Last night I went to the AMEX Community Stadium to do two things. The first was to see the Albion play. So let me say this before I go on, as I do every time I post about the Albion: I'm not a football fanatic! It sounds like a huge admission for a politician, but I have to tell the truth and admit that I'm not! I always worry that fans will think I'm trying to pretend to be a footie expert for political reasons so I always admit that I'm not at the start!
But I do love the Stadium and our club. I 'get' how important the sport is and the club is. I see how different generations come together over the sport and a love of the club. And I go there very often. Although for a non-fanatic last night's game was not the best and we lost to Reading 2-1...I promise I wasn't bad luck as we won the last game I saw!
After the match I sat down with the club chairman and chief executive to talk about, you guessed it, trains! Last month the Albion wrote to me with stating that the rail shambles has cost them £300,000 in lost revenue. One match in particular had 7,000 people in the stands when it should have been 30,000. And last Tuesday fans arrived by train and then suddenly all services were cancelled and everyone was stranded when the match finished.
I've spoken a lot about the impact of poor rail services on local businesses, on people turning up late for work, and commuters, but I wanted also to show how it's affecting our sporting life too. Last week I raised this directly with the rail minister and I tried to raise it with the Secretary of State in the Commons....but the Speaker didn't call me so I'll have to try another time.
If you've been stranded at a match or decided not to go because of the rail problems please ket me know I want to hear about your experiences. As you know by now, I'm like a dog with a bone on this and I'm not going to slow down for a second! All the best, Peter