I am writing this article just before the Christmas and New Year break. This is usually one of the few chances during the course of the year when MPs get a bit of a rest from constituency and Parliamentary duties.
I make that point slightly tentatively, given that the best laid plans can be disrupted by the unexpected. For example, many of my colleagues faced issues of flooding over the last Christmas period and there is always a risk of something similar happening. Nonetheless, in normal circumstances, the pace of life should drop, albeit briefly.
The last few weeks have been particularly busy in terms of Ministerial responsibilities with a combination of the Autumn Statement, two bills up before the House of Commons (the Taxation of Pensions Bill and the Stamp Duty Land Tax Bill) and negotiations over the EU Budget.
Next year, of course, the pace of campaigning will pick up with the General Election not that far away. Essentially that will mean four months of campaigning – which is likely to test the patience, stamina and good humour of the electorate, let alone the candidates. For this reason, if nothing else, most MPs are hoping for a quiet and restful Christmas.
A regular feature in my column here is my campaign to put in place an Amersham/Chesham to Watford branch of the Metropolitan Line once the Croxley Rail Link is in place.
I won’t rehearse all the arguments for it (further details on my website) but I can update you on a few developments.
First, I am pleased to report the support of Three Rivers District Council for the idea. Cllr David Sansom proposed a motion at a recent council meeting which obtained cross-party support and TRDC has written to London Underground letting it know of its position.
Second, I have met with the Hertfordshire Local Enterprise Board to discuss the matter. Their role is to encourage economic development in Hertfordshire and they were very positive about the idea. They are now looking at ways in which they can understand and quantify the benefits to the local economy.
Also backing the idea are the other MPs representing constituencies directly affected – Richard Harrington in Watford and Cheryl Gillan in Chesham & Amersham.
It is not just the Metropolitan Line that runs along these lines. The Chiltern Line could also provide a service, linking up places like Aylesbury with Watford. I have written to them to raise this. They have not ruled it out but point out that London Underground would have to make changes to the signalling. I also think they are focussed on getting the new Oxford-Wycombe-Marylebone service established but have referred to the proposal as being ‘an aspiration’.
As for London Underground, they are willing to look at the proposal but are resistant to piloting the new service, which makes it all the more important people sign my petition supporting the new service which can be found at http://www.davidgauke.com/croxleyraillink
No doubt there will be more news which I will cover in future articles. Indeed, it is even possible that I might cover other topics as well.
In the meantime, let me take this opportunity to wish you a merry Christmas and a happy New Year.