Local Conservatives have branded Erith and Thamesmead’s Labour MP John Austin “inconsistent” on railway staffing levels after he issued two contradictory press releases within the space of just three days.
Erith and Thamesmead Conservative Association spokesman Councillor David Leaf said:
“I’ve always said John Austin is inconsistent but even this must be a record for him. On the one hand Mr Austin says he wants to see better staffing levels at London’s stations and yet on the other he wants to see Oyster introduced which will reduce the need for station staff.”
“Mr Austin has even sponsored an Early Day Motion in Parliament stating that: ‘automatic ticket machines are an inadequate substitute for well trained railway staff’ and yet he is prepared to support Oyster which could cost jobs and reduce staffing levels. While I am pleased to see that Mr Austin has finally joined the campaign against station staff reduction, led in Bexley by Conservative MP David Evennett and Councillors Matthew Scott and James Hunt, his inconsistency shows he has no credibility on this issue.”
“In his blind support for Ken Livingstone’s drive to make all rail companies use Oyster Mr Austin may have forgotten the industrial action taken by the RMT union last year over concerns about the loss of 800 jobs. Oyster cards reduce the need for ticket sellers and station staff.”
On 22 January John Austin issued a press release urging railway companies to adopt the Oyster Card system, which could lead to a reduction in station staff. But on 25 January, he followed the campaign endorsed by Conservative MP David Evennett (Bexleyheath and Crayford) and Welling Councillors James Hunt (East Wickham Ward) and Matthew Scott (St Michael’s Ward) calling for improved staffing levels.
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