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First Great Western adds extra seats to commuter services

Friday, 25 November, 2011 2 comments

First Great Western will add an extra 4,500 seats to commuter trains running into and out of London Paddington starting from early next year.

15 of these Mark III carriages will be added to high speed trains running into Paddington. Pic via Matthew Black.

Extra government funding means a total of 48 carriages will be added to First’s services between London, Reading and the south west. New trains will start operating between Worcester and London Paddington, freeing up capacity for extra seats on Thames Valley commuter services.

Vernon Barker, Managing Director of FirstGroup’s UK rail division, said: “We’re delighted at this announcement by the Department for Transport, which is good news for First Great Western’s customers across the network and will reduce crowding on the most popular peak services.”

A total of 27 peak daily services calling at Twyford, 28 calling at Maidenhead and 23 calling at Slough will receive extra carriages.

Theresa Villiers, Transport Secretary, said: “We are determined to tackle overcrowding and provide better, more comfortable journeys for passengers. These extra carriages will enable existing services to be lengthened which will significantly increase their capacity.

Fifteen carriages being added to the high speed trains operating out of Paddington are ex-British Rail Mk.III buffet cars which will be converted to standard class. 33 carriages will be added to other services across the areas targeted for improvement.These will be phased in between February 2012 and September 2012. The Government hopes the extra carriages will be deployed in time for next summer’s Olympic Games.

The cost of improving capacity on the network will be £28.9m.

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Trick or Treat?

Monday, 31 October, 2011 1 comment

According to a recent survey commissioned by Santander Insurance, 1 in 5 people would support banning Trick or Treating following the riots which swept across London earlier this year. 

Around 22%  of people surveyed believe that the yearly custom should have an outright ban, while 50% said that parental accompaniment should be compulsory in order to control the behaviour of children.

Furthermore, 43% of people would support a ban on people wearing masks which obscure the face over Halloween, and over a third of people asked would support a ban on people wearing hooded tops.

Andy Smith, head of media relations at Santander, said: “The summer’s riots resulted in a huge amount of innocent people becoming victims of crime. Our research would suggest that there is genuine concern about any more criminal damage or anti-social behaviour taking place in the period that surrounds Halloween and bonfire night – a period which many people already find intimidating”.

Are these fears founded or is it a lot of fuss about nothing? We want to know what you think: 

MPs split over EU vote

Tuesday, 25 October, 2011 1 comment

David Cameron faced what can arguably be seen as the biggest test of his leadership yesterday as a backbench motion calling for a referendum on Europe caused a massive rift within the House of Commons.

The decision of Cameron and Miliband not to allow a free vote within Parliament, opting for a three-line whip in the hope of controlling MPs votes, was met with fierce criticism from both The Commons and the general public.

After a five-hour debate on the pros and cons of EU membership and why the public should or should not be allowed to determine our future within Europe, 483 MPs voted to reject the motion, with only 111 voting in favour leaving a majority of 372 out of a total of 650 MPs in the House of Commons.

This result has sparked uncertainty over the future of several MPs within their parties. Grassroots reaction from Twitter and other social media sources suggest widespread public dissatisfaction with the result of the vote.

Twitter user Edward Butler-Ellis, who tweets under the username @EdwardBE1 and describes himself as an ‘avid Conservative campaigner’ said: “how is the #eureferendum a distraction for parliament? The EU is the single largest influence over the UK, don’t insult us. #referendumNOW

charlotteahenry, a self-described liberal, said: “Fuming about today’s self indulgent antics in Parliament, given what’s going on in the real world. Do MPs still wonder why nobody cares?”

Meanwhile, Labour supporter Shereef Abdallah (@Sheik74Shereef ) said: “Cameron is sleep walking to disaster. Even after the Euro vote, what happens if UK has d.dip recession ? Govt won’t survive till 2015.”

The list of rebels is as follows:

Conservative

Stuart Andrew

Steve Baker

John Baron

Andrew Bingham

Brian Binley

Bob Blackman

Peter Bone

Graham Brady

Andrew Bridgen

Steve Brine

Fiona Bruce

Dan Byles

Douglas Carswell

Bill Cash

Christopher Chope

James Clappison

Tracey Crouch

David T.C. Davies

Philip Davies

David Davis

Nick du Bois

Caroline Dinenage

Nadine Dorries

Richard Drax

Mark Field

Lorraine Fullbrook

Zac Goldsmith

James Gray

Chris Heaton-Harris

Gordon Henderson

George Hollingbery

Philip Hollobone

Stewart Jackson

Bernard Jenkin

Marcus Jones

Chris Kelly

Andrea Leadsom

Jeremy Lefroy

Edward Leigh

Dr. Julian Lewis

Karen Lumley

Jason McCartney

Karl McCartney

Stephen McPartland

Anne Main

Patrick Mercer

Nigel Mills

Anne-Marie Morris

James Morris

Stephen Mosely

Sheryll Murray

Caroline Nokes

David Nuttall

Matthew Offord

Neil Parish

Priti Patel

Andrew Percy

Mark Pritchard

Mark Reckless

John Redwood

Jacob Rees-Mogg

Simon Reevell

Laurence Robertson

Andrew Rosindell

Richard Shepherd

Henry Smith

John Stevenson

Bob Stewart

Gary Streeter

Julian Sturdy

Sir Peter Tapsell

Justin Tomlinson

Andrew Turner

Martin Vickers

Charles Walker

Robin Walker

Heather Wheeler

Craig Whittaker

John Whittingdale

Dr. Sarah Wollaston

Labour

Ronnie Campbell

Rosie Cooper

Jeremy Corbyn

Jon Cruddas

John Cryer

Ian Davidson

Natascha Engel

Frank Field

Roger Godsiff

Kate Hoey

Kelvin Hopkins

Steve McCabe

John McDonnell

Austin Mitchell

Dennis Skinner

Andrew Smith

Graham Stringer

Gisela Stuart

Mike Wood

Lib Dem

Adrian Sanders

Democratic Unionist Party

Gregory Campbell

Nigel Dodds

Jeffrey Donaldson

Dr. William McCrea

Ian Paisley Jr.

Jim Shannon

David Simpson

Sammy Wilson

Green

Caroline Lucas

Independent

Lady Hermon

POSITIVE ABSTENTIONS (Went through both Aye & No lobbies) 2

Ian Stewart (Conservative)

Mike Weatherley (Conservative)


Abandoned kittens get second chance at life

Saturday, 15 October, 2011 1 comment

Kittens and cats abandoned by their owners will be given a second chance for a loving home at a cattery’s open day tomorrow.

Edwina Coda, manager of the Comfy Cats Cattery, is running the re-homing event to give people a chance to see around 18 cats left at Shaftesbury Waye, Hayes.

Ms Coda said: “There is a shortage of people to the increasing number of cats we find. We wanted people to see all the cats in one place, rather than different places.”

Cat Protection Hillingdon co-ordinator Janet Campbell cited two cats, 16 and 17 years old, abandoned and fed by an elderly lady since last Christmas when the owner moved away and these cases are multiplying.

Ms Coda said: “Possible reasons could be the effects of the recession with people moving out of their homes and leaving cats behind, or rising costs of keeping pets.

“It is a real shame because they are wonderful animals that deserve to be with a loving family.”

The open day comes after an RSPCA appeal in August for potential cat owners to come forward after they were trying to find homes for more than double the number of abandoned cats than this time last year.

There are more than 20 cats at the RSPCA Hillingdon, Slough, Windsor, Kingston and District Branch. Among them are a litter of kittens saved by a waste collector who untied a black bag about to be thrown into the rubbish lorry after he saw something moving in it.

Irene Hansford, chairman of the branch, said cats are cared for at the RSPCA cattery in Brokengate Lane, Denham: “Cats are so cheap to look after compared to dogs, but when you have a lot of new born cats to look after people find they cannot cope and give them to us.”

She added: “The question we are asking ourselves is, are there 100 homes out there? We have more than 100 cats to re-house – it has doubled from a year ago. A high percentage are black cats and kittens which people don’t seem to want.”

Re-home a cat: the open day is at Comfy Cats Cattery, 3 Shaftesbury Waye, HAYES on Sunday, October 16, 12-3pm.

For more information, go to www.comfy-cats-cattery.co.uk, or call 0208 848 4843.

Comfy Cats Cattery manager,

Passenger incident stops Paddington trains for 90 mins

Thursday, 13 October, 2011 2 comments

A person jumping onto a railway line from a bridge caused the Great Western Main Line to be suspended between Paddington and West Drayton earlier tonight.

All services from Paddington were suspended on Weds

The unidentified individual jumped from the A437 Dawley Road bridge onto the tracks at about 10pm on Wednesday. All services between London Paddington and West Drayton stations were suspended once emergency services had been alerted.

London Fire Brigade and London Ambulance Service both attended the scene. The jumper was injured but alive.

Both the relief (local/stopping) and main (fast) lines were reopened by 11.45pm. National Rail Enquiries reports that delays of up to an hour are expected until the end of traffic.

Image via Matthew Black, Flickr.

Hillingdon mum launches pre-natal advice pack

Tuesday, 6 September, 2011 Leave a comment

A new scheme was launched at the end of June to offer free advice and information to pregnant women around West London.

The Acorn Pack, a collection of local, relevant and ethical information for expectant mothers, is the creation of Jane Woodley, a mother-of-two from Hillingdon.

Jane started the company having realised that many women had regrets about their birth and early parenting experiences. Having been through the experience twice herself, she felt that there needed to be more accessible, realistic and supportive information available to all new parents.

The concept of the Acorn Pack started during Jane’s first pregnancy – although she did not realise it at the time. Her experience with the lack of helpful information on breastfeeding is what initially led her to start researching pre-natal experiences:

“I was fascinated to speak to other women about their birth and breastfeeding experiences.  I did a lot of listening to other women from all over the country talk about their experiences and started to piece together a picture of what breastfeeding support was like in the real world, not in the poster campaign world”.

After months of speaking with healthcare professionals, other expectant mothers, committees and companies, Jane felt she had enough information to put together something which would really benefit mums-to-be:

“My aims were clear.  I wanted to pull together the best and brightest from the world of pregnancy, birth and beyond, to stimulate debate, to empower women to expect a good standard of care, not to get through pregnancy and birth and early motherhood and think, ‘Wow.  I only wish I’d known – I’d have done things differently'”.

Working in partnership with the London Borough of Hillingdon and Central & North West London NHS Foundation Trust, Jane managed to secure start-up funding from Public Health to launch the Acorn Pack Antenatal.

The Acorn Pack carries advertising relevant to new families and is seeking responsible corporate partners to grow Acorn Pack Antenatal and to develop Acorn Pack Postnatal.

Acorn Packs are available from:

  • Barra Hall Children’s Centre, Hayes
  • Coteford Children’s Centre, Eastcote
  • Harefield Children’s Centre, Harefield
  • Hillside Children’s Centre, Northwood
  • Oak Farm Children’s Centre, Oak Farm
  • Yiewsley Cornerstone Children’s Centre, Yiewsley
To find out more information and to read Jane’s whole story, you can visit the Acorn Pack website here.