Politically Speaking in the Wakefield Express

The pensioners at the St Swithins sheltered housing scheme in Stanley Ferry are a sprightly bunch. I popped into their weekly coffee morning to catch up with residents and caught them on a wave of sporting success after a resounding victory (complete with trophy) in a seated indoor bowls competition against Newfield House in Normanton.

They take their bowling very seriously at St Swithins (as apparently do their recent opponents from Newfield House). We discussed match and team tactics, and of course the St Swithins victory, over a cup of tea and a biscuit. Discussions then moved onto improvements to local housing and the impact of changes to our NHS.

Pensioners use the health service more than most and many in their 70s remember life before the NHS – when treatment depended on your ability to pay, not how poorly you were. So, like me, they’re extremely concerned about the direction the NHS is going in with services being privatized by the back door.

The St Swithuns pensioners are certainly living life to its fullest. And with activities most days; from quizzes and the mysterious key draw to afternoon games and the weekly coffee morning, I was tempted to join them for an afternoon of bingo. As it is, I’ve at least got the next bowls match against Newfield House to look forward to. And I’m challenging Newfield’s MP, my wife Yvette, to come along too so we can cheer on our respective teams.

*****

Victory on car parking charges! Last week there was some very welcome news for train passengers using Outwood station.

A few weeks back it seemed the Government was planning to introduce parking charges at Outwood station as part of a new rail franchise. Local commuters and Metro representatives contacted me and I wrote immediately to the Secretary of State.

Stations like Outwood are well used for commuting to work as well as leisure and nights out. But we should be doing more to encourage people onto the trains. That’s why it’s really important we don’t put people off with any unnecessary extra costs. The rising cost of living has hit family budgets hard and the average family is already £1,600 a year worse off. If a few extra pounds a week is the difference between having a bit left over for a treat or not. Or would mean more people would take the car and not the train, it was important for the Government to look at this again.

In his response the Secretary of State said, “Having considered the matter I can confirm that the Direct Award will not include proposals to introduce car parking charges.”

Passengers using Outwood Station will continue to be able to park there for free – which is a bit of great news for a change!

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Posted May 9th, 2014 by Ed

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