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Volume 491: debated on Wednesday 22 April 2009


Wednesday 22 April 2009


Business, Enterprise and Regulatory Reform

Royal Mail Services (Gloucestershire)

The Petition of the Mayor of Wotton-under-Edge Town Council on behalf of the Community of Wotton-under-Edge and hinterland,

Declares that the community of Wotton-under-Edge and its hinterland wish the Royal Mail Sorting Office in Wotton-under-Edge, Gloucestershire, to remain open;

Further declares that there has been overwhelming support from the community for the Sorting Office to remain in Wotton-under-Edge, an independent Market Town of 5,700 people with a hinterland of villages, who are struggling to keep shops and services going;

Notes that Cam Sorting Office is a 14-mile return trip from Wotton-under-Edge, and that the area is poorly served by public transport; further notes that the town has an ageing population who would struggle to collect undelivered mail; further notes that there is concern for the postmen and women who will have to make this extra journey with all its ramifications of financial and environmental cost.

Further declares that the community is worried by the detrimental effect the closure will have on the economic well-being of the town and particularly its business community; further declares that the town is already suffering through the recession and could well see further job losses as a consequence;

Notes that much of the data and other information supplied by Royal Mail is incorrect and has continued to be used despite the town’s attempts to amend it; further notes that the Royal Mail has undertaken no meaningful consultation with the community, having only spoken to three people invited to the Sorting Office.

The Petitioners therefore request that the House of Commons urges the Government to act to ensure on behalf of the people of Wotton-under-Edge and surrounding villages that the Sorting Office remains open and the service is not moved to the village of Cam, Gloucestershire.

And the Petitioners remain, etc.—[Presented by Mr. Geoffrey Clifton-Brown, Official Report, 9 March 2009; Vol. 489, c. 128 .]


Observations from the Secretary of State for Business, Enterprise and Regulatory Reform:

The restructuring and modernisation of Royal Mail’s sorting office operations is a matter for Royal Mail’s management. The Government does not intend to intervene in management decisions of this kind.

Given that volumes of mail are expected to fall by 5 to 7 per cent. each year due to people using digital communications to meet their needs, it is vitally important that Royal Mail structures its operations as efficiently as possible so that it can secure its future and continue to provide the universal postal service at affordable prices.

Royal Mail has given assurances that changes to mail services to the Wotton-under-Edge area will be completed with minimal disruption to customers and staff.


Planning and Development (Essex)

The Petition of Gwen Hall, residents of Hadleigh, and others,

Declares that the local council’s plans to destroy part of the grassed tree lined verge between Tattersall Gardens and Hadleigh on the A13 to provide a bus lane is not reasonable, would not improve traffic flows significantly, would destroy the open and green entrance to Hadleigh village and would therefore, on balance, be a waste of public resources; further notes that councillors should consult residents properly on all such issues and listen to them more seriously.

The Petitioners therefore request that the House of Commons urges the Government to make it clear to Essex County Council and Castle Point Council that they should put this development on hold until they have properly consulted the public, and that they should listen to public opinion.

And the Petitioners remain, etc.—[Presented by Bob Spink, Official Report, 24 March 2009; Vol. 490, c. 276.]


Observations from the Secretary of State for Transport:

Essex County Council is the strategic highway authority for all local roads within the County of Essex, the provision of traffic management on these roads is for them to consider. The Government have responsibility for the strategic highway network which is managed through the Highways Agency.

With regard to consultation, Essex County Council consulted on the Basildon to Hadleigh A13 Improvements Scheme and this closed 27 March 2009. Castle Point Borough Council outlined the proposal in their Core Strategy Proposed Publication Consultation which closed 20 March 2009.

As part of its role however central government does provide a range of guidance to local authority’s including Traffic Advisory Leaflets, Local Transport Notes and Good Practice Guides. These are regularly updated based on ongoing monitoring of the performance of engineering schemes that are put in place and can be viewed on the Departments website:

Rail Services (Lockerbie)

The Petition of users of Lockerbie Station and others,

Declares the anger of users of Lockerbie Station at the 40 per cent cut in the number of rail services between Lockerbie and Glasgow or Edinburgh in the new time-table operational from December 2008; regrets the failure to provide the much promised early morning direct service to Edinburgh in that timetable; and notes the increased need to use connecting trains when travelling to or from the South.

The Petitioners therefore request that the House of Commons call upon the Secretary of State for Transport to, firstly, reconsider the recent cuts to the number of services serving Lockerbie and, secondly, to instigate the introduction of a ‘balanced’ timetable designed to meet the needs of Lockerbie station users, and specifically to allow commuters to travel from Lockerbie to and from Glasgow and Edinburgh at times suitable for the start and end of the normal working day and to allow return from Edinburgh and Glasgow late in the evening so that people in the South of Scotland can take advantage of evening entertainment in these cities.

And the Petitioners remain, etc.—[Presented by David Mundell, Official Report, 1 April 2009; Vol. 490, c. 1012.]


Observations from the Secretary of State for Transport:

The matter of rail services at Lockerbie in the December 2008 timetable was the subject of an Adjournment debate on 11 November 2008, Official Report, col. 744-750.

There has been extensive consultation about the new service patterns now operating on the West Coast Main Line. Those representing Scotland expressed strong support for the accelerated and more frequent links with London and Birmingham that are now in place.

The December 2008 timetable was designed to maximise the value of the £8.9 billion the Government have invested in the modernisation of the route, to better match resources with demand and to make best use of available assets. While some less popular journeys now take longer, the overwhelming majority of passengers benefit. And Lockerbie has not been left isolated, with trains calling on a broadly two hourly basis across the day and faster journeys to Manchester and London.

First Trans Pennine proposed to operate a Carlisle to Edinburgh commuter service. However they found that there was insufficient capacity on the approaches to Edinburgh and decided to provide an early morning Manchester to Edinburgh train instead. This train provides a new business service from Manchester and Preston and also calls at Lockerbie. The service is a development that makes better use of assets and one which I support.

The December 2008 timetable is now fully operational and performing well. The more frequent and faster services, with around 30 minutes shaved from a typical London to Glasgow journey, are performing well with encouraging demand growth. I therefore do not propose to make changes.