WEEKLY column by Stroud MP Siobhan Baillie. 

I am often asked what MPs can do for local projects as we have no spending powers or funds to draw on ourselves. Even county councillors are given a pot of money to spend on their ward by Gloucestershire County Council.

So, it was great to see local political candidates talking to the newspapers to remind everybody that for 25 years people have wanted to see Bristol Road Stonehouse station reopened and that many previous MPs have tried and failed to make progress with this much-loved campaign.

This gives me an opportunity to talk about the project again and how I work because I have taken it upon myself to tackle quite a few unresolved 20+ year issues in Stroud district and I will continue to do so.

Reopening a railway station that has been closed since the Beeching cuts in the 1960s is not a simple task. When I first started looking at the Bristol Road case even before I was elected, I recognised that there was a lot of good energy built up over years but no evidence base to make a firm case to reopen.

We have turned this around now with Stonehouse Town Council taking the lead and campaigners using their brains and experience to put the best possible plans we have to government.

I am proud that I managed to get government buy-in via the Restoring Your Railway Fund and money to properly investigate the options to reopen Stroudwater station. This government is giving opportunities to the whole country to reopen railways and we are now much better prepared with information to support the dream.

As many SNJ readers will know, the last time I raised the station in Parliament, the rail minister offered to visit us, which is being arranged. I am excited to bring him to see the people grafting behind the scenes.

This is not glamorous work and will take a long time. Call me old fashioned, but I think it is right that it is not easy to win millions of taxpayers’ money for anything without hard work and a proper case to evidence the benefits now and in the future.

However, I remain hopeful and watch this space for further developments.