LINK TO ON LINE ARTICLE Democratic and informed debate is predicated on all sides and all viewpoints being able to make their point freely and that is why Fathers4Justice have launched a campaign calling for the Eighth Amendment to be changed to reflect what they view as the unrecognised rights of fathers in the constitution, argues the group’s International Campaign Co-Ordinator, Nadine O’Connor.
SUNDAY 22nd DECEMBER 2013 – DAILY MAIL:
FURY OVER NEW ‘CRUMMY MUMMY ATTACK ADS
Tom Cruise’s ex-wife Katie Holmes angered by Fathers4Justice as Mail on Sunday reveals group’s new campaign target.
FRIDAY 20TH DECEMBER 2013 – THE TIMES – (Full Story) Winslet threatens fathers’ group over parenting ‘slur’ The actress Kate Winslet has threatened to sue Fathers4Justice after the campaign group pledged to go ahead with plans to base a Christmas advertising campaign on comments she made about her children’s living arrangements.
In an interview in October, Ms Winslet, 38, who has been married three times, said it was in her children’s best interests to live with her full-time. “My kids don’t go back and forth,” she said. “None of this 50/50 time with the mums and dads – mu children live with me, that is it,” she told Vogue Magazine. Fathers4Justice said her remarks were “inflammatory and distressing to thousands of fathers denied access to their children at this time of year.”
The Oscar-winning actress has issued the group with a legal letter asking for an undertaking that it would not publish the advert, which would picture Ms Winslet on posters along with the controversial caption. Schillings, her lawyers, said the proposed advert was “misleading and seriously defamatory”. Ms Winslet has been backed by her former husband, Sam Mendes, the father of the pair’s nine-year-old son, Joe. He told the Daily Mirror earlier this week: “It is inappropriate for this organisation to involve my family and I when they know nothing of our personal circumstances. Whilst I fully support fathers’ rights, I can happily state this has never been a concern for me or my son.”
Fathers4Justice said it would publish the advertisement as planned on Saturday. :”We are running this advert as part of a campaign to highlight the sensitive issue of four million children waking up on Christmas Day without their father. It is clear from what Kate says that she does not support shared parenting,” it said in a statement.
Nadine O’Connor, the campaign director of Fathers4Justice, said the group had attempted to resolve the matter amicably with Kate Winslet’s team. “Instead she has chosen to use solicitors to bully and threaten Fathers4Justice with legal action,” she said. “We are naturally disappointed that she has resorted to this course of conduct about an issue she herself brought into the public domain.
“We will press ahead with our campaign until such times she retracts her upsetting remarks attacking 50/50 shared parenting.” Ms Winslet also has a 13-year-old daighter, Mia, by her first husband, Jim Threapleton, a film producer, whom she divorced in 2001. Three years later, he spoke out publicly in support of Fathers4Justice.
He said he felt “very strongly” about their cause and said he went months without seeing his young daughter because of Ms Winslet’s work commitments in America. Ms Winslet had her third child, a son, earlier this month. She married Ned Rocknroll, a nephew of Sir Richard Branson, a year ago. The couple and her children live in West Sussex.
VOGUE MAGAZINE – 19th DECEMBER 2013
“We believe the content of the advert is accurate, balanced and reflective of her comments,” said spokesperson for the organisation Nadine O’Connor. “Fathers4Justice has not made any comment in our advert about the personal arrangements of Kate Winslet and the fathers of her children.” Typical women’s mag response – big nasty men attacking weak female victim – missing the point of course that F4J is run by a woman!
DAILY MAIL 19th DECEMBER 2013
KATE WINSLET/FATHERS4JUSTICE DISPUTE
Fathers’ group in attack on Winslet for insisting; My kids live with me. ”Nadine O’Connor of Fathers4Justice said: ‘We believe the content of the advert is accurate, balanced and reflective of her comments. Fathers4Justice has not made any comment in our advert about the personal arrangements of Kate Winslet and the fathers of her children.’
DAILY MAIL 18th DECEMBER 2013
KATE WINSLET THREATENS TO SUE FATHERS 4 JUSTICE
Nadine O’Connor said “‘I would like to re-iterate that Fathers 4 Justice has not made any comment in our advert about the personal arrangements of Ms Winslet and the fathers of her children. ’We do not know what they are and we have clearly stated that we don’t and that those arrangements are not the basis for our advert. ’What we have referred to in the advert is a direct quote from Ms Winslet herself, a statement she put in the public domain through a lengthy self promotional interview in Octobers Vogue magazine. ’The final copy of which Ms Winslet would have no doubt seen prior to publication. ’Ms Winslets comments on shared parenting were then quoted worldwide by numerous newspapers, who also took issue with them. ’Of course if Ms Winslet is now saying, through her legal team who are threatening Fathers 4 Justice, that the Vogue article is inaccurate and that Vogue mis-quoted her, then that is something she needs to take up with them and not us.’
DAILY EXPRESS – 14th JANUARY 2013
NADINE O’CONNOR ON SHARED PARENTING LAWS
Nadine O’Connor, of the campaign group Fathers4Justice, said: “The proposals are a fraud and no father should think this will give them any rights in law to see their children. This is licence for more litigation, not less.”
DAILY MAIL – 6th NOVEMBER 2012
ACCESS RIGHTS ARE A FRAUD NADINE O’CONNOR SAYS ACCESS RIGHTS ARE A FRAUD
“The proposals are a fraud and no father should think this will give them any rights in law to see their children. This is a licence for more litigation, not less”.
GUARDIAN – 5th NOVEMBER 2012
FAMILY COURTS IGNORING NEEDS OF DV VICTIMS
Fathers’ rights groups accused the report’s authors of “scaremongering” and said false accusations of abuse were often used in closed family court proceedings to prevent fathers having contact with their children. “If the abuse has been proven in a criminal court then it is a serious matter and is taken into consideration, but we see false allegations in a bid to deny contact again and again,” said Nadine O’Connor, campaign director of Fathers4Justice.
Nick Clegg stated that the “proposals [will set] out that, where it is safe and in the child’s best interest, the law is clear that both parents share responsibility in their upbringing”, but O’Connor argued the wording left fathers powerless and failed to satisfy either camp.
“It will not change anything for fathers and it is likely to make things worse. There is too much room for manoeuvre,” she said. “More than 3.8 million children are growing up without their fathers in this country not because they are at risk from their fathers, but because they are denied contact, more than 50% of contact orders are broken and 93% of residencies are awarded to mothers. Are we really saying that 93% of fathers are unfit to share in the parenting of their children?”
CUMBRIA NEWS & STAR – 22nd SEPTEMBER 2012
SPARE ROOM TAX
Nadine O’Connor says the new “spare room tax” descriminates against fathers who have share residency of the children or who need a spare room for their children to sleep in when they to visit
TELEGRAPH – 7TH FEBRUARY 2012
Nadine comment on the Governments Family Justice Reform proposals.
“Nadine O’Connor, Fathers 4 Justice Campaign’s director, said the proposals were a “nightmare for children with separating parents”. She said the Government’s to the Norgrove report was a “charter for conflict and fatherlessness”.
She said: “Without a legal presumption to shared parenting to ensure both parents are treated equally in law, these proposals will fail. The conflict in the family courts will only continue to escalate.’
“The Government’s response demonstrates a fundamental lack of understanding of the issues and will condemn tens of thousands of children to lose their fathers.”
GUARDIAN – 6TH FEBRUARY 2012
Nadine comments on the Governments Family Justice Reform proposals.
“Nadine O’Connor, campaign director of Fathers4Justice, said: “This is more a limp, than a step, in the right direction. It’s a bit of a damp squib. We would have liked them to stick to their pre-election promises and guarantee fathers rights of access. This will not make our campaign go away.”
DAILY MAIL – 5TH JANUARY 2012
Nadine O’Connor comments of the Governments proposed plans for equal rights for fathers
TELEGRAPH – 5th JANUARY 2012
Nadine O’Connor comments on Children’s Minister, Tim Loughton’s claims that fathers will get legal right to see their children after divorce
THE SCOTSMAN – 7TH DECEMBER 2011
Nadine O’Connor, campaign director for pressure group Fathers 4 Justice, said the legal interpretation of the “family” failed to reflect changes in society. http://www.scotsman.com/news/politics/bang_goes_the_nuclear_family_80_say_they_don_t_fit_the_norm_1_1991630
– FRIDAY 12th NOVEMBER 2010
It’s Gender Apartheid Nadine O’Connor Comment Piece
It’s gender ‘apartheid’ , Nadine O’Connor (pictured) is the campaign manager for Fathers 4 Justice, a fathers’ rights organisation.
She says: “The case of a Hornchurch dad who was told he had to have supervised contact in a contact centre with his daughter illustrates the new gender apartheid.
“He had rightly refused contact in the contact centre, saying it would be un-thinkable for the mother to be treated like this.
“However, thousands of fathers, or ‘Mcdads’, are routinely dumped in these centres for no other reason than their relationship with the mother has broken down.
“And what sort of place is that for the children – an inhospitable landscape of formica chairs and broken toys?
“Fathers 4 Justice believe that contact centres should only ever be used where children are at a “proven” risk from a parent seeing them.
“Apart from on those occasions, children deserve a meaningful relationship with both parents in the parks, in the gardens and in the homes of Romford.”
Father’s Fury At Judge - He cannot see daughter
A DESPERATE Hornchurch father – who has only seen his five-year-old daughter for two hours in more than two years – has been told by the nation’s top family judge that he only has himself to blame for the lack of contact.
The dad had to search for his wife and child – none of whom can be named – for seven months after the mother left him, before finally tracking them down to the south coast, a court heard.
Since then, he has been battling through the legal system to win direct contact with the youngster and has accused his wife of perjury and poisoning his daughter’s mind against him. He has had only two hour-long contact visits with his daughter since the family split more than two years ago and has otherwise only been permitted postal and telephone communication with the girl.
This week the father asked Sir Nicholas Wall, president of the Family Division of the High Court, to intervene on his behalf and direct that he be given regular, direct and unsupervised con- tact with the girl.
However, the judge told him he was “the author of his own misfortune” in refusing to accept that he must see his daughter only at a supervised contact centre.
Describing it as a “sad case” in which contact with both parents was clearly in the little girl’s best interests, the judge said the father had rigidly insisted on contact arrangements “only on his own terms”.
His accusations of perjury against the mother, and claims that she has “alienated” his daughter against him, were also doing nothing to help the girl cope with the family breakdown, he added.
Refusing the father permission to appeal, Sir Nicholas said a county court judge who ruled on the case earlier this year had said that it would not be in the girl’s best interests for her to have direct, unsupervised con- tact with her father, having not seen him for so long.
The judge had said she hoped that father and daughter seeing each other at a contact centre would eventually lead to unsupervised contact and even over- night stays.
The father said after the Appeal Court hearing: “What there should be is a presumption that each parent should have unsupervised contact with their child unless there are very good reasons.
“The only reason in my case is that my child hasn’t seen me for a while – that’s just ludicrous.
“I think the courts are very poor at recognising that parental alienation syndrome exists.”
PRESS TV – 8TH NOVEMBER 2011
Nadine O’Connor comments on the Final Report of the Family Justice Revie
YORKSHIRE POST – 5TH NOVEMBER 2011
Nadine O’Connor comments on the Final Report of the Family Justice Revie
DAILY EXPRESS – 3RD NOVEMBER 2011
Nadine O’Connor comments on the Final Report of the Family Justice Revie
DAILY MAIL – 3RD NOVEMBER 2011
Nadine O’Connor comments on Family Justice Review claims that it is damaging for children to have contact with grandparents after divorce
THE INDEPENDENT – 3RD NOVEMBER 2011
Nadine O’Connor comments on the Final Report of the Family Justice Review Report
MIRROR – 3RD NOVEMBER 2011
Nadine O’Connor comments on the Final Report of the Family Justice Review Panel
THE SUN – 3RD NOVEMBER 2011
Nadine O’Connor condemns the Family Justice Review Report
DAILY MAIL – 2ND NOVEMBER 2011
Nadine O’Connor comments of the Final Report by the Family Justice Review
TELEGRAPH – 18TH JUNE 2011
David Cameron’s slur on father’s ahead of Fathers Day is final straw. F4J ends talks & returns to front line campaign
ANDOVER ADVERTISER – FRIDAY 3 JUNE 2011
Campaigner’s census protest
A Father’s 4 Justice campaigner is planning to burn her census form in Andover town centre tomorrow close to where Andover MP Sir George Young is expected to be holding one of his surgeries.
Nadine O’Connor, aged 39, says she is staging the protest to highlight the Government’s failure to recognise parents’ rights in a recent review and its lack of action on the intrusive census.
But Sir George Young says that the Government has looked closely at the census issue.
“Given its concerns about cost, accuracy, timeliness and intrusiveness, the Government reviewed whether to proceed with the 2011 census last summer,” he said.
“It concluded that it had to go ahead – it is currently the only way of providing the essential information necessary to determine where public money is spent on health, education and local services and to meet international requirements.
“However, the Government is already looking alternative ways of gathering census type information in the future.”
The campaigner risks a heavy fine if she wilfully evades the census and is taken to court – but says that she is willing to pay.
ANDOVER ADVERTISER – FRIDAY 28TH MAY 2011
Father’s Rights Protestor to Burn Censu
ANDOVER ADVERTISER – 28TH MAY 2011
Father’s Rights protestor to burn census form next weeken
DAILY ECHO - 8th APRIL 2010
Conservatives & Fathers 4 Justice Agree 10-Point Plan
Fathers 4 Justice confirmed today that David Cameron and the Conservative Party will make manifesto commitments to reform family law for the first time since 1982. The news comes after eight-years of campaigning by the protest group.
The announcement was confirmed at a meeting today between Shadow Minister for Justice & Legal Affairs, Henry Bellingham and F4J Founder Matt O’Connor, Campaign Manager Nadine O’Connor and Research Co-ordinator Nick Langford. Fathers 4 Justice have said they look forward to working with the Conservative Party in making family law reform a reality for all families and their children.
Mr Bellingham said: “We have already done a huge amount of research into family law and have reached preliminary conclusions which will form the starting point for major reform. I particularly welcome the attitude of Fathers 4 Justice who approached the matter using dialogue and constructive engagement.”
He outlined the following principles which the party would follow and they include:
i) A clear definition of contact so couples know what the likely outcome of the case may be, making them less likely to litigate.
ii) A legal presumption in favour of automatic shared-contact in the context of joint parental responsibility.
iii) An emphasis on early interventions and mediation.
iv) Enforceable contact orders.
v) Grandparents to have automatic rights of access to court.
vi) A plan to work with the Department of Children, Schools and Families to ensure Cafcass becomes more efficient and is able to devote more time to public law cases and child protection issues.
vii) A pro-active Judiciary with a more efficient handling of cases.
viii) A wide consultation with all interested groups with an interim report published by the Autumn of 2010.
ix) A commitment to reducing the cost to UK PLC caused by family breakdown and the litigation of family disputes which we believe is intolerable.
x) The most significant consequence of which will be to allow children to reach their true aspirations and potential.
Said F4J Campaign Manager, Nadine O’Connor, “This is the game-changing announcement we have been working towards. We look forward to working with the Conservative Party on ensuring this commitment becomes a reality for the thousands of children and families whose lives are blighted by the family courts.”
“Thousands of parents and supporters of Fathers 4 Justice will be backing David Cameron and his vision for family law reform and the big society.”
DAILY ECHO – 8TH APRIL 2010
Tory Backing for Family Law Chang
DAILY MAIL – 1st APRIL 2011
Nadine O’Connor comments on the Interim Report by the Family Justice Review Panel
TOTAL POLITICS MAGAZINE BLOG – 13th JANUARY 2011
Nadine O’Connor comments on the idea to introduce a fee to use the CSA and family law reform
NADINE’S RESPONSE TO CLAIMS THAT DIVORCING PARENTS ARE TO BE KEPT OUT OF COURT
Fathers 4 Justice Campaign Manager Nadine O’Connor, critisised claims that divorcing parents can be kept out of Court through mediation.
Nadine O’Connor, who now runs the campaign group said that “such claims are pure fantasy”.
“Until there is a level playing field for both parents in residency disputes then mediation will never work. While one parent has the option of returning to Court they will continue to use that to threaten the other parent into submission.
The systematic failure of repeated Governments to get to grip with the urgency of the problem in our Family Courts is ruining the lives of generations of children. Mediation is the latest buzz word that people think is the answer to family law disputes. The reality is that it rarely works and agreements made in mediation are often not worth the paper they are written on because if one person does not get what they want there is always the option of going back to Court instead. Take away the Court option and then maybe mediation stands a chance.
We need an urgent, complete reform of the Family Justice system from the Judges down, as detailed in the 1000 page submission we presented to the Family Justice Review Panel earlier this month. Anything else will just be a wet sticky plaster over an infected wound that will fall off in the bath at the first opportunity”.
DAILY MAIL – 22nd SEPTEMBER 2010
Nadine O’Connor comments on Lord Justice Wall’s claim that parents use children as weapons in divorce
ROMSEY ADVERTISER – 6th JUNE 2008
Bus campaign will not stop here, vows Nadine
Campaigners have condemned South West Trains’ decision to axe financial support for the X66 rail-bus link between Romsey and Winchester and have vowed to fight the decision.
SWT, which pumped cash into providing seven extra services operated by Stagecoach after axing the dedicated Romsey to Winchester Rail-bus link last December, blamed poor usage of the route for not continuing the subsidy.
All but two of the services will be lost from July 28.
Nadine Taylor, of the Save Our Bus Campaign, rubbished SWT’s claims that it fully consulted user-groups and local authorities.
“To claim that they have ‘been talking to user groups every step of the way’ is an insult to the people of Romsey who have been treated with contempt by Stagecoach, Hampshire County Council and SWT in this entire process. Of it had not been for our campaign the first the people of Romsey would have known about the cuts to the service would have been when their bus did not turn up one morning because they tried to axe this service through stealth,” she said.
Nadine blamed Hampshire’s transport chief’s for not putting enough pressure on SWT to retain the services.
Nadine also claimed SOBC was banned from taking part in discussions on the future of the bus service after refusing to agree not to speak to the press about meetings.
She added: “HCC are supposed to have the responsibility to provide public services for which we all pay hefty council tax bills and ‘at every step of the way’ HCC has put Stagecoach and SWT before their own residents.
“HCC has repeatedly claimed that our campaign was responsible for falling passenger numbers. But the numbers have fallen because the cutting of the original service meant those people who had been using it on a daily basis were excluded. Any potential new passengers were not going to commit to something that only had six months life expectancy.”
Nadine said the loss of the services would further isolate Romsey and she would be contacting MP Sandra Gidley about the issue.
“The Save Our Bus Campaign has been inundated with e-mails since the news broke, we need to keep this campaign going on behalf of the people of local people. We know that other bus routes in Romsey are facing cutbacks so this has just highlighted the need for ordinary people like me to stand up for local services and put people before politics,” she added.
Romsey’s Conservative parliamentary candidate Caroline Nokes is also unhappy about the SWT’s decision.
“What a tragedy the government did not make the bus rail link between Winchester and Romsey a requirement when they were awarded the rail franchise. That has been a requirement when the initial franchise was awarded back in 1996 but was dropped by this government.” said Mrs Nokes.
Chairman of Romsey 2020, Rod Simpson, said he was shocked by SWT’s decision, which he said was backward step which would result in an increased use of cars by commuters.
He stated: “Public transport provision should be high on everybody’s agenda and in this case it is clear it was not.”
“This service was a vital public transport provision for Romsey.”
SWT says with new and improved connections to the rail network at Romsey station commuters in the town now have better links to the company’s services elsewhere. HCC has promised to look into whether any of the services due to be axed can be reinstated when bus routes are re-tendered.
ROMSEY ADVERTISER – 30th MAY 2008
SWT slash funding for rail-link buses
DAILY ECHO – 20th MAY 2008
Protesters to fight on to save axed bus route
ROMSEY ADVERTISER – 4th APRIL 2008
Buses Not Just For OAP’s
ROMSEY ADVERTISER – 28th MARCH 2008
Why Perry wants more to join him on route 66
A COUNTY councillor is urging people to make more use a Romsey to Winchester bus link to prevent a reduction in services.
Romsey Extra’s county councillor, Roy Perry, has pledged to use the X66 service himself when on official duties, whenever possible, such as attending the authority’s meetings at The Castle in Winchester.
Mr Perry who is also chairman of Test Valley’s Hampshire Action Team, said funding to provide extra buses at peak times on the X66 service between Romsey and Winchester was only guaranteed until the end of July.
South-West Trains pulled the plug on its rail link bus in December after pointing out that only about 60 passengers a day used the service and the company said it was making a loss.
Bosses then agreed cash should be pumped into Stagecoach’s X66 service while passenger numbers were evaluated; the results are due in the summer.
People now fear that the extra buses run by SWT parent company Stagecoach may not continue after July.
“The campaign to stop SWT axing these services continues apace. The early-morning and evening journeys are vital to commuters who live in rural areas between Romsey and Winchester and would be desperately missed if they were to come to an end in July,” said Mr Perry.
“The county council is part of a working group comprising SWT, Stagecoach, Test Valley and Winchester councils, with the common aim of increasing passenger numbers using the service. This is vital to its future, as passenger numbers will determine whether or not SWT reprieves it.
“This service is especially helpful to those living in the rural areas between Romsey and Winchester and, without it, I fear that most will drive to Winchester to pick up the train service to London Waterloo.
“This adds to traffic levels in an already congested city and will do nothing to improve air quality. I urge everyone who can use the X66 service to do so.”
DAILY ECHO – 22nd MARCH 2008
Use buses to help save our rail link
ROMSEY ADVERTISER – 30th NOVEMBER 2007
Cross Party backing for bus campaign at No.10
ROMSEY ADVERTISER – 23rd NOVEMBER 2007
Bus Protestors at No. 10
DAILY ECHO – 22nd NOVEMBER 2007
Rail link protest goes to London
DAILY ECHO – 19th NOVEMBER 2007
Rail link service protest gets up head of steam
Downing Street, the headquarters of South West Trains and the offices of Hampshire County Council will face a wave of protests this week from bus users fighting to save a rail link service.
Angry passengers say they will not give up on their battle to save the Romsey to Winchester rail link which rail bosses are planning to axe at the beginning of December.
In the next stage of a high profile campaign, organised by Fathers 4 Justice protestors, campaigners are boarding a coach for the capital with a petition signed by thousands of residents and a list of destinations to show transport chiefs how much they value the integrated transport system.
Since the decision to axe the 11 year old service was announced campaigners have collected signatures and held protests in Romsey and Winchester to gather support.
Campaigner for Save Our Bus, Nadine Taylor said: “We are in the middle of a vigorous campaign with four weeks to go and everything to play for.”
Following a public meeting with transport bosses and local politicians South West Trains agreed to fund additional morning and evening bus services on an existing bus timetable until July next year to see if a train commuter service would be viable.
The company say not enough rail passengers are using the bus to get on to the mainline train service but protestors have questioned the transport chiefs information gathering and Hampshire County Council say they will now independently monitor the extra bus services to see if they would be profitable.
“We are not prepared to accept anything other than the reinstatement of all services while the working party we have set up examines what we believe are bogus figures,” said Nadine.
“South West Trains didn’t have a clue about the numbers or the service customers received,” she added.
Despite forming a working party with transport bosses to help find a way to promote and boost the value of the bus route until next summer, campaigners say they will continue their protests against axing the route, which also serves communities in Ampfield, Hursley and Woodley.
Swapping his super hero costume for a Santa suit for the protest journey, fathers 4 Justice front-man Matt O’Connor, said “The campaign is picking up speed and shifting from second gear into fourth and fifth.
“I wouldn’t want anyone to get hit by the speed of this campaign bus and South West Trains should not under estimate the resolve of everyone involved in this campaign.”
“We are going to raise the stakes in dramatic fashion combining protests with economic and marketing suggestions to make this service work. Most buses I travel on are like a sardine tin on wheels – the figures quoted by SWT are so ridiculous they must have been produced after a heavy night out when they were celebrating the increased profits they are making by cutting this service,” he added.
South West Trains say the rail-link currently loses the company nearly 3100,000 a year and that with more rail journey’s planned between Romsey and Southampton central stations commuters will be accommodated for.
The campaign bus will leave Romsey for Downing Street at 9.00am on Thursday morning.
ROMSEY ADVERTISER – 16th NOVEMBER 2007
Bus campaign’s next stop…Downing Street
CAMPAIGNERS are taking their fight to retain a rail-link bus service between Romsey and Winchester to the Prime Minister.
South West Trains is axing the service in a couple of weeks’ time but this hasn’t stopped protesters, led by Fathers 4 Justice frontman Matt O’Connor and Nadine Taylor, pulling out all the stops in a bid to keep the rail-link on the road.
Next Thursday (November 22) protesters dressed in Father Christmas outfits will board the Santa Express Battle Bus’ and head for 10 Downing Street where they will deliver petitions to Gordon Brown.
“The theme will be Santa because we are highlighting the timing of the axeing of this service. What better sight than a busload of Santa’s arranging in Downing Street?” said Nadine.
Their placards will bear the slogan “Bah Humbug! – an early Christmas present from Scrooge West Trains.”
Protesters plan to take the Save Our Bus’ bus from Romsey bus station at 9am along the route of the rail-link bus to Winchester and then onto Downing Street to hand deliver petitions to the heart of government.
“We will be joined on the bus by local and national press and TV and we will be met at Downing Street by MPs,” said Nadine.
She urged supporters of the campaign to make sure completed petitions were handed in by next Tuesday (November 20). Supporters are asked to send them to Nadine at PO Box 277, Romsey, Hampshire, SO51 8YE or deliver them to Romsey Town Council offices.
Last Friday morning the campaign was taken to Winchester rail station where protesters told commuters knew about the planned axeing.
The protesters included Romsey’s MP Sandra Gidley arrived at Winchester dressed in Father Christmas outfits after travelling on the rail-link bus from Romsey.
Bosses at South West Trains have promised to fund additional X66 Stagecoach services between Romsey and Winchester when the current rail-link service ends on December 8.
However, funding of the six extra buses will be reviewed next summer.
A working party has already been set up between the Save our Bus campaign and Hampshire’s transport bosses to establish how many people use bus links to Winchester rail station from the Romsey area.
South West Trains say the decision to axe the existing dedicated rail-bus was taken because it’s only used by about 60 passengers daily and the service makes a loss.
But, Mr O’Connor disagrees with the figures and has vowed to fight on. He said: “The campaign is picking up speed and shifting from second gear into fourth and fifth. South West Trains should not under estimate the resolve of everyone involved in this campaign.
“We are going to raise the stakes in dramatic fashion combining protests with economic and marketing suggestions to make the service work. Most buses I travel on are like a sardine tin on wheels. The figure quoted by South West Trains are so ridiculous they must have been produced after a heavy night out when they were celebrating the increased profits they are making by cutting this service.”
On Saturday (November 17) campaigners will be taking to Winchester city centre in a bid to raise people’s awareness about the impending axeing of the rail-bus. The protesters will be at the Buttercross between 10am and midday with placards and petitions.
HAMPSHIRE CHRONICLE – 15th NOVEMBER 2007
“Santa special” in rail link protest
Winchester campaigners catch theg and late evening commuter routes to and from Winchester rail station, is too expensive to run and loses the company nearly £100,000 a year. But campaigners say the rail company is cutting a vital integrated public service and forcing hundreds of people to use their cars, resulting in more congestion on roads, which will cause a major problem in and around Winchester.
Joining campaigners on route, Winchester City Councillor and Hursley Parish Councillor Eleanor bell, said “This is not just bad news for Romsey and Winchester, but for Hursley as well.
“This will be bad for the village, bad for local shops, bad for commuters and bad for people working at IBM.”
Romsey MP, Sandra Gidley, who dressed in full Santa gear and shared the bus journey, said: “It was clear at the recent public meeting that Stagecoach and South West Trains don’t have a clue how heavily this service is used by rail travellers and how vital this service bus they aim to save
Dressed in Santa suits and armed with placards, leaflets and a jar of mint humbugs, protestors fighting to save a Hampshire rail link have stepped up their campaign by taking a ride on the threatened bus.
Passengers cheered as they climbed aboard the Romsey to Winchester service dressed in seasonal costumes to show their anger at the South West Train’s decision to stop the 11 year old service two weeks before Christmas.
The protest follows a demonstration in Romsey and packed public meetings in the town and the nearby village of Hursley, where residents are they regularly reply on the Monday to Saturday service.
“We are taking the campaign to Winchester to let other people know about how South West Trains have made this decision without consultation, and just before Christmas as well,” said campaign organiser matt O’Connor.
Transport bosses say the service, which adds an extra half hour service to early mornin is. rather than cutting it, they need to do a proper job of promoting it.”
Leader of Winchester City Council, George Beckett, also greeted he fancy-dressed passengers as they arrived at Winchester rail station. The campaign has the support of prospective parliamentary candidates in Winchester, Steve Brine, Conservative and Martin Tod, Lib-Dem.
“I am concerned about the changes being proposed, especially the possible effect of even more cars coming into Winchester city centre and trying to park in our already over-flowing station car parks,” said Mr Brine.
“There is clearly demand for a bus link between Romsey and Winchester. All stakeholders, including both councils, Peter Symonds College, IBM in Hursley and the train operating companies must be brought together through the Rail Link Working group to find a long-term solution.”
Mr Tod said: “This is not just a problem for Romsey and Hursley, it’s a problem for Winchester too because it’s going to lead to more congestion and more problems with parking.
“The campaign has already had an impact and led to some of the service being saved.”
South West Trains have offered to fund additional half-hourly services in the morning and evening as part of the existing Romsey to Winchester 66 bus service until next July and the firm has agreed to set up a working group with the campaigners and councillors to see if the Stagecoach service could run as an economical bus route.
The rail link service is due to end on December 8 and the revised 66 timetable starts on Monday, December 10.
DAILY ECHO – WEDNESDAY 14th NOVEMBER 2007
Rail link campaign heading for No.10
DAILY ECHO – 10th NOVEMBER 2007
Campaigners fight to reprieve bus service – To View Podcast Click Here
BBC SOUTH TODAY – 9th NOVEMBER 2007
Campaign to Keep Bus Service – To View Video Click Here
Campaigners fight to reprieve bus service – Axe decision taken without consultation claim protestors
DAILY ECHO – 10th November 2007
Dressed in Santa suits and armed with placards, leaflets and a jar of mint humbugs, protestors fighting to save a Hampshire bus link have stepped up their campaign by boarding the threatened service.
Passengers cheered each other as they climbed aboard the threatened Romsey to Winchester bus link to show their anger at the South West Train’s decision to stop the 11 year old service two weeks before Christmas.
The protest follows a demonstration in Romsey and a packed public meeting in the town and nearby village Hursley where residents say they regularly rely on the Monday to Saturday service.
“We are taking the campaign to Winchester to let other people know about how South West Trains has made this decision without any consultation,” said campaign organiser Matt O’Connor.
Transport bosses say the service, which adds an extra half-hour service with early morning and late evening commuter routes to Winchester rail station, is too expensive to run and loses the company nearly 3100,000 a year.
Campaigners say the rail company is cutting a vital integrated public service and forcing hundreds of people to use their cars, resulting in more congestion.
Joining the campaigners on route, Winchester and Hursley parish councillor Eleanor Bell said: “This will be bad for the village, bad for local shops, bad for commuters and bad for the people working at IBM.”
Romsey MP Sandra Gidley boarded the bus dressed in full Santa gear.
“It was clear at the recent public meeting that Stagecoach and SWT don’t have a clue how heavily this service is used by rail travellers and how vital this service is.
“Rather than cutting it, they need to do a proper job of promoting it,” she said.
The campaign also gained cross-party support from prospective parliamentary candidates – Conservative Steve Brine and Lib Dem Martin Tod.
“I am concerned about the changes being proposed, especially the possible effect of even more cars coming into Winchester city centre,” said Mr Brine.
Mr Tod added: “We need urgent action to reduce Winchester’s impact on the environment, but these cuts will damage the environment and make congestion and parking even worse.”
Winchester City Council leader George Becket said: “This protest points out how valuable this public service is and it is an important one for passengers in and out of Winchester,” he said.
At a public meeting attended by rail and bus company executives, more than a hundred residents heard SWT offer to fund additional half-hourly services in the morning and evening as part of the existing Romsey to Winchester 66 bus service until next July.
The rail link service is due to end on December 8th and the revised 66 timetable starts on Monday 10th December.
DAILY ECHO – 10th NOVEMBER 2007
In my view
Rail campaign support is on right track by Caroline Nokes
It was probably inevitable that any campaign organised by Fathers 4 Justice front man matt O’Connor would be high profile, but his Save Our Bus campaign about the Romsey to Winchester rail link has also proved to be highly effective.
Last week’s public meeting, on a dark night in November, was packed. As more and more people arrived the tiny chairs for the playgroup had to be put out, and even then large number has to stand for the duration of the meeting.
Although spirits ran high at times, and representatives from South West Trains and Stagecoach drew significant criticism, the outcome was one of co-operation not confrontation, which is why I am optimistic tat the working party that was agreed will move this issue forward.
The concession from SWT to continue to run some of the peak hour rail link buses until next July was an important one, but the message was quite clear: “Use it or lose it.” However listening to the commuters, the college students and the various councillors present there is a determination to find permanent and sustainable solutions.
Winchester has recently been condemned for having the highest carbon footprint per person of any city – to add to that by forcing rail users out of the bus and into their cars would be a nonsense. the rail link bus is a real example of integrated transport, one that is convenient and easy for the user, but one that has definitely been under promoted.
What really struck me was how well some of the Peter Symonds College users knew the timetable, which buses were standing room only, and which were virtually empty. The passenger surveys, which are to be carried out by Hampshire county Council, will provide the evidence needed to support the anecdotal views on usage, but the input from the students to the working group will also be invaluable.
I am sure the campaign will continue to be eye catching, but that the work of the group to solve this problem will be as serious as it is striking.
DAILY ECHO – 8th NOVEMBER 2007
Bus-rail link campaigners stepping up their protest
Campaigners continuing their protest against a Hampshire rail link service being axed are moving their fight to Winchester.
The South West Trains service between Romsey and Winchester is being withdrawn by rail bosses, who say that it is too expensive to run.
Following a public meeting where more than 100 people turned out to question transport chiefs over the plans, campaigners now say they are keen to give service users in Winchester the chance to hear about the changes.
Nadine Taylor, from the Save Our Bus group, said: “We were approached at the meeting by several members of the public who asked us to bring the campaign to Winchester, so we will continue with our plans for the protest today.
“We will be taking the rail link bus from Romsey bus station to Winchester railway station, dressed in a Father Christmas theme, to raise awareness of the campaign there and get people to sign petitions and lend their support.
“This is a very important part of the campaign because it is Winchester that would bear the brunt of the increased number of cars coming into the city, parking issues and pollution and as a city this is something Winchester can not afford to have in light of the recent environmental reports.”
At the Romsey public meeting, South West Trains announced that it would continue to fund additional bus services in the morning and evening until July next year to see if enough people want a rail link service and if it would be commercially viable.
This is expected to run as extra half hourly services as part of the Stagecoach X66 bus timetable from December 12.
Angry residents and passengers are calling on transport chiefs to keep the rail link service, which comes to an end on December 8, and which adds an extra hourly bus to and from Winchester.
However, South West Trains say that it was losing almost £100,000 a year with the route, and that not enough passengers were using the bus as a connection to the railway.
Following the talks with local and county councillors, transport bosses and Romsey MP Sandra Gidley, campaigners have agreed to set up a working group to monitor the extra bus routes and look at ways of increasing passenger numbers to make it sustainable.
Today’s protest was die to start at Romsey bus station at 7.35am, with protestors boarding the bus link and travelling to Winchester to meet commuters.
THIS IS HAMPSHIRE – 8th NOVEMBER 2007
Rail-bus protestors to lobby commuters
HAMPSHIRE CHRONICLE – 8th NOVEMBER 2007
Working group to monitor bus link service
Campaigners fighting to save the Romsey to Winchester bus link are to form a working group with transport bosses to monitor a temporary replacement service.
Protestors met with bosses from South West Trains at a packed public meeting in Romsey last week and heard how the rail company will subsidise extra services on the existing Stagecoach X66 bus route which exists between the two destinations.
The company told more than 100 people who filled the hall of the Abbey United Reformed Church that they will subsidise additional bus services in the morning and evening
HAMPSHIRE CHRONICLE – 1ST NOVERMBER 2007
Rail bus cash to be diverted
Money saved by axing a popular rail link bus between Romsey and Winchester will be used to set up another link service in Hampshire.
From December 12, the Monday to Saturday service, which calls at Ampfield, Hursley and Woodley, will be scrapped, and replaced by a new service for commuters in the Portsmouth area.
South West Trains has said it made the decision because the 11 year service between Romsey and Winchester railway station is not being used enough by train passengers.
Jane Lee, from South West Trains, said the rail link, which costs £240,000 a year to run, made a loss of nearly £100,000 for a period between 2006 and 2007, and had an average of rail pasil next July, while Hampshire County Council carries out an independent survey on how many passengers use the service.
Campaign leader Matt O’Connor said he welcomed the news and reassured the audience made up of passengers, commuters, students and local councillors, that the working group “will happen” and warned transport chiefs that local residents “will defend their public transport”.
Residents addressed a panel of South West Trains and Stagecoach bus representatives as well as councillors from Hampshire and the test valley, and Romsey MP Sandra Gidley.
Concerns raised over the axing of the service included a lack of regular buses, more congestion on the roads, and a loss of bus services for sixth form students living in Romsey that travel to Winchester.
The new timetable is due to come into effect from Monday December 10.
DAILY ECHO – 2nd NOVEMBER 2007
Bus link campaigners to set up working group
“The rail link was established in 1996 to coax people into using the rail service and get them on the trains,” she said.
“But it is not being used by rail passengers, it is being used by people who already have a bus service.
“It has been decided that funds could be better used elsewhere in Hampshire with a rail link from Waterlooville and Petersfield.”
Campaigners fighting to save the rail-link, which adds an extra half-hourly service from Romsey to Winchester, say they are desperate to keep it.
The protest group “Save Our Bus” is led by Matt O’Connor of Fathers 4 Justice fame.
He said: “There are desperate pensioners, midwives, students and commuters who all need this communication life-line,”
He added that many more than 60 people depend on the service because the alternative Stagecoach South bus services were not frequent enough.
More than 1000 residents have now signed up to the protest to keep the bus link.
ROMSEY ADVERTISER – 26th OCTOBER 2007
Campaign to save bus link goes into top gear
Letter from Westminster 26tH OCTOBER 2007 – Sandra Gidley MP
I had intended to have a quiet day in the constituency last Friday, but the postal strike meant that there were a lot of last-minute invitations.
The day started with a meeting to discuss a campaign to save the rail link bus between Romsey and Winchester. Nadine Taylor and her partner, Matt O’Connor, have done some sterling work, so watch out for some eye catching initiatives.
DAILY ECHO – 25th OCTOBER 2007
1000 Sign Petition to Save Rail Station Bus Link
More than 1000 people have signed up to help save the Romsey bus link service to Winchester Railway station.
Protestors have been collecting signatures against the axing of the service to present to South West Trains bosses who plan to end the bus link in December.
Posters and leaflets have flooded the town in the first week of the campaign and organisers are also collecting scores of names giving their support on the Save Our Bus website.
Leading campaigner Matt O’Connor, who founded the high profile Fathers 4 Justice campaign, said more than 200 people signed up to save the Monday to Saturday bus route on the first day of campaigning in Romsey and that waving placards and handing out leaflets was just the beginning.
“We will up the ante with protests that are designed to surprise and inspire, until we win a sensible period of time from South West Trains so we can be consulted and also put counter proposals to them.”
So far more than 1000 people have now joined the protest including local councillors who say people need the regular service.
As part of the campaign’s next step a group of passengers are planning to board the rail link service at Romsey bus station on November 9 dressed as Father Christmas. They will then travel to Winchester train station to inform commuters of the proposals to axe the service.
Concerns have been raised on the affect the axing of the service will have in rural communities in Ampfield, Hursley and Woodley who regularly use the bus route to travel to both Romsey and Winchester.
Campaigners have also criticised transport bosses for putting more traffic on the roads and adding to congestion in Winchester city centre which was recently voted the worst polluter by environmental charity WWF.
A public meeting on November 1, that was planned for Romsey Town hall, will be held at the nearby Abbey United Reformed Church from 8.00pm.
Scores of campaigners and residents are expected to attend alongside councillors and Romsey MP Sandra Gidley to question South West Trains chiefs over the decision to axe the service.
A spokesman for the train company said that the bus service is being axed due to low passenger numbers and that residents will be able to use existing bus services to travel between the two locations.
DAILY ECHO = 22nd OCTOBER 2007
Batman campaigner leads fight to save commuter bus link
He is the man behind some of the highest profile demonstrations of the past few years.
As the founder of dads’ rights movement Fathers 4 Justice, Matt O’Connor was involved in organising protests which saw activists dressed as superheroes scaling a variety of public buildings. Pictures of the best known, when fellow campaigner Jason hatch climbed on to Buckingham Palace, were seen around the world.
Now Mr O’Connor has launched a new, lower profile, campaign – trying to save a bus route that links a Hampshire market town to the major rail route to London.
He was joined by protestors who waved placards, handed out leaflets and gathered signatures for a petition as they launched their fight against plans to axe the service between Romsey and Winchester station.
The rail operator has told passengers that the Monday to Saturday service, which calls at Ampfield, Woodley and Hursley, will end in December, leaving dozens of commuters and school pupils stranded.
Residents along the route say it will not only disrupt their daily journeys, but will force more people on to the roads, causing further congestion in and around both Romsey and Winchester.
Concerns were also raised about the number of sixth form students who rely on public transport for connections to Peter Symonds in Winchester and Barton Peveril College in Eastleigh.
Mr O’Connor said everyone who heard the service was being axed was upset by the news. “Together with post offices being axed people in the area just want to know they can have a reliable service but if this goes ahead they won’t even be able to get on a bus to travel to another post office,” he said.
“The commuter links to Romsey and Winchester to London are vital and South West Trains are turning the town from a backyard to a graveyard.”
Caroline Nokes, Test Valley Councillor for Romsey Extra, joined protestors and collected signatures from angry local residents.
She said: “This is bad news for Romsey. The people in this area need an integrated public transport system that they can rely on and by pulling this service they are just being forced into their cars and adding to congestion which is already a problem.”
Cllr Nokes also said large businesses such as IBM have many employees who relied on the regular service.
DAILY ECHO – 19th OCTOBER 2007
We’re going to fight axing of rail-bus link
Campaigners in Romsey are preparing to fight South West Trains’ plans to axe a rail-bus link between Winchester and the town.
Residents and businesses in Romsey say that the 11 year-old service between Romsey bus station and Winchester railway station is vital for commuters and school pupils along the route which includes stops at Woodley, Ampfield and Hursley.
South West Trains is planning to get rid of the Monday to Saturday service in December due to falling passenger numbers.
Protester Matt O’Connor, known for his fathers 4 Justice campaigns, said that the fight to keep the service was getting lots of support from passengers and drivers.
He said: “I have already started recruiting campaigners to join our Mutiny on the Buses protests which will see us take dramatic acquot;People need a reliable service and this is one that is busy,” she added.
County Councillor Mark Cooper said he was concerned that the end of the 11 year-old service would create a downward spiral that would end up taking more and more people away from even more public transport.
“This is a service that is regular and that people can rely on. It makes no sense to end it.”
A South West Trains spokesman said that about 60 passengers use the service daily and that it was not financially viable to continue it. He added that there were other bus links between Romsey and Winchester.
A public meeting is planned for Thursday 1st November, at the Abbey united reformed Church Hall, in Romsey, where Romsey MP Sandra Gidley and local councillors will quiz South West Trains about the axing of the service, from 8.00pm.
ROMSEY ADVERTISER – 19th OCTOBER 2007
Mutiny on the buses as rail link is axed
A campaign has been launched to save South West Trains’ Romsey-Winchester rail-bus link from the axe.
South West Trains say the 11 year-old service between Romsey bus station and Winchester railway station will be given the chop in December because of falling passenger numbers but users of the bus are fighting back.
An angry Matt O’Connor is organising protests at South West Trains decision and he says he will do whatever it takes to save the Monday to Saturday service which stops at Woodley, Ampfield and Hursley.
“As a dedicated campaigner, I have already started recruiting campaigners to join our “Mutiny on the Buses” protests which will see us take dramatic action, even arrests, to stop a decision that could have a grave impact on Romsey,” said Matt, who is behind the Fathers’ for Justice Campaign.
Matt added that he first found out about the planned axing of the rail-bus link from a driver.
“All users of the service are naturally up-in-arms, not least because of the timing and secretive nature of the decision. At a time when we are supposed to be greener and the use of public transport, South West Trains will effectively severe a major artery running between Romsey and Winchester and in turn London where many people commute to. This will cut off the lifeblood from Romsey as a commercial centre and isolate it further as a commuting base. The alternatives are frankly pathetic. Let’s be honest, it’s cost-cutting, not about improving services,” said the irate commuter.
Romsey’s MP Sandra Gidley has promised to take up the issue with SWT and in the House of Commons.
Mrs Gidley said: “I am very concerned about this. It will mean more cars on the road and people will be struggling for car parking spaces. I am not sure whether this is allowed within SWT’s franchise and I will be taking it up with ministers. This is showing all signs of the train operator taking the money and running. SWT ought to have done something to promote the service, I hope SWT will give it a stay of execution.”
An SWT spokesman said the company took the decision to axe the bus because of a decline in use. He said about 60 passengers use the service daily and it was not financially viable to continue it. And he also pointed out there were other bus links between Romsey and Winchester that people can use instead.
Romsey 2020 Chairman Rod Simpson said the group, which has been campaigning for improvements to the public transport network in and around the town, was appalled at the decision.
“Cutting this service is really bad news for Romsey. If Romsey is to survive as a vibrant market town, it is essential that it has good commuting services to the major adjacent cities. Removal of the rail-link to Winchester without the instigation of other truly comparable services has to be something about which we should all voice our opinions,” said Mr Simpson.
Hampshire’s Romsey division member Mark Cooper said he was “shocked” to hear the service was being cut without consultation.
He said he would be investigating the issue.