Make a fuss for the E1 Bus

Gazette September 2017 :

In a long and pretty undistinguished political career I have come across some utterly bonkers ideas but every time I thinks that I’ve heard the maddest I can be sure that something even more lunatic will pop up.

May I, dear reader, direct you to an interesting website:

https://consultations.tfl.gov.uk/buses/elizabeth-line

Transport for London were originally suggesting that frequencies on the E1 and E3 route be reduced because – wait for it – passengers would be using the Elizabeth Line (or the service formerly known as CrossRail) instead of the noble E ‘buses.

The good Dr.Onkar Sahota – our Member of the Greater London Authority – has managed to get the E3 route removed from the consultation but tragically the E1 is still at threat.

Now: a slap up feed at the works canteen here at Westminster awaits anyone who can make a plausible case for anyone at any time or on any section of the journey transferring from the E1 to the Elizabeth Line.

I travel on the E1 every day and have bent over backwards to try to discover what lies behind this bonkers suggestion.

Clearly the fare stages from the old Red Lion to Drayton Bridge Road could not by even the wildest stretch of the most fevered imagination possibly be subject to what TfL call “modal interchange”.

As the noble E1 makes its stately way up Drayton Bridge Road could anyone possibly think it remotely sensible to hop off and walk down Greenford Avenue to Campbell Road and then to Hanwell Station to catch a train to Ealing Broadway.

By the time you did all that the E1 would have circled Haven Green and be heading back to Greenford.

So what about Drayton Green? Can you see passengers pouring off the E1 to walk across the Green and the up Manor Road to await the Elizabeth Line at West Ealing Station and then to entrain for Ealing Broadway.

Again – the E1 would have come and gone long before the train pulls onto Platform 4.

If – like me – you believe that someone who has never set foot in our borough has come up with this ludicrous idea then get onto the website and make your views known!

Finally – a very charming but utterly irrelevant letter from Transport for London refers to an additional area of ‘bus to train transfer as the “Golden Mile”.

Now I’ve only lived in Hanwell for forty years but I’ve never ever heard of Ealing’s Golden Mile.

Anyone got any idea what they’re on about or has the last holiday in Blackpool been causing flashbacks?

Let’s hear your voice loud and clear and let’s keep the currently E1 timetable – you know it makes sense!

The Poppies of Monte Cassino

GAZETTE AUGUST 2017

Standing in the summer sun of Southern Italy it was hard to believe that here in the Liri Valley, and gazing up at the Benedictine Monastery of Monte Cassino, that one of the bloodiest series of battles of the last war had claimed the lives of over one thousand allied soldiers in this now peaceful and idyllic place.

From January to May 1944 the allied army fought to capture Monte Cassino which blocked the only route north to Rome. Of all the heroes that fought in that brutal winter war few did so with more distinction than the Polish Carpathian Brigade under General Anders. I was here to keep a promise made to Polish friends that one day I would visit the Polish cemetery and also see for myself how forbidding is the height of Monte Cassino and how rough and rugged the terrain.

The story of the Polish soldiers begins long before the battle as this army had been interned by Stalin and was only released from Siberia to fight the common enemy. General Anders and his men and their families marched from Siberia to Iran to make contact with allied forces. While the families went to camps in Western North Africa, the Poles formed into their armed brigade, rifle brigade and lancers to fight the 8th Army until Rommel surrendered after El Alamein.

The Poles then fought their way through Sicily into Italy where the waves of their assaults broke on the impregnable defences of the Gustav line anchored by Monte Cassino. Over a hundred thousand allied soldiers died in the campaign and some of harshest fighting took place on Hangman’s Hill which the Poles held despite ceaseless attacks from the German paratroopers. Ultimately the Poles were victorious and their flag was the first to be hoisted at the peak.

Tragically under the Yalta agreement Poland was surrendered to Stalin and Anders men knew there was no way home for them. Over a thousand lie in the cemetery which I visited and the flowers are still fresh on the grave of General Anders. Many of the Polish heroes made their way to Ealing where they have since earned the respect and affection of all of us.

My admiration for these proud people increased even more when I looked at the graves at those who fought and died for our shared freedoms.