This week I had the opporuntity to meet with representatives from the Network Rail team who oversee rail improvements in Wales.
It was a really productive meeting as I was able to press for investment to Flint station to improve accessibility for people with disabilities, ensure that signalling is improved and hear what access is being taken to remove rubbish from the land next to the tracks.
It is important that we can hold meetings like this and I hope to hear if Flint has received funding for access improvements in the next couple of months.
The Secretary of State for Transport, Chris Grayling MP, has just had to settle a court dispute with the Channel Tunnel company as he did not fulfil his legal duties when signing the doomed contract with Seaborne Freight – the ferry company with no ferries.
Labour secured an urgent question to pull the Secretary of State before the House to answer why he has cost taxpayers £33million. What we got instead was the Secretary of State for Health. Yes, the minister responsible for the NHS in England was answering questions on a failing by the minister responsible for ferries. In other words, the Secretary of State for Transport was running away from his mistakes.
I asked the Minister if at any point the Secretary of State was informed that his decision could lead to a legal challenge from the Channel Tunnel company. No answer was forthcoming.
Wasting public funds in such a reckless way is shameful and the Secretary of State should do the right thing and resign.
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.
Not only has the UK Government given a contract to a ferry company that owns no boats and its terms and conditions were copied and pasted from a fast food takeaway, but it has become clear that the owner of this business owes money to HMRC.
I asked the Transport Secretary if he could confirm that the director of this company owes us, the taxpayer, £580,000 and what due diligence he took to ensure that we don’t give contracts for government business to companies who do not pay their taxes.
The Transport Secretary decided to keep quiet. This is appalling. The Government is being farcical and putting our economy at risk because they are not undertaking basic background checks.