MP WRITES: Good transport can really help an area

Hartlepool MP Iain Wright.
Hartlepool MP Iain Wright.

Yesterday, in the House of Commons, there was a debate on transport in the North- East.

I was particularly keen to take part.

A good transport system can really help an area - it makes it possible for people to get a job and improve their quality of life and those of their friends and families.

People can go into town and meet others in a social setting, thereby helping the economy.

They can check up on a relative, thereby saving the NHS and social services money by helping people stay in their homes.

It is very clear that every pound of money spent on transport is repaid back many times in terms of better tax receipts from more jobs and reduced benefit and spending.

In the debate I mentioned buses rail and roads, all of which suffer from a lack of priority, investment and coordination across Hartlepool and the wider north east.

The first issue I spoke about was buses.

I will continue to keep banging on about this.

Deregulation of buses thirty years ago has not resulted in better choice, value for money and quality.

Ninety-one per cent of the Hartlepool bus market is held by one single operator, stagecoach, but I don’t think that provides an effective market for passengers.

Passenger journeys in Hartlepool have fallen in the past five years from 5.4 million per year to 4.6 million.

That may be because people are using other types of transport, such as cars, but just as likely is that journeys are falling because choice, routes and services are being cut.

I mentioned in the debate the fact that the last bus on many services stop at a ridiculously early time.

If you happen to work in Middlesbrough, you would probably be hard pushed to catch the last bus during the week, which leaves Middlesbrough for our town at something like 6.15. If you want to use the number four service, it stops at about six too.

I made the point in the debate that people without a car in villages like Elwick and Dalton Piercy are virtually imprisoned through the lack of bus services.

Deregulation hasn’t worked.

Some sort of re-regulation for Hartlepool buses is needed, so that the public sector can take more of an active role.

I also mentioned the problems of trains.

The trains used by Northern Rail on its services to and from our town and the wider North East are the oldest in the country.

They lack basic facilities such as toilets and are often overcrowded to the point of being unsafe.

I wrote to Northern Rail on this matter of behalf of a constituent and received a response that basically said - tough!!!

There are no plans to replace the trains.

During the debate, I asked the Minister if he would ensure that any replacement of trains is a key part of any negotiations for new contracts to run the rail service.

I also mentioned the state of roads in our area and how congestion leads to reduced economic activity.

Investment in roads, such as widening the A19 between Wolviston and Norton, will help to increase growth.

Transport is essential and is often overlooked as an important driver of economic growth.

I will continue to keep raising this matter in Parliament for the good of Hartlepool.