The need for the Government to resolve the lack of rail line between Lewes and Uckfield in East Sussex is very clear to most people living in the area around the potential route and also those who try to travel to work or for pleasure to London from Uckfield or Buxted or Crowborough or indeed any of the stations on the line. Although the line begins at Uckfield (following the destruction of the Lewes part of the line) which is the constituency of Nusrat Ghani and continues for the first few stations in her patch, it soon emerges into her neighbours constituency in Kent. However Nusrat Ghani was recently promoted as part of Theresa May’s reshuffle and she is now the Parliamentary Under Secretary in the Department for Transport. It is this Department that has so far ignored the needs of residents and calls by campaigners to both create a link to Lewes and to improve the quality of the rail provision between Uckfield and London Bridge. This makes the debate last Friday on the theme of Rail Connectivity all the more ironic. This debate to be fair was an important debate as it focused on the need for HS2 investments to ensure that in the North of the country, that towns which are not due to be connected to the new mainline will still be able to see an improvement on their transport provision. However the irony was in the fact that the concerns expressed by MPs such as Jo Platt, the Labour and Co-operative MP for Leigh near Manchester were being addressed by an MP whose own constituency is in a similar position. As Jo stated:
“Rail connectivity between towns and cities represents the tool by which our local economies prosper, our businesses thrive, our young people travel for employment and educational opportunities, our skills gaps narrow, social isolation can be tackled and leisure facilities accessed, and, most importantly, social mobility is enhanced.
Over the past few months the Government have acknowledged the importance of rail connectivity. In report after report transport and infrastructure have been rightly highlighted as major tools to solve some of the biggest problems we face in society. However, I am increasingly concerned that these statements are empty words that are not backed with the commitment or investment deserved. Let us consider each of these reports in turn.”
In part of her response to Jo Platt and the other contributors Nusrat made this comment. Although the plan referred to relates to the Northern powerhouse, perhaps she could listen to her own words and help MPs in the South East work out the best way of achieving an improvement to the rail link currently starting in her own constituency
“This is why it is so crucial that as many Members as possible put forward their ideas and make sure we have their input in the plan, because all Members who add in their information will find that all that data will be put together and will have be taken into account for those decisions to be made. I encourage Members to make a strong case for their regions and constituencies.”
This seems to be a clear call from the MP for Wealden who represents the Department for Transport to the MP for Wealden to call on the Department for Transport to improve its transport links!