Chris Philp, Croydon South’s new(ish) Tory MP, has probably made more appearances on Channel 4 News, Daily Politics and Newsnight to peddle his party line so far this year than he’s managed to post information for his constituents on his official website.
And last week, less than an hour after Inside Croydon published the latest call for him to act on his promise to demand the removal of the commuter service franchise from Southern Rail, Philp posted an article on his site stating that he was to … stage a public meeting over the wretched state of Croydon’s rail service.
It is nearly a year since Philp spoke at Westminster about Southern’s “totally unacceptable” service and promised prompt and decisive action on behalf of his commuting constituents. “I will continue to keep the pressure up on Southern and the Rail Minister,” Philp said last July.
And it is six months since Philp promised to demand that Southern should lose its lucrative franchise if the service had not improved by May. “I am … prepared to call for Southern to lose their franchise if the service does not improve by next spring,” Philp wrote to a constituent in December.
But now, it’s not just Southern trains which are running late: Philp’s promise to deliver a better rail service also appears to be delayed. Croydon commuters are beginning to think that the Flying Scotsman generated less hot air than their Tory MP.
More than three weeks into May, and still Philp has not carried out his threat.
Maybe he’s heard that Southern’s services have undergone transformative improvement?
On the MP’s website last week, he wrote, “Southern Rail has been one of the biggest issues facing our neighbourhood for some time. The constant delays have plighted [sic; he really means blighted] commuters and leisure travellers alike.”
Philp went on: “I have been complaining to Ministers, Southern and Network Rail and it is now time for residents to get a chance to hear from the train companies directly.” Yet most commuters do, already, hear from the train companies, often on a twice-daily basis, when their trains are delayed, or cancelled, or utterly overcrowded.
Has Philp’s train campaign run out of steam?
Why has he failed to carry out his threat “to call for Southern to lose their franchise”?
It’s a threat which Philp still repeats in his latest posting: “If I do not get suitable answers I will be calling on them to lose the franchise.” But how long do his new neighbours in Coulsdon have to wait for the MP actually to deliver on that promise? After all, as he reminds his constituents, “Southern’s performance is abysmal – the worst of any line in the country.”
Philp’s meeting is tomorrow evening, May 24, from 7.30pm in the church hall at Purley United Reform Church, 906 Brighton Road, Purley CR8 2LN. “There will be representatives from Southern and Network Rail in attendance who will be giving presentations before opening the floor to a Q&A,” Philp says.
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