Greg has written to the Secretary of State for Transport in support of services from rural stations, after a question in the consultation on the South Eastern franchise led to concerns of reduced services from stations in between Ashford and Tonbridge.
The question reads: 'How far do you support, or oppose, reducing railway journey times to key destinations in Kent and East Sussex by reducing stops at less well used intermediate stations to create hourly fast services?'
"It is important to recognise that no proposal for change has been made, and that the consultation is a broad exercise seeking views on the terms of the new South Eastern franchise. However, the stations between Ashford and Tonbridge are well-used and serve vital rural areas, and I would certainly be opposed to any reduction from their current level of service.
"In addition, it is already possible to travel from Ashford to London in under 40 minutes via High Speed 1, so there is simply no reason to disrupt the service on the Ashford to Tonbridge line. And as constituents who got in touch with me have also pointed out, reducing services from these stations would have the knock-on effect of driving commuter traffic to other towns which don't have the parking infrastructure to support it.
"Therefore, though I am already submitting a formal response to the Department for Transport's consultation, I have also written to the Secretary of State to make clear my views and those of my constituents on this specific issue."
Greg is a strong supporter of Tunbridge Wells in Bloom and was delighted to be able to visit the display launching this year's competition.
Community groups, businesses, schools and residents are invited to transform Tunbridge Wells by turning grey spaces into beautiful green spaces.
"Last year Tunbridge Wells in Bloom had 172 competition entries – it would be great if we could beat that this year! I can't wait to see all the entries as I'm walking around our town."
Further details can be found on the following website: www.royaltunbridgewellsinbloom.org.uk
Greg was delighted to attend the launch of the construction of nine new affordable flats in the old Quaker Meeting House in Tunbridge Wells.
The project has been organised and supported by three charities – the YMCA, Habitat for Humanity and the Quakers.
"Affordable housing for young people is very important in our local area so it's great this project is firmly underway. All of the three charities have worked incredibly hard to get the initiative to this stage and I can't wait to visit the flats when they are finished."
The new franchise for the South Eastern network is about to be re-tendered, and Greg is encouraging his constituents to get in touch with the improvements they most want to see. Greg said:
"I will be responding to the consultation on behalf of my constituents, and in preparing my submission I am keen to hear from everyone who uses the rail service to tell me your top five priorities for the next operator.
You can do this by dropping me an email at: email@example.com
I'd be delighted to hear from you and will send you a copy of my response to the consultation, based on your views."
If you would like to read the full consultation documents, you can find them here: https://tinyurl.com/DfTSERail
Greg has confirmed that essential school bus services in Paddock Wood and Five Oak Green are going to be maintained.
"Arriva had plans to cut two crucial bus services – one linking Oakwood School in Maidstone to Paddock Wood and one linking Mascalls School to Maidstone. Understandably a lot of families were very concerned about this and I met with the bosses of Arriva to see whether there was any possibility of them reversing these proposed changes.
"Arriva did go some way to addressing these concerns but Kent County Council felt that the alternatives offered fell somewhat short of the existing service so they have instructed a new operator – Nu Venture – to continue the 15:33 service from Oakwood School on its original route, including Five Oak Green, and to maintain the 15:08 service from Mascalls School to Maidstone.
"This is great news and I am very grateful to KCC for their quick and responsive action.
"Unfortunately, the loss of service through Five Oak Green and the direct link from Paddock Wood to Maidstone (outside of school times) are more problematic. The 6/6A service is operated on a purely commercial basis and Arriva say that these particular routes did not attract enough passengers and are not financially viable. Arriva have decided to focus on enhancing the Paddock Wood to Tunbridge Wells link, including introducing a new Sunday service.
"I am working with Kent County Council and local borough councillors to see whether any other options exist to maintain some sort of service for Five Oak Green such as installing a new bus stop at the Dampiers Roundabout which at least some residents could walk to."
Greg formally opened the new Tunbridge Wells headquarters of law firm Cripps – the first new substantial office development to have been built in the town for more than 25 years.
"This is a significant investment in Tunbridge Wells, securing jobs and continuing to benefit the local economy. Cripps has been in the town since the firm was founded in 1852 and in that time has become one of the most high profile law firms in the South East. I am delighted this large and significant local employer has shown such dedication to remaining in the town."
The firm's Tunbridge Wells offices were previously based in five different buildings in Mount Ephraim Road and it took more than ten years to find an office building capable of accommodating all its staff under one roof. The new building, which is on the site of the former Kent & Sussex Hospital, was built by Berkeley Homes as part of its major Royal Wells Park development and is occupied by around 300 of the firm's staff over four floors.
Greg joined station staff, local councillors and senior Southeastern managers in celebrating the 175th anniversary of Paddock Wood station.
Greg said: "As the oldest station in my constituency, as well as one of the oldest in Kent, Paddock Wood station played an important role in shaping where we live, as the town very much grew up around it.
I was therefore delighted to meet the popular station team and to celebrate their 175th anniversary."
Greg met the Regional Managing Director and Finance Director of Arriva to press them on planned changes to the 6/6A bus services which currently link Tunbridge Wells, Pembury, Paddock Wood and Maidstone.
Arriva Southern Counties has announced that from 2 April 2017, there will be no more direct services from Paddock Wood to Maidstone, apart from one or two buses mainly serving children travelling to school, and the bus service through Five Oak Green is due to be cut completely. Parents have raised specific concerns about changes in the timing and frequency of buses serving schools.
"The Managing Director of Arriva listened very carefully to the concerns that I raised about proposed changes to the bus services and he agreed to look again at some of them."
Greg visited Matfield-based electronics company RVL, who are celebrating their 25th anniversary this year. Greg said:
"I hugely enjoyed visiting RVL, meeting the team and celebrating the firm's 25th anniversary.
The creativity and expertise that RVL boasts in electronic design and manufacturing was fascinating to see in action. It is no wonder the firm is going from strength to strength and exporting its components all over the world."
Greg ran a mock Parliamentary debate with Year 5 and 6 pupils when he visited Temple Grove Academy School in Sherwood.
Greg has written to the Secretary of State for Transport in support of services from rural stations,...
Greg is a strong supporter of Tunbridge Wells in Bloom and was delighted to be able to visit the...
Greg was delighted to attend the launch of the construction of nine new affordable flats in the old...
The new franchise for the South Eastern network is about to be re-tendered, and Greg is...