Henry Smith MP, Crawley Bulletin, September 2016
This month I led a debate in the House of Commons on the serious underperformance of Southern and Thameslink rail services.
I continue to call for enhanced and streamlined compensation for passengers, a fare freeze for Southern and Thameslink customers, and for greater accountability following the announcement of £20 million of funding and a new project board to assist Network Rail.
Last week, the RMT union announced more Southern Railway strikes, which will take place on 14 days over five separate periods from 11th October to 8th December.
I do not hesitate to criticise Govia Thameslink Railway, provider of the Southern, Thameslink and Gatwick Express services, on the numerous occasions where this is justified. However, it is completely wrong for the RMT, in full knowledge of the issues and misery affecting commuters in Crawley, to see this as an opportunity for industrial action, especially as the new on-board supervisor role will be open to all conductors, and will not result in any job losses or pay reduction.
I was pleased to present certificates to young people completing National Citizen Service. The scheme is organised locally by the Crawley Town Community Foundation, and the Government recently reiterated their commitment to ensuring there is a place on NCS for every young person who wishes to take part.
NCS is open to 15 to 17-year-olds, and is designed to encourage personal and social development through a range of activities and projects requiring leadership, teamwork and communication. To register interest in taking part in the Autumn 2016 or Summer 2017 programmes, please email: firstname.lastname@example.org or call 01293 410000.
Blood Cancer Awareness Month: Blood cancer is the third biggest cause of cancer death in the UK. While the UK is a world leader in terms of research, there is more we can do. As Chair of the All-Party Parliamentary Group on Blood Cancer I continue to work with other MPs on all sides of the Commons and with external organisations in the interests of patients.
Parliamentary democracy: While I join with Conservative colleagues in holding the Government to account, our democracy requires a functional and effective opposition party as well.
Govia Thameslink Railway: Following up after my House of Commons debate this month; where the Rail Minister stated that he will shortly be meeting with Govia Thameslink Railway and Network Rail. I look forward to receiving updates on these works, such as the £1 million being spent on testing platform and dispatch staff infrastructure at Gatwick Airport and East Croydon stations.
Improving dog protection: I continue to work with colleagues from across the House of Commons to improve treatment of animals – it is an honour to co-chair the All-Party Parliamentary Group for Animal Welfare.
Working in Westminster: A brief round-up of just a few of the issues I worked on during the summer parliamentary recess.
Microbeads ban: Welcomed the Government taking the initiative and announcing plans for a ban on the sale and manufacture of cosmetics and personal care products containing tiny pieces of plastic, commonly known as ‘microbeads’. Every year, billions of these tiny beads end up in the oceans from products including some toothpastes and shower gels. In the Commons I called on the Prime Minister to ensure we continue to be world leaders in taking forward environmental policies.
P.U.P.S. campaign: Hosted the International Fund for Animal Welfare in Parliament to raise awareness of the growing problem of the cruel and illicit UK puppy trade.
Patient Ambassador Programme: Supporting this new initiative to raise awareness of blood cancers. There are 137 different blood cancers, and around 230,000 people in the UK currently live with these diseases. Symptoms of blood cancer can be vague; in fact many of them, such as tiredness, are also common with colds. Lumps are a symptom of lymphoma, as with other illnesses. Bloodwise have more information on the symptoms on their website: www.bloodwise.org.uk. If you suspect any symptoms, do contact your GP.
Please do not hesitate to let me know if I may be able to assist; either by contacting me at the House of Commons, London, SW1A 0AA, calling my office on 01293 934554, or via email directly at: email@example.com
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With my best wishes, as ever