BOLTON’S three MPs will take part in a meeting with the Department for Transport to look at overcrowding on the town’s trains — but The Bolton News has been banned from attending.
We have been campaigning since December for transport bosses to drastically improve our “cattle truck” trains after operators announced they were axing services and reducing the number of carriages during peak hours.
Bolton MPs David Crausby, Julie Hilling and Yasmin Qureshi have secured a meeting with Secretary of State for Transport, Patrick McLoughlin, on March 5 to discuss whether it would be possible to install more carriages on the lines.
But after Mr Crausby requested that The Bolton News be allowed to report on the meeting, the DfT said that we would not be allowed in.
A DfT spokesman said: “This is a serious meeting to discuss and work through transport issues with operators, the local transport authorities and MPs, not a press conference.
“Decisions or policy developments that arise about local services at Bolton will of course be announced publicly, including through the local media.”
Our Let’s Get Back on Track campaign — which has collected almost 1,000 signatures and hundreds of horror stories from fed-up commuters — has brought the issue of overcrowding into the spotlight.
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Over the past three months we have met with train operators, attracted the backing of Bolton’s top politicians and even raised the problem with Prime Minister David Cameron — who promised to look into the issue.
But after speaking to the DfT the office remained defiant that press should not be allowed to report on the decisions being made for Bolton residents.
Mr Crausby said he was flabbergasted about why The Bolton News was not given permission to attend.
He said: “The Department for Transport told me it would be more constructive with just the MPs.
“I don’t think it’s fair. I think in this modern age of open government I really don’t see why The Bolton News — having launched the campaign and having secured a promise from the PM that he would do something about it — can’t be there.
“The Bolton News should be entitled to see what action is taking place.”
Now, we need your help.
We need to collect as many signatures as we can ahead of the March 5 meeting so that our MPs can make sure the voice of Bolton train users is heard.
They will also raise the petition in parliament, before bringing into the steps of Number 10 Downing Street.
To sign the petition, call into our town centre offices or download your own copy and collect signatures.
People can also sign an online petition on our website here.
Forms can be picked up from The Bolton News office in the Wellsprings building next to the town hall.
Please return completed petitions to Let’s Get Back On Track, Editorial Department, The Bolton News, The Wellsprings, Civic Centre, Bolton, BL1 1AR.
If you would like to have a petition in your shop, call 01204 537239.