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Wednesday 4 June 2008



Benfleet Rail Station Facilities

The Petition of Wendy Daines, residents of Castle Point and others,

Declares that the café of Benfleet Station gives a good service and should be retained by c2c in its current format, and that toilet facilities should be provided on the London bound platform for the 3000 plus passengers who use the station each day

The Petitioners therefore request that the House of Commons implores the Government to press c2c to maintain the facilities in their current state and to add appropriate toilet facilities to the London bound platform

And the Petitioners remain, etc. —[Presented by Bob Spink , Official Report, 14 May 2008; Vol. 475, c. 1509.] [P000194]

Observations from the Secretary of State for Transport :

Benfleet Station has an annual average footfall approaching 3,000,000 passengers and is a popular station for commuters, offering a main bus interchange, links to London Fenchurch Street, Shoeburyness and is the closest station to Canvey Island. c2c Rail Limited, owned by National Express Group Plc, is the Station Facility Owner and as such is responsible for station facilities within the station boundary.

In accordance with the Station Lease Agreement and Franchise Agreement c2c have an obligation to maintain certain aspects of the station's fabric and facilities in their current state. In addition over the past year c2c have completed over £475,000 worth of improvement projects at Benfleet station, which included new automatic doors, a new ramp, ticket office refurbishment and cycle security.

The toilet facilities have been enhanced in the last year, although there are no future plans to add or relocate toilet facilities.

All commercial contracts applicable to the station remain the responsibility of c2c Rail Ltd.

Officials have advised that c2c are in contact with Wendy Daines the organiser of the petition.

Road Safety (Hertfordshire)

The Petition of those concerned about the safety of Lower Road Bridge in Nash Mills,

Declares that a safety crossing and traffic calming system is urgently needed for the Lower Road bridge in Nash Mills; that the Victorian bridge has no footpath or alternative safe route being designed for horse and carriages rather than 40 tonne lorries; that a local traffic survey found that on 24th October 2007 between 2pm and 5pm there were 2217 movements through the bridge including HGV lorries, buses, vans, cars, motorbikes and pedestrians; that a large proportion of the pedestrians crossing the bridge are children; that 50 children live in
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the 150 dwellings in what is known as “no mans land” (Lower Rd, Hyde Lane and Woodlands Rd) and have to cross the bridge to access the local park; that further planned developments nearby (residential and business) are likely to exacerbate the problem on this bridge which has three junctions on its south side; and that if the Government is encouraging children to walk to school it should ensure the environment for them to do so is a safe one.

The Petitioners therefore request that the House of Commons urges the Secretary of State for Communities, Local Government and the Regions to instruct the local authority to look into solutions to the problem which should include the introduction of pedestrian lights; reducing the height restriction on the bridge to 11 ft 4; adding a footpath and sensor light; painting the inside of the bridge white and lighting it 24hrs a day; putting a speed camera in the Lower rd on the bend; providing islands to assist pedestrians in crossing the road and to consult further with the local community to ensure everybody's safety.

And the Petitioners remain, etc. —[Presented by Mike Penning , Official Report, 7 May 2008; Vol. 475, c. 814.] [P000171]

Observations from the Secretary of State for Transport:

The Secretary of State acknowledges the concerns of the petitioners regarding this location. As the road concerned is a local road which is the responsibility of Hertfordshire County Council, it is the County Council's responsibility to assess the problems which are identified at this location and to propose and implement solutions. The Secretary of State has allocated funding to Hertfordshire County Council to allow it to deliver its Local Transport Plan and it is the responsibility of the County Council to identify its programme for spending that funding. The Secretary of State also observes that officers from Hertfordshire County Council have attended meetings and site visits with local residents who have supplied comprehensive information detailing their concerns for this section of road.

It is also observed that additionally some funds are available from Section 106 funding from nearby developments which will help to fund any proposed work which emerges from an options report which is being prepared to investigate the matters raised. There is a need to prioritise the work required. As part of the feasibility work the County Council will be collecting data on traffic flow and speeds.

The County Council is also discussing with Network Rail issues identified by the petitioners, such as the painting and lighting. While these could be implemented relatively quickly, any other scheme could take two years to design and implement and it will be for the County Council to weigh up the benefits from this scheme against other Local Transport Plan priorities.

Business, Enterprise and Regulatory Reform

Post Office Closures (West London)

The Humble Petition of local residents of Little Venice, Maida Vale and neighbouring areas,


That Formosa Street Post Office is of great importance to the local community and economy.

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Wherefore your Petitioners pray that your Honourable House urges the Government to reject proposals by Post Office Ltd to withdraw services from the Formosa Street Post Office, in recognition of its importance to the local community and economy, and the absence of suitable alternatives.

And your Petitioners, as in duty bound, will ever pray, &c. —[Presented by Ms Karen Buck , Official Report, 1 April 2008; Vol. 474, c. 737.] [P000157]

Observations from the Secretary of State for Business, Enterprise and Regulatory Reform :

The Government fully recognises the important social and economic role of post offices, particularly in rural and deprived urban communities. That is why it is determined to maintain a national post office network, allowing people to have reasonable access across the whole country, and why it has put in place a new policy and financial framework to achieve this. The Government has invested £2 billion in the post office network since 1999. That has, for example, paid for a computer link-up for every post office, as well as support for non-commercial branches since 2003.

In its response to the consultation on the Post Office network, the Government announced its decision to extend funding of up to £1.7 billion to 2011, including provision of a £150 million Social Network Payment to support the post office network up to this time. The Government strategy includes provision for 2,500 compensated closures and 500 new Outreach services.

The 500 new and innovative Outreach locations, operated in partnership with other local services (such as pubs, village halls, churches and mobile post offices), will mitigate closures, primarily in smaller and more remote communities. POL announced on 9 April that it will extend Outreach trials into urban areas which, if successful, could mean additional Outreach branches over and above the 500 originally planned. Nevertheless, there will need to be up to 2,500 compensated post office closures within the defined access criteria.

Post Office Limited (POL) is responsible for implementing the network change programme at a local level. It is developing a rolling programme of some 50 local consultations on detailed area plans, based on
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groups of Parliamentary constituencies. The first area plans went out to local consultation on 2 October last year and these plans will continue to be rolled out at regular intervals until August, with the whole programme scheduled to take around 15 months to complete. The consultation period for London finished on the 2 April and POL will announce final decisions in due course, which will be available on their website at www.post office.co.uk/networkchange.

POL develops its proposals with the participation of sub-postmasters, local authorities and the consumer watchdog, Postwatch. When drawing up its implementation plans, POL takes into account the numeric access criteria set out by Government, as well as local factors affecting ease of access, such as local geography (rivers, mountains etc). POL is also required to consider the availability of public transport and alternative access to key post office services, local demographics and the impact on the local economy. Local consultations provide the opportunity to raise any specific concerns over particular proposals.

The Government does not have a role in proposals or decisions for individual post offices. No decisions on individual Post Offices are taken until after local consultations. Those decisions are made by POL in light of the responses to the consultation, while subject to a four-stage appeals process involving Postwatch. The Review Process for closure decisions after the public consultation process applies where Postwatch shows that, for an individual branch:

The aim of the further review process is for POL and Postwatch to reach an agreed way forward by bilateral review, with 3 stages available at increasing levels of seniority. An addition to the review process provides for very difficult cases which remain unresolved after stage 3. At this stage the Chairman of Royal Mail Group will review the issues and reach a final decision.

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