SOUTHERN RAIL: GOVERNMENT SHOULD NOT WAIT ANOTHER FIVE YEARS TO STRIP GOVIA OF FRANCHISE SAYS LAMBETH COUNCIL MOTION

SOUTHERN RAIL: GOVERNMENT SHOULD NOT WAIT ANOTHER FIVE YEARS TO STRIP GOVIA OF FRANCHISE SAYS LAMBETH COUNCIL MOTION plus: Blue badge and energy company warnings in Croydon/ Council leader condemns Heathrow expansion plans/ Hotel rooms tax for Lambeth?/ £350 fine – for dropping a cigarette butt

Lambeth council have approved a motion saying the Government should not wait five years before stripping parent company Govia of the Southern Rail franchise.

Cllr Danny Adilypour, proposing the motion at last week’s full council meeting, said: “Our local residents have had enough – cancelled trains, overcrowded trains.

“More than anything they have had enough of the constant stream of excuses from Southern Rail.

“Southern rail are rock bottom of customer satisfaction and somehow their ratings are plummeting from an already appaling level

“They don’t have enough trains or enough drivers to run the service – yet the Government gives them £20 million of taxpayers money and lets them keep their £1 million profit. “They are running an appalling service.

“Why should our residents have to wait for another five years? “It doesn’t make any sense whatsoever. “The sooner Southern goes the better. “It’s a classic example of market failure. “The Government should step in and revoke the service.”

The council approved Cllr Adilypour’s motion – plus an addendum to the notes from Cllr Scott Ainslie (Green, St. Leonards) which read as follows:  “Southern have rejected reasonable proposals that the RMT union have put forward, and supports the right of railway workers to strike.”

The motion by Cllr Adilypour (Lab, Streatham South) said:

Southern Rail

Council notes:

 That Southern Rail passengers in Lambeth are currently experiencing intolerable and unacceptably frequent delays, cancellations and overcrowded trains on their daily commutes.

 The latest results of Network Rail’s Public Performance Measure and Passenger Satisfaction Survey, which show Southern Rail’s performance continuing to get worse and passenger dissatisfaction increasing as a result.

 That the government has agreed to bring these train services under Transport for London’s control, after lobbying from local authorities like Lambeth, but only when the current franchise expires in 2021.

 That local commuters do not have confidence in Southern Rail providing an acceptable level of service for the next 5 years until the franchise expires.

 That the Conservative government is failing in its responsibility to provide a well-managed railway system to commuters.

Council believes:

 That the additional £20 million promised by the Department for Transport will not be able to resolve the many issues with the current Southern Rail franchise.

 That the government should not wait until 2021 to take action and should strip Govia Thameslink of the Southern Rail franchise and hand control of these services to Transport for London as soon as possible.

In a written question in the House of Commons earlier this year, Dulwich and West Norwood MP Helen Hayes asked the Secretary of State for Transport in which reporting periods Southern Railway’s performance met the specified benchmarks set out in the franchise agreement since that agreement was signed.

Paul Maynard, responding, said: “Performance benchmarks were set for the entire Govia Thameslink Railway (GTR) franchise, not by constituent business groups, e.g. Southern.

“Since Rail Industry period 7 in financial year 2015/16 (ending mid October 2015), GTR exceeded the breach level for the Cancellations benchmark.

“Last year the then Secretary of State issued GTR with a Remedial Plan Notice requiring them to set out the measures they will take in order to improve their performance.

“The then Secretary of State has published the Remedial Plan and it includes benchmarks against which GTR are measured for the duration of the Plan.” (14 July 2016)

BLUE-BADGE APPLICANTS WARNED OF UNNECESSARY CHARGES
 
Holders of parking permits for disabled people – blue badges – are being warned not to be taken in by companies that charge to complete online application forms.

Croydon council are aware of at least one applicant who was duped by a website offering to complete an application form.

The website charged its standard fee of £50.00 per application, with the transaction appearing under a different name on the bank statement.

Applicants can complete a simple form, subject to a £10 administration fee, by following a link on croydon.gov press releases (please see below).

The fight against blue-badge fraud, and those seeking to take advantage of disabled people, is being stepped up in Croydon as national figures show that the number of disabled parking permits being stolen is on the rise.

In a bid to counter the online scammers, a simple-to-complete online form that makes it easier to report suspicions that any type of blue-badge fraud is going on is available on the council’s website.

The form asks for details of the vehicle involved, and what type of fraud is suspected, be it theft, misuse or alteration of the permit.

The initiative was introduced against a background of proven cases of fraud, and others that are under investigation.

The most recent Local Government Association figures reveal that the number of blue-badge thefts nationally rose from 656 in 2013 to 1,756 in 2014. The LGA highlights examples of thieves breaking into cars and retirement homes to steal the permits and using their ill-gotten gains for free parking or to sell on the black market.

Croydon’s cabinet member for communities, safety and justice Cllr Hamida Ali said: “The fraudulent use of blue-badge parking permits is something that angers both those that use the scheme responsibly and other motorists who see it being abused – and it’s an offence that we’ll continue to combat with the full weight of the law.

“The online form gives us another means of dealing with blue-badge fraud. It underlines the fact that we consider it an issue that has to be tackled head-on and shows that we mean to see it brought to an end in Croydon.”

Croydon council operates a companion badge scheme, offering a badge which can be safely left in a vehicle as it is of no value to thieves. Unlike the blue badge, it is linked to a specific vehicle.

For further information please ‘Google’ croydon.gov press releases and go to 3rd October 2016 “Blue-badge applicants warned of unnecessary charges” (Source: Croydon council press release)

COUNCIL LEADER CONDEMNS HEATHROW EXPANSION DECISION
 
Following the Government’s announcement a third runway is to be built at Heathrow,Croydon council leader Cllr Tony Newman has issued the following statement:

“This is a calamitous decision. “It’s clear whatever side of the argument you are on, the only option that can realistically deliver is Gatwick.

“Heathrow will be mired in consultations and judicial reviews for decades to come and will never happen.

“All of our neighbouring councils regardless of political party, are against this decision. “Gatwick’s expansion could have meant economic growth, jobs and skills for Croydon and south London.

“As leader of Croydon council I am determined to ensure the fight goes on to secure the best for Croydon residents and businesses.” (Source: Croydon council press release)

HOTELS ROOM TAX FOR LAMBETH?
 
Calls for a hotel room tax to be introduced in Lambeth came at last week’s full Lambeth council meeting from Bishop’s ward Cllr Ben Kind.
 
Cllr Kind said there was one hotel room for every two people living in Bishops ward which borders the River Thames and is the northernmost ward in the borough.

“A hotel tax could generate income for the borough. “This money could be spent on street cleaning, parking. “Could the council join with other London boroughs like Camden to lobby to secure extra funds for the capital?”

Lambeth council leader Cllr Lib peck, responding, said it was interesting to see the extent Lambeth relies on the tourist trade. “In principle the hotel tax is a good idea and one I have discussed with other council leaders” she added.

Figures given to the meeting show that in Lambeth the following wards have hotels: Bishop’s 2,904 (plus 710 under construction); Clapham Common 188; Coldharbour 118; Oval 321 (plus 199 under construction); Prince’s 678 (plus 136 under construction); Streatham Wells 80 and Thurlow Park 22.

Prince’s ward and Oval ward are the next two northernmost wards in Lambeth after Bishop’s.

FLY-TIPPERS AND LITTER LOUTS PROSECUTED
 
Nine more fly-tippers and litter louts have been convicted and fined as part of Croydon council’s latest round of prosecutions in its Don’t Mess with Croydon -Take Pride campaign.

Fines of £350 were imposed for dropping a cigarette butt – and, in a separate case,  for fly-tipping cardboard boxes and refuse sacks.

The council has now prosecuted 123 people in the two years since launching its Don’t Mess campaign, which also focuses on recycling and changing behaviour, said a council spokeswoman.

For more information on how to get involved in the Don’t Mess with Croydon – Take Pride campaign, visit the council website.

You can also report dumped waste via the council’s dedicated fly-tipping hotline on 0208 604 7000, the council’s My Croydon smartphone app or by emailing flytip@croydon.gov.uk (Source: Croydon council press release)

ENERGY COMPANY ALERT
 
An energy company previously fined by the industry watchdog has been targeting households in Fieldway and New Addington, falsely claiming to be working with Croydon council.

The council’s trading standards team has received a number of complaints concerning residents who have been cold called by a representative of the company.

Gaining access by claiming that he needed to read the property’s meter, he then asks the resident which company supplies their energy and goes on to say that the company is working with the council, which is keen that as many residents as possible switch supplier, to his company.

“Croydon council does not have, and has never had, any affiliation with this company” said a council spokesman.

Anybody who is concerned about the behaviour of an energy company sales agent should call the Citizens Advice Consumer Service on 03454 04 05 06.

Croydon’s trading standards team recommends residents enrol in utility companies’ password schemes.

Under such schemes, customers register a password of their choice that they can ask any caller from the company to provide before giving access to their property.

Inability to provide the password indicates that the caller is not from the company and the resident then knows not to let them in.(Source: Croydon council press release)

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