A decision was taken by the UK Department for Transport to block Stagecoach/Virgin for applying for the three franchises currently up for grabs.
I am deeply concerned over the future of the Virgin service that travels from Holyhead – via Flint – to London Euston and want to see it maintained. The Transport Minister must take this seriously to ensure that services are not lost between North Wales and England and shouldn’t be trying to score party political points as he tried to do in answer to my genuine question.
Following the Secretary of State for Health’s response to my question, I raised my serious concerns that the Minister wasn’t fully briefed on the Urgent Question and was giving inaccurate information in response to questions. I would not let the wasting of £33million of taxpayers money rest with no proper answer.
The Health Secretary decided to respond to my point of order and floundered at the Dispatch Box. The real Secretary of State for Transport should have been answering questions, not a minister with no involvement in this area.
Labour secured an Urgent Question on the failed contract signed by the Transport Secretary with a ferry company who had no ferries.
During his statement, the Transport Secretary said that not one penny had been spent by his department in this terrible deal, which has now been cancelled. However, civil servants and lawyers aren’t free so it must have cost us taxpayers money.
I pressed the Minister as to how many civil servants and lawyers had worked on this contract and what cost it had to the taxpayer. As no answer was forthcoming I have tabled a series of Written Questions to the Secretary of State and will keep pushing for a response.
We cannot allow a government to mismanage our public finances. It was clear from the start that signing a contract with a company with no ferries, a copied and pasted contract from a takeaway and a business owner who owed HMRC tax that this was never going to work. Yet the Secretary of State ploughed ahead.
I have pressed the minister for Transport in Parliament this week to call for investment in accessibility at Flint railway station.
Currently, Network Rail are undertaking a review of train stations across the network to ensure that stations with poor levels of accessibility are improved. This is part of the UK Government Inclusive Transport Strategy announced 25 July 2018 which released up to £300m of funding to complete the programme.
I contacted Network Rail to support a bid in for funding to improve Flint station as currently the only way to get from the car park to the eastbound platform is to either cross one of two footbridges, neither of which have ramp access, or to walk under the railway line and up Corporation Street.
Nominations are now being considered and it is hoped that Flint will be one of the stations that will gain investment.
Flint is an important railway station for our community. We have seen a great deal of investment in the number of journeys that can be undertaken from it after years of campaigning from myself and local pressure groups. The last piece of the jigsaw puzzle is for the station to get much needed investment.
Our public transport system should be accessible to all and currently Flint station is falling far short of where I, and many passengers, would like to see it. The distance between the car park and the southside platform is too long without use of the footbridges and we need investment to improve this now.
I welcomed the minister’s response in the Commons and hope that we can keep up pressure and get the investment our station deserves.