A Virtual Stroll Along the Old Mickle Trafford-Deeside Railway- now The Millennium Greenway

What the People Really Think part 3: letters to these pages and the Chester press in opposition to the CDTS Guided Busway

Pages 1 | 2 | 4 | 5 | 6 | 7 | 8 | 9 | 10 | 11 | 12 | 13 | 14 | 15 | 16 | 17 | 18 | 19 Letters in favour of the Busway parts 1 | 2 | 3

After the vote...

1/10/98 I attended the meeting at which the planning commitee approved the sidelined Sustrans cycle and pedestrian way on the Mickle Trafford railway. It was striking that not one councillor spoke or voted against the application. As a long time member of Sustrans I welcome the inclusion of a local pathway but resent the way it has been marginalised to leave trackbed for the C.D.T.S.
It is argued that the busway scheme connected to a park and ride will help to alleviate the city's car problems, but park and ride is a sticking plaster solution to parking problems.
A genuine public transport system would get people from their locality to destination without the need to drive a car to a tarmacked piece of greenbelt land.
I will certainly be finding out whether candidates for the next local elections support C.D.T.S. or not and voting accordingly. We might yet keep this green corridor truly green.
Tom Walker, Handbridge, Chester

1/10/98 The recent debacle over the Sustrans planning application busway proposals as witnessed at the Town Hall and in the local press has raised a serious issue that needs adressing. When does 'vigorous opposition from a small minority' become significant enough that our councillors need to take note? Is it 30 for 40 objectors, 300 or 400, 3000 or 4000? Cllr. Jean Garrod tells us that 'I have never received so many letters as I did on this subject, most of them objecting to the busway." Given Clir Garrods's significant length of service, this seems pretty sizeable to me. Is it still then not enough? Seemingly not.
I acknowledge that it is often a few who object so strongly an an issue that this may distort the picture but frankly the opposition to the busway proposals has gone way beyond this. I also appreciate that thinking they know best and wishing to influence the way of things is often inherent in those wishing to stand for elected office. However, there must come a time when even the most self-opinionated and stubborn must give in to public pressure, albeit screaming and kicking.
The recent 'consultation' exercises on many differing issues are examples of this breakdown of public involvement in the planning process. The system works OK if the public merely wish to fine tune a proposal, ie to move an access point or reduce the height of a wall. They then lobby hard and go results. If, however, they are fundamentally opposed to the whole concept, then it is as if their views suddenly don't count. The plans go ahead and their views are simply dismissed as "a small minority". Is this to salve the councillor's consciences or is it to discourage others from daring to disagree?
Before all our city councillors are asked to vote to ratify the planning sub-committee's decision I ask that they reflect on this matter, speak to their ward and then follow their conscience. I do not believe it is the concept of the cycleway/footpath that is contested but specifically it is that the route it can take has been compromised by the shadow busway project which may or may not happen. However, if they pass this application as it stands then it will be too late, whatever happens, to preserve the tranquil nature of this corridor.
I was interested to note that Cllr Boughton, who a few weeks ago warned that the footpathn required the busway alongside to keep our children safe from child molesters felt this week that he "would be failing in his duty if he didn't give permission" (to the footpath/cycleway application). This is despite the fact that the busway will at the earliest be built several years after the walkway. If be really felt so strongly who is his duty to now? Or was he perhaps just scaremongering- a technique much used by the council PR machine on this issue.
A final piece of advice for Cllr David Bennett, the self-appointed spokesman for the green cyclist lobby, who has wholeheartedly, indeed unashamedly grasped the limelight this week in support of the CDTS proposals. Look behind you. There's no-one sucked into your slip-stream, not cyclists, not walkers and not greens at any rate!
Graeme Lyall, 47 Oaklea Avenue, Hoole Chester

1/10/98 I would like to inform the general public on a couple of issues relating to the Sustrans cycleway, which was passed at a planning meeting last Wednesday.
Two of the committee councillors admitted to having interests in Sustrans. This surely cannot be right and can only be considered a conflict of interests.
At the beginning of the meeting it was stated that the committee was there to deal with the Sustrans cycleway- not the busway. Yet during the proceedings, on several occasions, the busway was discussed by the members in direct relation to the Sustrans project. In particular, references were made to the busway route access at Northgate Village.
People who have concerns about the Sustrans project can contact Carol Freeman at Sustrans on 0117 926 8893.
R.Hobbs, 41 Victoria Road, Chester

8/10/98 Your correspondent Green campaigner presumes a great deal by writing of silent majority approval for the Chester-Deeside Transport Scheme. When the councils canvassed public opinion, they found most people aren't bothered enough about CDTS to return the form. Both anti and pro busway opinion groups are small minorities and GC has no more idea of what the silent majority think than anyone else. Bored indifference is probably closer to the mark.
GC is completely misleading about last year's Examination In Public (of the Cheshire 2011 structure plan). The EIP was specifically not a public inquiry, its purpose was to allow public comment on what policies were going into the plan before the plan was finalised. The EIP panels endorsement of CDTS does not constitute planning approval, and must also be seen in the context of their terms of reference. For example, I was surprised to learn that the EIP could not property take into consideration the lack of green space in Newton and how a linear park would add to it. With this less than holistic viewpoint it is understandable that they reached the conclusion they did, and even then GC has quoted one of the few positive things they said about CDTS and the council's handling of it.
What is most laughable about GC is his objection to the "the NIMBY attitude by opponents who away from the route". By definition these people can't have NIMBY attitudes, and if it is wrong for them the busway, it is just as wrong for GC to try and promote it. Did GC not proof read his letter? Did the word hypocrisy not spring to mind?
It is my opinion that the planning committee went so far in pandering to real NIMBYS that they almost lost the plot. Councillor Sandra Rudd said the cycleway would give easier access to the city centre and "reduce reliance on the car". Nothing wrong with these sentiments you might say, and I'd agree, though in Cllr Rudd's case they probably came from a crib sheet, for she also opposed (unsuccessfully) the cycleway connection to Northgate Avenue. This happens to be a very useful shortcut into town for Newton residents, and it also connects the Northgate Village estate to Newton's shops and schools. Yet Cllr Rudd would chuck it all away to please a few complainants. The committee's response to public concern has been a cynical exercise in minimising the number of representations responded to, to draw attention from the way that more fundamental objections have been ignored.
Allan Jones, 82 Brook Lane, Newton, Chester

8/10/98 In response to last week's letter in the Standard, Silent Majority, Green (as grass- we interject) Campaigner. Tut-tut! What selfish inconsiderate people, these walkers/cyclists are, wanting one traffic-free route for themselves and wildlife. Whatever will they think of next- the environment? Has anyone heard the wildlife utter one word of complaint?
Two, usually silent, OAPs

8/10/98 How dare 'Green campaigner' glibly say that it is understandable that residents who back onto the route should have some apprehension about the footwayay/cycleway plans . Let me enlighten him/her. As I write this from my dining room I am facing a green embankment covered in trees and hedging which supports myriad wildlife. it is very, very quiet. Very occasionally, people walk along it, not necessarily 'miscreants'.
The majority of this embankment, and therefore the majority of the wildlife, will be removed for the scheme. On top of what is left will be placed a concrete and tarmac road and pathway, about three metres from our property at bedroom height. Along this road and pathway will travel buses at approximately five minute intervals for at least 12 hours a day every day, together with numerous cyclists and pedestrians, all well-behaved obviously. Is that what you call green?
It has become tedious reading the pontifications of councillors trying to justify this transport system as being environmentally friendly and capable of resolving the problem of congestion. The scenario I have described at the rear of our property is by no means friendly to the environment (It's no Wirral Way) and any positive effect of traffic will be negated in a few years by ever expanding car ownership and use. So why bother?
The reason for the support for this scheme can be encapsulated in one sentence taken from the Chester City Council's Transport Study: "'The system is needed to permit the redevelopment and regeneration of major brown field sites in Chester."
I make no apology for mentioning the busway even though it's day is yet to come, but let's face it, if the council can push through a contentious scheme like this with complete disregard for the opposition and manipulate a respected charity in doing so, then they will do the same for the busway. Listening and taking note of people's view does not appear to be one of our councillors' strong points. I have contacted many members of the various committees taking decisions about the scheme inviting a visit to our property to appreciate the extent to which pcople's lives will be affected. You will not be surprised to hear that not a single councillor made contact, let alone visited. That is the extent of how much they care. In all fairness, one particular local member eventually did visit, after we challenged his published views on the effect of the scheme. Despite accepting the intolerable effect it will have, he remained entrenched in his views- the few have to suffer for the good of the many. in other words- tough! By the way the offer still stands, and also to you 'Green Campaigner'.
I suppose I will eventually consider myself blessed that I should live so close to such an outstanding amenity with it's many life-enhancing qualities, whilst all our councillors and planning and highway officers must be cursing themselves for living too far away to be able to take full advantage. At least they will still have their city centre parking passes to console themselves.
Finally, let me thank our principal planing officer, Mr Ingram, for raising a smile with his backing of the scheme ie. "to legitimise and effectively manage public access." In other words spend millions of pounds and permanenly ruin the quality of people's lives to prevent trespass on what originally was British Rail land. That's a cracker, as someone once said!
G Hughes, I Westbourne Road Chester

8/10/98 Hiding behind the nom-de-plume of Green Campaigner, readers last week were treated to a classic example of the style of public relations currently emanating from the Clog Duff-Parkin and County Hall hype machines.
Claiming to represent or have knowledge of the views of "the silent majority", so-called Green Campaigner showed his or her wholehearted support for the councils' future use of the Mickle Trafford railway line by targeting some of those opposed to the plans and attempting to discredit them.
However, I would advise Green Campaigner not to give up his or her job, as the County Hall propaganda and rebuttal unit seem to have a surfeit of spin doctors and media manipulators who have much more successfully fed similar stories masquerading as news to a cooperative and supine local press.
Dennis Turner, 7 West Bank, Abbot's Park, Chester

8/10/98 I was interested to read the article about Sustrans setting the record straight regarding their involvement in the disused Mickle Trafford/Shotton railway line, and the Department of Transport asking them to put the track under covenant and trust, for any transport scheme in the future.
In the meantime why not let Sustrans make the three metre cycleway, after all three metres is only enough for cycles, and allow the track bed to be used for walkers runners, joggers, wheelchairs, prams and horseriders, in daylight hours, until such time as the track bed is needed for trains or the busway? It would be interesting to hear what councillors and planners think of this idea.
If transport is to be eventually put in this corridor again, I would prefer the train. People tolerate trains, they were there before and the corridor made for them. They also can carry freight, taking traffic off the roads. Unlike the proposed bus, which invades on people's privacy, coming off the track onto the roads, which is totally unnecessary and dangerous.
Chester resident

9/10/98 I write on behalf of Chester Cycle Campaign about our concerns over the reservation of the 'development envelope' within the recent planning approval of the cycleway along the disused railway line in Chester to accommodate the CDTS (otherwise known as the guided busway project).
It is quite apparent that council officials and councillors are not being very open about the connection between the huge amount of money required to implement the guided busway and where that money will come from.
The reality is the major part of the finance required has to come from private sector contributions in these days of public sector finance restrictions.
And What do these contributions mean? A return on the investment, almost always in the form of further development or increased turnover or sales.
And what does this mean? More people attracted to the city travelling by car because the true public transport system is so appalling, so under-invested in and so downright inconvenient and expensive that any rational person makes the choice to come by car with all the congestion and pollution that comes with it.
It is a misrepresentation of the facts to call the guided busway a public transport system when it depends on car use for it to be used. True public transport should he replacing car-borne journeys, not generating them.
We believe that the busway project has all the hallmarks of being a foregone conclusion when the project comes before a public Inquiry.
This process should allow for a considered debate on development issues in a supposedly independent fashion. However, as anyone who has tried to participate in such a process will know, the councils hire their expensive barristers to present and argue their case, the developers hire their expensive barristers to present and argue their case and the ordinary citizen is left to take time off work, find the money for requisite multiple copies of evidence of their case and pit their wits against legally-trained and experienced 'piranhas'.
And the end result?
Well, we have debacles, such as the Northgate Street traffic orders fiasco where all buses went in and out on the same route, polluting the air (just as ordinary citzen objectors said they would).
Another example, the pedestrianisation enquiry, which saw fit to ban cycles from the whole of the centre of Chester during business hours, thus condemning them to use the dangerous ring road yet allowing cars access to the Grosvenor and Blossoms Hotels. Some system!
Is it any wonder that turnout in local elections is so low when most people perceive the council as either doing what it wants regardless of the views and wishes of local citizens or else it is the developer's or central government's poodle.
That's why campaign groups such as ourselves exist to try to encourage greater public participation in community life and better awareness of issues. We are trying, as the local Agenda 21 process (supposedly adopted by both Chester city and Cheshire Councils) should be doing, to create a sustainable way of life to pass on to our children and all who take over our inheritance.
To anyone who really cares about the quality of life for themselves and what their children will inherit, we would urge you to get involved in challenging what the councils and developers are foisting upon us in the name of progress.
We must create a more sustainable world for the future rather then let It be degraded through apathy and disinterest.
Simon Brown, Gladstone Avenue Chester

9/10/98 The Council for the Protection of Rural England (CPRE) would like to draw your attention to a public consultation of which your readers may not be aware Cheshire County Council is asking for comments on their Structure Plan for Cheshire, including Chester.
The recent Government White Paper on transport - A New Deal For Transport: Better for Everyone- has been published since the county council's plans for transport were made.
The White Paper heralds a change in how transport schemes are to be judged. The CPRE believes that the Chester-Deeside Transport System, which relies on the construction of more than 3,000 new parking spaces on Chester's greenfields (new Park & Ride sites), to provide passengers for the busway scheme, Is contrary to Government policy.
The White Paper is seeking to reduce reliance on the car, and seeks to make public transport available to all, not just to those who travel by car to a park-and-ride site.
The CPRE also believes the Chester Western By-pass (renamed Relief Road) which is to link the heavily-congested Post House roundabout on Wrexham Road, would be totally contrary to the new transport policy.
The proposed new road would be funded by new greenfield development sites opened up by the new road which would generate increased traffic congestion and worsen pollution.
The White Paper seeks the better use of existing roads and rail instead of building new roads which encourage more traffic and increase pollution.
The White Paper also requires new transport schemes to have the backing of the local community. Both these major transport schemes for Chester remain controversial.
CPRE understands that the county council is to review all major transport schemes in the light of the new Transport White Paper.
Anyone wishing to comment on these major transport schemes should write to the County Planning Officer, Commerce House, Hunter Street, Chester CH1 2QP by October 13, referring to Draft Modification I00: Cheshire 201l..
Ann jones, Planning Co-ordinator, Chester District CPRE, Daleside, Upton Heath Chester

9/10/98 In reply to our phantom Green councillor- oops. I mean campaigner- who wrote in a newspaper about the silent majority having prevailed over the future of the disused rail line, I wish to inform him that we have received so much support from such a wide area that we have decided to call ourselves Cheshire Preservation Group (formerly Chester).
We are also seeking to open a Welsh branch. So where's the majority now!
It Is also becoming increasingly obvious that both the Sustrans cycleway and the CDTS are of the same project. Time after time, we have, been told that they are two separate projects. Yet even our phantom Green campaigner calls it a combined footway, cycleway and busway.
Also, at the planning meeting (September 23) on numerous occasions the busway was brought into the planning application.
If he is a true Green campaigner how can be equate the acquisition by Tesco of some of the highest grade agricultural land at Mannings Lane, to be covered in concrete, with his green credentials?
May I remind him of the plight of our local farmers who are receiving less and less from the likes of Tesco, while Tesco and their ilk are making more and more!
On the subject of the elderly, infirm and mothers with prams, I would like to ask our phantom Green campaigner: How do people without a car get to the Park & Ride sites to enable them to use the CDTS scheme, as this scheme relies heavily on car dependency?
I suggest that the phantom Green campaigner contacts the University of Oxford transport unit, a leading authority in the field of transport issues, who conducted a wide-ranging survey into Park & Ride schemes throughout the UK. Their conclusions were that far from reducing traffic, they generated additional traffic into urban areas and did not reduce traffic levels in town centres.
Finally, as for being NIMBY, Mr GC, I wish to quote the Oxford Dictionary: Nimby- objecting to the siting of unpleasant developments in one's own locality.
Clint Hughes on behalf of Cheshire Preservation Group, Linden Grove, Hoole Chester

13/10/98 It is a sorry state of affairs when solutions to Chester's problems have knock-on effects to other areas of our lives.
And, considering we are now supposed to be more environmentally-friendly than ever, why is that the green lungs of the city are always the first to get hit?
I am talking mainly about that Mickle Trafford-Deeside transport system and the new park-and-ride scheme on Wrexham Road opposite the business park.
Chester is becoming one long tract of highway, which is sure to have a detrimental effect on the city in the years to come.
This alternative route into the city- by the back door as some commentators have already said- is going to bring even more people into the city along a green corridor that was formerly a railway track.
I understand that the planning application already accepted is for a cycleway and footpath with provision made for a bus route- which I have severe reservations about.
I hope that when it comes it is done tastefully and enhances the natural beauty that must surely lie alongside the former railway track. This will be a tract of land that has been allowed to revert back to nature.
It should give a new window on the nature on our doorstep and not covered in cement.
And what about that park-and-ride scheme opposite the business park- more green land being lost to development.
I remember an article in the Chester Evening Leader some months back when the Duke of Wesminster- one of the country's biggest landowners - saying that the greenbelt was choking development.
I hope he and others like him remember that without the flora and fauna it will be all of us who are choking and not just businesses trying to increase their profit margins.
Name and adress supplied

15/10/98 The extraordinary abuse heaped on Chester cyclists by your correspondent last week cannot be allowed to go unchallenged. Rather than being at an all time low, as he suggests, the credibility of cycling as a form of urban transport is at an all-time high. The government sees cycling as a crucial element in their integrated transport policy.
As has been pointed out many times before, the only reason a small minority of cyclists ride on the pavements is because they have been pushed off the roads by the sheer volume of cars and lorries in the city. All law-abiding cyclists would join with him in condemning reckless riding of bikes on pavements but would point out that there is a far larger problem in Chester of can and lorries mounting pavements to park or drive past obstructions.
The point about car tax is also very old and out of date everybody knows that when the total cost of car transport is computed (accidents, pollution congestion, etc.) car tax does not cover one third of this total cost. If cyclists should pay extra taxes on bikes for cycleways, perhaps pedestrians should pay yearly taxes on our legs to cover the cost of pedestrianisation.
Richard Whittington, Laurel Grove Hoole Chester

15/10/98 Iwas disappointed to see there was no reply to my questions from Christine Russell MP, in last week's paper. Please would she reply?
Additionally, would she tell us if it is indeed true that even more land (other than Mannings Lane) has been acquired by Tesco or their representatives in the vicinity of the CDTS scheme, including land at Abbots Mead, or the proposed Westerly Relief Road?
(Ms) L. Howard, 14 Spital Walk Chester

15/10/98 As someone who has moved to the city recently, I have followed the correspondence concerning the proposed uses of the disused railway line with interest.
I personally think that it would be a shame to lose the green corridor provided by the railway and lose the potential for an area which could used in safety by families, but if the line must be used for public transport, I'm sure not that Mr Colledge's proposals are the way forward for various reasons.
Mr Colledge has obviously spent some time thinking about the problems of conveying people in and out of town utilising the track and using buses as a vehicle. I would have thought possibly laying a road or a guided busway (as in Leeds) with passing points at stops would be a good start, allowing buses to use the roads and the trackway. However, I admit that not being an engineer, I came from rather a simplistic viewpoint as Mr Colledge suggests that to crack this nut requires a sledgehammer, first using rails to guide the buses, the using the engines to power fans rather than wheels and additionally having the buses hover above the ground. I once crossed the channel on a Hovercraft, and remember the experience as being one of vibration and noise. Mr Colledge suggests silencers, but I still think residents bordering the track will welcome cyclists with open arms before propeller driven buses, although I suppose the washing would dry on their lines pretty quickly.
He also suggests linking the buses together to avoid an unnecessary computerised control system, but I know that there aheady exists an effective way of controlling bus movements in formation. As a non-engineer, I refer to it as a bus driver.
Lastly, he launches into an invective about cyclists. I agree that cyclists riding irresponsibly on pavements is dangerous and inconsiderate, but Mr Colledge's response is to provide cyclists with no facilities. Next time he sees a speeding car, will Mr Coltedge be writing to the Highways Agency suggesting that they rip up the motorways as a punishment? I doubt it. Of course, should he get his way, the roads will be safer for cyclists to use because there will be less traffic on them, all the buses having been converted into monorails.
I issue a challenge to Mr Colledge. To prove that his ideas are sound and costable engineering, he should persuade the Chinese governnent to run a pilot scheme. Because of the lack of decent bioengineers, hundreds of millions of Chinese people have for years been using bicycles thinking that they were a cheap and sustainable form of transport, whereas in fact Mr Colledge can tell them that they were wrong, and hovering buses were the real answer. If he succeeds, I will gladly go on the first one to operate in Chester. Until then, I suggest that he goes back to his drawing board. Pigs might fly, but buses don't hover.
Real World, Upton

All getting quite surreal, isn't it?

22/10/98 Ref. "Major benefits", Standard, 15th October. Well, GC, (we won't use the title you give yourself, it's an insult to real environmentalists) you've done it again, stirred us into action. A great idea that will keep you and Backford traffic department happy. Even more cars within choking distance from the city centre, a park and ride car park on Backford Hall's extensive grounds. Trees, wildlife and the few people who live there, hard lack.
Mind you, encouraging people to leave cars at home by negotiating cheaper bus/train fares and giving people traffic-free routes to walk/cycle, thus relieving existing roads for more buses, might be even better for everyone. But perhaps that is a stroke of genius beyond some people's comprehension.
Two OAPs (again)

22/10/98 For someone who professes to be a member of the silent majority, Green Campaigner certainly makes a lot of noise, though from the points he puts over, I can understand why he usually stays silent. He rambles on about the definition of an EIP whilst seemingly forgetting that the council originally never intended CDTS to be discussed as part of that process. Read into that what you will.
He also goes on about no-one challenging his central argument about the benefits of CDTS. Presumably he never noticed my letter or chose to ignore it. To summarise his view, CDTS will he environmentally friendly, solve traffic congestion and be a boon to mothers with prams, invalids, the disabled and will probably aid Father Christmas with his distribution of presents.
CDTS will be so environmentally friendly that the majority of the natural habitat along the line and the wildlife it supports will be destroyed and it receives no support from any "green" organisation. Whilst agreeing that it will have a small short-tem effect on traffic congestion, any transport system using the old line will have a finite capacity whilst car usage will continually increase. I think you will find that it is generally accepted that any plus effect would disappear after about seven-eight years. What then?
Presumably mothers, invalids, etc., would need to live close to the line to take advantage of it. However, there will be less access points to the line than, say the number of bus stops currently in use, therefore those using it would have to travel further, surely not a practical solution if you are a mother, an invalid etc. Also G.C., the vast majority of locals, based on council figures, do not want any transport system on the line. Unfortunately, you, John Prescott apparently, and our councillors do not set great store by our opinions. I personally have no respect for views that issue from a position of ignorance, and until G.C. has actually seen our situation for himself I would appreciate it if he/she stopped lecturing us on what we as residents local to it, would find to be an acceptable use of the old line.
Finally, unless G.C. has another go, can I say that the response to my last letter vis a vis caring councillor visiting us was so great, my wife had to rush out and buy another tea bag. So how about it G.C. the offer still stands to you as well- the kettle's still boiling?
Garry Hughes, 1Westbourne Road, Chester

23/10/98 I adress several issues raised by Cllr Peter Byrne in his letter of October 16.
Firstly the issue of the proposed Mickle Trafford route. He has stated the funding of the cycleway is dependent upon the busway when Millennium Lottery funding for the cycleway, if Mr Byrne has his way, will be used for part of the construction of the busway.
Sustrans' original plan (c. 1985) only shows a cycleway on the track bed. The current plans have increased the construction of the cycleway many fold. This is directly due to the proposed CDTS project, which has not even received planning permission as yet.
Sustrans is in breach of its own constitution- which states that it constructs traffic free cycle routes.
Also Sustrans was allowed to purchase the land with the proviso it could be reverted back to its original use as a transport corridor. This will not be possible if part of the route has a guided busway built upon it.
The CDTS scheme relies upon the use of the car to got to the Park & Ride sites, built on Green Belt land. As previously stated, it has been shown by such bodies as the Oxford University Transport Unit that such schemes do not reduce car use. The level is increased.
It is possible to reduce car use, but the public transport network needs to be more efficient and cheaper than it is.
I was present at a community meeting last week when Cllr Byrne stated: 'Councillors do what the community wants them to do.' This I find astounding coming from someone who stated earlier this year that he doesn't have to do what the electorate wants him to do.
P Hobbs, Victoria Road Chester

23/10/98 Many years ago we lived in Dee Banks, overlooking the straight mile.
My dear father used to wave down boats speeding on the River Dee, telling them about the awful effect it was having on the banks and the beautiful trees, which eventually ended up floating down the river.
I was a youngster but can remember the gestures he got from most people though some, once they-realised, did curb their speed.
He did not care who they were, either. I remember him telling off Stirling Moss and Mike Hawthorn who were on water skis.
Some years later I put water plants in the water along my father's garden river frontage. I would come out to explain to anyone amusing themselves by pulling them up why they shouldn't.
You can gather by these two actions we were an early beginning of the 'look after the environment' brigade, for look what has happened, we now have police on the river.
And in the 1970s my Dad was very proud when asked if the river authorities could put a boom around the water plants to protect them. being the only spawning place for fish in the whole area.
Perhaps you can see why I am so passionate about the Mickle Trafford railway line becoming a vehicle-free nature trail walk and walkway.
Write to John Prescott, Transport Ministry, London, saying no to the busway if you want to protect the environment in which we all live.
Do it today before it is too late, do it even if you signed an objection form this week and have written to the council, (we know hundreds have)- it will be worth it.
Do it now. Its the only way to encourage people to leave their cars behind.
Audrey Hodgkinson, Adress supplied

23/10/98 It is disappointing that a county councillor dismisses the concerns of local people as 'the stuff of fairy tales' (Points of View, October l6).
What are the grounds for concerns at possible links between the guided busway and development at Mannings Lane?
First of all, the land at Mannings Lane is in the ownership of Tesco. Major retailers do not acquire sites they have no hope of developing. Healey & Baker, agents for Tesco, submitted representations to the Local Plan supporting the Park & Ride site and requesting the removal of land from the Green Belt for a superstore associated with the busway at Mannings Lane.
Secondly, the County Structure Plan Policy GEN1 proposes that new development will be guided to sites within, or on the edges of Cheshire towns. Chester is included in the list of towns.
Thirdly, the council has allowed development in the Chester Green Belt- the Business Park on Wrexham Road, Chester Gates at Dunkirk, and all the Park & Ride sites are on Green Belt land.
Finally, the record of both the city and county councils when faced with powerful retailers is far from reassuring. Sainsbury's was allowed to expand its store at Caldy Valley, then create a retail park, and a pub/restaurant/travel lodge on land designated for housing in the council's Local Plan. Safeway's has been allowed to double in size at the Bache, again on land designated for housing.
Faced with the threat of an expensive planning appeal and the offer of a 'planning gain' such as funding for a roundabout or busway, the councils seem only too ready to comply with the wishes of the big superstores.
If the concerns of local people about Mannings Lane are "the stuff of fairy tales", then I would suggest they come from The Brothers Grimm.
WV Jones, Daleside, Upton Heath Chester

29/10/98 If I passed 'Green Campaigner" in the street would I recognise him by his thick brass neck? In Points of View the other week he spent half his letter slagging me off using the most pedantic excuses imaginable, when without a trace of irony denigrated all of his critics for merely scoring debating points off him! Obviously. the writer didn't choose the nom de plume.
For example, when I said most Cestrians were indifferent to CDTS I was telling a terrible "Al half truth", because only 94 per cent of CDTS questionnaires went unreturned (indifference). A colossal 3.6 per cent came back in favour, dwarfing the 2.2 per cent against. Now that GC has clarified which silent majority he was on about I'm happy to point this out, and I acknowledge his firm grasp of statistics. (No really, I do).
it is the same story, only worse, concerning the Cheshire 2011 Examination In Pubic, where he concedes one of my points (the EIP is now "A type of public enquiry"), ignores others, loses his grip and flies off at a tangent. My pointing out the right name, aim and one shoncoming of the EIP is no "pretence that the enquiry didn't take place". A difficulty with newspaper letter debates is that the reader is unlikely to put a reply next to its subject and really compare the two, and if your argument is as weak as dishwater you can use this to your advantage, as Campaigner tries to do.
The fact that no correspondent opposing the CDTS denies it will bring major benefits is really no big deal. I'd dispute the "major", but of course it will do some good. The question is, is it worth it? Should we throw everything into stopping the rising tide of traffic, or just accept a slightly higher increase and retain somewhere which provides a complete respite from it all?
The subject of Metrolink pops up again, as it has before when the council are about to make a decision on the busway. It functions as a carrot on a stick for councillors and the public who have reservations about a busway, but who got all dewy eyed about trams. The councillors know very well (or should know) that trams are too costly and inflexible for a compact town like Chester, because their engineering staff have told them, and things haven't changed since Peter Cocker (county engineer) reported it in March 1996. Anyone offering support for a CDTS tramway needn't be too surprised when these facts are rediscovered and they become reclassed as CDTS supporters.
Lastly I agree with GC that the city council has made a decision to back the combined three-in-one scheme. It seems everybody agrees they have, except the councillors themselves. Now there's a buch of people who really are in denial.
Allan Jones, 82 Brook Lane, Newton, Chester

5/11/98 It's those (nor so silent, any more) OAPs again. (Life boring? No way!) A fight develops here who can get their zimmer to the Standard first when it pops thmugh the letter box. My better half wishes (after we have read it ourselves) to send it to one lucky relative and I want it to send articles and many of the Points of View letters to relatives and friends all over the world. It is amazing how the dreadful promised busway project has had a profound impact, along with other major blots already in place, on so many Cestrians now living abroad. They are horrified we have no traffic-free routes for cycles/walkers (as they already know it encourags people to leave their cars at home). CCC's reputation is travelling far and wide not in the way that they would hope.
We have discovered another mine of information- Steve Howe's pages on the internet. The TV hasn't been on for over a week. What a treasure of information these pages are. Spent ages reading about Chester in an entertaining way. Much of this information should be given to us via 'our' council but seems to be hidden away from most of us. There are virtual strolls along the Walls and Mickle Trafford old railway line. Unfolding before your eyes there is- drama. wildlife. cycling/walking info, some chuckles. some sadness (when he talks about the destruction of buildings and sites- the hurl comes through). Look for yourself here
Any chance of you becoming a councillor Steve? (hahahahahaha) It's people like you who give us hope. Cestrians' quality of life has so rapidly plummeted beyond belief, it's hard for some to muster any hope.
You may wonder, dear reader, why we should be bothered at our age. Well two of our grandchildren are standing just in front of us, need we say more? Everyone should be bothered, we all breathe the same air and we all live on this planet, let's combine our efforts to save this bit of it. The mountain called CCC can be moved, but we must make the effort. They rely on our shrugging shoulders and saying "What can we do?" We have a voice and must use it. Shout hard enough and they will have to listen, believe me. Write to J Prescott MP, DETR, Eland House, Bressendeen House, London SWIE 5DU. Get us out of our cars, give us traffic-free routes start by giving us the Mickle Trafford old railway track. If a vehicle-free route this would be used by all who want to walk/cycle into city or country. We deserve at least this much if we are prepared to use our own steam. Help us to help the environment. No more park and ride sites, no more greenfield developments, we have had enough.
Two OAPs

5/11/98 An open letter to S. Roberts, CCC Environmental Planning Dept, Chester, Ref: Proposed busway Mickle Trafford-Shotton old railway, Cheshire 2011 Structure plan draft modifications, Deeside Transport System.

Our small group alone delivered over 400 objection forms by hand to Commerce House, and of course there were many, many others who sent their forms by Royal Mail so your reply letter to our objections made us smile when we read "Your objection was one of over a hundred." Couldn't we persuade you to give us the true figures, or are they top secret? No, for goodness sake we live in a democracy. Do let people know the exact figure via an open letter to the press. By the way, the objection forms you received this time were just the tip of the iceberg, and we all know what icebergs can do to "unsinkable" ships. A fair sized iceberg will be entering the city early next year in the way of a mass rally of families, cyclists/walkers organisations and even visitors who don't like the way our city is being sacrificed. Get ready with the hot air (not that it will help this time, neither will those flag poles). When even motorists say enough is enough we know we have become a major force.
A true description of a park and ride: A nice greenfield site put under tarmac for cars, whose drivers have in some cases driven out of their way further than one mile- "saved" to get to the site (*distance most park and ride sites are from city centre).
Where is the saving? There's none to the environment, none to parking spaces, certainly none to road traffic. It's still there isn't it? it's just moved somewhere else (where residents live). Wake up all you councillors and Backford Hall traffic dept. Car users have more brains than you give them credit for. We know sooner or later we will be forced to use the less Iess as roads become blocked up completely. it is time councils gave a real environmental alternative, walking/ cycling on some traffic free routes, good public transport, this is what councillors and traffic depts should be aiming for. Stop burying your heads in the sand. Stop bowing to big business that will kiss goodbye to Chester whenever it suits them. Stop pandering to those who use our roads, traffic lights etc, "as first experiments in the country."
Residents, and the environment should be foremost in your mind, start acting for them not against them.
Objectors to the proposed busway

PS - It is likely you do not live in the area (so many of you don't) and do not, therefore, read our local press. We shall send you a copy of this letter by post, to make sure there is no misunderstanding.

5/11/98 Those who recently objected to the CDTS proposals being included in the Cheshire 2011 Structure Plan would no doubt be doubly disappointed by the letter they received from the County Planning Officer last week.
Firstly, to be informed that their comments were not able to be recorded as a "valid objection/representition" and secondly, to be advised that theirs was one of "over a hundred similar objections".
Well I'm pleased to be able to reassure them that theirs was in fact one of closer to 500 similar objections! Despite vociferous reassurances to the contrary from Stuart Roberts of the Planning Department I find it very hard to believe that this distortion was anything other than a clumsy attempt to fudge the issue. The comments he made to me such as "I thought it better to get the letter out than delay it for an accurate figure" or "400 is over 100" only added to my suspicions. Does this mean now that we would be well advised to revisit and interpret previous releases. For instance did the "over 150 objections" to the route of the Sustrans application really mean more like 750?
All along there appears to have been an attitude prevalent that seeks to deny or tries to marginalise any opposition to the proposals. interestingly John Prescott's Transport White Paper requires that local people are behind any new transport schemes. I know that the 500 objections cited here are only a fraction of those who oppose it. I suggest that all those 500 plus every other like-minded citizen should write giving their views to John Prescott at The Houses of Parliament, Westminster, London (also send a copy to your local councillors).
If anyone would like further information or would like help in drafting a letter please contact me.
Graeme Lyall 47 Oaklea Avenue Hoole, Chester

12/11/98 A letter in your paper of 5th November "Save this bit of the planet" from two OAPs set me thinking and wondering what the Bible could tell me about our care for the environment. Certainly dear old Jeremiah sounded somewhat desolate over 2,000 years ago when he said: "The whole land is waste, and no one cares" (Jer 12:11). Perhaps it was ever thus. Well there are many today who do care and are very much aware as never before, witness these OAPS, and whether or not they're Bible readers they are accepting their own responsibility and abiding by God's word in the first chapter of Genesis and have decided that we can have dominion, can "fill the earth and subdue it".
Somewhere along the line the requirement for individual responsibility seems to have been put on the back burner- There are those in our society, of course, who are mentally unable to accept this responsibility but aren't the rest of us equally answerable for what we do, or have we reached the ridiculous situation where we blame our genes for anything that we can't be bothered to find the will or energy to do rightly? Perhaps it's a good mental clean out we need. St. Paul put it well: "Don't let the world around you squeeze you into its own mould, but let God remake you so that your whole attitude of mind is changed." (Rom 12:2). We do have the ability to think and act rightly so let's get to grips with it and have a real environmental impact.
Kate Nicholls, Christian Science Church Chester

19/11/98 We have not seen a letter recently re the Mickle Trafford old railway line proposed busway. To redress the balance, here goes. Many residents used to cycle to work in Chester, sadly too unpleasant and dangerous these days. We have been forced to use our cars. The vehicle-free nature park route is an idea, and would get us once again to cycle to work, and our children to cycle to school, also leisure walking & cycling. It would surely encourage others, once they have experienced a vehicle-free route. Many people have never had that pleasure so how are they to know? Not everyone has a car or money to take their children to Wirral Way. Let 's hope the council see the potential.
Who wants to walk and cycle along a three metre wide, denuded, wired up chicken run cut into the embankment? The council is ready to sanction this in Spring because they want to run a two lane busway down the track to feed a park & ride. We have registered our objection along with others in our area and we are writing to J. Prescott as suggested by Mr Lyull and other letters on the Points of View pages.
The Standard columns are the subject of many a chat in our dinner break, especially this subject (incidentally we have yet to meet anyone who is in agreement with this busway). In the home there is much discussion, the knowledge gained by our children, who are not far off voting age, will help them form their own views on local politics. They find it equally difficult to comprehend why any council should not be encouraging more cycling and walking, instead at discouraging this environmentally friendly activity.
Mothballed bikers

19/11/98 It is becoming increasingly obvious to all, the arrogance and hypocrisy shown by the local officials (both city and county), also the contempt they have for the citizens of Chester.
An example of this was seen by a member of our organisation who attended a joint Environment and Transport committee meeting on 12ih November at the Town Hall. Several [members of the public where there to voice their views on a number of issues. Whilst these members of the public were speaking, counciilors thought it more important to leave their seats and obtain food and drink- then proceed to consume it- rather than politely and correctly listen to the views being expressed. This is total ignorance, rudeness and downright bad manners.
Councillors are also showing their ignorance and misinterpretation of various Official government Policies. One councillor on the Sub-Planning Committee was completely ignorant of well established official government policy relating to the greenbelt. This same councillor also redefines the phrase "local community", when relating to an issue regarding Hough Green as not the people who live in the locality but those who use the roads. These people could come from anywhere!
Objections to local planning isues are largely being ignored. During the planning committee (Sept '98) dealing with the Sustrans planning application, despite the large public opposition, not one single objection was read out.
The public are being misled by various officials. Another such case is the amount of objections received in respect of the CDTS/Western Relief Road. In an official letter sent to numerous citizens by Alan Thornley, County Planning Officer, it states that their objection is "one of over 100 similar objections". This is giving a totally false impression. An associate has counted some of the objections sent in to the county council and the figure exceeds 500. Also the council have refused to record these valid objections. It has to be asked why this is so, as the council is blatantly disregarding the views of the local community, and is in breach of current government policy.
Myself and associates have attended the Canal Basin Community Forum meetings. These meetings are organised so that the views of the local community can be expressed to council officials, thus supposedly influencing decisions such as local development affecting this area. However, the arrogance, high handedness, disregard and contempt that these council Officials show towards the local community can only be described as appalling- Instead of listening to the forum members and acting upon their wishes, they treat the members as children and ignore their priorities in regard to development in the area. Examples of this are the retention of the Electric Light Building and the Stone Park.
Lastly, but no means least, Mrs Christine Russell MP refuses to act on and to address key issues concerning Chester. An example of this is despite being asked on several occasions to supply documentary evidence regarding statements she has made about development on greenbelt land, she has ignored these valid requests.
Perhaps Mrs Russell and the various council officials would kindly, and unambiguously, explain why bus services are likely to be axed (including 19 rural) without full public consultation, when the county council bus received a £600,000 government subsidy for rural buses?
Additionally. how can these officials justify the CDTS/Westerly Relief Road, which will inflict increased council tax upon people, when they cannot manage to provide a full public transport system for the local People. On several occasions the council have stated that the CDTS guided busway is largely for the benefit of visitors, the vast majority of whom will not have to bear the brunt of the enormous cost of this scheme.
With regard to the above, let us not forget that all the councillors are up for re-election next May.
P. Hobbs, on behalf of Cheshire Preservation Group, Linden Grove, Hoole Chester

24/12/98 St. Nicholas and his once generous staff confirmed today that they are no longer delivering their traditional presents (of driving gloves and 'roo bars) to Cheshire County's Transport Department at Backford Hall.
They sincerely regret this policy change, which has occurred as a consequence of the county's ongoing progresive transport policy, which means that there are not safe sleigh/cycle routes to the place. A decisive element in their reluctant decision was their unwillingness, mainly on aesthetic grounds, to add to the inconvenience experienced by festive motorists.
They already have unacceptable delays and awkward questions from their dear children, who witness excessive seasonal carnage caused by flattened rabbits, similarly re-orientated two dimensional hedgehogs and foolish ex-cyclists venturing onto roads.
Staff at S. Claus Industries Inc also express their sincere regrets that while feely-greeny-cuddly Cheshire claims to promote the idea of "green travel plans", that in practice, however, sleigh and cycle routes to its own transport department, where this clever idea originated, are both absent.
S. Claus (Jnr) Director of Corporate Communications, S Claus Industries Inc.
PS: five used reindeer for sale- to vegetarians only.

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