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Blantyre House Prison in Kent to temporarily close, according to the Prison Governors' Association

The Prison Governors' Association (PGA) is surprised to learn this morning that NOMS are to temporarily close HMP Blantyre House in Kent. The PGA has not been consulted on this decision and it leaves us with some major concerns as to the under-usage of the capacity within the open estate.

We are led to believe that this decision has been borne out of the inability to recruit enough prison officers into some of the prisons in the South of England, and in particular the Isle of Sheppey in Kent, which has been widely reported by most media outlets.

NOMS have previously stated there would be no further prison closures in this Parliamentand therefore the PGA will seek assurances that this is just a temporary measure andthere are no further planned temporary or permanent prison closures.


Man found not guilty of stealing estranged wife's cat

Ginger tom Marmalade is affectionately known as Marmie Credit: Tracy Brewster

A man has been found not guilty of stealing his estranged wife's cat Marmalade.

Jonathan Brewster, 45, of Braintree, Essex denied one count of theft when he appeared at Sevenoaks Magistrates' Court today.

His estranged wife Tracy Brewster, of Sevenoaks, set up a Facebook page which attracted 12,000 likes to try and find Marmalade after he went missing in July.


Southeastern 'disappointed' with passenger survey result

Southeastern have said they are 'disappointed' with the results of a passenger survey which showed customer satisfaction was at 74 per cent.

The score was the lowest of all rail operators in the country.

The National Rail Passenger Survey asked 27,000 people about their rail journeys.

Passengers highlighted punctuality, availability of seating on trains, and the way that the company deals with delays as reasons for giving a low score.

"These disappointing scores show just how important a reliable and punctual service is to passengers.

"We’re committed to improving performance through a robust new timetable, which has seen punctuality improve over the last two to three weeks; and a programme of investment in our trains.

“We recognise that we have a lot more work to do to ensure that our passengers are more satisfied with the service that we provide. “Over the next three years we're investing more than £70 million in the things that our passengers tell us are important to them.

"Passengers will start to see the results of this investment over the next couple of months and we hope that this will be reflected in the results of the next passenger survey, which is already under way."

– David Statham, Southeastern

How the rail companies compare - Passenger Focus

The results of a passenger survey have revealed that Southeastern has seen the biggest ever drop in passenger satisfaction.

The figure is down 11 per cent to 74 per cent - the worst by far in the country.

The key issues are late and crowded trains and poor value for money.

The National Rail Passenger Survey asked more than 27,000 passengers what they thought of their most recent journey.

  • Southeastern’s overall satisfaction score fell 11 per cent compared to a year ago
  • Highest-scoring operators were Heathrow Express and Grand Central, both with 94 per cent satisfaction, and Chiltern 93 per cent
  • Lowest-scored were Govia Thameslink and Southern (both with 77 per cent) and Southeastern (74 per cent)
  • Cross Country’s overall satisfaction score dropped 4 per cent in a year.

The independent watchdog Passenger Focus, who conducted the survey, has calls for industry and government to boost the passenger voice in decisions around getting trains on time versus running more services.

"Rail passengers’ satisfaction is driven by getting trains on time.

"Many are being let down - fare increases, billions in government investment and promises of improvement don’t seem to be delivering change on the ground.

"The high profile disruption after Christmas and at London Bridge will only have added to the gloom.

“Passengers do not care who is to blame for things going wrong and for some of them the timetable is a work of fiction.

"If it really is the case that better day-to-day performance can't be achieved, then an honest, open debate is now needed so that passengers might be able to trust the promises made by the industry again.”

– Anthony Smith, Passenger Focus


One in five 'unsatisfied' with their train journey

More than 27,000 people took part in the survey Credit: PA

One in five people are not satisfied with their rail journey, according to a survey of more than twenty thousand people.

The number of rail passengers satisfied with their journey is "significantly" down at 81%, according to Passenger Focus.

This figure is two per cent down on the previous year.

The survey asked 27,000 people for their opinion of their rail journey but it did not include the Christmas period during which there was widespread disruption.

How's your train journey? Do you think journeys are getting worse? Let us know by tweeting us @itvmeridian or on our Facebook page.

Council rejects second Gatwick runway plan

Another key council has rejected plans for a second runway at Gatwick.

Last night Crawley Borough Council held a special meeting and rejected the plan. There are concerns about the environmental impact and the number of extra houses needed.

The move follows a decision by West Sussex County Council last week to oppose the scheme.

Consultation by the Airport Commission on where another runway should go in the region comes to an end next Tuesday.

It is estimated a second runway would create an extra 100,000 jobs and double flight numbers.

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