Every fortnight Kevin writes a "Kev's Column" for the Herald Express and you can read the latest edition (Published on Wednesday 19th July 2023) below:
Whilst the percentage of rail passengers using ticket offices nationally has declined to under 15%, here in our bay the figures are much higher.
Paignton Station still sees 41.3% of tickets sold at the Ticket Office, compared to 48.2% online. The percentage of passengers using the ticket office at Torquay Station is lower at 29.4%, but this partly reflects the ticket office (plus staff facilities) being located on the Down Platform, whilst virtually all passengers depart from the other side of the station where the self-service ticket machine is located (Often with a large bin stuck just behind it).
Whilst an increasing number of passengers are happy to use online and telephone booking options, many do still need assistance at the station to buy the right ticket. It is therefore vital the ability to ask someone for help to buy a ticket or to answer a query about train times or ticket validity must remain during the hours the current offices are open.
I have therefore responded to the consultation calling for Paignton’s ticket office to remain open and for the current facilities at Torquay Station to be significantly improved as part of any changes.
Turkey’s decision to ratify Sweden’s application to join NATO is very welcome.
Sweden is a good friend and ally of our nation, with capable armed forces which will strengthen NATO’s overall capabilities. It’s decision to join NATO, alongside its neighbour Finland, marked a major shift in its foreign policy and was prompted by Putin’s attack on Ukraine.
Putin thought he would divide and weaken NATO by attacking Ukraine. Instead, the alliance is more united and stronger than ever in the face of the type of aggression it is intended to deter.
Back in 2018 I held a series of meetings with members of New Zealand’s Parliament, with one issue regularly raised: After Brexit would the UK seek to join the Comprehensive and Progressive Partnership for Trans-Pacific Partnership (CPTPP)?
The UK joined last week, making it the first new country to sign up to this trade bloc since its formation. Doing so will give UK businesses tariff-free access on over 99 per cent of goods to a market of around 500 million customers. Some of its members, such as Vietnam and Malaysia, are rapidly growing meaning the benefits of close economic ties will increase over time.
The CPTPP was created after President Trump pulled the USA out of the proposed Trans-Pacific Partnership. It is unlikely to re-join under President Biden. Yet the CPTPP could become even more valuable if a future US President looked again at how this group could be a valuable bulwark against Chinese dominance in the Pacific.
My next surgeries are on: Friday 21st July 1pm till 3pm at 5-7 East St, Torquay, TQ2 5SD and Saturday 29th July 11am till 1pm at The Acorn Centre, Lummaton Cross, Torquay TQ2 8ET.
For an appointment you can either email me at email@example.com or leave a message on 01803 214989, surgeries are for personal queries from residents they would like me to help them with. There are also drop-in sessions from 10am till 1pm, Monday to Friday at 5-7 East St, Torquay, TQ2 5SD where a member of my team is available to assist residents with urgent queries.