13/8/98 I found it difficult to believe my eyes when I
read the Standard's commentary on the sorry state of Chester's local
democracy in its editorial of August 6th: 'Listen to the People'.
A statement of this nature is surely unprecedented in our local press and is to be soundly congratulated. A few well-chosen words that say much about the helplessness and anger felt by the rapidly growing number of people who are concerned for the future of our city and disillusioned with the attitudes of those entrusted to govern her. The letters of condemnation and self-justification at this very moment winging their way to the Standard's offices should make for engrossing reading.
One could comment at length on any one of a number of recent planning controversies: the Electric Light building, the Forum, Tower Wharf, the lost opportunity of Mercia Square- shabby attempts to close libraries and nursery schools- it goes on and on. But look at the situation regarding the Mickle Trafford railway. Week after week over the last couple of years at least, the Standard and other sections of the local press prints letters presenting a range of well-argued reasons why people are completely opposed to the imposition of buses upon a corridor that, remarkably, has remained a peaceful, green, wildife-rich haven in the midst of an increasingly urbanised and traffic-plagued environment.
But who is there to represent them and speak for them? Nobody at all. Certainly not their councillors- every one of whom- for reasons best known to themselves, have assumed paid-up membership of the pro-bus lobby. These individuals aside, never have I yet seen a letter from anyone supporting the busway proposals. Not once. Our councillors and planners tell us they have received many such letters. So why do they not appear in the pages of the Standard?
The arguments of this largely non-recreational cycling and walking minority in defence of a ludicrous project set in a place few of them are ever likely to visit reflects on one hand their low opinion of the intelligence of the electorate and on the other the bias of the so-called 'experts' employed to advise them. They call the busway "imaginative"- that it will "carry the city forward" into the next century (how often have you heard that pathetic pun? Even my four-year-old didn't think it was amusing) They are tickled that no other council in the country will have one like it- which is no surprise- a shiny new toy that the other kids haven't got, even though it cost a fortune and probably won't get played with much anyway...
They refer to the desire of the people for somewhere to be at peace and to walk and cycle with their children just for once away from speeding, don't-give-a-damn motorists and stinking buses as 'arcadian'. They say "what about the old folks and the disabled?" They play on people's fears about burglary and loss of privacy.
I wondered how long it would be before one of them played the paedophile card. Sure enough, in last week's Standard, Cllr John Boughton says "one of the main concerns" of the parents he has spoken to is that they fear the consequences of sending their children to school along an "unlit, well-screened greenway" from the "malevolent and predatory adults we hear so much about these days." A thinly-veiled threat that, if we don't approve the busway, we're wilfully putting our children at risk. In an ongoing campaign of misinformation and dirty tricks, this one surely takes the biscuit. But stick around- there'll be another one along in a minute. And who ever said the greenway should be unlit anyway?
Last week, a miserly two days in peak holiday season was allowed at each of two branch libraries for the public to view and comment upon the planning application made by Sustrans for the construction of the cycleway/footpath along the old Deeside railway line. I attended Upton library for this purpose on Monday afternoon, staying for a couple of hours, and was gratified to see a fair-sized group of people reading leaflets with titles such as 'Home Zones: Relaiming Local Streets', the 'Safer Routes to School Newsletter' and- Lord help us- 'The Slower Speeds Initiative' (fat chance)- as well as studying the maps and literature relevant to the railway itself. A lively conversation was in progress, during the course of which it became clear that not one of these people was in favour of the busway proposals. Nobody from Sustrans was present, to the annoyance of many. The city council planning officer in attenance, one Steven Ingrams, was at pains to explain that the current plans dealt only with the cycleway/footpath and were nothing at all to do with the proposed busway- a claim treated with considerable derision by the audience. Everyone welcomed the cycle/footpath, but not as shown in the planning application- shoved to the extreme edge of the corridor. Mr Ingrams fended off the barrage of questions and comments from those assembled by insisting that his role was merely "to interpret the planning process" and stated that, while he personally had little enthusiasm for the busway, he could not be influenced by the comments of the people present, and had to deal with the planning application "in isolation from, and uninfluenced by" the obviously high level of public unease regarding the scheme. Why? Surely the whole aim of the exhibition was to ascertain what people actually thought? What was the point otherwise? A number of those in attendance, given Mr Ingram's inability to adequately deal with their enquiries, expressed their dismay at the lack of anyone else with this responsibility. Needless to say, the entire community of caring councillors were notable by their absence.
Forms were available at the library for those who wished to submit written comments about the Sustrans plans. Interestingly, upon later visiting the city council planning department at the Forum, I was astonished to discover that no such comment forms had ever been, or were going to be, made available to the public at that location.
The entire affair seemed to many of us a mockery of the consultation process. It surely doesn't have to be like this. I assumed the duty of local councillors and their officials was to listen to the views of those who elected him or her to office, to accurately represent those concerned parties and to act accordingly. Not so, it seems. In Chester, the apparent role of our elected representatives is to dismiss the views of these citzens as naive and irrelevant. But enter the smooth-talking suits from Fatcat Investments and Holdings PLC- and just watch those councillors perform. Knock it down? No problem. Office block? Thank you very much. Jump? Certainly, sir. How high? Possessing no culture and few original ideas of their own, they fall for it everytime, backed up by a plague of local sycophantic 'experts' to tell them what they want to hear. What kind of democratic representation is this?
The Standard's editorial concluded with the memorable line "But if they choose not to listen to the people, local government comes dangerously close to local dictatorship." The student of history will be familiar with the eventual fate of most dictators, but mark also the words of Bertrand de Jouvenel: "A society of sheep must in time beget a government of wolves."
Steven Howe, Lime Grove Hoole Chester
A response to this letter from county councillor Peter Byrne
may be read here
13/8/98 Once again we have council members advising us to support
the proposals for the three-way travel system on the disused Mickle Trafford
railway. Cllr. Boughton claims all councillors from the city, county and parish
councils support the project. What he doesn't mention is the large number of
people (ordinary folk) who object to the scheme and would like their voices
heard. These are the people living adjacent to the track who will be most affected
by the noise and disruption that takes place when a major project like this
is initiated, and when finished, the noise and pollution from the transport
On inspection of the plans for the Sustrans cycle/ walkway (not much detail
shown) it would appear that the single track would be used by both parties,
walkers and cyclists, making the walkers vulnerable to being knocked over or
injured. The track measuring some three metres is far too narrow to accommodate
both parties. What's the difference between this track and Hoole Road pathway?
You would be breaking the law if you cycled on this but the path is probably
wider that the one planned by Sustrans. It looks like another cheap-jack scheme
as so many of our council projects.
The major users of the park and ride system just off the M53 roundabout would
be people travelling off the M53/A56 which includes the area where Mr Boughton
If he feels the scheme is so good why doesn't he campaign for the scheme to
be extended to Mickle Trafford and beyond and have a park and ride in the middle
of Mickle Trafford?
Let me remind him people living in and around the proposed track area will not
use it, but they will have all the disruption. And by the way the artist's impression
of the 3-way system printed a few weeks ago (giving the artist a little artistic
licence to present a pretty picture) was a complete facade. Are they going to
build new bridges, walls and fencing, and complete it with landscaped banks
as presented in the pretty picture? Don't hold your breath.
T. Whitehouse, 76 Sefton Road Hoole, Chester
13/8/98 What an opportunity missed if the council make Sustrans
include a busway on the disused Mickle Trafford to Shotton railway line.
Blacon, Hoole and Newton have very little countryside left and this would have
been an opportunity to give something back to the residents for all this over
development which has taken place. But, of course, the council cannot get money
from cyclists or walkers. The council are going to spoil the good work Sustrans
could do for people, just because of their ego. I would very much like to know
if any other council has imposed this lunatic idea on other disused railway
lines Sustrans have bought.
At this rate the council are getting the land free, so they can charge people
to go on a busway, which will just be like most of the buses on the roads, going
up and down nearly empty.
If Sustrans cannot make the council see sense, then I suppose any other objections
will fall on deaf ears, as always.
13/8/98 I would like to inform your readers as to the results
of a meeting which took place at the Deaf Centre on 6th August between the Canal
Basin Community Forum and concerned parties. Also attending were Mr Andrew Farrell,
Chief Planning Officer, Chester city council and Charles Lloyd, Cheshire county
council Traffic Manager.
The key points to come out of the meeting of interest to all Chester residents
were as follows;- Charles Lloyd (Cheshire county council Traffic Manager) said
the Chester western relief road would be built to enable further development
of the area. There will be a public enquiry next April concerning the Chester
western relief road.
A probable review of the local plan is to be released in the New Year. Andrew
Farrell said there are no plans to link the proposed Mickle Trafford/Shotton
bus route with the proposed Chester western relief road bus route.
Chester city council are looking into establishing a bus lane from Sealand Road
park and ride site into the city. The existing cycle path would be retained.
Andrew Farrell said there would be greater publicity regarding planning applications
and associated matters. Proposed building developments should reflect the image
of Chester and be of high quality.
As people can see the above key points raise the following questions that have
yet to be answered by the relevant bodies: With increased development comes
increased traffic congestion. Studies have shown that building roads just generates
more traffic. Therefore is Chester city council and Cheshire county council
going against the recently released Government White Paper on transport? Why
are Chester city council permitting the destruction of historic buildings to
be replaced by glass monolithic buildings, disregarding local public opinion.
(i.e. The Electric Light Building)? At present, the city council adheres to
the minimum three-week public consultation period regarding planning applications.
Are we therefore going to see a greater and more widely publicised consultation
period regarding planning applications? One hopes so.
Friends of the Earth will endeavour to keep Chester residents informed of future
Clint Hughes, Friends of the Earth
13/8/98 Cllr Boughton's sounding off again! This time using hearsay,
scaremongering and "council speak" to back up his views. He's also trying to
rubbish someone with apparently the same views as him regarding 'safe routes
to school'. Is this what the Cut and Thrust of local politics is really about?
In his letter Cllr Boughton also encourages people "to write in positive support
of the (council) plans (for the CDTS) to offset many of the negative comments
currently being expressed". Please do, but dream on Cllr Boughton if you expect
a tide change, as the overwhelming majority of people who have put in any original
thought on this matter have seen through the much published hype and have rejected
the CDTS proposals as an expensive and destructive folly. This is patently evident
by the many constructive comments expressed since this proposal was first railroaded
as is seen in both the local press and by formal objections to the county council
structure plan and the city council local plan.
The people speak, Cllr Boughton. Why won't you and your colleagues listen and
throw out the busway proposals? Isn't that what local politics is all about?
Graeme Lyall, 47 Oaklea Avenue Hoole, Chester
13/8/98 I would like to reply to a couple of letters printed
on 6th August. Firstly, Mr Robin Samson of 12 Ring Road, Great Boughton, attacks
the CPRE. If it weren't for the likes of the CPRE Chester would be in a worse
state than it is at the moment. They are looking ahead to the future, so our
children will have somewhere reasonably pleasant to Iive and work.
Chester has 13 supemarkets so the Safeway expansion is needless. As for creating
jobs. Well Mr Samson, what about the future of the small local traders? Or don't
they count? I suggest you think before you speak.
Secondly, Cllr J R Boughton, 8 Glebe Meadows, Mickle Trafford raised the question
of safety of the proposed Sustrans bus/cycleway. if Cllr Boughton cares to do
a little research he will find that even in city areas of Birmingham there are
safe cycleways. Such schemes can work successfully if planned and managed properly,
without the need for a busway. Is Cllr Boughton suggesting that Chester has
a greater number of, I quote, "malevolent and predatory adults" than other cities?
If so, I think something urgent should be done - perhaps Cllr Boughton should
make it his priority.
I'm sure there are the recources available to make a cycleway safe for all.
After all, the local councillors are going to receive a substantial monetary
renumeration, and the county council chambers are to have an expensive refurbishment.
The proposed busway is merely an excuse to enable developers to build on
greenbelt land, i.e. Mannings Lane area.
I hope this has alleviated some of the ignorance shown, or is it really ignorance?
Perhaps if certain people, including public servants, lifted their noses out
of the money trough, they would be able to look at local issues in a more intelligent
and well-informed manner. Thank heavens forthe prospect of yearly local elections.
P A Hobbs, 41 Victoria Road Chester
I would just like to thank you for your letters about the proposed
How dare the 'powers that be' give it the 'thumbs-up'- everybody I've spoken
to is longing for a green quietspace to meander in.
As you rightly say, to get peace and quiet, you have to get the car out, which
is crazy and defeats the object.
When we first moved to Vicars Cross in 1970, I walked and pram-pushed my four
children up Pearl Lane and for miles around Christleton and Guilden Sutton.
Now the roar of the motorway penetrates all this area, and like you, myself
and husband retreat to the Welsh hills- but when you have little ones it's a
nightmare finding somewhere quiet- and SAFE- for their bikes.
Two of our children have their own children now, and I watch my daughters drivingthem
here, there and everywhere because there's nowhere safe to play.
At 59 and 60-odd we still like to cycle ouselves and would like to sample the
greenway before we get too old!
YOU are the voice of sanity in all this and we will certainly write as a family
to our councillors to say NO to a busway.
Good luck with your efforts. Best wishes,
Doreen Hulson, Shaftesbury Avenue, Vicars Cross Chester
18/8/98 I must confess to having been unconvinced by the huge
swell of protest against the proposed busway. On the one hand I am a committed
cyclist, and walker and yearn for a place in and around Chester to escape the
domination of the motor car. On the other hand, I can also see the part that
a properly thought out mass transport system can play in reducing the chaos
and danger on our roads - I am all for buses if it means less cars on the road,
and therefore could see some sense in the proposals for a busway that made use
of brownfield sites.
However, having taken your Virtual Stroll I have certainly changed my
The route is entirely unsuited to such a development. There is no way such a
busway could happily co-exist with a cycle path- SusTrans must be out of their
minds! Yes, we need more investment in cleaner, better public transport, but
not here in Chester's last tarmac-free sanctum!
Iain Kemp, Newtown Chester
20/8/98 Parents, Grandparents, councillors and school governors
who are concerned about "malevolent and predatory adults", should know that
a child is 50 times more likely to be killed on the roads that to be murdered
by a stranger.
In Odense in Denmark, a town the size of Oxford, traffic accidents to children
fell by 85 per cent after the government ordered local authorities to protect
children from traffic on their way to and from school. Now over 60 per cent
of Danish school children cycle to school every day whilst in Britain, fewer
than four per cent do, even though more than 90 per cent of them own bikes.
The disused Mickle Trafford/Shotton railway line presents a wonderful opportunity
to provide the children and adults of Chester with a pleasant, healthy and safe
way to get around, on foot and by bicycle. Chester has miles and miles of bus
route; another one is surplus to requirements. Just as new roads generate more
traffic, a new cycle/footpath will increase cycling and walking. The proposed
width of three metres for the cycle/footpath at the edge of the old track is
insufficient for cycles and pedestrians going both ways at busy times. Why should
users of the Chester section of the visionary Millennium National Cycleway be
forced to the margins by an unneeded busway? If park and ride users must be
offered a traffic free route to the city centre, a cycle hire facility could
be made available, as at stations in Holland.
Cathy Hanavan, 63 Brook Lane, Chester
20/8/98 Two years ago a respondent suggested that I was mad when
I made a plea for cyclists to be permitted to use pedestrian areas where there
is no safe and viable alternative. Now there are more and more cyclists using
pedestrian areas, pavements, and counter-flowing one-way streets as there is
still no alternative.
Whilst I applaud the start that is being made to provide cycleways on the outskirts
of the city (but not alongside bus lanes) there is a need for a radical rethink
about access to the centre - ask the postmen - they are experts.
One of the delegates at April's European Transport and Environment Conference
in Chester said that the priorities for movement about his city were 1. Pedestrians,
2. Cyclists, 3. Public transport and service vehicles, 4. Private cars if there
is my remaining space.
Come on, city council, we are seeing action on number one- how about number
Tom Walker, Handbridge, Chester
20/8/98 Now that the period for objections to the Mickle Trafford
cycle/pathway has closed, could anyone from the council provide the answers
to two simple questions:
1. How many objections were lodged? And
2. How many favourable comments were received?
Surely this is what should determine the fate of the line.
Lisa Dawson, 24 Moss Bank, Chester
20/8/98 Councillor John Boughton offers a strange reason for
running a guided busway on the old Mickle Trafford railway route. Of course
parents are concerned for their children's safety but the councillor is surely
aware abduction/molestation and accidents are many, many times more prevalent
in the home (involving people the child thinks it can love and trust) and on
the roads (involving vehicles with inattentive drivers, often travelling too
fast) than on quiet greenways. Harm to any child anywhere is worth avoiding,
but buses speeding beside the walkway/cycleway won't provide any extra safety-
only sensible parents can do that by carefully warning and riot alarming their
child and ensuring they travel with equally alerted friends.
John Boughton has given me an even stronger reason for a multi-million pound
busway (white elephant?) If we build a park and ride (and a Tesco superstore/business
park/retail shed park?) in the pleasant green belt between Chester and Mickle
Trafford, he said, we can only ensure people want to use it by having a dedicated
transport system without delays getting into town.
Of course, other Park and Rides exist without such a system, but this seems
to be an admission that this one is not expected t o relieve the A56 (Hoole
Road) of traffic - so the local people are set to lose on all scores. No wonder
everyone is against the busway except the councillor for Mickle Trafford Ward!
Presumably he has other reasons for supporting the busway- my back-of-envelopesums
say it can never pay its way, let alone repay the investment required. I wonder
where that money is coming from?- I'd be glad to show them my calculations.
Brian Rose, 12 Alpraham Crescent, Chester
20/8/98 A planning application for a cycleway/walkway from Mickle
Trafford to Shotton is likely to go before the Chester City Council for approval
At the recentExhibition of the cycleway plans at Upton Library, Council officials
stressed that the cycleway plans had nothing to do with the proposed busway.
However, the plans and sectional drawings showed that the cycleway was confined
to the margins of the rail track that the central section was reserved for the
The city council has always made it clear it not support the use of the disused
rail track for a cycleway/walkway only and that the cycleway will only be considered
as part of the overall Chester Deeside Transport System which is dominated by
It is clear, therefore, that if approval is given to this particular route for
the cycleway then implicit approval will also be given for the busway route
along the main part of the rail track.
As the city council has always considered the cycleway as only part of the larger
Chester Deeside Transport System, it is difficult to see how it can give approval
to one element in that system without also considering its relationship to all
The chester Deeside Transport System is a Complex scheme. the people of Chester
and their councillors must have the detailed plans showing how the various parts
relate to one another before any decision is reached. They must also consider
the huge cost of the project, its impact on the communities through which it
runs, its relationship to the Western Relief Road joining Sealand Road to Wrexham
Road and the links with more development on Seand Road, Wrexham Road and at
I believe that the cycleway/walkway should nun along the central portion of
the track making the rail corridor into a safe and tranquil greenway for cyclists
and walkers only- a much less costly scheme.
The off-the-track cycle route proposed by this planning application should not
be approved as it will clearly sign approval for the busway down the centre
of the track. This will be denying full public consultation and a public inquiry
as the decision will already have been taken.
W V Jones, 101 Daleside, Upton Heath, Chester
20/8/98 RE: Sustrans planning application for the Mickle Trafford
line. The planning application recently submitted for a cycleway/walkway on
the disused Mickle Trafford railway line shows the true priorities of the local
councils in Chester. The cycleway and walkway is to be squeezed in on the edge
of the line so that, one day (maybe) the infamous busway can be driven down
the middle. As a result of pushing the cycleway off the line, numerous trees
will have to be felled and the opportunity to create a new linear park in the
heart of Chester will be lost forever.
This is the only national route in the UK where such a warped set of conditions
have been imposed on Sustrans by a local council. What's worse is that the
only point of the busway (if it ever happens) is to attract more people to drive
to a new car park on the edge of town at Mannings Lane. Thus chester citzens,
children and adults, who want to cycle and walk locally, yet again have to make
way for hi-tech transport fantasies driven by the demands of big business.
Richard Whittington, 19 Laurel Grove Chester
27/8/98 In view of the recent article that appeared in
The Chronicle newspaper (28th August) the Chester Preservation Group feel that
it is important that the general public and councillors should be aware of the
full facts, considering the application goes before the planning committee in
September, the article was grossly misleading.
In it CDTS project manager Carlton Roberts James states that the CDTS concept
has been around for a lot longer than Sustrans' proposed cycleway.
In fact, in 1984 a study was carried out on the then disused Mickle Trafford
to Shotton railway line, and a report was published as to what should be done
with the disused track. None of the proposals to come out of that report involved
However, there was a proposal for a cycleway/walkway, and Sustrans carried out
a detailed study. As a result, in depth working drawings and costings were produced.
On 16th December 1985, a joint meeting took place between the city and county
councils, which led to a decision that the route should be preserved for use
as an urban and rural path, and that Sustrans Ltd's proposals should be further
These detailed working drawings show the cycle/ walkway running on the old track
bad. There is no mention of the CDTS scheme anywhere in these plans dated July
Mr Roberts James also is quoted as saying: "Sustrans knew from the start that
we needed part of the line for the busway. They knew what they were getting".
It is evident from these plans and meetings that this was not the case. Mr Peter
Foster from Sustrans stated: "Naturally we were disappointed not to have the
entire track, but it was made clear to us that the busway scheme was already
in the pipeline. We had the choice of withdrawing or making the best of things".
These comments are, according to their own documentation inaccurate, as the
aforementioned documents prove. Even in the 1988 Greater Chester Local Plan
there is no mention of the CDTS scheme.
In this article it states; "The £56 million Chester-Deeside Transport Scheme
(CDTS) was conceived an decade ago, long before Bristol-based Sustrans chose
to bring 2,500 miles of redundant rail lines to life with a national network
Yet by 1985 Sustrans had already built over 60 km of path which was open to
the public. With another 40 km due to be or actually under construction. One
or which was of very similar characteristics to the urban section in Chester.
A proposal was put forward for members and officers to visit this particular
project in order to assess its style and quality in the Chester context. Andrew
Farrell, Chief Planning Officer, acknowledges the reaction as a warning that
all is not well with the planning process, but points to the huge mass of information
his department has made available over the years in the build up to the planning
The actual official public consultation period for this project was a three-week
period in the height of the holiday season, which consisted of a two-day display
of plans in two out-of-town libraries. This for such a major project is deplorable,
especially when in a summary of the govemment's White Paper, it specifically
states: "We want local people and business to have a real say and real influence
over improving transport. Local authorities will be expected to consult widely
and involve their communities and transport operators in the decisions they
Taking this into consideration, a senior planning officer has been quoted as
saying he had to deal with the planning application "in isolation from, and
uninfluenced by" the obvious high level of public unease regarding the scheme.
Our chief planning officer advises opponents of this scheme to consult their
councillors. This is clearly not a viable approach. One councillor has publicly
stated that although he has a duty to listen to his electorate, "this does act
mean I have to agree with them or do as they want me to."
As for the building of park and ride facilities on greenbelt land, this contravenes
Official government guideline P.P.G. 2. Yet there are presently three park and
ride sites in operation or being constructed on green belt land around Chester.
Therefore, if the councils are willing to blatantly disregard official government
policy, what chance has the electorate of Chester of being listened to by our
There is a history of park and ride facilities being built with retail development
being added at a later stage.
Being as the Sustrans application is due before the planning committee next
month (September), should there not be a public inquiry held first. As there
has been such a great public objection regarding this scheme a public inquiry
is a necessity.
Tony Brandon and Clinton Hughes, Chester Preservation
27/8/98 Many thanks to Councillor Peter Byrne for his prompt
response in last week's Standard to my letter of the previous week. It produced a good deal of amusement around the kitchen
table in this, and no doubt many other Chester households.
Let's take the councillor's points as he raises them.
He accuses me of displaying an attitude towards councillors and the planning
process which is "only too prevalent" among correspondents to the Standard while
at the same time displaying a "lack of real knowledge of what goes on." Can
we take it therefore that good councillor Byrne disapproves of the opinions
of the many correspondents to this august organ? Knowing far more than the likes
of them about "what goes on" (what indeed?) he doubtless feels a little more
respect for the dignity of his office and the status quo in general is in order.
He says I claim councillors do not listen to their electorate and give in too
easily to the demands of developers, but in this I could not be more wrong.
He claims that on those occasions when councillors do take right decision, it
is then thrown out by the ever-obliging DoE inspectors. Point taken, but he
then unfortunately goes on to use the scandalous loss of the Electric Light
building as an example, firstly by repeating the same tired claim about the
"impossibility of retaining the building because of the sewer' (he would be
wise to check with the city engineer's department and Welsh Water before believing
everything he's been spoon fed on this one) - and saying the "developer needed
the site to generate funds for the rest of the development" (Like I need my
neighbour's house to generate funds to pay for my own? Hardly justification).
Not unexpectedly, he tops it off with the "they would only have gone to appeal
anyway, so what's the point in fighting?" card. Judging by the performance of
Chester's councillors, none at all it seems. With the notable exception of Cllr.
Steve Davis, the whole bunch of you had the white flying long before it ever
came to a fight.
Continuing the theme of councillors paying no attention to the wishes of the
people, Cllr. Byrne corrects me by saying "what I really mean is that councillors
disagree with my standpoint, which I think is the right one." Do they? It's
difficult to tell, when the majority of them are so noticeably absent from the
debate upon the many crucial planning and environmental issues that currently
plague our city. The publicdebate at least. Or does Cllr. Byrne claim
to know that the opinion of every other councillor agrees absolutely with his
own- and that all unanimously disagree with me? How humbling. The herd mind
at work again.
But enough of shabby attempts to personalise the issues. In reality, none of
this is remotely about me or my opinions. It is about my children, my neighbours,
and my community. Green spaces are being lost at an unbelievable rate. 0ur roads
are death traps for cyclists- yet another tragedy occurred just this week- and
no-go zones for children, despite the empty rhetoric about 'safe routes to school'.
Where are they to play and breathe clean air? Where are families to walk and
cycle together in peace and safety? And what will our betters allow to remain
for the generations that follow?
It is also about the unique and special city I love and what it is being turned
into by a tribe of take-the-money-and-run developers assisted by hand-wringing
so-called local representatives. When did we last hear councillors pleading
for new parks, greenways or car-free streets?
Cllr. Byrne claims I cannot show that my view of matters such as the future
use of the Mickle Trafford railway is not the majority view, given his quip
that "you can't ran a democracy by counting letters to the local press" apparently
I can't. But nonetheless, I can still produce hundreds of these apparently-irrelevant
letters and articles by all sorts of people published in the local press over
the last few years absolutely coming to the same conclusion that putting buses
on the old railway is a stupid idea. I can also produce the excellent report
published by his own County Council in 1984 strongly advocated the line being
used for walkers and cyclists only. I asked it before and received no answer.
I ask it again now - Where is your proof to the contrary, Cllr. Byrne? Where-
outside of town halls and planning departments- arethis majority of our
people that actively support the CDTS, the destruction of the Electric Light
building, the rape of the green belt and all the rest of it?
The great differences, it strikes me, between the Standard's Points of View
and Chester's democracy behind-closed-doors are that the former is freely available
to all, the level of reasoning and debate is high and it presents its readers
with a damn sight better chance of communicating their concerns than within
the farce of today's representational politics. Personally speaking, the number
of emails, letters, personal callers and other messages of support and agreement
I have received since last writing to the Standard has been phenomenal. Yes,
councillor Byrne and the rest of you, I agree that my opinions alone count for
little- but be assured I am far from alone.
Cllr Byrne's treatment of the concerns of the residents of Cranleigh Crescent
I considered, both at the meeting we both attended (but from which their city
councillor was notable by his absence) and within his letter, condescending.
Not for a moment did those people believe he accepted their argument. Regarding
this, their objection to the placement of an access gate- and their presentation
of a viable, less complex, alternative plan, he makes the absurd claim that
"it may be possible to do something at the cost of losing the whole scheme."
Oh come now. Scrap a £50 million beanfeast for the sake of one small gate? You're
not going to let that happen.
Far better, perhaps, if the long-suffering Sustrans should choose to withdraw
from the scheme as it stands. They are already far from happy with the proposals
for this, the only section of the National Cycleway to be shared with other
traffic - and the massive public opposition to it. Not to mention the doubtful
legality of wasting charitable money on the tree felling and earthworks necessary
for building their cycletrack down the extreme edge of the line- earthworks
that will doubtless provide economic benefit to the decidedly non-charitable
busway builders. Sustrans, who actually doknow a thing or two about the
sensible utilisation of old railway lines, would indeed be well justified in
getting out of this appalling mess, thus leaving a prominent gap in the circuit
and exposing the city to national ridicule. Common sense may then prevail.
How can our councillors- every one of whom, I remind you, apparently support
the CDTS- be surprised by the public disquiet when the public continue to be
told so little? Just how does this single bus-route, costing many millions of
pounds to build, plan to operate profitably, given the statement that Tesco's
planned collection of tin huts at one end of the line and the Deeside Development
Zone at the other is to play no part in the funding of the scheme? Where isthe
money to come from? Where are the profits to be made- and by whom? Bus fares?
Nobody funds white elephants. A little less secrecy and some real public consultation
may win you a few more supporters. Maybe.
Cllr. Byrne's condescension continued as he informed me that the "planning process
and democratic process are rather more complicated than I think" and that I
"do democracy no service by impugning the motives and intelligence of those
who disagree with me." I am not a politician and admit to caring little for
this game of personal and party insults that politicians seem to find an adequate
substitute for reason- No culture and few original ideas? I leave you simply
with the words of the big fella; "By their fruits shall ye know them".
Steve Howe, Lime Grove Hoole Chester
28/8/98 Two years ago a respondent suggested I was mad when I
made a plea for cyclists to be permitted to use pedestrian areas where there
is no safe and viable alternative.
Now there are more and more cyclists using the pedestrian areas, pavements and
counter-flowing one way streets as there is still no alternative.
While I applaud the start being made to provide cycleways an the outskirts of
the city (but not along bus lanes), there is a need for a radical rethink about
access to the centre. Ask the postmen they are experts, One of the delegates
at April's European Transport and Environment Conference in Chester said priorities
for movement about his city were: 1. pedestrians, 2. cyclists, 3. public transport
service vehicles, 4. private cars if there is any remaining space.
Come on city council! We are seeing action on number one- how about number two?
TOM WALKER, Allington Place, Handbridge, Chester
21/8/98 We thank Councillor Peter Byrne and chief planning officer
Andrew Farrell for kindly visiting our house on Tuesday, August 11, to meet
Cranleigh Crescent and Highcliffe Avenue residents. Thanks, too, to the 30-plus
residents and individual representatives from Hoole and The Glen in Blacon.
There was lively discussion as heartfelt concerns were put forward about plans
to build access paths and gates through the heart of our community.
Concerns included: the removal of security fencing, danger for children, homes
and vehicles, congestion, parking problems and the loss of our green, presently
a children's play area.
Cllr Byrne brought to our attention that the cycleway would focus on leisure
use (contrary to information sent to us by Sustrans that it will be used by
'local people on everyday jouneys').
As plans show the cycleway will be totally unlit, it worries us that the only
users in the darkness hours will be the criminal element of our society - who
will be given direct access to our homes!
The meeting has made us a little more hopeful that our plea- to put the access
somewhere else- has been heard by someone (even if they don't actually have
any direct say in the matter) The test now is to see if democracy will be seen
to be working, or will the voice of a community fall on deaf ears yet again?
We put forward a strong, passionate case but our fear is that this will be watered
down through the bureaucratic process by people who don't share our concerns.
We truly hope the fine summer evening spent in our garden will go some way towards
achieving our goal- to keep the play area and security fence as they are. At
the same time the opportunity is there to rekindle a little faith in our elected
body of councillors and the planning office. We hope they take it!
EMMA AND WILL RIDING, Cranleigh Crescent, Chester
21/8/98 Parents, grandparents, school governors and councillors
who are concerned about 'malevolent and predatory adults' should know that a
child is 50 times more likely to be killed on the roads than to be murdered
by a stranger.
In Odense in Denmark, a town the size of Oxford, traffic accidents to children
fell by 85% after the Government ordered local authorities to protect children
from traffic on their way to and from school.
Now more than 60% of Danish schoolchildren cycle to school every day, while
in Britain fewer than 4% do, even though more than 90% of them own bicycles.
The disused Mickle Trafford-Shotton railway line presents a wonderful opportunity
to provide the children and adults of Chester with a pleasant, healthy and safe
way to get around, on foot and by bicycle. Chester has miles and miles of bus
routes- another one is surplus to requirements. Just as new roads generate more
traffic, a new cycle/footpath will increase cycling and walking.
The proposed width of three metres for the cycle/footpath at the edge of the
old track is insufficient for cycles and pedestrians going both ways at busy
Why should the Chester section of the visionary Millennium National Cycleway
be pushed to one side by an un-needed busway?
If Park and Ride users need to be offered a traffic-free route to the city centre,
a cycle hire facility could be made available, as at stations in Holland.
CATHY HANAVAN, Brook Lane, Chester
27/8/98 Since moving to Chester 10 years ago I have seen one
planning debacle after another. The traffic lights (after which congestion increased
manyfold, as any local driver will tell you), the Town Hall Square (in which
it was proved possible to take a number of reasonable elements together and
make a dog's dinner) and so on.
We have the debate about the Electric Light facade, and the "reasons" offered
for doing away with it. Let's be quite clear; these days construction design
is such that if we wanted a thing saved or modified in any way, it could be
done. Cost and other issues being relevant, certainly, but surely good design
is that art and skill of reconciling often complex constraints... And indeed
the Mickle Trafford/Shotton linear park, to which I would like to add my tuppence
It was interesting to read Cllr Peter Byrne's aggrieved reply to Steve Howe.
That he should take it so personally means at least it is telling. On this issue
the good councillor should, as a public servant after all, take note that the
People have actually spoken (for once) on this matter, clearly and consistently,
over several years. How could people not object? Both to the busway concept
and to the manner of its being pushed forward; there is a sense of dark Byzantine
subterfuge. Using Sustrans to open a way in particular is surely on the wrong
side of ethical. Are there things we are not being told? Have contracts, memoranda
of understanding, already been issued?
My point is, do we not realise the opportunity before us in this piece of ground?
As a linear park/cycle road, that is. This is a chance to build a piece of cultural
infrastructure totally in keeping with the expressed ideals of both transport
and planning for the next century. If properly realised, it would go some way
to suggesting alternatives to motor vehicles in the first place. It is a cultural
matter, of how transport is perceived in itself.
Even pedicabs? Not as silly as it sounds; various people are trying to launch
this idea as a viable public service in Oxford and other cities, and so far
have been firmly sat on, usually by the local councils.
For once we should not have to look to Strasbourg or somewhere to we how things
should be done. Fact-finding committees might come here for a change. It would
be justified in goodwill value alone. Last not least, it would add an interesting
piece of amenity value to our city, rather than subtracting from it. How can
local government hope to retain a mandate or any credibility when it is seen
as so divorced from the hopes, indeed better interests of those who elected
them? More importantly, let us move positively, now, to create a unique use
of this transport corridor in creating a visionary linear park, creating an
interface between town and country to the advantage of both.
28/8/98 Much as I admire imagination and enthusiasm, they must
be constrained by realism, and it doesn't surprise me that the proposed Mickle
Trafford-Deeside guided busway has attracted buckets of cold water.
First, who is behind Sustrans and if they get their busway, do they plan to
live with the financial outcome- or just dump it on the council tax payers?
It seems improbable that such a line would be viable when it neither gets to
the city centre nor links areas of substantial population.
Commuter rail lines into London may be crowded but they still lose money, largely
because rush hour trains are full in one direction and empty in the other. Yet
there have to be enough trains and staff to handle peak demand and neither come
The Chester-Liverpool line generates a good deal of traffic in both directions
all day, but it still requires substantial subsidy. Any fixed link between Mickle
Trafford and Deeside would inevitably be a bottomless financial pit.
One must also examine the motives of Individual proponents- public transport
can create an apparent bonanza for unionised workforces and a political launching
pad for their 'leaders'. Heaven help the customers!
In an un-ideal world, the fact is that congestion is an indicator of prosperity.
We should use it by speeding people on their way, obstructing traffic and creating
pollution. Let's aim to assist traffic leaving the city centre by. for example,
correctly calibrating the traffic light sensors so that it doesn't take five
minutes to negotiate the Overleigh and Fountains roundabouts in the middle of
the night, reinstating the centre lane of the A51 through Littleton to Tarvin
and making it 'peak hour priority' and by lots of other little schemes. if people
could only leave quickly it would help free up the city centre. Car drivers
shouldn't be vilified- most of us are pedestrians, car drivers and public transport
users, depending on where we're going, when and why.
Thank goodness there's a choice: you wouldn't catch me driving to London for
the day when there's a nice quick train to take the strain.
Let the zealots stop telling us what's good for us, albeit not applying it to
themselves, and let's try to be a bit more human and above all sensible.
Brian Griffiths, Parkgate Road, Mollington, Chester
29/8/98 Your Web site is excellent. However, I am a little surprised
to find no views from Sustrans itself concerning the Mickle Trafford-Deeside
Therefore I have reproduced here the two letters I received from them in July
in response to a query to their head and regional offices, followed by some
comments of my own.
1. (From Peter Foster)
"The arrangement resulting from the protocol is the most practical, we feel,
given the Council's strong views for the guided busway along the former railway.
We have now acquired the line and will be discussing future arrangements with
the Councils shortly. Without the protocol the DETR would have blocked our acquisition.
Sustrans' Board view is that Sustrans cannot prevent a future public transport
use of a disused railway as long as the provision is integrated with other public
transport and any cycle track rebuilt as part of those proposals.
Please feel free to lobby Councillors on the details of the guided busway, anticipated
levels of patronage, number of car journeys removed from local roads, integration
with Chester Station, City Centre and the Neston railway line etc. Some letters
of support for our current planning application to Chester City Council and
Flintshire would be helpful."
2. (From John Grimshaw)
"We had little choice. In order for the Department of Transport and the Environment
to agree to release this particular disused railway into our ownership, they
required that we entered into an agreement with Cheshire County Council to allow
a future guided busway. We felt that given that choice it was better to enter
into such an agreement and achieve a high quality cycling and walking route,
rather than not enter into it and probably see the line remain derelict for
some time with an eventual likelihood that a busway might be built anyway, quite
possibly without any parallel greenway.
It would be wrong to say that we actively support the guided busway although
I am sure that our agreement with the County may be interpreted in that way.
Obviously if you felt that we should have taken any other course of action I
would be most grateful for your advice."
Concerning this last remark, I had nothing to suggest. But what
is interesting is that it is not the Councils but the DETR who seem to be responsible
for imposing the busway on Sustrans.
No, I do not much like the busway either. But as a Sustrans supporter I am not
prepared to oppose the planning application; it is vitally important for local
Sustrans supporters to make sure that the cycle/walkway planning application
succeeds, not only for its local benefits but also so we can get access to the
rest of the National Cycle Network. Sustrans' view (expressed to me verbally)
is that they do not see the combined greenway/busway scheme as impractical,
nor the busway itself as a major obstacle.
Furthermore, repeated and impassioned objections to the busway by a small number
of people - no doubt highly sincere, and often on quite justifiable grounds-
are not supported by Sustrans, simply because such objections do not help its
The other point is that no-one- not even the handful of councillors cited- has
made any persuasive attempt to argue the purpose or even possible merits that
the busway might have. Yes, we all want to see some decent provision for Chester's
cyclists; but there is one thing that cycles are no good for, and that is carting
stuff about. If anyone can tell me of a safe way of transporting supermarket-size
bags of groceries on a bicycle I would be most grateful. I would actually have
no objection to the busway, and might even be persuaded to find a good use for
it- provided that (1) the buses are emission-free (2) the busway is adequately
segregated from the greenway, and (3) the space allocation to the greenway is
generous. But neither the plans nor the advocates for the busway give any such
Steve Heavens, Saughall resident
4/9/98 In response to statements made by the project manager
of the Chester-Deeside transport System (CDTS) and the head of planning, CPRE
adds further comments about the proposals for a busway/cycleway/walkway on the
Mickle Trafford-Shotton disused railway line.
The EIP Panel, although agreeing the CDTS would be consistent with the proposed
Development Plan, was concerned about the escalating cost of the CDTS and whether
the busway represented value for money in achieving the objectives of encouraging
use of alternatives to the car.
The Panel concluded that without strict measures to prevent traffic from entering
the city centre, CDTS would be a costly scheme and would indeed be wasteful.
The head of planning stated any connection between the proposed Park & Ride
site at Mannings Lane and a next-door foodstore was a 'blatantly untrue suggestion'.
In its response to the Local Plan, Healey Baker, acting for Tesco Stores Ltd,
stated Tesco had evolved proposals for a package of development of land near
the junction of M53 and A56 (Mannings Lane site). This package would provide
a Park & Ride location-linked to the city centre by the proposed busway.
Tesco wishes to see eight hectares removed from the Green Belt and allocated
for a Park & Ride and other facilities associated with the proposed busway,
and a retail foodstore. As far as CPRE is aware, these proposals have not been
CPRE is concerned that new Structure Plan policies for retail development in
Chester, together with new Government policies to open up development sites
related to public transport routes and the 'sequential approach' to choosing
retail sites, could outweigh Local Plan policies protecting the land at Mannings
Lane from development.
CPRE believes a cycleway/walkway, similar to all the other excellent Sustrans
schemes throughout the country, should be given permission to be constructed
along the central route of the disused railtrack and not forced off the track
as proposed by the present planning application.
The expensive engineering, the problems involved in acquiring land near the
track and the felling of trees would no longer be necessary, allowing Sustrans
to achieve its aims with less cost and in time for the Millennium.
The recent Government White Paper on Transport requires new transport schemes
to have the backing of the local community.
There is evidence of overwhelming local support for the cycleway/walkway only.
The busway, however, remains controversial.
ANN JONES, Planning coordinator, Chester District CPRE, Daleside, Upton Heath,
4/9/98 The planning decision regarding the future of the Mickle
Trafford to Shotton disused railway is close at hand.
The cycle/pathway part of the project is likely to go for approval on September
23. Yet it has been disclosed that the plans are incomplete and more work has
to be done.
This has been confirmed by County Cllr Peter Byrne, chairman of the CDTS Steering
Of great concern to the general public is the funding of such a large project
(£56 million). This has also not been finalised, but it is likely the private
sector will be involved. In what capacity is not known. No detailed information
has been released.
Members of the public and other interested parties have requested precise facts
and figures as to use of the guided busway, but no such information is forthcoming.
With such large public opposition to the busway, it seems unlikely it will be
used by Chester residents. Again many have voiced their concern that if the
project is a financial failure, Chester's ratepayers will suffer.
The legality of the proposed Park & Ride site at Mannings Lane is also greatly
in question. According to government sources, the building of Park & Ride schemes
are not permitted within Green Belt land.
This is one or the points raised by Tesro in its official objection to the Local
Plan, dated November 12, 1997. Tesco states Park & Ride schemes are not allowed
within the Green Belt (as per PPG2) and wants the Green Belt Boundary amended
so this area is no longer contained within it.
The Local Plan is being reviewed early next year. This calls into question chief
planning officer Andy Farrell's recent statement that Tesco will not be allowed
to build on this area because of local and national guidelines.
The local council is already breaking these guidelines (PPG2) by the location
of other Park & Ride schemes on Green Belt land, giving an inroad for developers.
In a recent statement from Christine Russell MP, she backs the building of Park
& Ride schemes in Green Belt areas by declaring them permissible. However, Mrs
Russell does not give any precise details as to the document that countermands
PPG 2. It is vital Mrs Russell gives this information before any decision can
be made upon this site.
The public has a right to this information and interested parties need to be
able to study such a document.
CLINT HUGHES AND TONY BRANDON, Chester Preservation Group c/o Linden Grove,
6/9/98 Your recent correspondence in the local press on the above
subject of the disused railway track has to be the most reasoned and mature
assembly of the case for local people that I have seen so far.
I am writing to support your campaign to ensure that this disused track is kept
solely and exclusively for walkers and pedal cyclists only, for the long term
and not, as the various local authorities require, as a guided bus track as
well at some future date.
I live close to the track in Newton and I work at Deeside Industrial Park. There
is no effective way of travelling to and from work on public transport at present,
but even if there are plans to introduce such public transport it should travel
by existing roads which are already quite adequate.
Some time ago I spoke to my local Councillor to voice my opposition to the impositions
placed upon Sustrans and to indicate my support for a footpath and cycleway
only along the whole route. I might as well have talked to a brick wall for
all the interest and support I received.
As you say, it is clear that the Council has decided to have a busway, whatever
Because of my work and charitable commitments, it is not possible for me to
do much by way of lobbying, attending meetings, etc, but I thought you might
like to know you have my support for your campaign. I very much hope that this
daft scheme (busway) will be abandoned.
Incidentally, I hope that further plans to build a "park and ride" scheme at
the Mannings Lane A41 junction (or close by) is also opposed in due course.
We do not want a repeat of the roadworks stupidity at Bache repeated here, nor
do we want a Tesco store on land I understand they have purchased there. That
would get me into the lobby campaign!
Neil D Wallace, CIPD MIMgt, Mannings Lane South, Chester
10/9/98 With regard to "Fat cats call tune" in Points Of View
recently and Mr Ingrams saying "the current plans dealt only with the cycleway/footpath
and were nothing at all to do with the proposed busway." I'm not surprised this
was treated with derision.
If Sustrans had a free hand they would make a cycleway/walkway only, which is
what they do. It is pressure from the council to put this on the edge. This
is the kind of thing in planning which is so abhorrent. Get one thing through,
conning the public, and then it is easy for them to get their own planning permission
for the busway through, whenever.
With regard to "Forum feedback", I wonder if Mr Hughes has this in writing fom
Mr Farrell that "there are no plans to link the propsed Mickle Trafford-Shotton
bus route with the proposed Chester Western relief bus route".
10/9/98 CDTS project manager Carlton Roberts James defends Sustrans'
application to build an offset cycle/walkway on the Mickle Trafford railway
on the grounds that this safeguards space required by the CDTS busway in the
event that this gains planning approval.
This is a sensible enough principle, but its practical impact in this case is
less than Roberts-James would have us believe. This is firstly because a central
cycle/walkway, as favoured by CPRE and many of the objectors to the Sustrans
plan, need in no way be a permanent structure. CPRE, FOE et al have been banging
on about this since the CDTS was unveiled- a central cycleway would still allow
all other options to be pursued, even a busway, though they don't tend to mention
this use. Secondly, offsetting a central path (if required) needn't incur "abortive
expense" because most of the access ramps and fencing could be made common to
Proponents of CDTS are fond of telling us that its finer details are not yet
fixed, so their inflexible reaction to calls for a central path (a mere detail
in the grand scheme of things, one would have thought) will confirm in the minds
of many objectors that one aim of building an offset cycleway is to so degrade
the line's linear park potential that for this use, and CDTS opposition, will
collapse. The critics are right; this is a way of subverting the consultation
Roberts-James goes on to devote many column inches to describing the public
consultation facilities built into the Transport and Works Act. Now most CDTS
objectors simply reject the busway part outright, so to them, the TWA consultations,
granted after taking yet more steps towards a busway getting the go ahead, are
as welcome as a choice of deckchair on a sinking ship. It seems a little odd
that Mr Roberts-James, an intelligent broke with the job of promoting CDTS,
should spend time writing a long letter for publication which is unlikely to
be read by anyone without a keen interest in the subject, and which is unlikely
to influence the views of those who do. So then, the letter wasn't aimed at
the public, was it? It was aimed at our elected representatives, hence also
the excuses for the slow progress of CDTS. All this talk of extra consultation
will be a soothing balm for councillors whose consciences are bothered by the
prospect of voting for the offset cycleway in the face of massive public opposition.
(It requires a degree of doublethink to believe that in order to listen to the
public, you really have to ignore them, but politicians am adept at this.) And
this is interesting, because if the CDTS project manager is writing letters
to try and influence councillors, that implies some of them are still open to
influence doesn't it?
So in the end I have to say thanks to Mr Roberts-James. If anyone else had said
there was much point in writing to councillors about this, I probably wouldn't
have believed them, but now I just might give it a go.
Well, you just don't know until you try.
Alan Jones, 82 Brook Lane Chester
10/9/98 I have just returned from a cycling holiday in the Netherlands
with my partner and her three children aged 11, 8 and 6. We travelled over 320
miles in our journey from south to north and had a wonderful time enjoying a
country which actually encourages pedestrians and cyclists.
In our journey we came across so many examples of good design practice to make
things easy for people using bicycles and we had plenty of time to reflect on
how things could be in Chester to improve things to encourage cycling. I will
describe a few examples which were the most striking which could be put into
practise here if only there was the awareness and political will.
The results of these measures and others ensures that it is thoroughly normal
to cycle in the Netherlands and huge numbers of people of all ages and income
levels use the bicycle to get around.
- All residential streets have a 30kph speed limit (less than 20mph) with
traffic actually keeping to the limit (often with physical measures like
road humps). No 20mph limits in Cheshire.
- On busy traffic light junctions, cyclists have their own cycle lane with
special traffic lights with their own phasing (there is not one single example
in the whole of Cheshire)
- On one-way streets cyclists are almost always allowed to travel in both
directions- a special sign beside "no entry" signs says "uit gezondered"
(which means "cyclists excepted" in Dutch). (Cheshire Highways engineers
says it is far too dangerous. And there is not one example in Cheshire.
Are we reallyall that different from Dutch people?)
- Supermarkets offer delivery services to those who come to shop by bicycle.
I think it should be a compulsory part of any highway engineer's training and
experience to cycle in the Netherlands to experience at first hand how pleasant
cycling can be if there is the right infrastructure. Are we going to see exchange
trips for Cheshire highways engineers to the Netherlands?
Simon Brown, 65 Gladstone Avenue, Chester
10/9/98 This is an open letter to the city council, as we have
received information which indicates that the council can no longer afford the
park and ride schemes and are looking for private sector involvement. If this
is true (would the council please confirm this to the electorate?) to what extent
will the private sector involvement be?
Does this mean that there is the possibility of development on and around the
present and proposed park and ride sites? if the council cannot afford the park
and ride schemes, would they explain why they are presently constructing one
on the A483, and proposing to build two others- Mannings Lane and Parkgate Road?
The information we have received indicates that a report is being prepared regarding
this matter. If this is so, would the council please release details of when
it to be completed so that the public can view its contents?
If this information is correct, it calls into question the whole validity of
the park and ride schemes, and also the CDTS project which relies on such schemes.
We await the council's response to the points raised in this letter.
Chester Preservation Group
11/9/98 Leaving aside other considerations concerning the future
of the disused Mickle Trafford-Deeside railway line, would it not be pleasant
to have a public right of way running through urban Chester into the open countryside
along which people could stroll or cycle entirely seperate from the danger,
noise and pollution of motor vehicles which must be endured on every other road?
John J Roberts, Blacon Chester
17/9/98 If, as has been stated by the city planners and councillors
that the planning application for a Cycle/walkway along the Mickle Trafford-Deeside
disused railway has nothing to do with the proposed busway then the route on
the very edge of the track makes no sense. Why, if the cycle/walkway is being
considered on its own is the centre of the rail track being left unused to become
The Chester-Deeside Transport system (C.D.T.S.) has always been presented to
the public as a three in one scheme combining a two-way guided busway with a
cycle/walkway at its side. The planning application for the cycle/walkway clearly
indicates the busway 'envelope' along the centre of the railtrack.
If permission is granted for this particular alignment of the cycle/walkway
along the edge of the railtrack then intentionally or otherwise the first element
of the C.D.T.S. will have been put in place. The public may be allowed to express
views on the C.D.T.S. at a later stage but a vital decision about that scheme
will already have been taken.
It is to be hoped that we are not heading for yet another unfortunate planning
decision to add to the sad catalogue- the Capital Bank glowering over the Groves,
the gridlock on the Wrexham Road roundabouts, the ever-increasing development
in the Sealand Basin and Caldy Valley, and most recently, the chaos resulting
fmm the Safeways expansion at the Bache.
WV Jones, 101 Daleside Upton Heath, Chester
127/9/98 Copy of a letter to the members of Chester City Council
planning sub committee.
The Sustrans planning application is due to be considered by you on 23rd September.
I hope that you will consider very carefully before you come to a conclusion.
I consider that it prejudges whether the CDTS busway proceeds and for that reason
and for that reason alone the application should be postponed for the time being.
I strongly suggest that the way the pathway/cycle track has been shown is a
misconception, its locauon having been prostituted to the needs of the CDTS
There is a strong lobby of opinion in the city that the busway is an unnecessary
luxury, especially at this time.
I can find no evidence of a "comprehensive appreciation" of the relative merits
of the scheme imposed onto Sustrans (which shows a dull and constricted pathway/cycle
track running to one side of the sacred cow, the busway). A much improved facility
for cyclists and pedestrians, imaginatively designed is a must and should have
been considered as such. Clearly there is not adequate room for both facilities,
the pathway/cycle track must have precedence over the busway. The priorities,
adopted in a number of county/district transportation studies, list 1. pedestrians
and 2. cyclists as the two top priorities.
In consequence of the lack of safety and for the many reasons stated already
in the objections submitted and in points of view published in the local press,
I feel that councillors should reconsider their entrenched positions in respect
of the CDTS busway. They should stand up and be counted. It is important to
know whether you are representing us, your constituents, or not; particularly
where considering the viability of CDTS.
When the 12 Point Protocol was agreed its constant was stated to be 'secret'
and it was some considerable time before I was able to ascertain its contents.
In contrast to Cheshire County Council, access to Chester city Council is very
difficult and time-consuming; letters are not answered, no-one is available
to answer a query, displayed information is not well presented and nofication
given is often too short or nonexistent as far as I am concerned. I find that
arrangements for raising private finance are difficult to ascenain and, when
published, seem to be devious. All these points leave one with a feeling of
unease- one further reason why councillors should be seen to be open in their
attitude to our doubts over how the CDTS is being introduced and how the sustrans
application prejudges the busway decision.
I and many others hope that councillors will now reconsider this issue without
bias or constraint and will see fit to reject or postpone Sustrans' planning
F. W. Crowe, 21 Housteads Drive Hoole Chester
17/9/98 What an opportuntity will be missed if the council agree
to the planning application for a cycleway to be built at the edge of the Shotton/Mickle
Trafford railway line.
I need routes where it is safe and interesting and peaceful to cycle with my
husband and five year old daughter without having to worry about the noise,
danger and pollution of motorised vehicles. Separate routes like that are going
to do far more to encourage other people to leave their cars at home too. Isn't
that what present transport policy is supposed to be about?
The cost of putting only a cycleway/walkway along the centre of the disused
railway would be minimal compared to the tens of millions that the cycleway/walkway/busway
will cost. More bus lanes and reduced speed limits within the city would do
much more to encourage people to use public transport and bicycles than what
The meeting where the planning application for the cycleway will be agreed or
not is on 23rd September at 10.30am. If you agree that it should not be accepted
as it stands then come to the meeting with an A4 sheet of paper saying simply
NO to this adulteration of an extremely good idea.
The original Sustrans plan would be ideal for pedestrians and tourists alike.
Why not show the councillors the extent of opinion against the existing plans
L. Young, Chester
24/9/98 I really do feel Sustrans have been treated very unfairly
and probably illegally by this council. Imagine a developer buying land, for
instance like the Blacon Meadows, and being told by the council, you can only
have a piece on the edge, we want the rest. Their lawyers would be appealing
to the inspector for the Environment at the drop of a hat.
I, too, think it would be best if Sustrans pulled out left this greedy council
high and dry, instead of being made a scapegoat for them.
You don't have a bus without people getting on and off to their houses. At present
the proposed busway is mostly at the back of people's houses. So it makes sense
to me the only reason for putting this busway is for the developers. nm are
adequate buses for the developers. Therea are adequate buses for the other people
so the only reason I can come up with is the council are after land for building
on the green field sites which we left.
The Sustrans planning proposal is no good as it stands. They have received Lottery
money for cycleway/walkways and it is out of order for this council to involve
them in this sort of scam.
We wish again to state that the huge difference
in the numbers of letters against the development of a Guided Busway on the
Mickle Trafford-Deeside railway versus those in favour of it (and the almost
total lack of letters from the public in this latter category) is a true and
accurate representation of the letters to us and appearing in Chester's local
press, and- unlike material emanating from certain councillors, planners and
other local vested interests- NO attempt has been made to doctor the facts...