11/10/02 Why is it that the editor ol The Chronicle is so way out of line with public opinion in his support for the CDTS?
Is it the limited circles he mixes in? I think he needs to get out more and meet some real people!
It is scandalous enough that the local councillors are not representing their electorate without having the local paper being off track as well!
Graeme Lyall, Chester
How true. Nontheless, it seems that the Chron's aforementioned editor, Paul Chamberlain, is no longer in the job.
11/10/02 While recognising the problems congestion and access to Chester, I have never believed the answer was with the CDTS.
My Inltial reservations, and the planners' failure to really get to grips with how people will be 'persuaded' to use it, have still not been addressed and the long Incubation is starting to expose these kind of issues. We have a multiplicity of Park & Rides but use seems to be falling.
Wll CDTS put Park & Ride out of business? It wouldn't if our leaders had the guts to address the real problem- how to get people out of their cars. The only solution I have heard is to increase parking charges in our cities.
As we already need to take out a mortgage to park in Chester anyway, that is a clear failure from day one. But let's look at these increased charges to come into cities and other similar drivel anyway.
To their eternal shame, even people like Ken Livingstone with his political background are glibly talking about increased charges.
All that increasing charges actually does is penalise ordinary working people who won't be able to pay and are the ones who will be forced on public transport while the wealthy tootle into town just the same.
Either public transport is for all or none. What is really needed is a rationing system whereby each household (not each car) is alowed access the city, say two or three times per week by car.
There is no doubt the technology exists. It is the fairest way, but how often are our leaders fair? Without some muscle going into its implementation, CDTS is clearly pouring our money down the drain.
Alex Woods, Long Looms, Great Barrow
18/10/02 Chester City Council is angry at the decision of Cheshire County Council not to fund CDTS (Phase 1), the guided busway, and is pressing the county to reverse its decision.
The city claims that the county is ignoring Structure and Local Plans and the Transport and Community Plans.
During the consultation stages of the Transport Plan a significant number of objections were lodged to the CDTS scheme, yet the plan gave its top priority to CDTS.
At the busway inquiry, over 1,000 individual objecticos were made and local people funded their own expert representative to oppose the rate-funded QCs put up by the council.
The Community Plan is supposed to reflect the wishes and priorities of local people. They wanted improved bus services and better walking and cycling facilities. The council's response was a pledge to implement CDTS Phase 1, Phase 2 and Phase 3.
The Local Plan has been radically changed from its initial draft. Gone are the proposed huge housing developments on Wrexham Road and the Sealand Basin. The emphasis is now on urban regeneration and thousands are expected to move into the city centre. This demands changes to the transport strategy with a new emphasis on an efficient network of internal bus services.
The EIP panel of inspectors who considered the Structure Plan expressed concern at the rapidly escalating costs of the CDTS proposals and laid the responsibility on the county council to examine the final costs and to judge whether the scheme represents value for money.
This is precisely what the county council has done.
Faced with the report of its own officers detailing how the estimated costs have now reached £17 million (compared with the £11 million given to the inquiry), and clearly stated cautions that projections of patronage were uncertain and that once construction began costs could rise alarmingly, the county council decided not to finance the scheme.
The city council is now gathering an array of groups, business interests and our MP to put pressure on the county council to change its mind.
One group is missing from this formidable array of interests- the ordinary people of Chester, the voters and local taxpayers for whom local government is supposed to exist.
W.V. Jones, 101 Daleside, Upton Heath, Chester
18/10/02 In response to Chester City Council leader John Price on the subject of CDTS, we all have different tastes.
Many of us have seen enough concrete in our small city and district, and much prefer the 'bramble-ridden eyesore' which happens to be just lovely, thank you.
I guess you would say the part of this route from Fairfield Road to the motorway bridge was just such an 'eyesore', but to those taking a delightful walk along it, heaven would be a better description.
A small piece of countryside, a peaceful oasis accessible without using our cars, carefully managed it becomes a haven for both wildlife and humans.
The evening chorus from birds nesting and feeding off brambles is something money can't buy. Of course there are always those that trash, sadly they have never been taught the value of nature.
My father, bless him, taught me to observe nature and it has been a source of great joy throughout my life. I would ask you to take a walk on the wild side with a birdwatching expert.
At the moment, to walk or cycle must be a shallow experience for anyone with no knowledge or thought for wildlife, so accustomed are they to concrete and cars.
I and many others find great delight in green habitat, brambles and all, and the fact it also helps to reduce pollution is something we should all value.
Audrey Hodgkinson, Secretary, Anti-CDTS Campaign Groups, Hoole, Chester
18/10/02 Councillor Molly Hale is to be congratulated on her lengthy deposition detailing how the Tory-led County Council is diverting cash from the Mickle Trafford to Shotton busway scheme to other county projects.
It is good to see our County Council has the sound reasoning not to waste such valuable money on what would be possibly the biggest single unwanted and inefficient white elephant ever perpetrated on the city- the Mickle Trafford-shotton busway.
M H O Hoddinot, Dicksons Drive, Chester
From the Chester Evening Leader, 3rd October 2002:
"It's official! Chester is booming: as latest trading figures show a healthy 15 per cent rise on this time last year.
And the city's retailers are not the only ones enJoying a boom as Chester's hotels and B & Bs are all fully booked for the next few days.
Trading bosses now believe Chester could enjoy a shopping bonanza during the run-up to Christmas, bucking the national trend of a retail cool down.
A spoksman said; "Shoppers are flocking back to the city centre to spend their money and a record breaking festive season is on the cards.
Trade in the iast two weeks has picked up significantly across Chester and this weekend it is hard to find a p]ace to stay, even for just bed and breakfast.
Compared to the same time last year, trade in Chester is up by 15per cent which is contrary to a national pattern that shows spending in the retail industry cooling off.
Tara Jade, president of Chester's Chamber of Trade and Commerce (supporters of CDTS) and owner of Jade Couture Collections on Eastgate Row, said: "The last couple of weeks have been hectic. We just haven't stopped. There are a lot of people coming to Chester to spend, which is always good. There is a good feeling about the economy and trade is picking up fast.
There is an air of confidence around the city shops and although August was quite quiet, it would seem everyone is getting back on track earlier than expected."
Now representatives from Chester's twin town of Senigallia in Italy may come to the city to learn from its success.
Janice Martin, of the Green Bough Hotel, in Hoole Road (just yards from the busway route) has been full over the Summer. She said. "This year we have had more UK visitors than ever before. Our rooms have been packed and it has been wonderful."
24/10/02 In the local press during October I noticed the following:
1. The City of Chester is booming. There is already a 15 per cent rise in trading figures on last year. Retailers, hoteliers and bed and breakfast establishments are doing fine, bucking the national trend of a cool down in retail spending. A spokesman said 'a record-breaking festive season is on the cards.'
My comment- All this without CDTS.
2. The eagle-eyed Chester Standard reporter spotted a report in the national press that Chester is one of the cities considering toll charges for entering the city. I wonder, could this be the CDTS busway 'complementary measures' we have all asked about but had no answer over the last ten years?
3. Chester City Council is looking for ways they could find the money to 'go it alone' if the county council sticks by the logical decision not to fund the too costly (not value for money) CDTS. Heeding the warning, from its own treasurer, that estimated costs have a habit of rising alarmingly once 'the first sod is cut'. The risks of unpredictable patronage figures and the unreliability of the gas buses were also taken into account by the county council.
I wonder if it is possible the city council could sell off Wrexham Road Park & Ride to developers? If this happened the floodgates would open, meaning development along the green belt from all Park & Rides sites that circle the city, swallowing our lovely little villages among more tin boxes.
Yes, these are only my thoughts, but I wonder what the people moving into Northgate Village, with their lovely little award-winning wildlife park, would have said if I had suggested this peaceful paradise would be tbreatened with a two-lane concrete busway ploughing through it?
24/10/02 Once again, and this seems to happen all too frequently now, our local councillors and council staff give themselves the God-given to impose on us citizens a series of decisions with which we don't agree. This makes them all the more determined to impose them. The situation can be seen by the flow of letters from the good citizens reaching your columns.
Why cannot there be some sort of real democratic process (not "consultation") in taking account of citizens' views in individual developments which are obviously of greater importance to some than others. And not for decisions to be left to those who can say "You elected me, so I know best"
25/10/02 Our posters in shop windows attract a great deal of attention, especially the one with Steve Howe's Take to the Track coloured photograph.
Steve also has a very successful website on the CDTS busway at www.bwpics. co.uk/railstroll/ railindex.html.
Visitors to Chester ring me for details of access and exits for the walk/cycleway along the old Mickle Trafford-Shotton railway route. They hope Anti-CDTS Campaign Groups and others will continue to try to save it, and take my telephone number at home. They then ring before visiting again, to make sure the route is still traffic-free.
I am sure the city councillors have no idea of the attraction this route is to so many tourists and visitors. It could be a terrific asset if publicised more and as such would reduce car traffic in preference to train and cycle use, not only with locals but also visitors.
We have had offers of planting and providing bulbs, bushes and trees, also bird boxes, etc. I am sure Sustrans would be delighted but we have to be practical; the route will need landscaping once the threat from a busway is over. Sustrans wish to extend the route past Fairfield Bridge first.
If you would like to volunteer to do light work in the area of the Saughall area of the cycleway, Mark, the Sustrans warden, needs help clearing twigs in this area on November 9th around 10am. Please ring 01244 343055 giving your name and address plus telephone number and we will get back to you.
People in Hoole and Newton feel if they are not members of Sustrans but use the route the least they can do is help in a small way if they are able. We have around 12 volunteers who clear rubbish and keep nettles etc at bay. Could you form a group in your area to do this?
Audrey Hodgkinson, Anti-CDTS Campaign Groups, Hoole, Chester.
25/10/02 When the CDTS bus scheme was first put forward I felt it would be a good idea. Clearly we need to reduce the number of cars entering the city centre. Both the bus route and the cycle track would seem to achieve that aim.
Now I find myself taking a different view. As a cyclist I often use the cycle track and it is well used, not only by cyc!ists but by walkers, joggers and others. It is proving a useful way to and from school for many children. Families are able to enjoy walks with young children in safety.
It seems to me, therefore, that to put this double track bus route down the same, corridor would be detrimental to the qualities of the cycIe track. The cycle track wolild inevitably be much narrower and, therefore, less safe for all users of it.
If the planned Park & Ride scheme at the end of the motorway is as successful as the CDTS people are assuming, there will be much less traffic in Hoole Road. Could ordinary buses not use that road? This would achieve the same result for the city centre at, presumably, much less cost.
Chris Reeve, Appleton Road, Upton, Chester
27/10/02 Hi Steve, I've just been browsing the route to Mickle Trafford and thought it was fantastic.
Enjoyed browsing your cdts update and letters too. Thanks a lot
29/10/02 Do you know that it costs more for my son to get to school than my colleagues to travel in and use the Park & Ride?
He travels from West of Chester to East from one side of Chester to the other. £2.40 per day or £8.00 per week with the travel card he is very lucky to get a seat on the bus as they are usually so packed. Sometimes the bus passes him, as it is too full. He has to wait in the cold and rain in the one sided bus shelters, which are useless.
Imagine the outcry if the Park & Ride customers had to endure this. Just what benefit would the CDTS be to us as Chester people? NONE. It is about time Chester City Council started looking after its tax payers. I suggest you could spend some of our money on upgrading the bus shelters, subsidising the fares, and a few more buses perhaps more people would then use them. Make a few more entries to the beautiful cycleway. Listen to the people of Chester and help them keep this City beautiful.
I congratulate all these hard working people who put all their time and effort in fighting the CDTS. Audrey Hodgkinson should be awarded for all she has done to publicise and fight this if any one person deserves a medal it is her.
30/10/02 It is reassuring to know we have at least one council with a majority of councillors not willing to go down 'Dome Drain Road' even though the usual 'miracle cures' 'innovative' 'prestigious' 'cheap' messages were dangled in front of them whenever the CDTS (Chester Deeside Transport System) was mentioned.
They did not ignore the warnings of their own treasurer and risk council funds needed for so many worthwhile projects in favour of the Busway.
That these County Council members also acknowledged the public opinion and did not scoff at public concerns is much appreciated by the general public in Chester.
The City Council, however is still clinging to the hope they can find the money or persuade big business to fund CDTS against the background of cautionary notes in the report on CDTS and the huge opposition to this project from all parts of Chester and district, and requests for money to be spent on worthwhile projects not wasted on CDTS.
Audrey Hodgkinson (Secretary) Anti-CDTS Campaign Groups, Chester.
We recall that the grossly-biased editor of the Chester Chronicle recently stupidly claimed that opposition to CDTS came merely from "a small minority of people whose homes back onto the proposed bus route". A week later, he was no longer in his job and here, by contrast, are some wise words of a decidedly 'non-NIMBY'...
7/11/02 I was very pleased to read last week's Standard feature- 'CDTS Phase I Hoole to Chester Centre'.
Cllr John Burke, the Conservative county councillor for Waverton and the general area, Gowy, provided some telling facts about those who have banded together to provide a financial fighting fund which so far has stopped the concrete bus route in its tracks along with the monstrous car park.
This scheme has inspired considerable abhorrence from people that I know in Upton, Rowton, Waverton and Christleton.
Cllr Derek Bateman, the Labour councillor from Ellesmere Port, sees our opposition or that of our elected representatives as an act of political vindictiveness, and Liberal Democrat Sue Proctor, who represent Boughton Heath and Vicars Cross (and, dare I say it, Traffic Hump Road) is of the opinion that she-knows better than us, the electorate.
Some of these councillors are so deep-seated in their covens that they live and breathe and thrive within the dogma of thai political structure.
Others are a little more relaxed and are seen to be contributing towards their particular community.
The CDTS action group has let these councillors know that we don't want their concrete bus route and monstrous park and ride, and certainly our Cllr John Burke has listened to what we have to say and that is how it should be.
David Robinson, Labour councillor for Overleigh, told the meeting: "I have spent 14 years- a chunk of my life- on this issue." Well, he should have listened to the opposition and spoken with people at Backford Hall who had reservations about the scheme.
Cllr Robinson also states that there was "massive opposition" to pedestrianisation in the city and there was not, but there was massive opposition to trams for Chester.
(At the same time he also stated that there was similar 'massive opposition' to the construction of the Sustrans cycleway and that Phases II and III of the busway over the Welsh border would eventually go ahead- more absurd lies).
Finally, it is a bad day for us all that the expansion of MBNA HQ has been allowed to go forward. I believe that had there been a well-structured opposition to it, similar to the CDTS action group, it would not have gone through it its current form.
7/11/02 Our prayers have been answered yet again. The majority of Cheshire County Council members decided that they could not risk the council spending money on CDTS. There are far too many other 'value for money' projects on their books.
lt is comforting to know that we in Cheshire have some councillors who do not go blindly on despite cautionary warnings and public unease, though 'prestige', 'innovation', 'profits', 'miracle cures', and even 'cheap project' were dangled before them.
It is also admirable that they did not ignore or insult public opinion, but actually respected it. What a change!
The same cannot be said of those in charge of the Dome project who chose to ignore expert warnings and public opinion, resulting in the loss of many, many millions they could have used to actually benefit us all. The city council is still looking for ways to 'go it alone' or persuade big business to risk their money.
14/11/02 Last week, as most readers will know, the people of Gibraltar voted overwhelmingly (some 17,900 to 187) against joint sovereignty with Spain.
Closer to home, Cheshire County Council recently voted to reject the CDTS proposals.
So what's the connection? Well, in the case of Gibraltar the New Labour government has indicated that it will not recognise the outcome of the referendum and in Cheshire the same New Labour Party has said that it will continue the fight to have the decision on CDTS reversed.
Local groups such as those set up to oppose the the original canal basin scheme together with the anti-CDTS group, have already experienced the arrogance of New Labour apparatchiks as has been extensively demonstrated by the volume of letters to the local press.
These would appear to be a collective ideology in New Labour permeating down from 10 Downing Street that 'Big Brother knows best'.
The late Liverpool fibrebrand Socialist MP Bessie Braddock once famously remarked that "for all its faults the Labour Party is the only one which has the interests of the working man at heart".
Tragically, for the ordinary man (and woman) in the street this is no longer the case.
Peter Lowe, Vicars Cross
14/11/02 I read in the magazine Rail recently that the German town of Essen has had a guided busway for 20- yes, 20- years.
According to the report, however, it is unpopular with locals there, as it is unreliable and, in the winter, snow and slush clogs up the wheels and this has to be moved by hand. As a result of their experience, there are no other guided busways planned in Germany.
The officials are amazed at the interest shown by planners in Chester to have a similar system there, the Chester to Deeside Transport System.
It is puzzling to us that some city councillors still described the Chester guided busway as 'innovative and prestigious' twenty years on.
Even more puzzling is the statement in the latest edition of the City Council planning newsletter: "Chester is at the forefront of development and regeneration in the UK and its green spaces are being enhanced and increased."
Can we take it that the precious Millennium cycle/walkway- the planned route for the CDTS, which is already enjoyed by thousands- will remain a linear park for cyclists and walkers to enjoy the tranquil atmosphere of this route- or does the City Council not consider this a green space?
Perhaps some Chester councillors still believe that two lanes of concrete and hedge is a green space?
Could the public be informed where these 'increased and enhanced' green spaces are?
It was not clear from the newsletter if Hoole area (where phase one of the busway would eat up a lot of green belt land and the Millennium cycle/walkway) is included in these plans?
It would be nice to know all councillors and planners in Chester City considered resident's health mattered enough to keep this much needed healthy green space.
Audrey Hodgkinson, Anti CDTS campaign, Chester.