I’ve had the pleasure of visiting several of the amazing festive lights displays across Batley & Spen over the last couple of weeks and it reminds me how lucky we are.
It started out with ‘Heckmondlight’, which was simply stunning.
The team pulled out all the stops to transform the town-centre into something magical.
A real community effort and a fantastic boost for businesses – everyone involved should be proud of what they achieved.
The following weekend I was fortunate enough to attend two Christmas lights switch-ons. The first in Roberttown, which though on a smaller scale was no less fun.
There was a brilliant atmosphere with great entertainment from the singers and dancers. It really was a lovely evening and a big thank-you to all who made it happen.
Last but by no means least was the Batley lights switch-on, which drew a huge crowd.
It was a tremendous event full of great entertainment and such a joy to see so many smiling faces from across our community.
And the fabulous events in Birstall and Cleckheaton also deserve a mention. Sadly I missed the former as I was in Parliament when they were switched-on by the amazing and talented Georgia Roche, but I’m told it was a huge success.
I’ve also heard nothing but good things about the Cleckheaton event which I unfortunately missed due to my Kenya trip with the Armed Forces Scheme.
The groups and individuals who put these events together do not seek plaudits but I feel it’s my duty to sing their praises for all they do for our community.
An unwelcome Christmas present
I awoke last Friday to the news that rail fares are going up yet again, this time by the steepest margin in six years. Infuriated doesn’t even begin to cover it.
The annual price hike is as regular as Christmas but I’d hoped, after such unprecedented rail chaos this year, we might have a temporary respite. No such luck.
All those who have taken time out of their commute to tell me their horror stories at Batley Station this year (most with plenty of spare time to occupy) will doubtless share my anger at this latest insult.
And it gets worse.
Batley Station is ranked in the bottom 10 stations in the whole of Britain for performance over the last six months, according to the tracking and analysis website On Time Trains.
That’s a total of 2,618 stations and we’re in the bottom 10.
Dewsbury is not far behind, ranked 12th worst, while there is not a single Yorkshire station in Britain’s top hundred.
Yet we’re told that there’s no such thing as a north/south divide, that the Tory Government is “putting unprecedented investment into infrastructure projects”. We certainly can’t see any evidence of that here in Batley & Spen.
The latest analysis highlights this disparity even further. Last year, public spending on transport in London was £1,019 per person, according to the think-tank IPPR North.
While in Yorkshire/ Humber we received the comparatively paltry sum of £315 – a decrease on the previous year’s spend.
And now, to add insult to injury, we’re told we’re going to have to pay even more to stand waiting on train platforms in the freezing cold.
Our rail system is already one of the most expensive in the world, and leagues behind many of our overseas counterparts.
The Transport Secretary himself said on the Today programme earlier this week that we need a ‘revolution on our railways, not an evolution’. I couldn’t agree more.
We need meaningful reform, and this Government has demonstrated time and again that it’s not capable of delivering it.