20/3/02 I felt compelled to write in response to the letter from County Councillor Molly Hale which appeared in last week's local press.
In her final paragraph, she asked,
"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".
I passed on 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 the cycleway's maintainance and have received a letter of thanks from the city council.
The track bed is owned by their sister charity, Railway Paths, by the way, and I was assured that 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???)
Cllr Hale, by implying anything other, despite being perfectly aware of the above facts, would seem to have been deliberately 'stirring it'- writing with the intention of misleading. Hardly an action 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 was, to my mind, just plain perverse.
As you probably know, the people of Chester will be electing some of their councillors in May.
The great majority of serving councillors and prospective candidates may differ greatly in their political persuasions but will have at least one thing in common- that they will be members of one of the three main political parties.
I feel sure I have not been alone in wondering why this should so often be the case- what have party politics to do with our neighbourhood concerns?
We ask our councillors to act on our behalf and they're often sympathetic, and frequently are able to achieve a great deal. But, when it comes to the crunch, they will always take direction from their party group. If the party disagrees with the people, that's too bad for the people.
For the citizens of Hoole, the CDTS busway scheme is a notable example on our doorsteps: supported by most local councillors of every party but strongly objected to on environmental and economic grounds by the majority of the people they are meant to represent.
What sort of democracy is that and where is the choice for the concerned voter?
That a minority of councillors actually disagree with the busway scheme but seem afraid to put their heads above the parapet and actually say so seems an equally damning indictment of the role of party politics in local affairs.
The hundreds of letters of objection that have appeared in the Chronicle over the last few years and the vigorously fought campaign by local people at the Public Inquiry clearly show what the majority of us really think!
I personally called at virtually every home in Hoole Lane and surrounding area when helping to compile a survey of resident's views about the busway and encountered high levels of opposition- not to mention a great deal of dissatisfaction with the lack of support of local councillors.
For the last couple of years, our lives have been enriched by the presence of the cycleway and footpath laid along the bed of the old Deeside railway. It is of enormous benefit to the people of Chester- at last a place for families to walk and cycle in peace, safe, for once, from speeding traffic. We should be proud of it.
But will we still enjoy its leafy delights when it is fenced in and squeezed alongside a two-lane concrete track with buses whizzing by every few minutes? One doubts it.
What will the planned 'complementary measures', designed to 'persuade' people to use the busway rather than Hoole Road, really mean for our residents and businesses?
Where are the 'safe routes to school' we once heard so much about? Whether walking or cycling, our children remain unprotected from the traffic that speeds through our streets. I help to run the cycling proficiency scheme at St. James' School and worry about the dangers our children face on ever-busier, largely unpoliced, local roads.
And don't try to tell us the busway will make any difference to that. We have learned that there will be no funding for traffic calming in Hoole Lane for the forseeable future but millions are available for CDTS. Why?
The people of Hoole have become frustrated and exasperated by the 'we know best' attitude of some of their councillors and their apparent inability to trust us with the crucial information we need to make our own minds up about local issues.
It is for these reasons also that I have decided to put myself forward for election as an independent city councillor for the ward of Hoole All Saints.
I wish to serve my community to the best of my ability. I desire to establish the facts and to pass that knowledge on the people, unshackled by the censorious stranglehold of the party line.
In this I already have some small experience. I have lived in Hoole for twelve years, raised my family and run my business here. My children go to school here. I am resident, businessman, parent, cyclist, walker, motorist. I buy my groceries and drink my beer in Faulkner Street.
For several years, I have edited the award-winning Chester Virtual Stroll website (www.bwpics.co.uk/chester.html) where, in addition to guiding readers from all over the world around our wonderful city and telling them something of its colourful history, I have recorded and discussed many of the controversial planning decisions that have been made on our behalf and have made available comprehensive collections of reader's letters upon these subjects. This, to my knowledge, is the only unedited, freely available, online public forum on subjects as diverse as CDTS and the Chester Amphitheatre.
A number of councillors and others have already taken the trouble to advise me that, without the backing of the established political parties, such as I stand little chance of election. In the words of Cllr Byrne back in August 1998, "he displays a lack of real knowledge of what goes on".
Nontheless, in the course of preparing for my decision to stand, I have spoken with many local people who agree with me that it is high time the stranglehold of political parties in local affairs was broken, and have already offered me their enthusiastic help and support, for which I am most grateful. I am the first to admit I have much to learn.
Should any of your readers also wish to offer their assistance and (constructive) advice or discuss these matters with me further, I would be delighted to hear from them.
Steve Howe, 25 Lime Grove, Hoole, Chester CH2 3HW. Tel 345099 email: email@example.com
Read more about Steve's election bid here...
Even more, very well deserved, flak for Cllr Molly Hale:
21/3/02 In reply to County Cllr Molly Hale's letter headed "Cheap" busway, I must point out that she has promoted the CDTS bus system without any possibie benefit to Chester residents. It clearly will exceed by a vast amount all estimates as to cost, as all grand projects do, ie the Dome. It is agreed that this burden will be borne by the whole of Cheshire, which she is supposed to represent. What she seems to dismiss, or cannot grasp, is that the Chester residents will lose a valuable recreational asset, and suffer an incursion on our depleted green belt, by the completion of another huge park and ride eyesore.
If the CDTS system does go ahead, it is clear that the cost will be exorbitant. I am therefore keeping a copy of your letter, Mrs Hale, and when you subsequently present yourself at my door, canvassing for my vote, I hasten to add, the letter will be presented to you. There is nothing more satisfying that to be able to tell a politician "I told you so".
However, that satisfaction does not help to pay the massively increased community charge we will all pick up for such folly, Molly.
D. Cunliffe 269 Hoole Lane Hoole, Chester
21/3/02 So Molly Hale believes that £13 million plus for the proposed CDTS busway is cheap!
Well, I don't believe that £13m, spent on a concrete drive and ride which causes at least a 4 per cent increase on council tax to be good value for money, especially since it will not even reduce traffic flow!
There is enough pressure on budgets as it is. Has Molly Hale forgotten about our stretched public services, schools, police etc..? What about a new leisure centre or bus station?
If the council wants to improve transport, why not a tram from the train station into the city centre or more efficient and regular buses?
Ged McCully, 29 Shavington Avenue, Hoole
22/3/02 I had hoped for a short break from my secretarial duties (I can hear the groans and sighs of relief from some quarters!).
However, I have been asked to let you have some details about the Millennium Way Linear Park:
Sustrans already maintain the route at their own expense, though they can't be everywhere all the time. We interviewed hundreds of people, most are delighted with our Linear Park, the wildlife habitat is thoughtfully managed. Some members have even volunteered to help keep it as such.
Many of our members are waiting to join Sustrans, provided it stays a Linear Park route.
Railway Paths (a sister company of Sustrans) own the old rail track.
Due to last minute changes by the council, the route on the playing field and on to Kingsway is the responsibility of the city council including the hawthorn hedge recently cut!
Those with knowledge of the Millennium Way throughout the country inform us the Linear Park walk/cycleway is one of the best.
There is a police cycle patrol on other Millennium routes.
There are no guided busways along them!
Are we being told a money wasting busway project destroying our tranquil route is essential in order to 'pay' for the degraded path left in its wake, though the busway. if built, is expected to run at a loss?
Audrey Hodgkinson, Secretary, Anti-CDTS Campaign Groups, Hoole, Chester
Right: Audrey Hodgkinson (chatting to the editor's family) once again tirelessly campaigning against the Busway: Easter Saturday 2002
28/3/02 As someone who uses the cycleway on a regular basis, I would like to say how much pleasure it has given me over the last year. On one day last summer, I counted 26 different varieties of wild flowers and I have also seen jays and goldflinches (which as a town dweller I have | rarely seen).
To remove this area of natural beauty for the sake of a bus route will be a serious loss to us urban dwellers and I hope it never comes to fruition.
28/3/02 Just how many trees are to be felled to make way for the council's CDTS double-concrete busway along the Sustrans cycle/walkway railway path?
Perhaps councillors could tell us before the May elections.
28/3/02 The council is crying out that Chester needs CDTS- and implies that the city is fast losing business because of congestion. This in the same month that we hear that Chester has risen from 11th to fifth place in the league of most popular shopping destinations. Obviously, day trippers are not discouraged from coming here. CDTS will not significantly reduce traffic on Hoole Road, and will destroy an increasingly pleasure and commnuter route. I have frequently used fhe route to cycle to work, or to Northgate Arena- journeys l would otherwise make by car. l use the route because it is peaceful, pleasant and safe, and in this form it does contribute to the reduction in car journeys into the city.
We also hear that Chester needs to encourage more visitors to stay in the city for several days, rather than using it as a day-trip location. Surely, a well-maintained linear park/cycleway (perhaps with sculpture trails as have been so successful in other parts of the country) would prove to be a far greater asset to residents and visitors alike than a bus lane?
Liz Taylor, Hoole
28/3/02 As someone who is totally against the CDTS scheme, I read with interest Molly Hale's letter.
Once again in typical 'councillor speak', only half the story is being told.
She says the CDTS is 'a cost effective and relatively inexpensive scheme' when in fact a potential cost of £50m has been quoted for the three phases (money that could be spent on far more deserving projects). As time goes by, heaven knows how costs will soar.
She compares the cost of the CDTS to the costs of the local Cheshire bypasses, construction necessary to divert large volumes of heavy traffic.
In my opinion, it is hardly a suitable comparison. I and ever-increasing numbers of Chester residents appreciate a coveted green area away from traffic where children and adults can enjoy the pleasure of cycling and walking in a safe and pleasant environment- an amenity many cities would envy.
Surely this is worth fighting for!
If Molly Hale wants 'a thriving and vibrant city' (her words) she and her fellow councillors should maybe look to improving existing bus and train services to the city centre, and other local amenities.
Kerry Dadds, Hoole, Chester.
28/3/02 By comparison the cost of a number of other road transport projects with the relatively "cheap busway", Molly Hale completely misses the point. While many people do complain about the cost of the scheme, their main concern is the destruction of an important part of Chester's green urban environment, which includes the millenium cycleway/walkway.
The fact that the busway will be cheaper than other schemes is irrelevant. A large majority of people in Chester see the busway as unneccessary and harmful and don't want it. To have to pay £13 million for something that is not wanted cannot be considered cheap.
Some people I have spoken to on the cycleway recently were absolutely incredulous that the council would ever consider such a scheme and destroy an area of such outstanding beauty. Councillors should be aware that a great many people are outraged at the possibility that something so precious may be lost and must appreciate the importance of green urban areas and how they enhance the spiritual aspect and quality of people's lives.
Sentiments of this kind are light years away from the cash register approach of Molly Hale and her supporters. Councillors need to take seriously the great weight of public opinion opposed to the busway otherwise they will be held in even lower esteem than they are present.
A survey was carried out by the Anti-CDTS Campaign Group just before the public inquiry to establish the level of opposition to the busway well away from the planned busway areas.
Graham Bromley, Chairman Anti-CDTS Campaign Group
28/3/02 I am writing in response to the letter published recently by Cllr Molly Hale:
I am amazed that Councillor Hale considers the cost of at least £13 million to be inexpensive. Chester City Councii must be very rich! What about value for money, however? The CDTS will have a negligible effect on the traffic flow into Chester so I would consider the scheme to be extremely poor value for money. In fact, I note that even Cllr Hale does not claim any actual benefits for the scheme.
Drive and rides (Let's use a more honest term) encourage people to drive to Chester, which cannot be a good thing. They are not a 21st Century response to the traffic problems experienced throughout the city. More people should be encouraged to travel to Chester by train. Public transport services should be boosted with better quality, frequently run and environmentally friendly buses.
Has Cllr Hale ever been to Amsterdam? A largely traffic-free haven where the majority of people cycle everywhere. How much pride we could all have in this great city if the powers that be could be forward thinking enough to have such a vision for Chester.
The Sustrans cycleway has encouraged so many more people to cycle (including myself!). Wouldn't it be great to invest and further improve an already appreciated cycleway (re: many approval letters in local papers) and allow as many people as possible to cycle into and around the city centre?
Why does Cllr Hale insist on believing that this busway is the right answer, when so many people are against it and there are so many more modern alternatives that would prove to be better value for money?
Now that Flintshire County Council is wisely distancing itself from the scheme, shouldn't the whole project be closely re-examined?
Luckily for Cheshire, the much admired Cllr Paul Findlow is intent on ensuring that spending decisions for the county should be made on the basis of best value for the people of Cheshire. Since the CDTS is a high risk and enyironmentally damaging scheme with little or no benefit, let's hope this will mean an end to the CDTS fiasco.
Richard Addison, Chester
4/4/02 It seems to me that a far better solution for the CDTS scheme would be to invite local businesses, banks and professional companies etc as well as private individuals to contribute shrubs, bushes and bulbs to make the area a haven of colours. The Jubilee Mile?
It is an old railway line and many pople of mature years like me will fondly remember the village stations of old when a spotless platform and a well-tended garden was the order of the day.
I am sure many private individuals would be glad to take part and enjoy a leisurely stroll in what would be a truly communal floral spectacle.
What do you think is best- a profusion of colour and tranquility or the ever-present sound of rumbling wheels?
D.C. Musto, Vicars Cross.
4/4/02 I strongly urge all councillors not to press ahead with the CDTS scheme. I have just returned from a walk along the greenway and it was marvellous to be in a traffic-free environment. Please take a stroll or cycle there and you will see people (ie voters) enjoying the peace.
It is not often that the most popular policy is also the cheapes- do your best for the majority of Cestrians and abandon CDTS.
L. Loyley, 36 Sandon Road, Newton, Chester
5/4/02 Circumstances have changed considerably since the inspectors' report on the Chester guided busway:
MBNA have a contract car park of more than 300 spaces on the Wrexham Road Park & Ride site and we believe others from the business park are also using the site as a car park even over the Christmas period.
Park & Rides sites are designed to keep cars from entering city centres. The fact that this is being used as a car park must mean Chester has spare capacity on Park & Ride.
A council report in September 2000 stated that 'the Park & Ride market appears to be maturing and the increases enjoyed in previous years have now eased off'.
Therefore, a further Park & Ride on our precious Green Belt land at Mannings Lane would be considered over-provision.
Councillors have no doubt seen the reports by Dr Graham Parkhurst (one of the country's leading Park & Ride specialists) and Dr Jeremy Richardson (environmental specialist) warning of the overprovision of Park & Ride sites.
Since recent rail accidents, emphasis on greater safety indicates the cost of resiting the sidings at Northgate for the planned busway project will add around £0.5m to the cost.
It is interesting that nowhere else in Cheshire has Park & Ride.
With plans for the redevelopmcnt of the general station area, induding a multi-storey car-park, this must also mean major expenditure on the Hoole Bridge cannot be far away.
Membership of Anti-CDTS is growing rapidly, indicating that the general public is becoming more aware of these matters too, and it seems increasingly obvious that losing an increasingly popular tranquil linear park cycle/walkway is even more unnecessary.
Audrey Hodgkinson, Secretary, Antl-CDTS Campaign Groups, Hoole, Chester
11/4/02 On Good Friday afternoon we took a walk as far as Saughall, on the linear park walk/cycleway. It was fascinating; a sea of bobbing heads as far as the eye could see, from start to finish. The cyclists, walkers, four or more abreast, chatted happily. Most people seemed to be heading for town at the time (around 2.30pm). I counted over 500 then gave up to talk to our guests as they asked: 'do any of your councillors use the route; have they seen the volume of people it attracts? It must take many more cars off the roads, especially during holiday periods than the busway is expected to do; don't residents count at all in this city?'
Did anyone take a photograph of this spectacular sight? May be the Standard could print it to show how this wonderful asset we have in our midst is being used? Could the Standard produce a map showing the access points as many people I talk to have no idea where they are? Some have bought new cycles to enjoy the route, some second-hand in case it became a busway and a path they would no longer want to use.
Sustrans is awaiting a verdict too, before it can proceed to landscape the route. I believe money is available to complete the pathway as originally planned but... will our route become a managed wildlife linear park or will it be ripped up for a two lane concrete busway? As much has changed since the public inquiry we are sure most councillors now consider the busway project a waste of both money and valuable 'people space'. Our councillors will surely want to keep encouraging us all to walk or cycle when possible now they have proof people will leave their cars at home given decent tranquil routes.
Audrey Hodgkinson Secretary Anti-CDTS Campaign Groups
11/4/02 I am fed up with being ignored by people who plan things.
We used to play cricket on the grounds now built on and called "The Gardens". The youth centre is going and now we hear a busway could go down our cycleway where we enjoy 'blading' in safety. We do not vandalise or anything like that, but still you take everything from us.
We object for all the children in Newton.
18/4/02 It was a nice change to see letters from others giving their point of view, in the widely-read Standard pages, with regard to the proposed CDTS busway plan. I do hope more people write. I have a duty to keep everyone informed regarding the linear park Millennium cycle/walkway (on the old Mickle Trafford rail line). However, it was nice to have a rest frorn searching documents and sending emails. I am sure readers found it a welcome change to see letters from others on this highly controversial issue. I hope this will continue as if there is nothing for me to report I shall not be writing.
There are 10,000 miles of Millennium walk/cyleway- all free for the public to use.
The route has been threatened by the busway otherwise it would have more trees etc and be naturalised by SUSTRANS as in all other areas. The cycle/walkway is part of the National Millennium route not paid for by local rates.
The proposed two-lane concrete busway would, however, destroy this tranquil and wildlife-rich area and reduce this very popular and widely used route we all enjoy. We have been informed by many they would not be using the pathway if it were a devalued by a busway.
18/4/02 I feel it is time to add my name to the huge and ever growing list of Chester residents who are against the CDTS.
during one of many walks along the cycleway over Easter, my daughter and I were stopped by an anti-CDTS campaigner who was collecting signatures. This campaigner explained the proposed guided busway to us and I'll leave you nwith my daughter's response; "Why do they want to spoil it? It's really nice as it is and quiet and safe. I like it".
R. Kirk, Shavington Avenue, Hoole
18/4/02 Since evidence was presented at the CDTS inquiry even more very good reasons for abandoning the scheme have emerged.
1. The disused railway line from Mickle Trafford to Shotton has been transformed into a tranquil, traffic-free route, part of the Millennium National Cycleway (Route 5).
Whole families are walking or cycling instead of travelling by car. Handbikes have been provided for the disabled by the county council. There is enough space for all these, and for trees to mature and wildlife habitats to remain. The great enthusiasm and enjoyment of all those people using the "greenway" is rewarding. It is no longer a disused railway line.
2. Doubt has been thrown on the need for another massive park and ride site (CDTS) when city council reports show spare capacity on existing sites. An over-provision could lead to existing park and ride sites being granted a change of use.
3. Radical changes to the Chester Local Plan now focus developnnent on the regeneration of an "action area" close to Chester Railway Station. The city council's development brief recommends improvements to Hoole Road Railway Bridge, with a segregated bridge for cycling/walking. The brief also recommends the provision of a bus/rail interchange close to the station.
4. Regionai planning guidance has recognised the importance of Chester Railway Station as a regional gateway and interchange, and a government transport study has recommended a comprehensive review of the integration of bus/rail services across West Cheshire, Wirral and East Wales, recognising the importance of Chester Railway Station. CDTS is not designed to go to Chester Railway Station. In the light of these changed circumstances, CPRE beiieves that CDTS should be re-examined.
Ann Jones, Chester District CPRE, 101 Daleside, Upton Heath
19/4/02 While out walking on the Sustrans cycle path through Newton, members of the anit-CDTS campaign have met many schoolchildren.
Most of them remark how they use the track as a short cut to visit their friends, to go shopping in town or swimming at Northgate Arena.
'This is the best thing around here,' is a common comment. They are incredulous and dismayed about the council's plans to build a two-lane concrete busway down the track where they can now walk and cycle in peace and safety.
Now I read that Kelsall Parish Council is considering pouring gravel on their community centre car park to stop young people skateboarding there. This is their response to complaints about noise and general disturbance made by skateboarders.
One of the best things I have seen recently (besides our millennium cycleway) is an indoor skateboard park in Truro, Cornwall. On the Saturday ahernoon when I visited, more than 100 young people were enjoying this activity at a cost of £4 for the whole day.
What are we doing in Chester? Pouring concrete over the cycle path and taking away the skateboarding facilities. Councillors should only hold themselves responsible if teenagers turn to sex, drugs and rock and roll when they themselves take decisions to pour concrete and gravel over the healthy alternatives.
Catherine Green, Vice-chairman, Anti-CDTS Campaign Groups, Brook Lane, Chester
19/4/02 Some members have been a little worried by information from certain quarters that if the busway were built, the cycle/walkway would cease through lack of money or that funding would have to come from taxpayers.
This is certainly not true. Sustrans is spending £25,000 per annum on Chester maintenance. They intend to continue maintaining it, however contributions from the council would be welcome. Sustrans have approached the council to supplement efforts in hand-sweeping glass.
If you are a member of Sustrans, you will already know from their book of the Millennium Miles that there are actually 10,000 miles of the route- all free for public use.
This has to be the best thing to happen for the millennium and is money well spent. This is more than can be said for the 'Dome drain', which was built despite public objection. There Is a message there somewhere.
The highly controversial nature of the proposed busway means it will be one of the factors constituents will consider in the May elections.
It would be beneficial to the democratic process if all prospective candidates were to declare in their literature if they support the busway or not.
Welcome to hundreds more new anti-CDTS busway members from all over the city and way beyond. We assure you we shali do our best to keep you well and truly informed.
25/4/02 I have been asked to give some idea how people can access the Sustrans cycle/walkway. I hope these details will help those wanting to use this excellent facility since reading so much about the value of this tranquil route in the Standard Points of View pages.
The Millennium cycle/walkway (linear park) is on the old Mickle Trafford to Shotton rail track and there are many access points, including the following:
Kingsway, Hoole, opposite the shops. The little lane passing the play area will bring you to the cycleway access.
Northgate Village, opposite the bus depot.
Liverpool Road, left at the entrance to the Fitness Centre.
Parkgate Road by the old railway bridge, near the Safeway roundabout.
Saughall Road by the Highfield pub
Egerton Road, off Highfield Road, Blacon
The route can be accessed from the canal towpath too.
The route wilI become a natural country lane when not threatened by a two-lane concrete busway. It will be planted with wild flowers and more trees. It is intended to start the cycleway at Mickle Trafford as the Millennium route map shows, in the Sustrans Millennium Miles book.
Audrey Hodgkinson, Secretary, Anti-CDTS Campaign Groups
2/5/02 The more I read about County Cllr Paul Findlow the more hopeful I become. We have a leader not only willing to listen but also one who actually asks for suggestions. He has faced the challenge of reducing local tax and has done it fairly, from what I can gather reading local papers. Yet he is berated by others who were unable and unwilling to do likewise. He seems to have given many people the hope that it is no longer futile to vote that there is now a choice, and I do hope his colleagues follow his lead. In fact, all councillors on both councils ought to now look to their laurels, taking note of their constituents' views. More power to the county leader's elbow, I hope he does not lose the ability to listen to the general public when making his decisions. I can see how he became leader.
Personally, I study the individual and what he/she has to say, not the party they belong to, as being the most important and vote accordingly. It seems to me ordinary folk are sick of party politics anyway. With a bit of luck there won't be any hideous banner masts or other frightful and wasteful projects. lt has amazed me how these people can get things so wrong, but I now realise the practice of ignoring public opinion is to blame. Tony Blair and colleagues take note.
This busway thing seems a good target to shoot next, if even the government person approving it says there will only be a small reduction of cars on Hoole Road. It is obvious by the amount of cars when school holidays are over. Why aren't school buses provided instead of a closed system busway? This would take many more cars off all roads, or is that too obvious or perhaps not whut the busway is really for? Maybe we need (like a hole in the head) another roundabout statue from those wanting this busway?
It would upset rny husband if I had my name printed, he is politically minded I am not, the individual impresses me far more and that is what I vote for.
I must say your Points of View pages are full of interesting letters, many certainly make me take note and read urticles in your paper that I may have skipped over previously, through lack of time. My thanks go to you and your letter writers.
2/5/02 I hope that when the county council debates the future of the CDTS, members don't make the mistake of believing that the cycle and walkway will maintain its huge and growing popularity with the busway also present.
I love taking my young family cycling down the current cycleway but, like many other people, would not use it if the bus plan were to go ahead.
The pathway would provide plenty of opportunity for collisions if there were no space to step aside to allow cyclists to go past. Worse still, without the grass verges there would be dog excrement all over the path. The majority of dog walkers are responsible and do carry bags to pick up after their dogs but there are others who do not. There is no way I could allow my young family to walk and cycle through dog excrement.
This is a much loved and useful resource that is encouraging people to walk and cycle, both into town and recreationally. This would not be the case if the busway were there.
If the council have so few alternative ideas to spend our money on, why don't they ask the electorate. I am sure they will have plenty of suggestions as to where our money could be better spent. Since the benefifs of the busway are so debatable, please leave the pathway as it is.
Jonathan Paul and Ruth Davies 14 Beech Grove, Hoole, Chester
3/5/02 Surely if one needs a reason to oppose the proposed CDTS it is the fact that Chester City Cheshire County Councils are in favour of it. These are the same people who have been the major contributors to the traffic problems we have in the city so if they say the CDTS will be beneficial, I would question their judgement. One only has to take a look at a few of the alleged 'improvements' they have made:
1. The infamous and numerous traffic lights where one can sit for what seems to be several minutes waiting for the red light to change while no traflic is coming from the opposite direction.
This is particularly prevalent in early evening: yesterday it took me about 10 minutes to turn out of Lower Bridge Street into Pepper Street because the lights were letting only three or four cars through before turning red again.
2. When traffic flows freely along a dual carriageway, it seems to be the policy of the councils to restrict the movement by making the dual carriageway into a single carriageway.
Vicars Cross Road is the latest road to be a victim of the council's folly. No doubt at enormous cost, the councils have succeeded in creating traffic holdups where previously there were none.
3. When the traffic moves freely along a single carriageway, someone will come up with an idea of blocking the carriageway for several metres so cars have to stop and give priority to traffic coming from the opposite direction, as in Cheyney Road. Why?
4. For some reason the junctions at Eaton Road/Overleigh Road and Green Lane/Vicars Cross Road have been narrowed.
At peak times traffic is now backed up in Green Lane caused by this 'improvement'.
5. We have bus lanes and cycle lanes scattered about everywhere and, while in principle they have merits, the lanes are too short to serve any practical purpose.
These lanes are fine when the streets are long enough and wide enough to accommodate them, but what is the point of 100 metres,of cycleway, and how often does one see them being used?
6. Effecting the above 'improvements' in itself causes congestion. Although the work on Vicars Cross Road seems to have been completed, barriers are still present at the junction of Green Lane/Vicars Cross Road.
What better argument for opposing their plans for CDTS especially as we, one way or another, have to pay for their mistakes.
Do our planners spend their time thinking where they can put the next chicane or reduce the flow of traffic so they can see their 'personal official graffiti' on the carriageway?
Thank goodness they are not in charge of the motorway network.
Imaglne what they would do with the M6. The inside lane would be a cycleway, the middle lane would have traffic lights every I00 metres and the outside lane would be littered with chicanes.
I am a life-long resident of Chester but I have to say that I am not familiar with the route of the Sustrans Cycleway nor indeed are people I talk to. Could you please publish a map in your paper showing the access points?
Despairing Motorist, name and address supplied
3/5/02 At the heart of the debate about the guided busway (CDTS) lies one simple question: Does Chester really need another Park & Ride site?
There-are already four sites with a total of more than 3,000 car spaces. In the city centre there are some 5,000 spaces. This level of parking provision is one of the highest in the country.
About 300 car parking spaces on the Wrexham Road Park & Ride site- about one quarter- have been leased by the council for the private use of workers on the Business Park.
This is hardly evidence that Chester's Park & Ride system is suffering from a lack of capacity. The Upton Park & Ride site has planning permission for an extension. This has not been implemented.
Again, this does not suggest an urgent need for more spaces. In spite of this the city council still wants to build 1,200 extra spaces at Mannings Lane to serve the busway.
Should there prove to be an an over-provision of sites it is not clear what would happen to any sites declared redundant. The Mannings Lane site is owned by Tesco, together with adjacent land which the company wishes to develop.
At the Locaol plan Inquiry, Tesco argued that both the proposed Park-and-Ride site and its land should be removed from the Green Belt to enable development to proceed.
It is interesting to note in the Greater Chester Local Plan 1988 the city council proposed to take this land out of the Green Belt as an employment park (Policy CE1).
Similarly, land adjacent to the Wrexham Road Park-and-Ride site was allocated for a superstore (Policy CS2) in the same plan.
These massive developments in the Green Belt were only blocked by the action of the then Secretary of State.
A new government Green Paper on planning proposed sweeping changes to the planning rules, in effect, a presumption in favour of development. In some cases, eg business zones, local councils would have very little control in the allocation of sites.
Chester could be heading for another planning blunder to match that of the amphitheatre courthouse. Once more the people of Chester would have fifty years to regret an unwanted project.
W V Jones, Upton Heath, Chester
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, working alone, 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.
9/5/02 Well done Steve Howe for giving the people of Hoole All Saints a chance to have a voice. It seems we in Chester, unlike Nantwich, are not ready for independent councillors yet. However, I am sure you and those who voted for you have given a message to those handing out carrots and sticks that a more publicly aware authority is required from now on.
The fact that Steve relied upon his own efforts, nobody else, to gain so many votes is highly commendable. Whilst he spoke against CDTS busway, this was by no means his main reason to stand. To give the residents of Hoole All Saints an independent voice was his aim. It is a sad fact so many people no longer bother to turn out to vote as, in their opinion, there is not point the councils do what they like anyway - residents don't count. However, perhaps we got what we deserve or what we 'let in' by not voting. We need to give a sharper reminder to those who are supposed to represent us in future.
Has your representative on the city council said they welcome all three phases of CDTS busway for instance? At least one of them stated this in a city council meeting. Make no mistake, those pushing this busway put all three phases as a priority, whether you have been assured it will not happen on the Blacon route or not (see Chester in Partnership page 13). If you are assured otherwise, get it in writing!
Fortunately, we do have some councillors who insist on representing their constituents despite everything. Residents rely on them and the many other councillors, now aware of the important changes in circumstance since the public inquiry, to throw out the busway CDTS plan. The contracting out (even over the Christmas period) of over 300 Park & Ride spare car spaces for instance. All residents are watching very closely, this is not a NIMBY issue everyone stands to lose a tranquil safe wildlife walk/cycleway, a rare asset for Chester city. To add insult to injury to pay for something very few want and nobody needs. Busy roads are all around us, more of the same will not help, we have a desperate need of tranquil areas. Why do you think there is so much 'rage' of one kind or another?