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Latest addition to this page added 24th June 2005
28/2/02 Chester is one of the main tourist attractions in the country and an economic powerhouse in the region. If this is to continue, we must have a good infrastructure and encourage people and businesses to come here. They won't come if the city is always clogged with traffic. We are therefore desperately in need of a modern transport system that will not produce more cars in the city. The CDTS scheme seems to me to be ideal. It runs along a disused railway line so doesn't add to the traffic on the overused radial routes into town; it is totally bus-based; it will use clean petrol-free vehicles; and it is flexible enough to use thc roads when neccessary for the last part of its journey.
Not building CDTS will undermine Chester's attractiveness for businesses and tourism and will put at real risk its long-term economic development which would put all our jobs and houses at risk.
Eileen Burrows, Newtown
1/3/02 My two young grandchildren live near to Hoole Road in Chester and have had asthma from birth.
I've always thought that the traffic fumes made their asthma worse.
Hoole Road is always full of cars and I now read in the papers that scientists have proved that as well as making asthma worse, traffic fumes are actually causing asthma.
What I'd like to know is why these so-called environmentalists and cyclists keep telling us in the local papers that the new CDTS guided busway is a bad thing
As far as l'm concerned it's a good thing, and I'm sure that everyone who sees their children or grandchildren suffering with asthma attacks will agree with me.
To have a fume-free bus running from the motorways into the city centre and taking cars off Hoole Road will be the best thing since sliced bread. There's plenty of room for cyclists and walkers by the track anyway.
It's about time these whingers and complainers in your letters page thought long and hard about how much good the CDTS will do for people's health.
Mrs G McDermott, Egerton Street, Chester
8/3/02 I am somewhat confused by the conflicting claims over the cost of the CDTS scheme.
Cllr Peter Byrne lays out the proposed method of payment, which appears to be a relatively cheap and sensible way of funding the scheme.
As a county councillor I would assume (and hope) he is well informed about the costs.
The anti-CDTS lobby, on the other hand, continues to make allegations about the expense of the scheme.
Perhaps they could give us some figures and explain the source of their cost estimates, thereby clearing up the discrepancy between the two sides of the argument.
(We're sure they'd love to if only the councils concerned would, as thay have been repeatedly asked, actually come clean on these figures)
The CDTS is an important investment towards the future prosperity of our city.
We frequently read in the local press about difficulties local traders are facing from competing destinations and how access and parking are major elements of that problem. A recent survey of visitors to the city shows that Chester continues to score poorly in areas of car parking and transport.
One needs only to look at the success of similar initiatives taken in other cities such as Manchester, Leeds and Sheffield to realise that providing a scheme such as the CDTS is vital for the continued economic success of Chester. It is very easy for the balance of an argument to be swayed by a few energetic people mounting a letter writing campaign to oppose progress.
They do not put forward viable alternatives to deal with the access problems.
I do hope that now the facts have properly emerged and been examined by independent experts that some sense will prevail and that the view of the majority who have chosen not to oppose the scheme will be taken into account.
Zoe Langmead, Hough Green, Chester (Same part of the city- far removed from the busway- as Cllr Byrne isn't it? Some relation perhaps?) Talking of whom...
15/3/02 l warned a little while ago about the strange claims which would be made by the anti-CDTS campaigners.
Now, when I try to answer their claims about how much it would be likely to cost the council tax payer, I am arraigned by Mr Whitehouse (1/3/02) for not knowing the exact and precise cost of the whole scheme.
CDTS will cost in the region of £10m (it's not possible to be more accurate at this stage.) The cost to the county's ratepayers of a £10m scheme like this is £1 per year (or, as Albert's dad's insurance man said in Albert and the Lion, 'tuppence per person per week').
There will also be a cost to Chester City's budget because of unknowable factors such as the effect on income in the city centre car parks and the possible changes in usage of existing Park & Rides.
Because Chester's ratepayers are fewer than Cheshire's this may be more than the effect on the county. But the figure of 'tuppence per person per week' is in the region of reality.
I don't expect Mr Whitehouse or Mrs Hodgkinson will accept this figure. They will continue to shout about its excessive cost and refuse to believe the facts.
I hope your readers, however, will take note and not give credence to the claims made by those opposed to an imaginative, ! economically vital and environmentally friendly scheme.
Peter C Byrne, County Councillor, City Division, Hough Green, Chester
15/3/02 I congratulate the Government on its decision to give its backing to the CDTS busway scheme.
Chester traders are facing tough competition from out of town shopping centres with free and accessible parking. The guided busway will help this situation with Park & Ride customers offered a more reliable and speedy journey into town. The proposed second phase of the scheme into Deeside will improve matters further.
I am sick of reading the well orchestrated letter campaign from the anti-CDTS lobby, the members of which are mostly homeowners backing on to the former railway line.
(Whereas, of course, most CDTS supporters, such as Cllr Byrne and the writer of this letter, live nowhere near it)
How easily they forget that until recently trains ploughed this route. In my opinion the cycleway, which will be moved to run alongside the busway, will be an even greater success when streetlights are installed as part of the busway scheme.
I'm sure that this letter will get excitable CDTS protesters in a tizz, but it's about time the NIMBYS (Not In My Back Yard) began to think out of the box and consider the benefits of this scheme to Chester as a whole.
M J Higson, Vicars Cross, Chester
15/3/02 There have been many comments bandied about by the anti-CDTS lobby and others that it is a costly scheme that will put a huge burden on Chester council taxpayers. Reference is also made to the year on year maintenance costs likely to ensue.
Far from being a costly scheme, the CDTS is a cost effective and relatlvely inexpensive scheme which will use an existing transport corridor.
Some facts and figures provide a comparison with some of the fiction or speculation put forward by the knockers of the scheme.
Let us consider the claim 'that the CDTS is expensive and will greatly increase our council tax burden'. Compare it with the cost of recent road building undertaken by the county council in other districts but to which Chester council taxpayers contribute.
The costs of the Wheelock bypass were £11.6m and the Davenham bypass £20.2m. The Handforth and Wilmslow bypass had a total cost of £131.5m to which Cheshire made a contribution of £60.7m.
Some objectors state that money would be better spent on the Alderley Edge bypass, but with projected costs of £38m it would take more than the cost of two CDTS schemes to fund it.
Regarding the 'year on year maintenance costs of the scheme, they will be borne by the council taxpayers of Cheshire, all 670,000 of them, not just the people of Chester. Exactly the same as any other transport scheme in Cheshire.
However, in the case of the guided busway scheme there will be revenue provided by the users of the CDTS, which will contribute to the system.
There are questions which remain unasked by those who oppose the scheme (CDTS). Let us consider the other side of the coin. If the CDTS does not proceed, what then will be the fate of this well-beloved cycle way and footpath? The local authorities do not own the defunct railway line and will have no responsibility for future maintenance. Sustrans built the cyclepath and have limited funds for maintenance.
Who, then, will keep the cycle and footpaths in a usable condition? Who will manage the landscaping? Some local people are already experiencing problems in getting Sustrans to respond to requests to deal with litter, vandalism and overhanging trees and shrubs.
County Cllr Molly Hale, Hoole and Newton Division, Chester
We passed on the final paragraph of the good councillor's letter to Sustrans in Crewe, who, needless to say, were none too pleased by her remarks- especially as they've just spent £25,000 upon its maintainance. The track bed is owned by their sister charity, Railway Paths, by the way, and there is no danger whatsoever of the cycleway falling into dereliction as a result of not getting ripped up to make way for buses...(does this make sense???)
Implying anything other is deliberately misleading and dishonest- and hardly becoming of a county councillor. And referring to the cycleway as "well-beloved" while at the same time advocating the destruction of everything that makes it special and attractive is, to our minds, just plain perverse.
Read some angry responses to it here and here...
It has also been drawn to our attention that certain prospective candidates for the council elections in May have also been giving out the very same misinformation on the doorstep...
3/5/02 I was surprised to see someone was putting up for the city council on an anti-CDTS ticket.
I thought the decision was in the hands of the County Council as the highways authority and they will be taking the decision in the Summer.
I don't think Steve Howe, even if elected, will be given the chance to cast his vote in the city council either for or against CDTS because they don't have a vote on it.
Eileen Burrows, Newtown, Chester.
3/5/02 I noticed that Steve Howe was standing as an anti-CDTS candidate for the city elections yesterday.
I hope he's not expecting, if he's elected, to be able to do anything about it because the city council doesn't have a say in it.
The county council will make the decision because it is the county council's Local Transport Plan which will receive the funding for lt.
It is not in the city's hands any more.
Those last two letters seemed suspiciously similar, what? To the degree where they both referred to the editor of this website as standing as an 'anti-CDTS' candidate. This, as anyone free of ulterior motive, and who had actually read his election literature, would know, was not the case. He stood, entirely unsponsored, as an independent, non party political candidate (and captured 25% of the vote to boot).
The deal was to actually listen to and act upon the wishes of the people of the ward. During the course of visiting the great majority of their homes, he failed utterly to discover local support for CDTS. It was as simple as that.
He was perfectly well aware that, in the current 'cabinet-style' regime, his likelihood of ever ever getting a chance to make a difference within the Town Hall would be (in common with the great majority of existing councillors) to say the least remote. But he was anxious that such as the alleged thoughts of Messrs Burrows and Hendrie should not go unchallenged. For this city council to spend many thousands of pounds of our money over several years producing grossly biased 'consultation' material in order to promote their developer-led 'imaginative' transport system- in arrogant disregard of the sustained opposition by the majority of the population- and then to say "It's nothing to do with us" was, and remains, to his mind, beneath contempt.
23/5/02 It is interesting that Stephen Howe claims that he did not meet anybody supporting CDTS during his election campaign.
If he had knocked on my door, he would certainly have found one elector strongly in favour of a project that is vital for the future prosperity of our city and the cleanliness of our air. Chester can only continue to be attractive by providing for the many people who work in and visit our city. Our local economy depends on it. If our roads become even more clogged with traffic, if you have to queue down Hoole Road to join the queue for the car park, if Chester residents themselves are unable to access the city centre, then people will stop coming here and go instead to places where it is supposedly easy to park. If that were to happen then employment would decline and house values would begin to fall.
Chester has the opportunity of having a clean, fast, efficient and cheap modern transit system, as well as a cycleway and walkway which everyone can enjoy. From the beginning, Sustrans was happy to have the busway alongside the cycleway and is adamant still that there is adequate room for both. (Oh really?) I understand that if you cycle the length of the proposed busway, you will be passed by a bus about once. Is this too large a price to pay for the considerable benefits which the busway will bring to Chester, not only now but in the future when it will contribute very significantly to making Chester a better place to visit.
It would appear that part of the campaign against the busway is to accuse its supporters and the city and county councillors of arrogance and that they do not listen. I think that tiae arrogance is on the side of the protestors who claim that everyone who disagrees with them is out to harm Chester and its citizens.
Kath Stephenson, Panton Road Hoole
Steve's response to the above is here...
6/6/02 I wish to use your columns again to appreciate the positive items and letters in your newspaper yet claim space to highlight some of the negative points and attitudes raised.
Whilst respecting the right of freedom of view and speech I do take objection to the repetitive themes printed weekly and written by the same few correspondents who use emotive terms like "thousands ot people object" to various schemes without qualifying their statement. We read once of "approximately two thousand objectors" to CDTS, for example, as though they are then holding the majority of opinion. That figure is less than three per cent of the adult population of Chester and lost in obscurity within the population of the County.
Again we read of the fear of some mysterious "noisy" public transport vehicles using the proposed CDTS, yet on any day one can witness pedestrians jumping out of the way of buses in our city centre because modern, silent green vehicles are replacing ageing, noisy, smoke-emitting diesel transport. We read of "thousands" using the current converted railtrack as a wakway/cycleway. Per day, per week or per month? On the rare occasions that I have opted to have a stroll on the contested route I have seen a few walkers enjoying stretching their legs but have also had abuse thrown by speeding cyclists- "this is a cycleway- out of my way!" The former railway route should he used for the benefit of all, including environmentalists who wish the CDTS to go ahead to stem any further build-up of traffic along Hoole Road or Brook Lane. Those who advocate others should walk or cycle whenever possible show little regard for people who elect or are forced to access their destinations quickly.
Rather they should allow our local planners to be effective stewards of our city's heritage and future by encouraging and enabling rapid transit in and out of our city on congestion free routes.
A related issue is the published necessary cultural changes being forced upon commuting drivers by the introduction of restricted roadside parking in residential areas near our city centre. On another page in the same edition we read of people objecting to the enlargement of existing park and ride capacity. If we are to discourage commuters parking in congested and/or residential areas we have to provide efficient alternative parking and rapid transit to our city from those areas.
The cyciing lobby has rightly encouraged the spending of thousands of pounds to promote safer cycling in our city by the introduction of cycle lanes yet some correspondents still query the white lines and red paint that delineate cycling safe zones on our roads and pavements. Occasionally the cycling lobby harangue motorists about their driving standards yet drivers are fed up to the back teeth with those same cyclists still riding dangerously on roads instead of using the cycleways provided.
Though I occasionally wince at some schemes suggested by councillors and council departments I still place a certain amount of trust in them to plan for our future to the best of their ability. Would the negative correspondents do their job? If so, apart from one gentleman, (your editor) where were their names on the recent election ballot papers and did such a low turnout of electors indicate that most were reasonably happy?
Driver, cyclist and walker Name and address supplied
6/6/02 It came as no surprise to see letters from the usual suspects slamming the sensible, and perfectly legitimate, views of someone who was in favour of the CDTS busway proposals.
These people appear to be obsessive in their opposition to what can only be described as the best thing that could happen to Chester in terms of traffic management.
I do hope the county councillors who ultimately make the decision on the busway will recognise that this vocal minority do not represent the best interests of Chester or the vast majority of its residents.
Rosemarie Ewart-Jones, Curzon Park North, Chester
7/6/02 I read with some surprise the letter from Steve Howe. Whilst we must acknowledge Mr Howe's right to campaign on behalf of those along the line of route who do not support the CDTS busway project, it is unfortunate that he has chosen to stray into an area of quite erroneous information on the safety of liquified Petroleum Gas (LPG) as a vehicle fuel. Can I perhaps put the matter straight? LPG has been used successfully as a road vehicle fuel for many years in many countries. It is particularly common on the Continent, where in some countries as many as one in 10 private vehicles use LPG on a regular basis. In the UK, early use of the fuel in the late 1970s faded as excise duty levels were progressively increased, but today there are over 70,000 LPG-fuelled vehicles in the Britain (including many black taxis), and over 1,000 publicly available filling stations. This growth is partly due to government incentives designed to promote use of the fuel (through excise duty structures and direct grant assistance), based upon its lower vehicle emissions than from either unleaded petrol or ultra-low sulphur diesel. It is simply incorrect to say that leaks are 'not uncommon', or that leaked fuel would have to be 'flared off'. Any flammable road fuel, including petrol and diesel, is dangerous if used incorrectly or carelessly, but there is no evidence either locally or nationally that suggests LPG is any less safe than other fuels. Indeed, many experts consider it to be safer than either petrol or diesel. Cheshire County Council utilises many vehicles either designed or converted to use LPG, in its own fleet. The authority's policy is to purchase these low emission vehicles whenever they are available as a practical alternative. The county council and Chester City Council were together responsible for a demonstration project involving an LPG powered Park & Ride bus, which led on to the adoption of this type of vehicle on the Wrexham Road Park & Ride service. These buses, which spend a significant proportion of their time in the city centre, have produced significantly less harmful emissions than diesel equivalents would have done, and have given wholly safe and acceptable service over the last three years. Our experience with our own vehicles and the Park & Ride buses leads us to expect to continue to specify LPG, or equivalent low emission fuel, wherever possible, including on future park & ride contracts and on the CDTS Busway.
Garth Goddard, County transport co-ordinator, Cheshire County Council
7/6/02 I write to clarify my position as outlined in the letter written by Steve Howe, since I am the gentlemen he spoke to.
Mr Howe rang me as a bus operator to discuss LPG buses. In fact his opening question was as stated: 'How many LPG buses does Chester City Transport operate?' The answer was indeed 'None'.
I went on to discuss with him the reservations I have about LPG and which I have reported to my board and officers of the county council. I went on to discuss new fuel alternatives such as bio diesel and hydrogen cell buses.
At no time during the conversation did I state that Chester City Transport Limited was opposed to the CDTS and it was mischievous to interpret our conversation otherwise.
In fact I stated that Chester City Transport Limited would bid for the tender to operate the CDTS.
Whether the CDTS is built is a matter for the elected members of the various councils and Government and not the managing director of a local bus company.
We are operators of two Park & Ride sites already and through the normal tendering process will bid to add the CDTS service to our portfolio.
Stuart Ian Hyslop, Managing Director, Chester City Transport Ltd, Station Road, Chester
From the local press 13/6/02:
"City business chiefs are pressing for an early start to he made on implementing Chester's controversial busway scheme.
The Chester Ellesmere Port and North Wales Chamber of Commerce is appealing to the county council for a swift start on the Chester Deeside Transport System (CDTS), saying the busway will bring reduced pollution and increased prosperity to the city.
Tim Culpin, chairman of the chamber's transport committee, has written to the chairman of Cheshire County Council, Bert Grange, asking what progress has been made with the scheme since its approval by Stephen Byers, the former Transport Secretary, earlier this year.
The letter points out that the chamber has consistently supported the scheme from its inception.
Chamber chief executive Stephen Welch commented: "The introduction of the park and ride system into Chester has been an outstanding success in reducing traffic congestion and pollution.
There is, however, a significant gap in provision for traffic coming into the city from the M56.
"The proposed scheme, which would have a direct link off the M56 roundabout, would reduce traffic in Chester city centre by offering a fast and convenient alternative."
He added: "Stephen Byers, when Secretary of State, accepted the view of the independent inspector who conducted the public inquiry that the scheme was worthwhile, provided value for money and offered considerable advantages to the city.
Since then, however, there has been silence on the subject from the county council and we now understand that the county council officers and consultants are looking at the scheme again.
Although there has been opposition on the grounds of loss of amenity from walkers and cyclists who currently use the cycleway along the railway line, which would form the busway near the Northgate Village area, they woulkd in fact lose little from the scheme as the walkway was created in preparation for the busway scheme.
The chamber believes that the early implementation of this scheme is vital to enhancing the Chester region and its economy by improving accessibility to the city, environmental pollution and opening up the potential for further quality development to take place in a sustainable manner.
We hope that the county council wlll make an early, positive decision on the matter".
Some responses to the above are here...
11/7/02 I began to feel a little despondent when I read Points of View last week. It appeared that almost everyone was coming under fire from some quarter. There was criticism of the Member of Parliament, CDTS, the Lache play wall, policy over the amphitheatre, the buses; I could go on, but I don't want to be as boring as some of the letters we read week by week.
Then I discovered a little gem entitled 'Canalside Walk' by Peter V. Moore. Peter had gone for a walk along the canal through Boughton and Christleton, stopping for a couple of pints en route and he described this pleasant walk in some detail. He had obviously enjoyed his simple day out and this showed through...
...So thank you for your contribution Peter, and I hope that others will follow your example and cheer up the Points of View page.
Alex Black, Hoole Lane, Chester
Some responses to- Councillor- Black's letter are here...
12/7/02 I have noted with concern the plethora of anti-CDTS letters which The Chronicle has published over the last few months.
The tactic seems to be to bombard your paper and others in the city with the letters written by the same few people and often recycling the same arguments.
Any positive comment- a note from a lady in Newton saying that CDTS would benefit her asthmatic grandsons comes to mind- is howled down by a barrage of further correspondence.
My disquiet over the dangers to Chester of this anti-CDTS campaign comes not only from my long experience as a senior retailer in the city, but also my current position as chairman of Chester City Centre Management.
The full Executive of City Centre Management is unanimous in its support for CDTS, and I have written on their behalf to Cllr Paul Findlow, leader of Cheshire County Council, to express their unequivocal support.
The most recent 'anti' letter published last week asked: 'How much economic growth does Chester want?' This is dangerously naive. The simple truth is that any city has to continuously find ways to improve its offer and keep an edge over the opposition.
CDTS will clearly give a huge boost. It is hard to imagine competition like Liverpool and the Trafford Centre, or even progressive local towns like Wrexham, suggesting that they don't need more customers! The only option for any city is to maintain steady development- not to do so leads to stagnation and eventual decline, as has happened in parts of America.
The bizarre aspect of this debate, to which no one seems to refer, is that there has already been a full public enquiry on the CDTS project. A public enquiry is the highest level investigation that any major infrastructure scheme can undergo, and some three years ago a full enquiry was held in Chester.
It was thorough and time consuming, with detailed argument for and against CDTS presented by senior barristers to the independent, government appointed inspector.
He took a long time to report, but earlier this year came out unequivocally in support of CDTS. I know of no business-linked group that was not delighted with this outcome, and I am sure a majority across the city support it.
My straightforward request to the county council is that having welcomed the public enquiry, been represented at it and in part paid for it, they take the inspector's decision forward and build CDTS.
Over 30 years ago the government of the day wanted to give Chester a university. It was to be paid for by central funds, and the then Duke of Westminster would have given land on the edge of the city on which to build the campus. Councillors turned the offer down.
Whether from the city or county I know not, but if you've ever wondered why a lovely city like Chester does not have its own university while lots of inferior places across England do, that's the answer. Decades on, Professor Tim Wheeler and his staff at Chester College are still working to gain independent university status.
You don't have to be an expert to realise the profound damage that this one decision had on the growth and development of the city.
CDTS is up there as a similar key project for the future long term benefit of Chester. If the county councillors duck this decision, Chester's potential will still be being harmed long after the current incumbents have left office.
Martin Seed, Chairman, Chester City Centre Management, Old Bank Buildings, Foregate Street, Chester
19/7/02 I was shocked and saddened by reports of a string of attacks on women on the future guided busway route. Sadly it is a sign of the times we now live in.
Could I just say think twice before setting out alone to walk in an isolated area and the sooner the busway is up and running the better.
Brenda Southward, Brooke Avenue, Upton Heath, Chester.
On September 11th 2002, Cheshire County Councillors recommended against financing the £18 million+ busway!
Members of the Environment Advisory Committee voted by eight to five against funding the scheme after acute concerns over the reliability of financial and passenger usage projections. Councillors were unwilling to gamble with the risk of escalating costs and felt other demands on Social Services and Education should take priority.
Amazing. More details are in the official press releases here. Predictably, however, the decision caused outrage among the pro-busway brigade, including many City and County councillors, the so-called 'business community'- and, consequently, the Chester Chronicle. Here was their editorial two days after on 13th September 2002: (the italics are ours)...
"Tories in charge at County Hall have rejected a much-needed congestion easing scheme, paving the way for their own abolition in due course. The decision not to fund Chester's CDTS busway flies in the face of opposition from Government, their own Conservative colleagues at the Town Hall, business leaders and the silent majority who recognise something must be done to alleviate the gridlock. If county councillors based in the east of the county won't support an environmentally-friendly scheme because it is not politically advantageous then perhaps it is time to say goodbye. Government ministers, who promised generous funding for CDTS after an inspector decided it was a good scheme, have been given the two-fingered salute by Cheshire. In the harsh world of politics that could mean we get a poorer financial deal in future across a whole range of areas. It would be nice to think that one day major decisions affecting local people can be made by local political representatives. In any event it doesn't look good for the authority's long terrn survival. The Tories mischievously justify their decision with reference to me vocal anti-CDTS lobby. And there's no doubt the project has proved controversial among a small minority of people whose homes back onto the proposed bus route. (and the writers, by the way, of these hundreds of letters stretching, to date, over 15 pages) But we need to look at the bigger picture. The prosperity and happiness of Chester families depends on a sound economy, lubricated by an effficient transport system. Given we depend so much on the success of shopping and tourism we have to remain competitive against fierce rivalry from Cheshire Oaks, Broughton Shopping Park and Manchester's Trafford Centre. Proponents of CDTS say the fight will go on and in politics little is ever certain.
The Chronicle remains committed to the project and is proud to line up with those who say: 'Busway, yes way!'"
And we thought standards in the busway debate couldn't sink any lower (mind you, we haven't got to Councillor Price's rant yet- see below).
Within a short time of the above being published, the Chron's editor, Paul Chamberlain, was no longer in the job...
Nontheless, some of the more easily-impressed, such as this Lib Dem councillor, insisted to adding their tow penn'orth:
20/9/02 Congratulations on such a sound, objective comment on the Conservatives' decision at County Hall not to support CDTS.
They have yet to learn that in some exceptional circumstances councillors sometimes have to make decisions in the face of local opposition because the wider benefits outweigh local concerns.
CDTS is one such case. It is not easy and it takes courage. The evidence was all there to help them prove that CDTS will bring benefits and many local concerns have been and can be addressed.
With CDTS congestion would be eased, maintenance of the cycle path and walkway would have been secured, Chester and Cheshire would have demonstrated real vision for the future.
Instead, the Tories have caved in to a well-run campaign without properly balancing the views of the objectors against the advice of professionals, independent inspectors, business representatives and the wider community.
It was interesting to note that the same day as the Tories rejected CDTS they went on to support a new road scheme in their own heartland, even claiming that public transport was inadequate!
My only disagreement with your otherwise excellent Chronicle comment was your hope that 'it would be nice to think that major decisions affecting local people can be made by local political representatives'.
Sadly this will not be the case if Cheshire is abolished. With Regional Government there would be no chance of such decisions being made here in Chester. They would be made elsewhere in the North West at a regional assembly which would involve people from Liverpool, Manchester and Cumbria.
Cheshire Tories have another chance to recognise that CDTS is worth supporting. I hope they will use it.
Sue Proctor, Leader Lib Dem Group, Cheshire County Council, Ash Bank, Pipers Ash, Chester
On 20th September 2002, the ever-poisonous Chester Chronicle made an excessively big deal of Cllr Sue Proctor's sour grapes claim that the CDTS report presented to County councillors- and upon which they made their decision to scrap the busway- "had been altered".
It seems that, in a report by county council Environment Director, Peter Cocker, already liberally peppered with recommendations that the wretched thing be allowed to go ahead, a final paragraph, "strongly recommending" that it did just that was apparently removed.
Cllr Proctor commented (the grammar is hers), "everything in the report was supportive of CDTS but my view is that the final paragraph was an extremely powerful and persuasive paragraph, which was taken out".
Gasp. We're aware that the pro-CDTS lobby are blowing a collective fuse over the decision to refuse funding, but what could this mysteriously missing assembly of words possibly have said so as to cause the rabidly pro-busway lady to go on in this manner? Here it is:
"Finally, this is not a 'balanced' report in the sense that the county council's professional officers, having weighed up the pros and cons of the project, do not believe both to be roughly equal in weight. As the cumulation of 13 years work in developing a robust transportation strategy for the City of Chester, the very clear view consistent with the recommendations of the inspector and Secretary of State is that the pros considerably outweigh the cons. All that remains is for the council to confirm that view, or otherwise".
Cllr Proctor also complained that, at the meeting, executive members of the cabinet, including Tory council leader Paul Findlow, instead of sitting silently listening passively, actually "joined in"...
Big deal. All that happened, it seems, was that an earlier draft of the report- the sixth rather than the seventh- indentical in all respects except for that final bit of biased nonsense, was used at the meeting. Would the outcome have been different if it had been included? Would Council Leader Findlow and his colleagues switched their brains off as a result of this 'powerful and persuasive' paragraph? In the face of all the hoo-ha, he, sensible chap, merely commented, "It's a non-issue. Wha else is there to say?"
What indeed? Could the pro-busway lobby be so desperate as to clutch at straws in this undignified manner? You better believe it..
From 'A View from the Town Hall'- a column in the Chester Evening Leader (what are they thinking?) penned by City Council Leader, John Price, 19th September 2002:
"The lack of vision, understanding and courage displayed by a handful of councillors at County Hall last week threatens to scupper the single biggest attempt to bring a clean, quiet and efficient solution to our mounting transport problems and condemns residents and visitors to years of unnecessary congestion and pollution.
Thirteen years in the planning, the Chester and Deeside Transport System along the disused Mickle Trafford-Shotton railway line offers a walLway, cycle route and a guided Busway from Hoole into the city.
It offers a green, 21st century approach adopted in forward thinking places such as Germany and Holland, and progressive English cities like Leeds.
But councillors whose power base lies elsewhere in the county, want to abandon Chester in order to pursue multi-million pound schemes in their own patch.
It s a slap in the face for our businesses and the local economy.
It's a slap in the face for the Government, which has approved the project and will pay half the costs.
It's a slap in the face to the local plan inspector, whose recent report into our future development backs the need for the route.
And it's slap in the face to thousands of comrmuters and residents desperate for their elected representatives to show some leadership.
We are all aware of the vociferous local minority opposed to the Busway. But. if they'd had their way the railway line would still be a bramble ridden eyesore. (which is why, of course, we've been fighting to defend the wonderful, well-maintained cycleway and footpath- part of the National Cycle Network- that's existed there for some time now?)
We've already built the very popular cycleway and walkway. (we??) The line was built for steam trains to cater for all the people of Chester. I believe the silent majority wants to reclaim that vital transport use with a modern green busway to truly serve everyone".
So come on, silent majority. We- those of us who aren't councillors or 'business leaders'- can't hear you! This website looks forward to publishing your floods of letters of support of the views of the good Councillor Price. Who had bugger all to do with building the cycleway, incidentally.
September 30th 2002: More nonsense from Focus: Hoole's Liberal Democrat Party newsletter...
"Another Tory false economy will mean Hoole loses out? The Tories say a penny a week is too much to pay for safer roads in Hoole!
That's what CDTS would have cost the average household and would have delivered much needed road safety improvements in this area- and in 5 years it's predicted it would have been self-financing. They've said that they want to spend the CDTS money on Schools and Social Services but they can't.
50% of the money was from government only to be used for CDTS. The rest was Capital (like a mortgage to you and me) which cannot be used for other Revenue costs like Social Services and Education. So it's money lost forever.
"Hoole and Newton need safer roads" says Molly Hale, "but how will we get them now the money's been thrown away? The Tories haven't even considered any alternative plans for solving Hoole and Chester's horrendous traffic problems or how they might be paid for".
The future of the cycleway itself is also at risk. Sustrans only have a limited amount of money for maintenance and could not possibly pay for enhancements such as lighting. Currently a volunteer is clearing rubbish at the city end. Where will the money come from when it needs resurfacing? What will happen when it inevitably deteriorates? The route so many appreciate now could become another blot on the landscape.
(The Tories are due to make their final decision on CDTS on 24th October)
FACT:- The Park & Ride and lots of other road and pavement improvements to ease congestion and make our area safer were going to be funded by CDTS. These will now be lost"
The County Engineer, as reported in the Chester Standard 21/11/02, announced that "funds have been allocated for pedestrian and speed measures on Hoole Road in 2003-05". So there's another councillor's lie put to rest then.
A response to the above is here...
3/10/02 I thought your readers ought to know that, weeks before a final decision is to be made regarding the future of the CDTS, the Tories on the county council are already stripping money from Chester highways schemes Iinked to the busway scheme.
At a recent meeting of the county council, Tories agreed to take a significant sum of money allocated to strengthening the weak bridge at Mannings Lane, Hoole, and spend it in Macclesfield. This money was part of the CDTS improvements included in the current Bridges Capital Programme. The bridge will still need to be strengthened regardless of the fate of the CDTS.
This money will now go towards the cost of a new bus station in the town centre together with improvements at Macclesfield railway station.
In a report to the council, officers pointed out that the costs of the new bus station had increased since last year's estimates and the station improvements have been significantly enhanced to improve the townscape in front of the station. The costs of this enhanced scheme have also risen significantly, but the Conservative councillors have voted to go ahead regardless. No mention of strained education or social services budgets here!
These extra costs as well as the majority of the funding for both projects will have to come from the council coffers via the pockets of ALL Cheshire council tax payers. This includes Chester pockets. There is no 50 per cent grant from the government and no help in paying the remaining 50 per cent borrowing costs as is the case with CDTS. The majority of the total costs will fall on the council tax payers for the foreseeable future.
I wonder if "the esteem for Conservative councillors" will continue to "rocket in a spectacular manner" as quoted in a letter from Audrey Hodgkinson in last week's Standard as they take more and more money from Chester schemes? Or will they be seen as what they are, which is no friend to Chester? Are these Conservative councillors still considering local (Chester) taxpayers and their quality of life as they strip mooey from Chester schemes? Have they "lifted the dark cloud hanging over the political scene in Chester" or have they, cynically, taken advantage of an opportunity prov¶ded by the Anti-CDTS Campaign Group to take money allocated to Chester and spend it in Tory strongholds?
County Cllr Molly Hale, Hoole and Newton Division, Chester
27/12/02 SueThompson need not continue to be astonished that there was no mention of CDTS in the last edition of the Liberal Democrat Hoole Groves Focus.
The CDTS is only one of many issues that need to be considered by both county and city councillors. I am sure that if she were to look back at many of the previous Focus newsletters produced and delivered by Liberal Democrats and their supporters, she would find no mention of CDTS for the reason mentioned above.
There is no mystery either as to the reason for my photograph appearing on the newsletter. It is simply because I am the county councillor for the division of Hoole and Newton of which Hoole Groves is a city ward, and am therefore part of the Liberal Democrat Focus team who out of their own pockets produce, have printed and help to deliver Focus as a service to local residents
To say that CDTS is 'wasteful and discredited' shows a woeful lack of knowledge of the true financial background of the scheme. A review of the financial position, which was requested by the Conservative administration earlier this year, resulted in an even better financial position than before.
There would be no need to cut services or increase council tax as she suggests. The overall cost to council tax-payers would be just 15p a household a year over 30 years and in due course would return an income to the county council.
The scheme would be funded directly from the Government with a 50% grant together with approval to borrow the remaining 50%, with the Government again paying the costs over the life of the borrowing.
I repeat there would be no need to cut services or to increase council tax. These figures can be easily checked on the county council website. The anti-CDTS group know the financial position full well but choose not to accept it and would rather continue to mislead less well informed people.
Whilst I am by no means complacent, I would remind Sue Thompson that I have stood for election and been returned many times since CDTS was first proposed with the electorate knowing full well where I stand on the subject.
Maybe this is an indicator to the anti-CDTS lobby that there are not the huge numbers of people that they claim are of the same mind.
I represent over 9,000 people in Hoole and Newton and have to balance the needs of the many over the opposition of the few. Although the anti-CDTS group have their own very public views regarding the use of the old railway line they have many neighbours and other local residents who hold their own views privately.
There are a good number of residents who have told me that they support the scheme because of the increased security it would bring to the rear of their homes as well as preventing the old line from being used as a dumping ground and a base for unsocial behaviour. There are those also, who say it just makes good sense.
Regardless of my open support for the project people still contact me in my capacity as county councillor, seeking my help and support with their concerns or the problems that affect their quality of life and general day-to-day living.
As I said before, CDTS is only one small area in the myriad of issues dealt with daily by local councils.
Cllr Molly Hale, Hoole and Newton division, Cheshire County Council
We're not sure whether this one should be on the 'pro' or 'anti' busway pages- but a remarkable read nontheless, when compared with the above, which was published in the same paper on the same day... Great to know the Hoole Lib Dems are of one mind on this one...
27/12/02 A correspondent complains that in our latest Hoole Groves Focus newsletter, the subject of CDTS was not mentioned.
The reason is simple- as far as I am concerned it is a dead issue.
The county council made a final decision not to fund the scheme, though they have suggested that the city council might take it over. They know that the city council has neither the ability nor the resources to do so. I would certainly not support any suggestion that it did.
Despite the impression your correspondent tries to give, Liberal Democrats have not had a 'party line' on the issue. Liberal Democrat councillors have been among the objectors to the scheme as well as its supporters.
What happens to the Millennium cycleway now? Does Sustrans have the resources to maintain the existing path properly- and if not, who does? Are the Conservatives at County Hall prepared to extend the cycleway to Mickle Trafford- or are they just going to leave the old railway line as a linear tip running through our area?
How are we going to solve the problem of speeding and rat-running traffic in Hoole? Local Liberal Democrat councillors have been pressing for a comprehensive traffic management scheme for the whole of the Hoole, Newton and Upton area. The Conservatives at County Hall are refusing to fund it.
How do the County Hall Tories plan to deal with congestion in the city centre? How do they intend to cope with the perpetual traffic jam on Hoole Road? Do they want more Park & Rides (and if so where?) or do they want still more cars and car parks in the hidtoric centre of the city, or in Hoole?
Talking to local people, I find that most of them are concerned about much more than CDTS- however much of an issue it is for some.
I intend to talk about and campaign on live issues that matter to the people of Hoole Groves. CDTS is 'off the table' but local traffic and other problems have not gone away.
I shall be working with local people and my fellow Liberal Democrats to ensure these problems are not ignored by County Hall Tories.
Beverly Eaton, Editor, Llberal Democrat Focus, Hoole Groves Ward
And also prospective city councillor for Hoole Groves to boot... unsuccessful, as it turned out.
16/1/03 Christmas, the sales, Chester Races, sporting fixtures and many other major attraction and what happens? Chester is gridlocked! Dozens of very nearly empty off-peak buses running around stopping and starting blocking roads because of inconsiderate bus stop or double yellow line parkers. Car drivers continuing to pour onto the city's choked roads, even more so as they are encouraged by the future prospect of the provision of more inner city car parking.
Just a few reasons as to why the county council's decision not to part-fund the CDTS is wrong. Yes our park and ride sites are not filled to capacity at off-peak times in the day or year, but at other times I see them doing very nicely thank you. It is totally unfair for the anti-park and ride site brigade to say they are underused and shouid therefore be abandoned. They and any future sites are surely planned to meet maximum current and projected needs. Neither should the anti-CDTS supporters claim the sole right to use the obvious rapid transit route into Chester.
Of course, if we slow down the acess to our city any more, people will shop and work elsewhere and our local economy will suffer. Those wishing to access our city at a speed faster than walking or cycling rates need rapid transport and the CDTS route should not be written off for ever. If the busway idea must fall then bring back the tram. At least, let us move in and out of our city at the speed we wish to and not that dictated by those only with the time to amble through life or those who wish to risk life and limb weaving recklessly through dense traffic and red traffic lights on unlit cycles.
The reported one mllion pounds and the years of dedicated planning should not be just thrown out with the bath water. Preserve the route and think again very hard about rapid transit.
I presume the anti-CDTS lobbyists walk or use buses (from park and ride sites?) whenever they wish to visit other progressive cities for business or pleasure? I think not!
Think again Cheshire County Council!
Car user, cyclist and walker, name and address supplied
A response to the above is here...
24/1/03 Serious inaccuracies in Mr Howe's letter to The Chronicle on January 10 require correcting.
It is worth stating at the outset that the original Millennium Cycle Route bypassed Chester altogether and it was only because of the potential offered by CDTS that it was diverted between North Wales and the Wirral to include access within Chester itself.
It is also most interesting to note that two thirds of 6,500 miles of Sustran's Mlllennium Cycle Network are on low traffic routes with less than 1,000 vehicles per day. The CDTS route would have had just 16 vehicles per hour, less than 200 per day!
I wonder how many CDTS objectors are aware that only one third of the National Cycle Network is traffic-free.
There has been a clear majority of councillors of all parties representing Chester who have supported CDTS so why does Mr Howe direct his attacks on only one party, the Liberal Democrats?
He appears at one time to criticise us for sticking together and theni conversely, for having different views. Other correspondents appear to believe that the Liberal Democrats are entirely to blame for MBNA's extension, another wholly inaccurate statement.
It's certainly flattering to have ali this attention, but what's going on? It's obvious: Liberal Democrats are gaining ground, increasingly being recognised as the real opposition, and others are running so scared they have to resort to personal attacks.
The more often the columns of the local press are used to attack councillors for speaking their minds, the harder it may become for them to continue to do so, but I know that Liberal Democrats like Molly Hde and Bev Eaton won't be scared off so easily.
If people want councillors who don't do anything other than whinge and vote against anything with any vision, then perhaps Mr Howe is right.
We prefer to think that people understand that, whoever they vote for, their councillors may sometimes make declsions they won't agree with. It's called democracy.
To suggest that Sustrans woubi only support an extension if the city council declares it is no longer seeking to continue with the development of the busway is totally misleading.
Sustrans wouid of course support a extension in principle, that has never been in any doubt. However, Sustrans was never in a position to fund the works for an extension.
The decision to extend was dependent on NWDA funding, not whether Sustrans was still in support.
Mr Howe further misleads readers by suggesting that funding the present route costs Council Tax payers not a penny. Certainly that is correct with regard to maintenance, but design, build and supervision costs were paid in part by Cheshire County Council together with several other partners, but not Sustrans.
Naturally NWBA would not commit any money until a final decision was made. Cheshire County Council has only now been able to clarify the position in terms that satisfied NWDA.
So, the decision to extend the cyclepath to Guilden Sutton related to NWDA's funding and not to whether Sustrans were still in support.
Regarding maintenance, Sustrans has always said that if CDTS did not go ahead, and the County or City did not take over ownership and maintenance, it would have a significant financial burden to contend with. We'll have to wait and see on that one.
Sue Proctor, Leader, LIberal Democrat Group, Cheshire County Council
Having battled through the above twaddle, now read the Chester City Council press release (11/2/03) announcing the welcome cancellation of CDTS... and what the Chester Evening Leader had to say about it!... and here is the County Council's announcement of their refusal to fund the busway...
17/12/04 CDTS cost is, not an issue
How like old times to see a letter from Mrs Audrey Hodgkinson, peddling the usual untruths about CDTS. I shall just reply to one, that the money saved on CDTS could be used to improve bus services.
Mrs Hodgkinson knows that the money 'saved' by not building CDTS may indeed improve bus services - but not in Chester or Cheshire because we didn't get any of the money when the Conservative administration at County Hall pulled the plug on the best scheme for controlling traffic congestion Chester is ever likely to get. Instead it went back into the Government's pot and was used to improve other towns and cities who didn't have to suffer the short-sightedness of Mrs Hodgkinson and the Cheshire Tories.
Mrs Hodgkinson has been told this repeatedly but it doesn't suit her argument to accept it. Perhaps the fact the line of CDTS runs beside her house has had some influence on her 'nimbyism', but certainly the argument about financial cost to Chester ratepayers should not have loomed large because the costs were largely to have been met by Government grants.
Peter Byrne, County councillor, City Division
24/6/05 In a comfortable armchair in front of television was the place to be last week, particularly if you were tuned in to BBC's Breakfast News programme.
The subject matter was the benefits- or otherwise- to towns and cities of park-and-ride facilities, the system by which motorists leave their cars at an edge-of-town car park and jump on a bus to their city centre destination.
Those worthy folk from the Campaign for the Protection of Rural England (CPRE) were well in evidence in the television coverage because CPRE claims that park-and-ride shifts traffic and related problems from urban areas into the countryside.
Well, as Mandy Rice-Davies once famously observed, they would wouldn't they?
Chester is one of some 40 town and cities in England operating park-and-ride, with presently four sites and a fifth in the pipeline in Hoole at the end of the M53 motorway.
The current position is that this gives Chester some 3,000 extra car parking spaces and this rises to 5,000 at Christmas when the extra facilities at Chester Zoo come into play.
CPRE's planning co-ordinator in Chester is the seemingly indefatigable anti-car campaigner Ann Jones.
Part of Mrs Jones's objection is that creating park-and-ride sites 'punches holes' in the sacred green belt, the artificial barrier established yonks ago to create a division between the centre of a town and the outlying villages.
She doesn't point out that if that requirement had been followed to its ifiogical conclusion the now dynamically successful Chester Business Park on Wrexham Road with its national and international companies and thousands of jobs for Chester people - would not exist.
Mrs Jones says, 'Park and Ride encourages car use, which is the opposite of what we are supposed to be looking at.'
Well, that's a view- but when will she and her CPRE cohorts realise and accept that businesses in a city like Chester- and the thousands of jobs they sustain depend absolutely on visitors and shoppers being able to drive here and having adequate car parking and park-and-ride facilities?
Bob Clough Parker, Chester Chronicle 24/6/05
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