Telford Journal Column

It was a privilege to lay a wreath at the Telford Town Park war memorial on Remembrance Sunday. We should be proud of the way communities across Telford came together on such an historic day to honour those who died for our freedoms and to say thank you for their sacrifice.

This week I met with the new rail franchise operators, Transport for Wales, to discuss how to deliver a train service that meets the growing needs of our town. The operators acknowledged that the existing service, even if operating as expected, it is still inadequate for our needs. Transport for Wales will be delivering more capacity with new carriages, but it will be sometime before they are in service. The good news is we now have a commitment to a new semi fast service each hour from next May.

I have long been campaigning for one more fast train per hour, so this is a welcome step. This will add the extra capacity we desperately need from Telford to Birmingham. When I raised this in Parliament, we saw resistance from those outside Telford, who wanted the extra service to stop at every little village along the route. This ignores the fact that Telford is a major population centre and contributor to the West Midlands economy. It would be ludicrous to prioritise the needs of rural villages along the route, when Telford’s connectivity needs are not being met, so it is good to see decision makers accepting the arguments. Train operators have agreed to work with the Telford Train Forum to ensure a joined-up strategic approach to Telford’s rail connectivity needs.

When the Shrewsbury and Telford Hospital Trust was placed into Special Measures last week, the management said they welcomed it. This step is clearly in the interests of the Trust, given the serious difficulties it faces. Special Measures gives the trust the breathing space it needs to tackle the issues. Management could have asked for this assistance sooner. We have seen a degree of complacency which borders on arrogance. Management took the view they could brazen it out, minimising the difficulties rather than honestly recognising challenges. They have been unable to cope with the highly politicised context in which they have had to operate and have shown themselves to have lost control of the agenda. It is time for new management. I hope Special Measures will deliver that.