Glamorgan Gem Column – Chris Elmore MP
On Rail Infrastructure, the Tories are as silent as Big Ben
The summer silly season is most definitely upon us with the hysteria which has ensued following the silencing of Big Ben. MPs – granted from both sides of the political divide – have seemingly been devastated by this news and appear to want to do anything to ensure the bell keeps chiming for the next four years.
It seems fairly obvious to me that with the amount of issues facing the communities across my constituency and indeed around the UK, the question as to whether a bell in London chimes every fifteen minutes pales into insignificance.
Big Ben isn’t the only example of things going quiet this summer.
You might remember my previous column, where I wrote about the UK Tory Government’s scandalous decision to cancel the electrification of the Great Western Mainline all the way to Swansea. Well, this month my Welsh Labour colleagues and I have been anything but quiet on the issue.
All twenty-two South Wales Welsh Labour MPs co-signed a letter I wrote to the Transport Secretary, Chris Grayling MP, and the Welsh Secretary, Alun Cairns MP.
In this letter, we call on the UK Government to reverse its decision to scrap electrification, address the historical underfunding of the Welsh rail network and honour the funding agreement made with the Welsh Government in 2014 to secure a sustainable new Wales and Borders franchise agreement.
It simply cannot be right that, despite Wales having 11 per cent of the total track across England and Wales, Welsh routes have only received around a meagre 1.5 per cent of UK Government spending on rail upgrades since 2011.
My Welsh Labour colleagues and I will keep up the pressure when Parliament returns to ensure the Tories don’t keep leaving Wales behind.
In other news, I found it incredibly moving to attend the 125th anniversary of the Parc Slip disaster last week. 112 men and boys tragically lost their lives in the explosion at the colliery which is thought to have been caused by a faulty Davy lamp.
Alongside Huw Irranca-Davies AM, Leader of Bridgend County Borough Council and Councillor for Cefn Cribwr, Huw David, and local residents, it was a privilege to attend a moving service at the Parc Slip Nature Reserve to remember those who were killed.
Thank you to the Parc Slip Memorial Committee and all the volunteers who continue to ensure the memories of those who were tragically lost 125 years ago live on today.
Whether in the past or today, we must always learn from disasters to prevent such avoidable events from reoccurring.
Following the devastating fire at the Grenfell Tower in Kensington, I wrote to Sir Martin Moore-Bick, the Chair of the Grenfell Inquiry, to ask that he looks at the impact flammable insulation may have had in the fire. I’m pleased to say that Mr Moore-Bick has now responded and has assured me that this will be assessed as part of his investigations.
I will be monitoring the Inquiry closely to determine whether there are any lessons which may be applicable to building regulations around the UK.
As always, if you would like to raise any issues with me, you can attend my Advice Surgeries (which are published on www.chriselmore.co.uk), call my office on 01656 860 034 or email firstname.lastname@example.org.