RMT slams “bogus consultation”

RMT slams “bogus consultation”

22 July 2014

RMT Press Office

RAIL UNION RMT today wrote to the officials conducting the consultation over the future of both the Northern and Trans-Pennine Express franchises demanding an extension to the timetable that takes full account of the range of organisations with a stake in the services and which doesn’t rush it through at the Government’s convenience.

RMT has raised deep concerns that the entire consultation is not only flawed but is wholly bogus as it emerged in written answers to parliamentary questions that “Rail North”, a group of local authorities supposed to be conducting the consultation with the Department for Transport, in fact have no control over the process with all decisions taken by the Government and its senior officials.

In the letter to the co-ordinator of the Northern and Trans Pennine consultation at the Department for Transport RMT says;

“Firstly, RMT is concerned that the time period of the consultation is shorter than that recommended by the Cabinet Office at just 10 weeks (9 June – 18 August):

“Where it is appropriate, and enables meaningful engagement, conduct 12-week formal written consultations, with clear explanations and rationale for shorter time-frames or a more informal approach.” The Compact (Cabinet Office 2010) para 2.4)

Secondly, RMT believes that the process does not take adequate account of the holiday period. Again, the Government’s own Consultation Principles state:

Timeframes for consultation should be proportionate and realistic to allow stakeholders sufficient time to provide a considered response and where the consultation spans all or part of a holiday period* policy makers should consider what if any impact there may be and take  appropriate mitigating action.

The Summer Holiday period is assumed to be 4.2 weeks, which by any reasonably judgement would be 4.2 weeks contained within the proposed 10 week period.

It should be further noted that the Parliamentary recess begins on 22 July, and so for almost 4 weeks of the consultation period Parliament is not sitting.

Finally, RMT believes that small charities and other more vulnerable organisations will be affected by the proposals including passenger groups and transport charities such as the Campaign for Better Transport. We believe that the proposed timescale does not respect the principles of the Compact between government and the voluntary and community sector.”

The revelation that the supposedly “independent” Rail North is in fact deeply embedded in the DfT is confirmed in a parliamentary response to Lisa Nandy from Transport Secretary Stephen Hammond (below) where it is made clear that “….the Secretary of State will make the final decisions on the franchise specifications..” making a nonsense of the illusion that there is any kind of local democracy or accountability involved.

RMT Acting General Secretary Mick Cash said:

“Not only has RMT exposed the fact that the consultation on Northern and Trans Pennine Express is being rushed through but we also now know that the entire process, and its outcomes, is under the complete control of the Transport Secretary Stephen Hammond making a nonsense of the illusion that there is any local accountability.

“Today, RMT is calling for the current, bogus consultation to be halted and started again and we are also shining the spotlight on the fact that Rail North is deeply embedded in the Department for Transport operation with the Government using them like human shields while they pull the strings on this carve up.

“Let’s not forget that the core of these plans is to axe jobs, throw the guards off the trains and jack up fares while capacity to meet surging rail demand in the area is left to stagnate. RMT is stepping up the fight to both inform the public and fight the savage cuts being lined up for these Northern rail franchises. We have been getting fantastic support, thousands of post cards have been distributed and the political and public pressure is growing across the region.”

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