Victoria Groulef

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Victoria has responded to the news that the Great Western franchise has been handed the keys for a further four years.

Victoria has responded to the news that the Great Western franchise - which runs through Reading - has been handed the keys for a further four years with a possible year's extension.

Victoria said, "Once again passengers are losing out. Government ministers aren't even pretending that they held a competition for this franchise. The sitting tenant has been handed back the keys even as passengers face jam-packed carriages, dirty toilets, excruciating delays, and soaring fares. It's not on."

"The Government are only interested in grabbing headlines, not making decisions that benefit rail passengers getting a hard deal. By rushing the decision through before the General Election, the Government have prevented the public sector from putting in a bid."

Victoria continued, "I'm disappointed that the current MP didn't fight for passengers. After spending four and a half years doing nothing, he finally woke up to the problem of overcrowding before the General Election. Yet, once again the MP has failed, here with his half-hearted bid to run more standard class coaches in place of empty first class carriages. Passengers have been let down once again by their MP and his Government."

Under a Freedom of Information Act Request, Victoria uncovered that the current MP had entered into no correspondence with the Department of Transport regarding this rail extension before launching a petition for rail carriage declassification. Furthermore, Alok Sharma MP did not even give a response to the Department of Transport consultation on the franchise.

Victoria said, "The current MP has no interest in standing up for his constituents on one of the issues most affecting their lives. His failure to consult with his own Government and submit a consultation response shows that he was grandstanding when he launched his petition with fanfare. It was more about keeping this MP in a job, not helping hard-working people get to theirs. In any event, this franchise announcement just goes to show that he has zero impact on the big decisions affecting people's wellbeing. Reading West deserves an MP who will help hard-working people, not somebody who does nothing."

The current franchising system is not fit for purpose for either the taxpayer or passengers. Labour are promising a better plan for our railways that would end the current franchise system, create a public sector operator to take on failing private firms, and guarantee a strong passenger voice within a more publicly controlled railways.

FGW rail franchise extension

Victoria has responded to the news that the Great Western franchise has been handed the keys for a further four years.

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Former Reading West MP comes out of retirement to back Labours' Victoria Groulef. 

Reading West’s last Labour MP has this week come out of retirement to campaign for  Victoria Groulef to be Reading West’s next Labour MP with a blistering attack on the record of his Tory successor Alok Sharma for being a 'party political clone'.

In a letter to his former constituents Mr Salter writes:

"I fought long and hard for my constituents and you recognised that with your support at three General Elections for which I'm profoundly grateful. I had hoped that my Conservative successor, Alok Sharma, would do as he promised and put local people before his party interests and his own career. Sadly, he has turned out to be a big disappointment and has spent five years towing the party line so he can occupy a minor role in government as a bag carrier for a junior minister.

"Reading West deserves better than this and I know that Vicky will be an MP that puts you and your families first and who will fight day and night for the best deal for her constituency irrespective of party politics."

As Reading West’s MP for thirteen years, Martin Salter fought long and hard for all of his constituents and was rewarded with some of the biggest electoral swings in the country.

Martin stayed true to his pre election pledges and defied the party whips within months of becoming an MP by leading a rebellion against the part privatisation of air traffic control. Later he resigned as a parliamentary private secretary on a point of principle and rewrote the government's Education White Paper to ensure a continuing role for democratically accountable education authorities.

Mr Salter added:

“When I stepped down as MP five years ago, I had hoped my Conservative successor would continue the tradition of putting the people of Reading West before the wishes of the party whips. After all as a candidate he was constantly writing to me urging me to vote against my own party. Sadly, like so many career politicians, Alok Sharma said one thing as a candidate and does another once in the House of Commons. He has slavishly toed the Tory Party line on tuition fees, more building in the South East, allowing second jobs for fat cat MPs and the part privatisation of the NHS despite his pre election rhetoric. All for the privilege of being a bag carrier to a junior minister as a reward for performing as a party clone rather than as an independent minded representative.

“I had also hoped that my Conservative successor would honour his election promise to put residents first. How can local people continue to put their trust in an MP who promises the world to get elected then backs a top-down reorganisation of the NHS which nobody wanted, nobody voted for, and pulls billions away from frontline care?”

Martin Salter still lives in Reading West and remains actively involved in a number of local charities. He is Vice President of the Reading Football Supporters Trust, President of Reading and District Angling Association and works as a writer and campaigner on fisheries and environmental issues. Up until his retirement in 2010 he spent over 25 years in public life in Reading serving as Deputy Leader of Reading Borough Council prior to his election to Westminster in 1997.

Labour’s MP candidate Victoria Groulef said:

"There’s a strong and proud Labour tradition in Reading, stretching back before MPs such as Ian Mikardo. Martin sits in that tradition as a fighter who came into politics and stayed  there for all the right reasons.

"Like Martin, I’m concerned that Britain is becoming a harsher and more unequal society. I decided three years ago to stand for Parliament because I want to roll up my sleeves and get things done. I don’t want my children, who I’m raising here in Reading West, to have a harder time getting on in life. I want to be a strong, independent minded, plain speaking  MP, like Martin, who puts local people first.

"I’m delighted to have Martin's support in my campaign, and it's already making a difference on the doorstep.”

Martin Salter says Alok Sharma has been a 'big disappointment'

Former Reading West MP comes out of retirement to back Labours' Victoria Groulef. 

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Labour's Woman to Woman battle bus has been hitting the roads to highlight women's issues that are often ignored or sidelined.

Today it rolled into Reading West.

At a meeting held at the Whitley Social Club and Café, Seema Malhotra MP joined Labour's MP candidate Victoria Groulef to discuss issues such as childcare, social care, equal pay, and creating more role models.

Victoria said, "It was an honour to be in that room and listen to so many women talk about the biggest issues of our time. They didn't care about the paint job, they cared about being listened to and having an MP who'll sort out their problems. We need MPs who will get out into the supermarkets and stand outside the school gates, like this bus of MPs is doing all over the country, and I would do as Reading West's MP."

With so many women concerned by how the Government's legal aid cuts disproportionately affect women who are victims of domestic violence, the meeting also discussed how Labour could support women.

Labour's spokesperson for stopping violence against women and girls, Seema listened to personal accounts of how the Government's legal aid cuts are making it difficult to qualify for courtroom representation.

A report published last December by the Labour Women's Safety Commission called for better access to legal aid via the widening of types of evidence needed to support an allegation of domestic violence.

The Conservative-led Government's over-strict tests for bringing evidence of domestic violence are directly blocking victims of domestic abuse from getting the legal aid that they so badly need.

Victoria said, "Women often face tough choices: trapped in an abusive relationship that puts themselves and their children in danger or funding legal representation themselves with a likelihood of falling into debt. Legal aid is a lifeline for abuse victims and I'm glad a Labour Government would ensure victims can access legal aid to bring their case to court."

The meeting also heard from women who, among other things, had set up a community cafe, launched local charities, were supporting people as they tackled their drug and alcohol problems, and worked in schools. Victoria said, "We have a huge number of local role models who are keen to do more and already inspiring younger women in the community. But, there was agreement in the room that we need more female role models, on our doorstep and further afield."

Woman to Woman tour rolls into Whitley

Labour's Woman to Woman battle bus has been hitting the roads to highlight women's issues that are often ignored or sidelined.

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This week Labour published a Better Plan for Britain's Prosperity: a modern industrial strategy for businesses and working families to succeed together.

Speaking at the of launch the plan in the South East at Microsoft's offices on Thames valley park, Labour Shadow Business Secretary, Chuka Umunna, said that Labour's plan for creating wealth is about boosting productivity in every business and sector of the British economy.

The plan sets out Labour's approach to building prosperity in 21st Century Britain - a different approach to creating prosperity, not relying on a few but boosting productivity across Britain's firms and workforce. It means supporting people in Reading by reforming our economy so it produces a more inclusive prosperity rather than relying on redistributing through tax and spend.

Labour's better plan will guarantee every school leaver in our area that gets the right grades a high quality apprenticeship, just as people with good A' levels have a de facto right to go to university.

And it will put small businesses first in line for tax cuts and ensure smaller firms have the support they need to invest, innovate and raise their productivity.

Victoria said: "Labour's plan will deliver a modern industrial strategy for businesses and people in Reading West to succeed together. It's about improving training and apprenticeships, including guaranteeing every school leaver that gets the right grades a high quality apprenticeship and handing more economic power to every part of the UK with £30 billion of devolved funding. Above all it's about acknowledging what currently is working well and improving it so that irrespective of who is in power we work together to ensure that we get the very best for our area."

A better plan for prosperity

This week Labour published a Better Plan for Britain's Prosperity: a modern industrial strategy for businesses and working families to succeed together.


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