Merseyrail – RMT Guards Dispute – What the Liverpool City Region Mayor thinks

A new Stadler Merseyrail train artist impression

I recently contacted Steve Rotherham the Liverpool City Region Mayor about this dispute and here is his response:-

Thank you for taking the time to e-mail me about the issue of Train Safety.

Can I say that this is a dispute between Merseyrail and the RMT Union.

I am happy to use whatever influence I have to try and settle the matter but I am unable to instruct either party to come to an agreement. The contract for new rolling stock was signed prior to my election and I respect that decision.

The contract for over £460m of investment in new rolling stock, means our trains will be the most technologically advanced trains in the country. The business case was predicated on the driver having responsibility for opening and closing doors.

I too hope that a settlement can be reached asap as we need stability in our transport systems throughout the Liverpool City Region and we would not wish to imperil any investment in the future.

I have stated publically and in private to the RMT Union leaders that my door is open should they wish to meet to progress the issue and work to find an agreeable solution to the current impasse.

Yours sincerely

Steve Rotheram

Metro Mayor

Whilst Steve Rotherham is right in saying that the dispute is between Merseyrail and the RMT Trade Union my clear understanding is that the dispute was in reality created by Merseytravel, the public sector Transport Committee of the Liverpool City Region. By this I mean that it was Merseytravel who ordered the new fleet of Stadler trains which are intended to be run without train guards.

Merseyrail, the private sector train operating company, could be said to be in a dispute that is not of their own making. They may well be fronting up like they are up fight with the RMT Union but did they have any choice in reality other than to do battle with the RMT? My view is no they did not have any choice because the politicians who sit on the Merseytravel Committee dropped them right in it when they decided to axe train guards on the new fleet of trains.

This still looks to me like a dispute created by politicians but left to the private sector rail operator to fight.

What MP’s cost us – It needs to be brought under control

www.liverpoolecho.co.uk/news/liverpool-news/merseyside-mp-metro-mayors-first-13594361

The Liverpool Echo has the story on its web site – see link above

With all due respect to the Trinity Mirror Group I think they have the wrong target here with regard to the issue of MP’s expenses. The fact that MP’s wish to travel first class to enable them to work is actually fine by me, I would only gripe about such travel if MP’s were using it for luxury entitlement rather than working.

The real issue for me is the truly huge amount of money that MP’s are given to run their local offices and employ staff to work for them. This is surely the area for significant savings.

My view is that the premises used in their constituencies by MP’s should be procured by civil servants and the people working for MP’s should also be civil servants on secondment. This way costs could be reduced/controlled by reducing the number of employees and any hint of MP’s staff working for party political purposes removed.

MP’s are in general too detached from real life as many are the product of a party political process that means a lot of them have never worked in the real world. They effectively go straight into politics from university working their way up the slippy party political pole, often starting as MP’s assistants/staff paid for by the public purse.

Our unrepresentative electoral system fuels this process as political parties can place their up and coming people into parliamentary seats that are a virtual certainty to be won by one of the major parties. The party is thereby selecting the MP not the electorate.

My view is that we the public need to retake control of MP’s so that they are actually accountable to their constituents rather than to their political party. Changing the way that MP’s can rent/buy premises and hire & fire staff at a local level is one of the solutions, but can’t you just hear the cries of no, no, no, from those who make their livings from the public purse!

Rimrose Valley Country Park – Highways England’s announcement delayed.

Rimrose Valley Country Park map.

My understanding was that Highways England (previously known as the Highways Agency) were due to announce their preferred solution to increasing the capacity of the A5036 otherwise known as Dunningsbridge Road/ Church Road in Netherton on 8th August.

Of course the big fear amongst environmental campaigners is that they will plump to build a new road through Rimrose Valley Country Park. The ‘need’ for the increased road capacity is due to the Liverpool 2 River Berth being constructed at Seaforth by Peel Ports, a subject I have posted about many times before.

But news reached me yesterday via an e-mail from Rimrose Valley Friends, who are trying to protect the Country Park, that the announcement has been delayed until September. We are told that this follows a Highways England meeting with Mersey Mayor Steve Rotherham.

The significance of the delay/deferment is not presently known.

Here’s a couple of links to pages on the Rimrose Valley Friends web site about the expected announcement:-

www.rimrosevalleyfriends.org/news/highways-england-port-of-liverpool-access-preferred-route-announcement-due-080817/#

www.rimrosevalleyfriends.org/news/highways-england-port-of-liverpool-access-preferred-route-announcement-delayed/

Liverpool City Region – Mayoral dust-up

www.liverpoolecho.co.uk/news/liverpool-news/tensions-rising-between-liverpool-mayor-13224506

The Liverpool Echo has the story on its web site – see link above

It seems to have been rather obvious for a while now that Anderson and Rotherham have a problem with each other; one is the elected Mayor of Liverpool the other the elected Mayor of Merseyside. The other obvious question is why because they both come from the same political party – Labour.

It strikes me that the mayoral quarreling, as described by the Liverpool Echo article, is not going to be in the interests of Merseyside and the Liverpool City Region.

If they were from differing political parties you could almost understand it and you would expect some friction but they are not.

Do we need an elected referee now?

Merseyside has it’s own unique breed of Walrus

www.liverpoolecho.co.uk/news/liverpool-news/what-walrus-everything-you-need-12937411

The Liverpool Echo has the story on its web site – see link above

And here’s a link to the Merseytravel web pages about this travel card:-

www.merseytravel.gov.uk/Tickets/walrus-card/Pages/default.aspx#

It’s going in the right direction but as Carl Cashman the Lib Dem candidate in the recent Liverpool City Region Mayoral election said to fulfill its potential we need to ‘Expand the Walrus card system, creating an ‘Oyster-like’ system across the region, to include buses trains, ferries, tunnels and bridges. Unifying our transport network into one single contactless payment.’

Carl Cashman

How right he is and so the challenge is now there for the winning candidate Steve Rotherham to make this happen by taking up Carl’s pledge.

Labour – City Mayor and would be Mersey Mayor having a little local difficulty!

www.liverpoolecho.co.uk/news/liverpool-news/joe-anderson-blasts-steve-rotheram-12448385#ICID=FB-Liv-main

The Liverpool Echo has the story – see link above

You just never used to see this; Labour was if nothing else a sealed unit when it came to internal disagreements especially here on Merseyside.

But what started off in Maghull, with more council resignations than you could count as Labour folk kicked lumps out of each other over a 5 year period, then recently spread to Prescot where more internal fall-outs have been taking place I understand. Now, at the very highest level on Merseyside, we see Liverpool’s top Labour man attacking in public the Labour chap who wants to be our first ever Mersey Metro Mayor.

It seems to me that Labour’s almost legendary internal discipline must have all but broken down. Maybe this is symptomatic of the very real internal struggles that Labour is going through nationally? Whatever the case I would never have expected Labour to do their disagreeing via the pages of the Liverpool Echo.

The sad part about this is that Labour’s bust up has been about housing the homeless, which should surely be a priority that we can all agree needs to be tackled.

Cllr. Carl Cashman the up and coming Lib Dem candidate to be Merseyside’s first elected Mayor must be taking great heart from this internal Labour bust up especially as it is on top of Labour losing seat after seat in local council by-elections across the UK. In Sunderland Sandhill yesterday the Labour vote collapsed by 29.9% in a local by-election for another Lib Dem gain!