I am writing in reply to the letter from the Chair of the Erewash Labour Local Government Committee (published January 12 2012) regarding the proposals for Ilkeston train station.
I’m grateful for the opportunity to update readers as to what efforts I have made to advance this important project.
Since being elected in May 2010 I have been able to raise the issue in the House of Commons on various occasions, including to the leader of the House, Sir George Young MP and to the Chancellor of the Exchequer, George Osborne MP.
In addition to this, I even convened a debate in Westminster about the need to re-open Ilkeston train station. Several other MP’s contributed during the debate and the Minister of State, Theresa Villiers MP, replied.
This level of action by the Erewash MP in advancing the project has not been seen in the Commons before.
I have actively supported the Ilkeston Advertiser’s campaign and travelled to County Hall at Matlock with the Advertiser’s Editor to have a further meeting with the County Council to see how plans are being progressed.
Most recently, just last week on 12 January 2012 I met with Secretary of State for Transport, Justine Greening MP, to request support and funding for the project (the meeting came about following a question I put on the floor of the House of Commons).
I was accompanied at the meeting by representatives from Derbyshire County Council who could offer their technical expertise on the proposals.
I feel that the meeting with Justine Greening went well; she indicated that the case had been put extremely strongly to her and with detailed plans and she is going to consider if her department can assist.
I certainly gave the pitch my best shot; highlighting not only the need for train travel but also the social and economic benefits of the station and the Ilkeston Advertiser’s campaign. Fingers crossed!
I’m surprised that in Ms Clark’s letter she does not think that the project has been costed or plans made.
Perhaps if she were to check with Derbyshire County Council, who are our local transport authority, she would be informed that a huge amount of planning and engineering expertise has been brought together to create a costed, detailed plan of how the station could be built and how this would work with the forthcoming change in franchising arrangements and timetabling.
I’m a little disappointed that Ms Clark has decided to make this issue into a party political issue.
The benefits of re-opening of the train station are something that is agreed cross party.
Indeed it’s more helpful to work together on these types of issues and use knowledge and expertise from whichever political background.
I do not accept the allegation that I have failed to progress the project; indeed my actions set out above are just a summary of my efforts.
If the Labour Party felt so strongly about reo-pening the station, I do not understand why this did not happen when they ran Derbyshire County Council for 28 years nor why the matter was not progressed under 13 years of a Labour government or local MP?
I always like to take a forward-thinking and positive approach to trying to get things done. I have no doubt that by uniting behind the campaign; local political activists will assist the efforts being taken by myself and many others in trying to re-open the train station at Ilkeston.
I hope we can all pull together on this project from now on.
MP for Erewash