County council leader pleads for end to Southern rail strikes

Louise Goldsmith, leader of West Sussex County Council (photo submitted). SUS-150522-082832001Louise Goldsmith, leader of West Sussex County Council (photo submitted). SUS-150522-082832001
Louise Goldsmith, leader of West Sussex County Council (photo submitted). SUS-150522-082832001
The leader of West Sussex County Council has called for action to address the '˜huge detrimental effect' the current Southern rail strike is having on the county.

Louise Goldsmith has written to the Secretary of State for Transport, Chris Grayling, to highlight the economic and social impact the industrial action is having on residents.

The issue, which Mrs Goldsmith describes as ‘serious and pressing’, was also raised by members of all political parties at last week’s meeting of full council in Chichester.

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In the letter, sent on Thursday, December, Mrs Goldsmith refers to a study carried out by the University of Chichester which explored the impact on productivity of both the RMT and ASLEF union strikes.

This report calculated the total economic costs to the thousands of commuters at about £11million for every single day.

The report went on to say if the scheduled strikes go ahead, it would bring the total impact to date to just under £396million.

Mrs Goldsmith said: “One of this council’s three key priorities is the development and support to our economy and I am deeply concerned about the long term economic impact that this strike is now having in the county and on the attractiveness of the county for future business given the reliance upon sound infrastructure.”

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She also went on to raise concerns about the social impact the strikes are having, particularly on children getting to school and college and patients attending hospital appointments.

She concluded the letter by saying: “As the county’s third largest employer, we are more than aware that this is having an impact on productivity, potential recruitment and the ability of some of our staff in key area such as Children’s Social Care to do their jobs.

“My request, or should I say plea, is very simple and very clear - to find a solution as quickly as possible in the New Year and to resolve the situation in order to support West Sussex working effectively again for our residents, our businesses and our national economy.”