Now even The Times is questioning (rail) privatisation …

… but blaming underinvestment – not the privatisation process which was supposed to lead to MORE investment:

“When Grant Shapps was appointed secretary of state for transport last month, he used social media to express his view of the railway network that had become his responsibility. “As a very frustrated 6 trains per day commuter for the past few years, I’m delighted to be appointed transport secretary,” he wrote. He used a screaming-face emoji to convey his horror of travelling by train from his constituency of Welwyn, which was hit by the Thameslink timetable chaos last year.

Mr Shapps’ dread of British trains will be shared by many who rely on the network. Trains in Britain are often extortionately priced, delayed and overcrowded. Compensation forms are too complex. By proportion of salary, British commuters pay five times as much for tickets as the rest of Europe. Little wonder then that passengers (including those who are old enough to remember a pitiful state-run railway industry) are coming out in favour of renationalisation. A poll last year showed that 64 per cent of the public favoured taking the network back into public hands.

Yesterday, the future of Britain’s rail system was cast into further doubt when the government scrapped a competition to run Southeastern, one of the country’s busiest commuter lines. Mr Shapps cancelled the process amid concerns over escalating costs and uncertainty that the operator would achieve benefits for passengers. His decision calls into question other contracts, including the forthcoming competition to run trains on HS2 and the west coast mainline.

Passengers frustrated with Britain’s second-rate railways crave a dramatic solution. In contrast to its constructive ambiguity over Brexit, Labour’s position on the railway network appears clear. If elected the party would bring rail franchises back into public ownership when they expired, if not before.

Yet nationalisation would not release the railways from the morass they find themselves in. The network was beset with problems when it was privatised under John Major’s government after years of underinvestment. To nationalise now would cost a fortune. Taxpayers already bear a large burden of the costs, given that Network Rail, which runs the country’s tracks and biggest stations, is publicly owned. To expect taxpayers to foot the whole bill would be unfair.

Instead, improvements must be made urgently to the system we already have. A review of the railways led by Keith Williams, the former chief executive of British Airways, is expected to be published this year. Mr Williams has previously proposed that a “Fat Controller-type” figure should oversee the day-to-day running of services. That is worth exploring, but he must offer ways to tackle two significant problems facing the rail industry right now.

First, the unsatisfactory relationship between tracks and trains. At present trains run on tracks that operators have no responsibility for. It is the passenger, ultimately, who pays for the lack of joined-up thinking. Second, the problem of dwindling competition. When companies were first allowed to bid for rail franchises they did so in their droves. Now, as few as two companies typically bid to run a franchise, leading to slipping standards. The Department for Transport issues detailed demands for operators, setting out the number of trains they must run per hour. Operators are being micromanaged. Yet overcrowding, disruption and high prices mean that growth in passenger numbers has slowed. The time has come to give them more freedom to innovate.

Mr Shapps should focus now not on cancelling other contests to run rail services, but on making the current system fit for purpose. The public’s faith in the country’s privatised rail network is waning. It is up to the government to remind passengers of why nationalisation is not the solution.”

Source:Times (pay wall)

Yet another electoral roll mess up

From a correspondent:

As both my kids will be at university this autumn, they decided to apply for postal votes. I downloaded the application form but the return address on it is still The Knowle at Sidmouth. Whilst it may be an oversight on EDDC’s part, the cynic in me wonders if this is perhaps a cunning ploy to disenfranchise those in my daughters’ positions who are studying out of area, but still want a say in what happens.

As it is, I have saved the reply paid envelope from the application which has the Honition address on it and will use that instead. East Devon will pay for it, rather than me, and hopefully the form will arrive safely.

EDDC moved its HQ in February 2019. It seems our Electoral Officer (CEO Mark Williams, for an extra fee, of course) didn’t update the registration website – perhaps too busy having unminuted meetings with developers …

We must hope that mail is still being redirected and that ALL of it arrives at its new address …

“Have your say on the Jurassic Coast’s future” [suggestion: new National Park]

Now Mr Diviani is no longer leader of EDDC perhaps the idea of a Jurassic National Park can be resuscitated – he and his council were against this as they didn’t want to lose their control over planning (over-developing) the site:

https://eastdevonwatch.org/2018/10/09/new-national-park-for-east-devon-not-while-people-like-diviani-are-councillors/

And surely we are not in the situation of caring what our CEO then and now thinks?

“The public is being asked to help draw up a new blueprint for the future management of the Jurassic Coast.

https://jurassiccoast.org/what-is-the-jurassic-coast/world-heritage/looking-after-the-jurassic-coast/partnership-plan-consultation/

The survey is here:

https://www.surveymonkey.co.uk/r/QLGGNSD

The trust which manages the site, stretching from Exmouth, in East Devon, to Studland, in Dorset, is creating a new partnership plan document in collaboration with a wide variety of stakeholders.

It will be published towards the end of this year and will guide management of the World Heritage Site over the next five years.

The plan will take in conservation and preservation of the site, how the site impacts on the local economy and how it can play an active role in the lives of local communities.

As part of the creation of the new partnership plan, a consultation process is being untaken from now until the end of September.

A spokesman for the Jurassic Coast Trust said: “The new partnership plan is an important document, representing a tangible expression of the partnership that looks after the Jurassic Coast.

“It explains the reasons for the Jurassic Coast’s World Heritage designation, and how it is protected and managed.

“It also outlines the aims, policies, actions and aspirations for managing the site over the coming years.”

The partnership plan is a formal requirement and will replace the current site management plan, which, along with a copy of the new draft plan, can be seen by clicking on the Trust’s website here Alternatively a copy can be requested by telephoning the Trust’s office on 01308 807000.

People going online can contribute their views directly or they can download a printed version of the survey to fill in later.

The completed surveys should be sent directly to the

Jurassic Coast Trust,
email at:
info@jurassiccoast.org

or by post to:

Partnership Plan Consultation,
Jurassic Coast Trust,
Mountfield,
Bridport,
Dorset DT6 3JP

The Jurassic Coast Trust will also be running drop-in consultation sessions across the World Heritage Site area in September. Dates and venues will be announced towards the end of this month.

The deadline for responses to the survey is Friday, October 4. All comments received as part of the consultation will be collated. A report will be produced by the Jurassic Coast Partnership detailing the responses and indicating how the plan will be subsequently amended.

The report will be made available online and to anyone who has asked to be sent updates on the progress of the plan.

Once an amended version of the plan is agreed by the Jurassic Coast Partnership and approved by Historic England, it will be adopted by Dorset Council and Devon County Council before being formally submitted to DCMS and UNESCO.”

https://www.midweekherald.co.uk/news/consultation-on-management-of-the-jurassic-coast-1-6203990