Jim spoke in what’s called the Adjournment Debate, before Parliament went into recess yesterday.
The two issues that were on his mind were transport and health. Transport first:
With change comes difficulty, as everybody knows. New stations are being fitted with the Oyster card system, which has been hugely successful on the underground network and on London buses. Extending it to the national rail network will be to the advantage of passengers throughout the area and the country, wherever it is adopted. Bringing in the Oyster card service means bringing in gates, which is where the current problem exists. There is a plan at Sydenham and Forest Hill stations to introduce over two phases and by the end of this year automatic gates, which will be brought on line while the Southern Trains franchise is still in existence.
Unfortunately, this is causing many of my constituents considerable inconvenience and has made their lives difficult because of restrictions on the up service from Sydenham and the down service from Forest Hill, requiring people to go to the other side of the station and back over footbridge to get to the service they want. For people with buggies or luggage or with mobility difficulties, that is extremely inconvenient. Everybody understands why the new system is being brought in, but it cannot be right to inconvenience the law-abiding and ticket-buying majority in the hope of catching the fare-evading minority. My constituents certainly do not see it that way.
He goes on to say he, Sir Steve and the public are asking for Southern Trains to revert to the older system until they bring in the whole scheme and apparently Southern are thinking about it.
On health he says:
I applaud the PCTs for taking a joint approach to planning important services in the area. The last time I spoke on this issue was at the start of the consultation period. Fortunately, within the last few weeks, that consultation has concluded. The one thing that became apparent beyond all others was that the people of Lewisham do not regard themselves as living in outer south-east London, whatever that might be. If services at Lewisham hospital are taken away, the people would be more likely to go to King’s in the west or Guy’s and St Thomas’ in the north than they would ever be to go to Queen Elizabeth in Woolwich, Princess Royal in Farnborough or Queen Mary in Sidcup.
I am delighted that the result of the consultation has been to underline, rather than undermine, the services provided by Lewisham hospital. It is good news for Lewisham residents. The confidence and respect of residents for University hospital in Lewisham has been confirmed by the exercise and by the PCT. The joint PCT accepted that it will continue with the world class maternity and, certainly, paediatric services, which are among the best in the country—as good as Great Ormond street, according to the Healthcare Commission, or better, as Great Ormond street does not provide a children’s A & E service but Lewisham does.