Guard's calm intervention
after sex attack underlines need to scrap driver only plans
THE calm and decisive action of a
safety trained Merseyrail guard in facing down a sex attacker and protecting the
woman passenger he had assaulted and tried to rob underlines the "sheer,
reckless stupidity" of plans to scrap guards, the network's biggest union
As Merseytravel Councillors prepare to vote, on Friday, 16 December 2016, on plans that
could see all guards removed from Merseyrail and the introduction of driver only
trains, RMT demanded that Councillors respect the huge weight of public opinion
to retain guards.
The incident, on 6 December 2016, in which a Northern Line guard led the assault
victim; a woman travelling alone at night; to the safety of his cab, alerted
police and ensured that she was able to get home safely, illustrates exactly why
we need guards, the union says
RMT has, for the 3rd time, written to Merseytravel chair Liam Robinson seeking
answers to key safety questions including what would happen in an emergency such
as a fire or derailment in the network's single bore tunnels if the driver was
The union also points to the incident, on 25 August 2016, in which a Merseyrail guard
isolated the electric rail and evacuated passengers to safety after a car
collided with a train at Crescent Road level crossing in Southport, while the
driver remained in his cab suffering from concussion.
RMT General Secretary Mick Cash said:- "Merseytravel and Merseyrail have
so far simply ignored the crucial safety questions we have raised about the
threat of driver only operation.
Wherever DOO has been introduced there has been a significant increase in
incidents involving passengers being caught in doors or falling under trains,
and we, alongside our colleagues in Aslef, are not prepared to risk any
extension of this fundamentally dangerous mode of operation.
The serious incidents on Merseyrail in the last few months alone should make it
clear that fully safety trained guards are an essential and indispensable part
of train crew, and that Merseytravel must find a way of financing new trains
that does not compromise safety.
We know that the travelling public wants to see guards retained; and so does
Merseytravel, because its own survey made that quite clear.
We have asked Merseytravel to ensure that any new trains are designed to have a
second safety critical crew member aboard, and we have asked Merseyrail, our
members' employer, to assure us that guards will be retained on all its
The bottom line is that we will not hesitate to defend our members' jobs and
8 out of 10 Housing
Association residents remain pleased with their homes
HOUSING Association residents remain
pleased with their new homes, with 80% saying they were very satisfied or
satisfied after 3 to 4 years of occupancy, new research has shown. 64% said their
home was much better than their previous residence, illustrating that standards
of new affordable housing are meeting expectations and often exceeding them.
There was a high level of satisfaction with many key aspects of design, such as
space, internal layout and security, and residents themselves identified a wide
range of positive attributes of their new homes.
In addition over 80% of residents were satisfied with the overall appearance of
their housing development and most felt that it integrated well with surrounding
buildings and met the needs of residents. However, modern living was found to
challenge some aspects of design, particularly the level of storage and parking
provision, according to a survey commissioned by the NHBC Foundation and
supported by the Homes and Communities Agency (HCA)
Nearly 30% of residents surveyed, were dissatisfied with parking provision. A
further 27% were dissatisfied with storage space, with some residents struggling
to store basic household items such as vacuum cleaners, bedding and linen, toys,
shoes and even clothes.
The adequacy of ventilation was also a concern, with 55% of those surveyed
recognising one or more symptoms of poor ventilation:- dampness and/or
condensation (41%), mould (28%), or lingering cooking odours (10%) In addition
some residents were dissatisfied with the winter temperatures in their homes
and, significantly about 20% found their heating controls difficult to use.
The findings are outlined in Affordable homes, that residents' views of quality and
compared with the HCA Quality Counts surveys, which takes place shortly after
residents move in. Conducting this survey 3 to 4 years after residents have
moved in means they have had more time to appreciate both the longer term
advantages and consider any issues they have encountered with their new home.
The results provide an important new picture of residents' ongoing satisfaction
Neil Smith, Head of Research and Innovation at NHBC said:- "The standards of
new affordable housing are such that most residents are still pleased even 3 or
4 years after moving in, long after the initial euphoria of having a new home
has worn off.
This is great news, but there is still room for improvement. Providing more help
to residents on how to run their homes more effectively should be a priority for
housing associations and developers. The research highlights increasing
expectations for parking and the challenge this creates for the overall design