Students at Knole Academy in Sevenoaks had their first taste of electoral power after local Lib Dem candidates Merilyn Canet and Alan Bullion came to speak to them last week as part of the school election.
After tough questions on national politics, staff and students turned to local issues, and the action needed to make students feel safe coming to school through Bat and Ball station – which is unsupervised. Problems arise from youths not at the Academy – from as far away as south London – who harass the regular passengers – and sometimes don’t pay to access the platforms or the trains.
Merilyn and Alan approached Govia Thameslink Railway which runs the Darenth Valley trains, and SouthEastern Railways, which runs Bat and Ball station to ask them to cooperate with Knole Academy to solve the problem – and Tony Clayton, chair of Sevenoaks Rail Travellers backed the approach. The letter to rail managers appears on the SRTA website http://srta.org.uk/wp/posts/1158
Govia Thameslink quickly offered to talk to the school and identify trains which need Transport Police presence to reassure students. Now South Eastern have come back to SRTA and offered to put staff at Bat and Ball at key times. Tony Clayton has put them in touch with the school, whose senior staff already patrol the station when there are particular problems, so that they can organise the support needed.
Alan and Merilyn said “This is a good example of how the views and needs of local people can be picked up in an election campaign. The students and staff identified a key problem, and we were able to identify the people to do something to help address it. If Govia and South Eastern deliver it will help local commuters – including students – challenge the antisocial behaviour of a few outsiders. It will work if the rail companies work together. We will do whatever we can to help this happen”.
Ticket barriers at Swanley station – like those already in place at Sevenoaks and main London stations – are also being planned by South Eastern. This should help control access to the trains limit the number of ‘free riders’ on Darenth Valley trains.
For further information, please contact:
Dr Alan Bullion
Lib Dem Parliamentary Candidate for Sevenoaks and Swanley
Cllr Merilyn Canet
Lib Dem, Sevenoaks Northern Ward
Cllr Tony Clayton,
Lib Dem, Sevenoaks Eastern Ward