RMT union ‘strike for sake of it’, claims London Assembly transport chair Caroline Pidgeon

The Liberal Democrats’ only London Assembly member Caroline Pidgeon has given her views on Southern rail strikes, Heathrow expansion delays and the #libdemfightback.

Ms Pidgeon, the London Assembly’s Transport Committee chair, slammed both sides in the current Southern rail spat over conductor-less trains.

She said that the dispute had reached a point where it did not matter what assurances Southern offered because the RMT union is now ‘striking for the sake of it’.

“I am hugely concerned about the additional stress this is having on London,” she said.

“You see the stress on passengers’ faces and it’s not good enough.”

She called for TfL to take over the running of the franchise in London, echoing plans put forward by London Mayor Sadiq Khan.

However the RMT say they have been left with ‘no choice’ but striking, although no further indutrial action is currently planned they remain at loggerheads with Southern Rail over the removal of train guards with the say will compromise passenger safety.

On Heathrow, the anti-third runway campaigner criticised the government delay on a decision about the airport’s £8.6bn expansion.

“I have no idea what the government are doing and I don’t think they know quite frankly,” she said.

She reiterated her opposition to the expansion plans, stating that they would cause ‘so much blight over our homes and areas’.

Ms Pidgeon also questioned the need to expand Gatwick, which is often tipped as a cheaper and less disruptive alternative to a third runway at Heathrow.

“I don’t think we need to expand at all,” she said. “I have a view that we can use our airports in a much smarter way.”

She suggested that Crossrail’s construction will help Londoners use the capital’s existing transport network more effectively.

She claimed that worries over Heathrow’s expansion, particularly in south west London, have seen an increase in the Liberal Democrats’ membership.

Ms Pidgeon cited swings in south west London council by-elections as a sign that a Liberal Democrat fight back is on the cards.

Last month Liberal Democrat Sutton Council candidate Chris Williams held onto his Carshalton seat with a 5.1% vote share swing in his favour.

However, the Conservative candidate Melissa Pearce came second with an 11.6% vote increase, apparently at UKIP’s expense.

More than 15,000 people have joined the Liberal Democrats since June’s EU referendum but with a quarter of those living in London the party still has some way to go to increase its 8.1% national polling average.

Picture courtesy of the Liberal Democrat Campaign and Elections team, with thanks

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