|Used with kind permission of Tracey Crouch|
Arriva buses had cut the evening service 155 bus which had run from Chatham via Rochester, Borstal and onto Aylesford. It's an important route for those who live out in Eccles & Borstal as there is no real alternative transport and to be honest Aylesford is a bugger to get to by train from the Medway towns.
The Independent campaign has fought hard and contacted their elected representatives (cllrs Tolhurst & Baker both Conservatives and of course the local MP Tracey Crouch).
Whilst the campaigners and councillors met with portfolio holder Phil Filmer, Tracey got quite heavily involved with both peoples and indeed Arriva having Several! meetings.
It was agreed very recently that there be a stay of execution of six months whilst Arriva looks at figures and there is a sort of "use it or lose it" campaign.
As the campaigner's website states "Proof the tide of rural decline can be reversed when people come together to make it happen" - the very soul of democracy and localism and something I applaud.
It is interesting that the local voice of the opposition misses Tracey's role and instead absorbs a lot off the glory for himself. Although I do agree with the Labour record at trying to bring the Conservative administration in Medway to account and he has spoken of this before - I found a couple of loopholes in his arguments.
Firstly the bus station. Regular readers will know that I have consistently said what a complete shambles this was and both of us agree on that. It is kind of a seperate issue though in this case as it has nothing to do with ticket prices and the 155.
Secondly, looking at the stats. The drop of 9.3m to 8.9 m does seem large but it isn't even 5%. In a year that is hardly a drastic figure and could reflect any number of causes not just prices. Lets be honest, they've a business to run and with fuel prices going up - which they have consistently under the Coalition AND Labour (who brought in the fuel regulator) and with the withdrawal of Council subsidy as they, like the last Labour government felt that it should be up to users to make up the difference rather than taxpayers.
Any way, that's by the by.
The third point interested me the most. It was the useage of this phrase;
Those residents from outside Medway have also been specifically impacted by the cut to thr (sic) 155 service which goes through two Medway wards and impacts many of my residents in Burham, Eccles and Wouldham.
Hold up Custer... from memory Tracey is their MP until the 2015 election. As a PPC who was elected to that position all of 3 months ago, who already represents Luton & Wayfield and a resident of Rochester how are they your residents? After all they haven't elected you (yet). It is fair to shout when their MP has failed them but in this case surely Tracey and you agree on the outcome?
Any way, as everyone has omitted in their works on the subject I wanted to take this space to say:
Well done Tracey!
She's worked hard on this and has secured a vital transport lifeline for the rural residents in her Constituency.
You may think it strange that an "Opposition" party member is supporting the MP but... Credit where credit is due.
When a broad budget is voted on and cuts are made by Government and Council there will always be chinks in the armour like the 155. The mark of a good local MP and Councillor is one who can stand up for residents and campaigners and fight for the important ones that have slipped by along with ones that can be lost.