All posts by Jonathan Essex

Standing up for a Better Future – no to Gatwick or Heathrow expansion

The local Green Party, like many others, has formally objected to an extra runway at either Gatwick or Heathrow Airport. We pointed out that there has been no assessment of health impacts, there would be a definite increase in noise and that an increase in flights would make it impossible to meet our climate targets.

Continue reading Standing up for a Better Future – no to Gatwick or Heathrow expansion

Surrey Conservatives vote to end residential care in all six remaining Surrey County Council care homes.

On Tuesday, Surrey County Council voted to end provision of residential care in its last six care homes. These included the Park Hall Care Home in Reigate. The council received two petitions from over four and a half thousand people and their consultation with the public showed 87% of those responding wished the residential care to be retained for many different reasons.

Continue reading Surrey Conservatives vote to end residential care in all six remaining Surrey County Council care homes.

Time for Fair Fares from Redhill

This new year Reigate and Redhill commuters were greeted by higher fares, while engineering works until 2018 have led to fewer Redhill trains going to London Bridge. The improvements at London Bridge will improve Redhill’s train service when finished. However, in the short term the service from Redhill has become slower, with trains diverted to Blackfriars and London Victoria – while other routes (such as the East Grinstead line) continue to London Bridge unchanged.

The irony is that Redhill and Reigate are already paying over the odds, (compared to comparable rail journeys into London) so this would be an ideal time to freeze prices, while commuters experience increased delays, on a daily basis. The engineering works could have been the excuse for fairer fares. Instead train fares have continued to rise even as the engineering works leave a poorer London service for the next few years.

Jonathan Essex told the local website reigate.uk that the Government had to act to ensure that commmuters are fairly treated. He said “If our train service from Redhill to London Bridge was cut like this for just one day passengers would be compensated. Now this happens every day with Southern Trains new timetable penalising Redhill over all other routes.” “The government must ensure that passengers are compensated now”, he added.

The AGM of the Reigate, Redhill and District Rail User Association is from 7.30pm on 12 March 2015 in the Harlequin Theatre in Redhill. This is our opportunity to hear from and speak directly to representatives of Network Rail, Southern and Thameslink (now both part of the Govia Thameslink Railway Ltd, the UK’s largest train franchise). You can join as a member and attend the meeting for £3 on the door.

Time for a better bus station

Commenting in this weeks Surrey Mirror on Redhill’s new two-way system. Why are there are still parked buses in Marketfield Way which block the view of oncoming cars as drivers exit the car park?

Borough councillor Jonathan Essex said: “At the bus station we have now, there isn’t enough space for buses to lay up. Therefore there can be up to five buses here. The bus station isn’t fit for purpose. It’s the biggest unfinished part of the sustainable transport scheme. If you could fit more buses in the bus station, you won’t need buses parked all along the road.”

A New Two-Way System Around Redhill

Touring the two-way system with Jill Harvey of the Pedestrian ForumI went around Redhill’s new two-way system with the Pedestrian Forum yesterday to check what issues still need to be finished off to ensure that the new traffic layout is safe for all.

Reporting on BBC Surrey News breakfast time I commented that:

“Surrey County Council promises that the new two-way system will be better for pedestrians, cyclists, and reduce congestion around the town. Generally I think this is a good move. But we need to make sure it doesn’t benefit us in the short term and then we find that the congestion just returns as we have more and more traffic in the future.

“We need to make sure all the cycle routes are joined up. That the buses have sufficient space to park in the bus station.

“At the moment the plans are to continue to park the buses along Marketfield Way. Which makes congestion worse. We could follow Sussex’s example and fit more buses into the bus station by allowing them to drive in and reverse out. If we want more people travelling then we need to make the ‘temporary’ bus station that was put in a few years ago better too. Let’s have a new way forward for public transport to make best use of the two-way system which has just been introduced.”

Campaign to save Park Hall care home

Save our Care Homes march in ReigateThis morning I joined a march from Park Hall Care Home in Reigate – with those with family at the care home and others challenging the plans to shut the County Council’s last six residential care homes. Lots of beeps from passing cars in support as well as discussions on Reigate High Street.

The current set-up works well – combining day care, respite and residential care. Transferring these residents is not just a risk for them but will be a loss in accountability – as outsourced contracts are forced to choose between lower wages or less care to save money.