As commuters across East Sussex continue to struggle with the on-going rail dispute, Wealden District Councillors have unanimously called on the rail unions and Southern railways to find a solution to the current dispute as a matter of urgency.
Council Leader Bob Standley, who proposed the motion at Full Council, said the latest round of strikes, which includes the Christmas and New Year period, were designed to cause the maximum disruption to the public, and that the strikes were affecting the economy of the District.
“I fear the dispute will deter investors at a time when we are trying to encourage new businesses into the District and help existing businesses expand.”
The full effect the dispute has been having in the District was made clear by councillors taking part in the debate.
Commuters on the Uckfield line had been particularly badly affected by a combination of platform extensions, industrial action, rolling stock shortages and light failures were making the situation unacceptable. Hard working residents were being held to ransom. They were also being unfairly penalised by the practice of terminating services at Crowborough to improve turn-around times, which meant an hour delay for those commuters.
Other councillors urged that needs of disabled travellers and parents with childcare commitments be kept firmly in mind when resolving the dispute, and highlighted problems on the Eastbourne to Haywards Heath line where Polegate commuters were suffering from a preference being given to services to Brighton and Hove.
Councillors called on the Government to support the BML2 infrastructure improvements which would improve rail capacity in the south east by re-instating the rail link between Uckfield and Lewes.
Seconding the motion, Cllr Roy Galley said the debate had highlighted just how horrendous the situation had become, not just in terms of delays but also the conditions passengers were expected to travel in.
“This has gone on far too long and all those involved in this need to get a grip.”
The Council will also be sharing its concerns about the dispute with local MPs and the Ministry for Transport.