of zone 3)
South Croydon (east of Brighton Rd), Croham, Selsdon and Sanderstead east of Limpsfield Rd and east of Sanderstead Road/Hill): PD/CH/A62 (part of zone 4)
Southern Rail
The situation with appalling service on Southern Rail continues to be unacceptable. People have had to quit their jobs or been unable to see their families as a result. I have been pushing for action in a number of areas – some have resulted in action already and some I am still working on.

GTR should lose the franchise

I have been calling since May 2016 for Govia Thameslink Railway (GTR), who operate Southern, to lose the franchise. I most recently called for this on the floor of the House of Commons during a debate on 24th January.  Although the Government has not yet agreed to strip the franchise from Southern, I am pleased by recent reports that they are actively considering this.

Compensation

Rail users deserve compensation for the terrible service being provided by Southern. I called for compensation for season ticket holders, which I am pleased the Government agreed to fund in December. Annual Season ticket holders will get a one month refund and weekly or monthly season ticket holders will receive a pro rata amount. Unfortunately, people who tap in and tap out (which includes me) will not be eligible. Southern Rail has written to customers eligible for a refund. If you have not heard yet, please call 0345 647 0745.

Points and Signals Improvements

Many problems are caused because points and signals break down frequently due to a lack of maintenance over the years. I therefore met the Chancellor one-to-one at 11 Downing Street on 9th November and I met the Prime Minister on 19th December in her office to ask for funding to overhaul the points and signals and other infrastructure.

As a result, in January the Government agreed to spend the £300m needed to refurbish the points and signals so that they do not break down so often. This work programme will start almost immediately and will take 2 years, but improvements should be visible within a matter of a few months.

Wider scale Infrastructure Upgrade

Passenger traffic on the Brighton mainline has doubled over the past few years. There is not enough capacity on the line. The pinch-point is the stretch of track from East Croydon to Selhurst junction, as all the London-bound trains from across Surrey, Sussex and parts of Kent and Hampshire funnel through this section. We need to increase capacity by widening East Croydon from 6 to 8 platforms and grade-separating Windmill Hill Junction near Selhurst. The track between East Croydon and Windmill Hill also needs to be widened. This project will cost about £1 billion and I am lobbying for it to be included in the next big capital works programme starting in 2019. I have been privately assured that this should happen, but I will keep pushing.

Strikes

The RMT and ASLEF strikes, both official and unofficial, have made a bad situation abysmal. There have been 40 days of strikes in the last 6 months, which have often shut the network down. Strikes have also affected the service on non-strike days, due to a driver overtime ban, work-to-rule and very high levels of purported sickness.

The RMT and ASLEF were striking over who presses the button to open and close the doors. There are no job losses and no pay cuts. Trains that are currently scheduled to have a driver and conductor will continue to be. There is no safety issue (contrary to Union claims), as numerous independent safety bodies have found that drivers operating the doors is safe. All of London Underground operates with Driver Operated Doors as does 30% of UK surface trains and most continental European trains. The RMT President Sean Hoyle made clear his own rather unpleasant motivation for the strikes here: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=tH7-vWOfT_w

I have been calling for the unions to end their needless strike with a sensible compromise, and I am pleased that last week ASLEF agreed a reasonable deal with GTR, which they will now put to their members. I hope that the RMT follow ASLEF’s example by reaching a similar reasonable deal. If these strikes can be resolved then we can all concentrate on getting a proper service re-instated.

I will keep pressing on these issues until the service is improved. I have recorded some further thoughts here: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=lMenxoRD2dI

Strike Laws

Because of the huge personal problems local people have faced due to the strike action mentioned above, I put forward a Private Member's Bill in January to recognise commuters’ rights to get to work alongside the right to strike.

Under my proposed law, strikes on critical national services (such as rail, tubes, buses and the NHS) should have to be “proportionate and reasonable” in the view of a High Court Judge. The judge would weigh up the complaint of the striking workers against the impact on the wider public in deciding what is “proportionate and reasonable”. The judge would also specify a level of basic service that would be available during any strike. The law in Canada, Spain and Italy works this way with a basic service level ensured when strikes do occur.

I do not dispute the right to strike for a moment. But the public also has a right to get to work and not be forced out of their own jobs by union action. Current legislation does not give this balance. My speech introducing the Private Member's Bill is here (the first 35 seconds are the formal pre-amble): https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=0L1nii-OiME

My proposal gained the support of 127 other backbench MPs – 70% of eligible Conservatives – which for a Private Member’s Bill is a huge number. However, the Labour Party teamed up with the SNP to enforce a three-line whip against the Bill. Since the 140 Conservative MPs who are Government Ministers are not able to vote on a Private Member’s Bill, the Bill was out-voted. I am therefore now pressing the Government to adopt the legislation as a Government measure.

Interviews I gave on this topic on Sky News and the BBC are here:
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=TDu47AFQ-UQ and here https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=utmpmbAzAAU

Purley Skyscraper and Planning Issues

In December, the council’s planning committee unbelievably gave planning consent to the 17 floor skyscraper in Purley. I went along to the meeting with about 100 local residents to make clear our objections and those of around 9,000 local people who signed my petition. The Skyscraper is completely out of keeping with Purley (where the next tallest building is only 4 floors) and there are only 20 parking spaces for 220 flats. A development of 5 or 8 floors with proper parking would have been reasonable, but the skyscraper is not. I have now formally asked the Mayor of London Saddiq Khan to veto the application.

The planning committee sadly divided along party lines – with the 4 Conservative members voting against and the 6 Labour members all voting for the skyscraper. We are unfortunately now seeing a very clear pattern of Labour councillors from the north and centre of the Borough (who are currently in the majority) voting through unsuitable planning applications in the south, of which the skyscraper is just the most obvious example. Other examples include placing a Gypsy & Traveller site next to Purley Oaks tip (which is currently being considered by the planning inspector). I do not like to be party-political, but they are just not listening and the only way to stop this happening is to change control of the council at the council election in May 2018. If you would like to help us do this by delivering leaflets, knocking on doors, becoming a council candidate, making a donation or helping out in some other way, please email croydonconservatives@tory.org.

Westfield, Fairfield Halls and Lion Green Road

There is still no sign of work starting on the planned Westfield shopping development in Croydon town centre. This is concerning as delays seem to continue mounting up. There is also no sign of substantive work starting to re-furbish the Fairfield Halls, despite the fact they closed last July. Similarly, there is no sign of any work taking place on Lion Green Road car park despite its partial closure 18 months ago. I am pressing the council to pursue these projects with a greater sense of urgency – it is a real missed opportunity for the Borough for so much time to pass on these critical projects with seemingly little happening. It suggests that the council is not pursing these projects very competently.

Coulsdon and Purley Town Centre Parking

Some good news to end with. Following a vigourous campaign by me and by many local residents, we will shortly be seeing the re-instatement of 1 hour free parking in Coulsdon town centre (which had been downgraded to 30 minutes). Purley and some other district centres will also have one hour’s free parking. This will help local traders a huge amount, and is to be warmly welcomed.

I hope this update is useful. Please have a look at www.chrisphilp.com, which is kept regularly updated, for further local news and information.

With best wishes,
 
Chris Philp MP
Member of Parliament for Croydon South

Want to help me in the constituency?
Have an idea for a project?
E-mail  -croydonconservatives@tory.org

Wednesday, 1 February 2017

Return to 1hr Parking in Coulsdon Town Centre - Date to be Confirmed

We received the following letter from Stuart King yesterday. 

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As representatives of residents associations in Coulsdon, I am contacting you to inform you that last night I announced the council’s intention to reintroduce one hour free parking in our districts centres. This includes Coulsdon. The formal decision to proceed goes to TMAC next week and we will have to consult on our intentions as part of the TMO process. I am confident that we are unlikely to receive any objections.

I know there was disappointment when this decision was taken last year. As parking charges are reviewed and published annually this was in effect the first opportunity I have had to effect this change.

I hope this measure will help businesses in Coulsdon to grow and prosper.

Kind regards

Stuart

Cllr Stuart King

Cabinet Member for Transport & Environment

Woodmansterne Lagoon Masterplan

Please see above the landscape Master Plan for the main part of the lagoon site.

They are making progress with changes to the bell mouth but are not yet in a position to issue a master plan for this area.  We will, however, forward a full master plan, including the bell mouth alterations, as soon as we are able.

If you have any comments please forward to info@thecwra.co.uk