Newsletter #30

It’s been another busy month in Westminster and at home! Much of my time has been, and continues to be, devoted to bringing about improvements to the Govia Thameslink Railway (GTR) debacle which has led to so many constituents being severely inconvenienced by the changes to train timetables in May.

As you will know from previous newsletters, I liaised regularly with GTR and constituents in the months leading up to the timetable changes. But despite assurances from GTR that they were ready for the big switchover, they spectacularly failed to deliver on go live day (20th May) which has resulted in large numbers of constituents having their journeys cancelled or badly affected.

Within a few days of the difficulties becoming apparent, I met with GTR. I wanted to know what had gone so badly wrong and what they were going to do to put it right. The assurances they gave that we would see rapid improvement failed to materialise.

On the 4th June, I raised the issue with the Secretary of State for Transport, Chris Grayling during an Urgent Question in the House of Commons and on 5th June, met with Rail Minister, Jo Johnson, GTR senior management and a representative of the local Rail Users Group. I stated in unequivocal terms that GTR had to get a grip, restore reliability to the services, improve their poor communication and prepare to provide compensation, including specific compensation for additional costs being incurred by constituents.

I followed up by writing to the Rail Minister and GTR to summarise the actions I am expecting to be delivered and will be monitoring their performance very closely. To read more detail on what I have been doing, my letters and for up-to-date information, please see the dedicated page on my website https://www.heidisouthcambs.co.uk/gtr

In other news, last month I visited the children’s ward and intensive care unit at Addenbrooke’s Hospital. The staff do such a fantastic job but have been struggling to fill some of their vacancies because of limits on the number of visas which can be issued to doctors applying from overseas. Although it is welcome that the Government has announced five new training hospitals with the aim of making the NHS self-sufficient in terms of staffing by 2025, we need doctors now! You may have read in the press that the letter I wrote to the Prime Minister, the Home Secretary and Secretary of State for Health, with the support of signatures from colleagues appeared to do the trick! As I write this, we have literally just heard the news that doctors and nurses will now be exempt from this “Tier 2” visa system. An absolutely brilliant result!

On a warm June Saturday afternoon, I was pleased to attend Hinxton’s Village Fete. Nothing quite signals that Summer is here more than a tombola and dodgy bric-a-brac purchase!

My husband Phil and I were transported back to Tudor times (pictured above)…..anything for a good cause! I’ll no doubt be at a few fetes over the Summer, so if you spot Phil and I, do come and say hello.

On the 8th June, I visited Cottenham Fire Station (see above) to see the pass-out parade for the young people who had taken part in the Firebreak course.

This excellent project uses fire service drills and crew culture to develop team working skills and increase self-esteem and confidence in youngsters. The fire crew who ran it, talked passionately about the transformation they had seen in their students over the course of the week. Well done to everybody who took part!

The last month has also seen me continue my quest to visit all schools in my constituency, with visits to Caldecote, Elsworth and Harston and Newton Primary Schools. It is always such a pleasure to meet South Cambridgeshire’s children with their fresh, ambitious young minds and the hard working staff who are developing those minds despite the daily funding pressures I know they face.

If there is anything you would like to talk to me about, I will be holding a “by appointment” surgery on the 6th July (3-5pm) at The Hub in Cambourne. If you would like an appointment, please give my office a call on 01223 830087. My next “drop in” surgery will be on 4th August (11am -1pm) in Steeple Morden (venue will be posted on my website) where no appointment will be necessary. More details can be found here: https://www.heidisouthcambs.co.uk/residents-drop-surgeries

In the meantime, if you would like to contact me, please email heidi.allen.mp@parliament.uk or call my office on 01223 830037.

See you next month!