|Staffing-go-round - but the campaigners carry on
"What's the next step in your campaign?" asked the lady from the local paper when she called to check up on a [train] story last night. "I'm meeting the Labour Party candidate for the new Chippenham seat in about an hour and 20 minutes" was my reply ... and I suspect that she was expecting a less immediate answer!
I'm getting to feel something of an old hand at this campaigning business - when I started, Wessex Trains were in charge and then First Great Western, headed by Alison Forster, were teh people who run our service. Now First Great Western is headed by Andrew Haines, with John Curley as the route director, and I understand that those appointments are regarded as medium rather than long term. On the political side, Derek Twigg has given way to Tom Harris, and Alistair Darling to Douglas Alexander to Ruth Kelly. Our own constituency boundaries have been redrawn, and from a solidly blue Michael Ancram (who is, however, still our representative in parliament), we're now looking at (in alphabetic order)Wilfred Emmanuel-Jones, Duncan Hames and Nicklaus Thomas-Symonds as our prospecitive candidates for the Conservative, Labour and Liberal Democrat parties. Our West Wilts District coucillors were "all change" in May, and the government has decided that the whole district council tier is to be abolished in Wiltshire in the next year or two ... at which point we'll have fresh elections for Wiltshire Council ... with a new set of wards to be contested, doubling the number of representatives.
It can be frustrating! To establish a case / a rapport with one contact / come to understand one organisation, just to have it replace by another. And be back, to a great extent, to ground zero and having to explain, once again, that Melksham is no small village but actually a sizeable town from which people commute to Swindon and really want to work an 8 hour day like the rest of the population ...
I've grown to be a bit of a cynic at times, and I find myself wondering if one of the reasons that First have put in a new management team is to toughen the stance to people who are looking for appropriate standards of service rather that the minimal level that First's customer, the Department for Transport, has requested. Change is an opportunity for the new Andrews and Johns to test the waters previously tested by the Alisons and Glendas, and see if reductions and changes that brought howls of protest still bring those same howls, or can now be quietly eased in with the change.
But along with this cynicism comes a realisation that there's an opportunity at change too. Last weekend up in Ely, I listened to xxxx talk about the successes of the Cotswold and Malvern line group, and to Robert Stripe talk about the Fen line to King's Lynn in East Anglia. Goodness - he's been involved with that group for a long time, but you can see a town with a 57,000 population and a train service that has risen from 5 a day to 23 and that's an object lesson to us all.
New he may be, but I enjoyed talking with Nick last night; like Duncan and Wilfred, he's very much in favour of pushing for the return of an appropriate service, and he is planning to make representations on our behalf. Much appreciated. And it turns out that he's very much a customer of First Great Western, travelling up through Swindon to Didcot where he changes for Oxford on a regular basis. Ah - it's a small world and there are some of the apsects / players who needed little introduction.
Written 2007-11-08 18:44:23
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Wilts County Council could save the Melksham / Transwilts train
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Letter from Derek Twigg
Important but not refreshing meeting
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One year on
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If its working well, change it so it doesnt.
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From Ystrad Mynach
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Is this fare?
Returning from their UK course
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PLEASE LOBBY - First, Dft, County Council, your MP
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Report - Monday night's meeting - press brief
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Gordon Dodge, Rest in Peace
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We have another hill to climb
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Letter to DfT
Save the train
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