In my last Westminster Diary article I welcomed government investment which will see Green Park train station delivered in my constituency. I also discussed the excellent transport infrastructure Reading now has thanks to hundreds of millions from central government poured into the area.
But we need to go further. Theale station is a case in point where there have been delays in delivering the project. So this month I invited Rail Minister Paul Maynard to come to Theale to discuss the progress of upgrade works. I held a meeting with representatives from Network Rail, GWR, West Berkshire Council and Theale Parish Council. We discussed the reasons for the delays which included safety challenges in doing work in conjunction with electrification of the line. The positive news is that the Rail Minister very clearly understands the need to deliver the upgrade and he heard the need for improvements directly from local representatives. The next step is for Network Rail to get started on any redesign work needed.
The more immediate good news is that, thanks to additional funding from West Berkshire Council which was secured through the Local Sustainable Transport Fund, Theale Station will also benefit from a new ticket office which is planned to be open by the end of the year.
On the Westminster front, when Parliament returned from summer recess, I responded to three housing related debates in my capacity as Minister for Housing and Planning. My key ambition in my role is that we deliver a housing market which delivers for everyone. Home owners and renters. We need a market which has fairness at its heart.
One of the debates I replied to focussed on the government's proposals to ban letting agents from charging tenants' fees.
The private rented sector now accounts for 4.5 million households in England. By implementing a ban on letting agent fees, the Government wants to see all tenants receiving a good and affordable service from their landlord and letting agents, and transparency about the true cost of renting.
The Government has undertaken a public consultation on how this ban should be implemented and the outcome of the consultation will be published shortly. Following which we will publish the draft bill on banning letting agents from charging tenants fees. Of course Parliament and stakeholders will scrutinise the draft bill. But ultimately I believe this will be a clear step in creating a fairer housing market for those renting.