Monday, 24 April 2017

Big day this Friday

This Friday I shall be at Maidstone Hospital to have a pacemaker/ defibrillator fitted.  Cannot claim to be looking forward to the experience but the benefits for me far outweigh my mild anxiety.

Tuesday, 18 April 2017

General Election 2017

So, 8th June it is.  The Tories are going to the country with a  massive lead in the opinion polls.  Should Mrs May return with a  large majority she can claim a further mandate for Brexit legislation.  Labour is in disarray and will fight the election on an anti-austerity prospectus.  The Left will not be able to deselect sitting MPs in the time available.  I expect the Lib Dems to pick up some seats on a pro-EU ticket not withstanding the oaf of a leader.

Bad news for UKIP given their current internal strife.

Saturday, 15 April 2017

Kent County Council elections 2017

When the election was contested in 2013 the English Democrats fielded a number of candidates who either did not exist or had not consented to stand.  One of the leading lights of the party was jailed recently for his part in the farce.  This time round there is not a single English Democrat candidate.

In 2013 UKIP ran the Conservatives a close second.  The UKIP bubble has burst and as a consequence the Tories can feel confident of retaining control of the council.

In Tunbridge Wells the long serving James Scholes is not standing for re-election. One interesting snippet. Terry Cload, a former Conservative borough councillor, was expected to stand as a UKIP candidate in Tunbridge Wells West.  In fact he is standing as an Independent in Tunbridge Wells East, the only seat UKIP holds in Tunbridge Wells.  A plot to split the Tory vote?

Saturday, 1 April 2017

New rails

The DfT news of improvements to the rail system is welcome.   The key criteria for the works are better connectivity between and within regions and acceleration of services.

The eye-opener is the re-opening and electrification of the Bedford-Northampton line. Thameslink services will be extended from Bedford to  Rugby.  This, together with the building of the eastern section of the Varsity Line between Bedford and Cambridge, will open up new travel opportunities between the West Midlands and East Anglia.

In the East Midlands the Erewash Valley line between Trowell and Trent will again see regular express services between Sheffield and Leicester as  attempts are made to reduce journey times between Sheffield and London.  London-Derby services will not continue to Sheffield.

Preliminary work is to commence on re-opening the line between Plymouth and Okehampton to provide a diversionary route to the coast route via Dawlish.

No progress has been made in the attempts to re-open the Uckfield-Lewes line.  The negative report, commissioned by the then Chancellor of the Exchequer, George Osborne, has not helped, nor the news that consideration is being given to developing a fast service between Ashford and Reading via Tonbridge, Redhill and Guildford. However, there is talk of a private consortium prepared to meet the cost of the proposals for BML2.  What would happen to the Spa Valley Railway?

On a more positive note, the go-ahead has been given to the reinstating of passenger services between March and Wisbech.

Finally, the biggest beneficiary is Chiltern Railways.  It will take on the franchise for the Varsity Line services and also will gain running rights on the line between Birmingham New Street and Wolverhampton.  The latter will enable the operation of a through service between London Marylebone and Chester without having to detour round the outskirts of Birmingham.  Chiltern will also take on the operation of the NUCLE route from Nuneaton to Leamington Spa via Coventry as a precursor to the development of a London-Leicester service via this line.  To deal with the problem of capacity at Marylebone it is proposed that the line from South Ruislip be reinstated to enable some services to terminate at Old Oak Common and thus provide an interchange with HS2 and Crossrail.