Granada Debate: 'The government was right to take control of TransPennine Express'

The Conservative MP for Bury North James Daly says the government was right to bring another rail operator under public ownership but there needs to be a broader non-ideologically driven discussion on how we can improve rail services in the North West.

He was speaking on May’s Granada Debate in the week that rail operator TransPennine Express was brought under control of the Department for Transport. He said:

“What politicians should be concerned about is working out a way - not an ideological way - but a way where people are seeing the best service possible. It hasn’t been working which is why the government were right to do what they have.

"TransPennine Express were not giving value for money. But there are certain other changes that have to be made because the fundamental problems that were affecting TransPennine remain even though the government has taken the franchise over."

Justifying why the government hadn’t acted sooner despite growing criticism of the franchise, Mr Daly said:

“TransPennine made certain commitments and the government wanted to hold them to those commitments, and give them a chance to prove they could run the service we all wanted to see. Unfortunately that's not happened.

"There’s a myriad of reasons but part of that debate is the working practices of staff and the actions of the trade unions over the last six to twelve months coming out of the pandemic.“

Also appearing on the panel this month was Ellesmere Port and Neston's Labour MP Justin Madders. He wants the government to go further than just TransPennine Express:

"This is now the fifth operator brought into public ownership and it’s pretty clear that privatisation as a model has failed.

'I’m not sure why blaming trade unions is relevant because as an example; asking people to work on their days off as a business model isn’t sustainable. That’s simply a  symptom of a company wanting to eke out as much profit as possible from this.

"I hope that the government continue with this trend and bring Avanti back in house as well because they’re failing too.”

The debate then turned to major reforms announced for the rental market with the government this week revealing its long awaited Renters' Reform Bill.

Justin Madders highlighted one of the key issues that is often raised at his MP surgery:

"My constituents often complain about anti-social behaviour from their neighbours and tenants and it seems at the moment there isn't a willingness to tackle that.

"But the biggest complaint I get in terms of housing is Section 21 notices or 'no fault evictions'.

"We have a situation here unfortunately where people don't have any security in their homes. When you're bringing a family up with a local school and a job nearby to be told that you must leave with two months notice simply isn't the way to build sustainable communities.

"I'm glad, that four years after the promise was made, the government have finally agreed to do this but there are some concerns that there may be a couple of loopholes that allow no-fault evictions to continue"

In response James Daly said:

"I agree with the ending of 'no-fault evictions' I think that's a very important step. But I think we also have to be realistic and make sure that this bill is both nuanced in giving people protections but also making sure that people are not living in appalling conditions.

"We've seen in our area some very tragic stories recently and I think that this bill does genuinely try to make sure that people are not living in abject conditions but it also speeds up the process for possession hearings which I think is very important.

"There's sure to be a lot of debate about it in parliament but I think the sentiment behind it is very good."

The Granada Debate concluded with a discussion on the results of May's local elections where Labour's Justin Madders said he believed results showed "although there is a long way to go we are definitely on course to win the next general election".

James Daly disagreed saying:

"A national election is very different to a local election. To give our local Conservative councillors the best chance of winning we have to do our job nationally and we all accept the last twelve months have not been acceptable.

"But under this Prime Minister we have a platform now to go forward with a strong national offer ahead of the next local elections."

The Granada Debate next returns on June 15th.