27-07-17 - Southeastern Franchise

Since commencing my work as a Parliamentary Candidate, and then MP for Maidstone and the Weald almost 10 years ago, campaigning to improve commuter train services has constantly been a top priority.

Customer satisfaction with Southeastern has fallen from 84% to 69% over the past 5 years and, with ever increasing train prices, discontent amongst passengers is growing. The impact of a poor train service is vast; It disrupts businesses and other services as people arrive late for work; it puts some individuals' employment at risk through persistent problems with timekeeping; at the other end of the day it causes parents to be late home, creating havoc with childcare and extended family, and adding dreadful stress to young households. In short, people across the South East deserve better.

Southeastern's deal to operate the franchise expires next year and therefore the Government must negotiate a new agreement for the provision of train services in the South East. The requirement for a new franchise represents an opportunity to put forward a shopping basket of needs and improvements for our train services. I am pleased to be one of 12 Kent MPs who have done so by writing to the Rail Minister to call for a major rethink in both the management and organisation of the Southeast franchise. Download our letter here.

We have set out a series of requests including: an increase in rolling stock to reduce overcrowding, an introduction of more flexible ticketing, an improvement in facilities both on trains and at stations and a greater focus on customer service and communication. We have also called upon Network Rail to bring forward plans to improve the railway infrastructure in the South East to help cope with ever increasing demand.

I am hopeful that our proposals will be included in the new franchise agreement and you can be assured that my colleagues and I will continue to monitor this process closely.

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Helen's column is published weekly in the Kent Messenger. Please note the print version may differ from the content here.


Local MP Helen Grant meets Rocky Hill residents

Following an electrical fire that occurred at Rocky Hill Terrace in London Road, Maidstone, on May 24th Fire Officers have recommended safety improvements to the building. This will require all 38 residents in 36 flats to be relocated. The residents are a group of older people some of whom have additional mobility and health issues.

Helen Grant MP was contacted by Simon Clark, Group Director – Housing, Sanctuary Group, which owns the property, to make her aware of the situation.

Helen said 'The safety of these residents is paramount and it does seem that the improvements needed to the structural compartmentation of the building will require the property to be vacated. I am very mindful of the distress experienced by so many being relocated following the fall-out of the Grenfell Tower disaster; my immediate concerns were therefore about how the need for relocation would be explained and then carried out. Clearly this will be a very sensitive time for the people affected and many have lived there for a long period of time'.

'I visited residents on Friday with Mr Clarke to speak with them myself, to ensure they received substantive answers to their questions and to act on their behalf in holding the landlords to account.

Initially I did share residents' suspicions that the works may be a convenient excuse to gain vacant possession of the building prior to redevelopment into more valuable units.

Having had the meeting I feel more reassured that there isn't an underlying ulterior motive like that and that the reasons for relocation are genuine.

I am also satisfied that Sanctuary are managing this process in a caring and sensitive manner. Sensibly they have not put an immediate timescale on the process as they do not want to add that kind of pressure to the residents. Their focus is upon moving each and every individual to a home that suits them and one that they are happy with'.

Simon Clark said 'We have been talking to residents and their families in one to one meetings throughout this week. We have a dedicated a team of senior and experienced housing staff taking them through the process sensitively and carefully.

'In addition to providing the residents with an on-site Liaison Officer, we are speaking to relevant statutory agencies and appropriate local charities about whether there is further support that can be given'.

'All residents will have a choice about their accommodation. The alternative properties identified so far are of good quality, desirable and nearby their existing homes. However, if any of the residents would like to view other homes we will, of course, oblige.'

Mrs Grant will continuing monitoring the issue until all residents are re-housed appropriately.


27 JUL 2017

Southeastern Franchise

Kent Messenger Column - 27-07-17  Since commencing my work as a Parliamentary Candidate, and then MP for Maidstone and the Weald almost 10 years ago, campaigning to improve commuter train services has constantly been a top priority. Customer satisfaction...


20 JUL 2017

Maidstone Mela

Kent Messenger Column - 20-07-17  Perhaps I am becoming wiser with the years, or maybe it is an emerging sign-of-our-times, but the importance of community has never been more prominent in my psyche; those vital human needs of belonging, togetherness,...


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Vehicle emissions

Kent Messenger Column - 13-07-17  Last November I raised serious concerns about vehicle emissions with the planning inspector at Maidstone's local plan public hearings. The core of my anxiety was (and remains) unmitigated rising emissions from increased...



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HELEN GRANT MP

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