Mike Hill MP: We need to invest in better and more frequent rail services
Last week during a Queen’s Speech Debate on the Green Industrial Revolution, I spoke about the contribution Hartlepool could make to the development of new low-carbon and carbon-free technologies and bring much needed jobs to the town.
I also took the opportunity to ask the Secretary of State for Transport to listen to Hartlepool rail users and draw on their experiences in light of his interventions on Northern Rail and his recent visit to the site of the new multi-million pound station planned for Horden/Peterlee. I told him plainly that the typically two carriage trains running hourly are insufficient and get so full that you regularly cannot get on at Seaham - let alone from another platform further down the line.
Rumour has it that in light of the cost of HS2 rising from £34 billion to £106 billion, Boris Johnson is about to pull the project or stop it at Crewe at least. Let’s hope that whatever happens we see the promised investment in the transport infrastructure of the North, not just railways but in our bus networks as well. If we are serious about lowering our carbon footprint and enticing people onto public transport we need to invest in better and more frequent services and improve connectivity.
Talking about carbon footprints, it remains a frustration to me that our hard working and overstretched police officers are still having to transport prisoners arrested in Hartlepool to Middlesbrough and other places because our local custody suite has been mothballed. The carbon footprint of vans scurrying up and down the A19 must be immense and, of course, the time taken out means fewer officers out there on our streets tackling the criminals.
I have written to the Chief Constable and the Police and Crime Commissioner because it is my strong opinion that resources must be found to get the cells in Hartlepool back up and running, even if it is just at the weekends when street crime tends to peak. There has to be a way to find the relevant funding, even if it’s through a partnership with the Borough Council or other public authorities. Of course it’s not just about mileage, or the cost of transportation financially, or the environmental impact and the pressure placed on scant police resources; it’s about fighting crime and making people feel safe.
Crime remains one of the most topical subjects in my postbag. It ranges from the fear of anti-social behaviour in planning applications to reports of actual anti-social behaviour, from drug misuse and dealing to the identification of drug houses, and to an ever increasing fear and anxiety over crime levels. I know the police are fighting back and there is a renewed push towards improving neighbourhood policing, but they need the right resources and they need them fast. That is why I will continue to lobby the Government for fairer funding for Cleveland Police, and that is also why this week I am stepping up the campaign to get the cells reopened at Hartlepool Police Station.
Finally on the subject of reopening vital services, in the same speech in which I mentioned the railways, I also made another plea, this time to the Health Secretary. In light of many speakers on the Government benches themselves bemoaning the loss or imminent loss of their own A&E I reminded him of the loss of ours and that he should listen to the people - we want it back!