Stockport MP Ann Coffey visited Stockport’s local cancer care charity, Beechwood, in Cale Green, and caught up on their news.
Beechwood offers support to people living with cancer and other life limiting illnesses, and to their families. By the year 2020 Beechwood will have been helping people for 30 years.
During the time she has been MP for Stockport, Ann Coffey has visited Beechwood many times. As part of her visit this time she toured the building and met volunteers, staff, and service users, and heard about advancements in the family therapy and support service.
Linda Steggles, Chief Executive Officer of Beechwood, said:
“It’s exciting to be part of the Beechwood team and to collaborate with the healthcare network across the region in the vision for cancer care and other life limiting illnesses. Since 1990 the charity has been committed to providing innovative and outstanding care to those who access its services, and I’m looking forward to leading the charity towards its 30th anniversary and its next phase.”
Ann Coffey said:
“It was great to catch up with Beechwood and meet the new CEO, Linda. Chatting to some of the people who meet regularly at Beechwood, it seemed to me that one of the greatest benefits comes from being in a friendly environment where they can simply talk and form friendships with others who understand their situation.”
To find out more about the support, services and activities offered by Beechwood, go to http://www.beechwoodcancercare.org.uk/
Photo: Ann Coffey at Beechwood Cancer Care, Chelford Grove, Stockport SK3 8LS, with (left to right) Colette Kelly, Deputy Clinical Manager, Linda Steggles, CEO, Lorraine Fairclough, Community & Volunteer Manager, Sandra Sinclair, Trustee
Across our Greater Manchester conurbation it’s important that train services are reliable, comfortable to use and run to a timetable which meets the needs of passengers, including commuters who want to get to work on time.
It does not seem too much to ask. However, with the introduction of new timetables this week, Northern Rail passengers in Stockport are facing a reduced service, with chaotic timetabling of trains to Manchester from Davenport, Woodsmoor and Heaton Chapel station. This is very frustrating – especially as Northern Rail has been promising big improvements to the service with an end to severe overcrowding and delays.
People see the sense in using public transport to avoid traffic congestion, and this is reflected in the increased numbers of rail passengers. Heaton Chapel, for example, is one of the busiest stations in Greater Manchester, with over 800,000 passengers a year. And they expect a decent service, rather than trains cut from four an hour to three an hour in the morning rush hour, and all three trains bunched together within a 15 minute window.
The reduced timetable is due to a delay in electrification of the Manchester to Preston line by Network Rail, which now won’t be delivered until later this year. I wrote to the Rail Minister, Jo Johnson, expressing concern about the impact of this on my constituents, who are now suffering cuts in their local services at peak times.
The Minister has written back and assured me that the cuts to train services will be reversed in time for the December timetables. I do hope he is right about that, because so far I have been disappointed with unfulfilled promises from the rail industry. However, I welcome the Minister’s reassurance and I will be monitoring this latest pledge closely. I just feel sorry for my constituents who are having to endure commuter hell between now and Christmas.
Ann Coffey MP has received an assurance from the Government that cuts to train services at Heaton Chapel station will be reversed in time for Christmas.
Ms Coffey, MP for Stockport, wrote to the Government expressing concern about cuts in services from May 20 and chaotic timetabling, which threatens dangerous overcrowding on platforms.
Jo Johnson, the rail minister, has now written back to Ms Coffey.
“Due to unforeseen infrastructure problems the delivery of the Bolton electrification project has been delayed. Network Rail has recently advised us that this project will be delivered during September/October 2018 which will allow for the timetable improvements to take place from December 2018.
“Completion of electrification on the Bolton corridor should see restoration of four trains an hour towards Manchester at these stations.”
Ms Coffey welcomed the reassurance but said:
“I will be monitoring this latest pledge closely.
“It is good that we can see light at the end of the tunnel but until December my constituents will continue to endure commuter hell with unacceptable reductions in services and chaotic timetabling resulting in big gaps at peak periods and the fear of crowd control problems.”
Heaton Chapel, in Ms Coffey’s constituency, is one of the busiest stations within Greater Manchester with over 800,000 passengers per year. Northern rail bosses are devising plans to deal with potential crowds at Heaton Chapel and Levenshulme stations when services at both stations are temporarily cut from four to three trains an hour from May 20 due to delays in the electrification of the Manchester to Preston line.
Ms Coffey said she was disappointed that Mr Johnson’s letter did not properly address all the points in her original letter, particularly the dangers of crowd control problems caused by the bunching up of services. For example, all three trains during the morning rush hour will arrive at the station within a 15 minute window and then there will be a large 49 minute gap between the 8.35 and 9.24 peak morning services.
In his letter Mr Johnson merely admitted: “There are still challenges around the spread of services, which we will be working with Network Rail to attempt to improve.”
Ms Coffey added: “This is rather vague. I will hold the government to this as there are major concerns about the chaotic timings of services and the dangers of overcrowding that poses for local rail users.”