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

What the People Really Think part 4: letters to these pages and the Chester press in opposition to the CDTS Guided Busway

Pages 1 | 2 | 3 | 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

In January 1999, we received the following letter from one of our readers:

"Are you aware of the current planning application for a new bus maintenance & storage depot on Liverpool Road at the site of the former Travis Perkins Builders Merchants? The site will replace the existing facility on City Road and will be for initially for 89 buses. Access is to the mini-roundabout on Liverpool Road and from Parkgate Road.
The history of the site is as follows: The builders merchants closed down about 5 years ago. Since then several planning applications for housing developments have been turned down as the council wishes to retain the site for light industrial/commercial use for employment reasons. The owners have, until recently, been unable to find such a purchaser so the site has become vandalised and left derelict. In December an application was made for a gym/clinic on the site and this seems to have forced the council's hand.
The site provides the only access to and from the Mickle Trafford/Shotton railway that does not require major engineering works and was one of 3 possible access points indicated on the original "consultation" leaflet. By securing the site for a bus depot, future access for the busway is ensured. The fact this access is to some of the most congested roads in Chester is not likely to deter the proponents of this scheme, anymore than the locating of a bus depot in a residential area adjacent to a school does. In a typically underhand way, the original objection period was over the Christmas holidays and many of the most affected residents were not informed. However we seem to have gained an extension with new notices to be sent out. The more objections received by the planning department the better but probably more useful is objections to councillors on the planning committee, a number of whom appear undecided. If this application is refused it could be a major blow to the Busway and possibly fatal".

This ludicrous idea was finally seen off when a rival plan for the site, that of a health club- despite being refused planning permission by the same council that wished to build the bus depot- was allowed upon appeal. On the right we see the vast and ugly new building under construction in July 2000. Go here to learn more...

7/1/99 How can the council trot out a message "Commute don't pollute" then in the same breath advocate using park & ride? Park & Ride may save congestion for roughly the last mile into town but it still causes pollution- getting to the park & ride in the first place, queuing to turn into the site, exhausts pouring out more fumes. Do the council really think we read and digest without using our brains to analyse their propaganda or are they the ones being fooled?
People in Chester are enlightened and wish to really help the environment. Fancy words do nothing at all to help and we know it. Our council should encourage walking and cycling by giving the signal- much better facilities- traffic free routes into town/country. 36% of Chester residents do not have access to a car (1990 Census) others use their car sparingly, and many more would if given a delightful route, better for the environment than any park & ride. The Mickle Trafford disused railway route should be left to nature, with a trail for walkers/cyclists only. This would prove a good investment for our most precious environment and wildlife. It is true people are reluctant to leave cars: the disgusting alternatives- waterlogged, dirty, dangerous subways, little thought given to cyclists' needs. Who can blame anyone using their car? But some of our most loved birds and animals are on the verge of extinction, including the thrush whose song gladdens our hearts. We are not going to let this happen are we?
Write to your councillor. Don't cut down trees etc on the embankment of the Mickle Trafford old railway line in order to have two lanes of buses every few minutes, for yet another proposed green field site park & ride car park. Keep it natural with a walk/cycle route only on the old track. We must cherish what bit of wildlife habit we have left in built-up areas and fight to keep it by informing our council of our wishes. After all, they are there to represent us aren't they?
Councillors, make it your New Year resolution to give us real pollution-free policies. A happy, less polluted, pleasant, healthier walking, cycling New Year to everyone.
The Hodgkinson Family, Hoole, Chester

18/1/99 Given that all the local council seats are up for election in May, now is an appropriate time to be asking candidates for their views on the fate of the old railway line. I have just re-read the November edition of the Lib-Dem's "Newton Focus". It is interesting to note that the Private Finance Initiative method of funding the conversion to a Busway has been ruled out. As many have said all along, this simply confirms assumptions that the Busway is not economically viable in 'normal' commercial terms. It is essential that the case should be examined with proper economic rigour if the Council Tax payers of Chester are not to be saddled with the liability in the future of subsidising a service that few want. Capital may be accessible from grants, lottery funding etc., but please ask the potential councillors seeking election in May to say who is going to be left with the obligation to make good any shortfall in ongoing operating costs. For sure, it will not be the visitors coming to the City and using the Park & Ride facility.
Nic Siddle, 7 Sandileigh Hoole

22/1/99 Having moved to Saughall in May of 1998 my family have taken great interest in learning about the current and historical Chester-your site has been a catalyst for this enjoyment. Quite simply it is the best of it's type I have seen-well done!!
In respect of the proposed busway, which would obviously have an effect on ourselves in Saughall, is there anyway of obtaining a general overview of the scheme, its history and pros/cons etc? I welcome any reply.
David Slater (davidslater@cwcom.net)

22/1/99 Your report headed 'Objectors speak out over transport schemes' failed to mention the letters and objection forms from more than 500 individuals and organisations that have been received by Cheshire County Council objecting to the Chester-Deeside Transport System and the Chester Western Relief Road.
These objections, including those of the Council for the Protection of Rural England (CPRE), were submitted during the recent public consultation period but have not been recorded by the council as valid objections.
In the light of the recent White Paper on the Future of Transport, CPRE questions whether the two major transport schemes for Chester are acceptable in terms of their environmental impact, value for money, integration with other local transport, whether they improve public transport for those without a car, and whether they have the backing of the local community.
Government policy requires Chester to produce a Local Transport Plan at an early stage.
It appears that once again the views of local people are being dismissed while the Chester- Deeside Transport System and the Chester Western Relief Road are being given their final blessing by officers and councillors behind closed doors.
ANN JONES, Chester District CPRE, Daleside, Upton Heath, Chester

22/1/99 Given that all the local council seats are up for election in May, now is an appropriate time to be asking candidates for their views on the fate of the old railway line.
I have just re-read the November edition of the Lib Dem's Newton Focus. It is interesting to note that the Private Finance Initiative method of funding the conversion to a busway has been ruled out.
As many have said all along, this simply confirms assumptions that the busway is not economically viable.
It is essential that the case should be examined with proper economic rigour if the council taxpayers of Chester are not to be saddled with subsidising a service that few want.
Capital may be accessible from grants, lottery funding, and so on, but please ask the potential councillors seeking election in May to say who is going to be left with the obligation to make good any shortfall in ongoing operating costs.
For sure, it will not be the visitors coming to the city and using the Park & Ride facility.
NIC SIDDLE Sandileigh, Chester

Another interesting letter here from Nic Siddle:

24/1/99 The Fate of Objections to the Busway.
Like Ann Jones, I was one of the objectors to the Cheshire 2011 Structure Plan Draft Modifications. Readers will remember that considerable publicity was given to the Council's stated intention to take Public Opinion into account with regard to this Plan.
Having detailed objections to both the CDTS busway and the Western Bypass schemes, I received a letter from the Council saying:-
"I am not able to record your comments as a valid objection/ representation", and gave as justification the grounds that "the County Council intends to pursue a policy endorsed by the EIP panel". Read the report and you will discover that it was "endorsed" only with major reservations. Why ask for views if the intention is to discount them because they do not support a pre-determined plan?
The writer of the letter also apologised for not sending an individual reply because of the number of completed objection forms received. The letter said (and I quote), that mine was "one of over a hundred similar objections". Expressed in that way, one was clearly meant to conclude that there was a limited number of like minded objectors.
I telephoned Commerce House to try and establish the actual number of objections received. There was a marked reluctance to reveal the number and I was advised that there was no plan to count them, although I was told that "all the objections will be recorded and anyone can come in and count them". I was eventually led to believe that there might be 300-400 objections. It has now been established that there were in fact more than 500. As any politician will agree, an issue that motivates one person to write a letter or objection in reality usually represents ten times that number of people who agree with the complaint. I am sure that there are many more than 5000 people in the City who object to the CDTS busway. It is crucial that if you too object to the Busway, then you let your City and County Councillors know.
As well as writing to the papers, contact your Councillors (the City councillors will be looking for your votes soon). Most Councillors can be reached by e-mail (addresses are in the format j.doe@chestercc.gov.uk for City Councillors and doej@cheshire.gov.uk for County Councillors). Please copy me ( NicSiddle@nsiddle.freeserve.co.uk ) with any mail sent on the subject."

In early February, SUSTRANS got cracking on their cycletrack / footpath.

6/2/99 "Dear City Councillors,
I ask that you all find the time to go down to the old Blacon station / "The Glen" site and see for yourself the wholesale destruction that has been taking place in the past week in the name of installing a two metre wide footpath / cycleway!
It is utter madness that such a "scorched earth" policy has been allowed just in case the Busway gets through the public enquiry and then meets the even bigger hurdle of securing the funding necessary to proceed. Those of you able enough should also walk as far as the track adjoining the cemetery to see the size of the log pile and the girth of the trees they have cut down. Now imagine this along the whole length of the track and the effect it will have on the skyline. The track that backs onto to Thirlemere Rd and Chatsworth Drive will be witness to some of the worst destruction in my opinion! I especially urge those of you who are on the planning sub committee to go and witness what you have allowed to happen. Next week will be too late. I would be grateful to hear your responses to
Graeme Lyall, 47 Oaklea Avenue Hoole Chester CH2 3RG 01244 324233 graeme@lyallfamily.freeserve.co.uk

4/2/99 The only way any of us will have any hope of keeping our green spaces is to get rid of planners who do not keep their word. Also councillors who infiltrate other organisations. For example SUSTRANS and the Cheshire Wildlife Trust. (Tell us more, do) To the public it looks iffy and does nothing for the reputation of these organisations. To me they dilute what these organisations stand for. They should stand up to the council and make the public aware they have. I wonder who will be doing the environment assessment? Someone connected to the council, who will say whatever the council wants it to?
Residents must be fed up with giving their views against the busway, which because they do not agree with the council are disregarded. Residents have been writing to newspapers and the council for years now, against the busway. The council know it is not wanted, but on the first page of the Standard of 7th January it says "Busway green light" and "people will be asked for their views". It seems to me the council are representing themselves, not residents and ordinary people who can do nothing about it, as was apparent at the Sustrans planning meeting. People were not against what Sustrans really stands for, making cycle walkways on disused railway lines, but they were against the planning application which was put through because as they knew, it now gives the green light for the busway.
Those councillors involved really take the biscuit for their manipulation of the situation. I assume only the small amount of land given planning permission for the cycle/walkway was bought with lottery money, not the whole line, if most of it is to be used for a busway.
The people who are pushing this busway should sign an undertaking that if this busway is a flop, they will be responsible for the expenses incurred and not the Council Tax payers, as my guess is once the busway is approved these people will be conspicuous by their absence. As it stands these people lose nothing, but residents lose their green breathing space and could also pay dearly for it.
At the next local elections let the residents vote on whether they want or don't want this busway. That's the fairest way,
Chester resident

4/2/99 During the last week there has been growing concern voiced regarding the Sustrans project. False statements made by the council when questioned about the felling of trees has led to demands for resignations from many sources.
During the environmental forum meeting on Wednesday 10th February, Carlton Roberts-James (CDTS Project manager) and Neil Gibson (city council) stated that Sustrans had been told to stop tree felling the previous day, until a meeting with Sustrans the following week. However, the Sustrans contractors have been cutting down trees on the Tuesday and indeed on Thursday 11th. Sustrans denied that they had been told to cease this activity. It is now the bird nesting season and many people are concerned about the destruction of the nesting habitat.
All during the environmental forum meeting Mr Roberts-James admitted that the CDTS project was not for the benefit of local residents- its main function is to ferry car users from the proposed Park and Ride site at Mannings Lane into the city. Mr Roberts-James also stated the local residents will be expected to pay for a large part of the cost of the project- a minimum of 20 per cent. It was also disclosed that the city council policy is to accommodate increased car use- which goes against the government's Transport White Paper.
During investigations carried out by Chester Preservation Group, a member of the City council admitted that the Sustrans and CDTS projects are linked, which the council had previously denied. These events have confirmed many people's view that the Sustrans project was to aid the CDTS scheme. There are now calls for a full public enquiry into the CDTS, and that the local residents' views should be one of the prime aspects of the consultation process- not as stated by the council, that public opinion is only a secondary matter- confirmed by Mr Roberts-James. The council have also disclosed that they are looking at raising funds from taxation of local residents' parking.
There is increasing pressure on local councillors and council to take responsibility for the current unhappy situation regarding matters related to the Sustrans/CDTS project, as they have been viewed as off-loading responsibility onto other parties.
Chester Preservation Group, 66 Linden Grove Hoole Chester

7/2/99 Wanton Destruction. I have today been along the old Railway track near Blacon and was appalled to see the extent of the clearance being made in order to install the "Cycleway".
Let me remind readers that this part of the old trackbed is not even included in the first phase of the Busway proposal (and even that still hasn't got planning permission). There was therefore absolutely no need to devastate the vegetation in this way. We were advised that this was to be "undergrowth & shrub clearance" and yet trees with a trunk diameter of over one foot have been felled, which is certainly not necessary in order to install a footpath/ cycleway.
It appears that Sustrans have been "conned" into doing the Council's dirty work for them. Given the extent of the removal of the hedgerows and vegetation, there is going to be massive disruption to the wildife in the area. To all readers with properties adjacent to the line in the Hoole area, I strongly urge you to have a look at what is being done in Blacon.
Make your local councillors aware of how you feel. Most Councillors can be reached by e-mail (addresses are in the format j.doe@chestercc.gov.uk for City Councillors and doej@cheshire.gov.uk for County Councillors). Please copy me ( NicSiddle@nsiddle.freeserve.co.uk ) with any mail sent on the subject.
To all our Local and County Councillors and prospective candidates: I would urge you to have a look at the line too- see what you are being asked to approve in order to allow for future busway development. Then be very clear in your manifestos as to what you believe is the correct future for the line. The electorate has a right to know.
Nic Siddle, 7 Sandileigh Hoole Chester CH2 3QN

19/2/99 So the Mickle Trafford cycleway is slashing through the Blacon tree line so cyclists can get more sunlight is it?
Well, you have to hand it to Sustrans. They are certainly putting some creative effort into these excuses.
In the past, they've said that in order to make the cycleway interesting it will have chicanes (why cyclists are expected to enjoy being subjected to traffic calming when everyone else hates it is a mystery), and changes in level (rarely used elsewhere and particularly redundant on the Mickle Trafford line since the undulating outlying land gives the same effect for no effort).
I think we are all familiar with the real reason behind this destructive (and expensive) bulldozing. It is becoming apparent that as well as becoming the council's catspaw for building the cycleway like this, Sustrans also have the job of promoting it- an unenviable task.
What can they come out with next, though? How about: "the cyclepath really is a mess! The workmen left the plans out and a sttray dog must have chewed them. No-one realised until it was too late!"
Well, they've done worse.
ALLAN JONES Brook Lane Newton Chester

25/2/99 As a biologist/ environmentatist for more than 40 years, I was distressed to see further devastation of the trees along the old railway he last week. Between Newton Field bridge and Mannings Lane bridge about 80 Young trees- mainly English elm,15-20 years Old (according to tree rings on their stumps)- were cut down together with the udergrowth of briar rose and bramble. This has left the lower half of the bank (N-side) denuded of vegetation and vulnerable to erosion, All this so that Sustrans can run a 3m wide foot/cycleway in what was already a 6-7m track.
In a heated discussion at Kingsway on Saturday with two local councillors these were some of the points made by them to my objections. I include my unanswered queries and some observations in parentheses.
The trees needed thinning as one grows better than a clump of four (why were all the trees removed from the lower half of the bank and all the trees at the top undisturbed?)
The undergrowth had to be removed as unwanted on a footpath (In fact these were on the bank, not on the flat track).
Advice had been given by experts that the elm tree is liable to new infestation of the disease carrying beetle at about 12 years old, so it was a forward-looking action removing them now rather than causing disruption in say five years time when the track is completed. Trees of younger age could have been left for their 10-12 year period. Strange that the highly acclaimed Flora Britannica1998 suggests that 20 years is about the time that re-infestation may occur. And the elms we lost in the early 70s became susceptible at 100 years old or more!
By simple arithmetic this latest toll has taken say 70 trees (I may have miscounted) averaging 15 years old (better to underestimate tree rings) and we have lost something over 1,000 years of tree canopy growth ie. efficient carbon dioxide absorbers, and oxygen producers as well as sound mufflers. this leads me to suspect that the city wants to do its bit towards global warming etc., while our local garden centres advocate: Breathe with Ease, Plant some Trees.
Newton reader

It's warming to realise that, on the very day this and the following letter appeared, it was announced that the National lottery had awarded £19,900 to help fund the Chester and District Festival of Trees as glowingly described in the following letter...

25/2/99 Chester and District Festival of Trees is one of the few successful organisations around the country to secure a Millennium Festivals Grant from the Arts Council. This is a real vote of confidence in the quality and value of the festival's work and a boost for the Chester and District community.
Millennium funding means that Chester and District Festival of Trees is set to break all records in the year 2000. Already the biggest festival of its kind in the country, programming over 50 events annually, Festival 2000 will see the completion of 2,000 planted trees. In addition there will be community workshops that everyone can get involved with including arts, countryside skills, environment awareness and tree planting. There will be competitions and prizes, exhibitions, public sculpture and performances. Chester & District Festival of Trees will continue to make a real impact on the local natural environment.
If you want to be involved in the 1999 festival or Festival 2000 please write.
Russell Kirk, Chester & District Festival of Trees, 23 Shavington Avenue, Hoole, Chester CH2 3RD

25/2/99 There are no suitable words to describe the decimation on the Mickle Trafford line at Blacon. The relevant council department who can allow this to happen must he sick and Sustrans must have lost its marbles to do it for them. It goes to show what lengths these council departments will go to get their way. Residents of other areas who could be involved with Sustrans in the future should come and see this destruction. What is needed is a sustainable environment for trees and wildlife and special planners and councillors for a special city.
The council now pretend to go through the motions of giving residents their say, when of course the busway his already been decided by the bullymen behind closed doors and you could see who some of these builymen were at the Sustrans planning meeting.
Chester resident

25/2/99 We are members of Greenpeace, Friends of the Earth, RSPB, etc, by which you can gather we care very much about the earth and inhabitants. However, when approached by Sustrans to support them we declined the invitation. Now at first glance this may seem odd that as cyclists and walkers we should ask for further information from them and were not satisfied with the reply.
Those who have seen the devastation on the embankment of the old Mickle Trafford line in Blacon and further up the line will understand why we are very relieved not to have donated. Our council is also to blame for allowing this plan to go ahead anyway knowing full well the path would he denuded of all vegetation. Birds are nesting, hedgehogs, frogs and other small animals have all had their environment ruined and some have no doubt died.
The councils' pushy pet- the two line busway- will add yet more devastation for wildlife and people living near the line. It never ceases to amaze us that any council can be so short-sighted in this day and age to even think of adding yet more motorised routes when they should be out to promote healthy walking and cycling as world authorities and our government now advise we must, to stop global warming.
How can they do this in the face of public opinion? We all know that we shall have to cut down the use of our car whether we like it or not, so at least give us a pleasanter alternative- motorised vehicle-free routes where possible. This would not need any more tree cutting, etc on the Mickle Trafford route and we should have much needed recreational area as well as a truly green route to town and country. Which is sadly lacking in the Hoole area these days.
We realise there are some moves in Chester to help cyclists, as the number of people willing to use their own steam grows, but much more is needed to give a real boost and encourage those who are frightened or reluctant to leave their car at home at least some of the time and walk or cycle. Those who prefer to use bases would find the roads were less congested too. Come on councillors, we can't all keep our blinkers on- they have to come off sooner or later.time and walk Two OAPs

25/2/99 Shock and dismay have been expressed by local people at the destruction of wildlife habitat including the felling of well-established trees along the old Mickle Trafford-Shotton railway track.
The question must be asked whether what is being done is in accord with the permission granted by the city planning committee on the advice of the counciI officers? If this is so then the responsibility for what is happening rests with our councillors.
If Sustrans are not keeping to the conditions of their planning permission then it must be asked why the council's planning enforcement and control are so ineffective?
WV Jones, 101 Daleside Upton Heath Chester

4/3/99 Am I alone in noticing the irony in the reports in the Standard dated 25th February? One report covered the award of £19,900 from the Lottery to the Chester & District Tree Festival for the planting of 2000 trees over a period of some years. Your letters page had a photograph and letters recording the destruction in a couple of days of an unspecified number of trees by Sustrans along the old Mickle Trafford railway line.
If a local school wants a worthwhile project they could do worse than count the number of sawn trunks of greater than one foot diameter that Sustrans has vandalised- certainly hundreds, if not thousands. Can we assume that the planned Environmental Impact Study will include the loss of the benefits from these destroyed plants- or will it compare the busway with the desolation that has recently been created instead?
Nic Siddle 7 Sandileigh, Hoole, Chester

4/3/99 I was pleased to read in last week's Standard that the Chester and District Festival of Trees 2000 has been awarded a Lottery grant to enable the planting of 2000 trees. This is surely good news for the city as this will probably just about replace the number of trees felled by Sustrans in the course of building its cycle track along the disused Mickle Trafford railiway.
Craig Steeland, Chester

9/3/99 Dear Councillor Price,
I read with interest your comment in a recent Evening Leader: If I may quote from it, '"We are well aware of the problems of traffic congestion and it is top of the list of the things we need to improve over the next five years as part of our Going Forward strategy." The in-depth report also highlighted a congested city centre, too many tourists.... and air pollution as problems which need to be addressed, according to residents.
Cllr Price added: "Overall the report shows that we are doing things right and is extremely positive. The city's park and ride schemes are proving extremely successful in the fight against congestion."
Given that you accept the complaints of the respondees that there is currently too much congestion and are too many tourists, how can you say that the Park & Ride schemes are successful? All that Park & Ride schemes do is allow more people to come into the City from outside- ie they exacerbate congestion rather than relieve it. If the objective is to get more tourists and shoppers into the City, then Park and Ride can be justified. But this is not, as far as I am aware, the official policy of the Council. Without measures that positively discourage motorists from the City, there will be no improvement in congestion as the road space "released" by the bus schemes will immediately be filled by additional cars.
Recent decisions of the Planning committee such as that to allow the space allocated for employment related activities to be used instead for residential flats at the old Haywood Williams site show how flawed much of the thinking is. With one fell swoop, the traffic situation will have worsened (all going in the same direction at any one time rather than both in and out of the estate) and the need to travel has been increased (no on site employment opportunities). I sincerely hope that the Council will not allow the City Road Bus depot to relocate to the Travis Perkins Builder's yard as I believe that that would be against the Council's own policy of employment creation (it will simply re-locate jobs- not create new opportunities), or allow B&Q to re-locate to Sealand. B&Q currently serves a different population from that served by the other DIY stores at Sealand. If the move is allowed, there will be increased traffic movement and congestion as all budding DIY'ers will have to go to Sealand. Again, there would be little in the way of net job creation and possibly net losses as there would probably be a "shake-out" with the eventual closure of Do-It-All. Park & Rides are not the answer that will make Chester a sustainable city. More has to be done to avoid the need for car travel in the first place, for example (but not limited to):-
a) Encourage shops & supermarkets to deliver
b) Locate employment opportunities near residential areas
c) Make cycling/ walking more attractive by improving facilities.
As a regular cyclist, and one who regularly cycles along the inner ring road, I thought you would be interested to learn that the County Council, according to its Chief Executive in a letter of 1 March 1999, "...does not wish to encourage cycling on the [inner] ring road". Combine this with the fact that it is well nigh impossible to legally cross through the city centre, both ways on a bike, then it appears to me that the County Council still does not take commuter cycling seriously!
I hope that you will help to ensure that the proposed Park & Ride at Mannings Lane will be obliged to undergo a full and proper planning enquiry and will not be "rolled up" and "nodded through" in a Transport & Works Act application which will not consider the impact of Green Belt destruction.
Yours faithfully
Nic Siddle, 7 Sandileigh, Hoole Chester

10/3/99 I was interested to read in the Chronicle a couple of weeks ago that the Council had rejected the Wrexham Road bus lane scheme (even if that decision was later reversed) because of the sharp escalation in costs (from £440,000 to £1.12 million in 7 months.) When the original CDTS scheme was proposed about three or four years ago, the costs were said to be about £15 million. Now, in as much as one can get a figure, it appears to be about £50 million. But this figure is from over twelve months ago, and as far as I am aware, it has not been updated.
Your other report advised that funding for Phase one of the scheme is to be met out of the Public purse as it clearly has not been possible to attract Private Finance. 75% is to come from Central Government (ie the tax payer) and the other £1.75 million will have to be found from the local Council Tax payers. I don't know the number of Council Tax Payers in the area, but assuming a number of about 80,000, this equates to £200 per tax payer. Even if only the interest is charged, it represents perhaps £20/yr/tax payer. Perhaps the local councillors would care to explain the an electorate that has clearly shown that it doesn't want this scheme why our money should be spent on this white elephant rather than on, say, books for the classrooms of the County.
Nic Siddle, 7 Sandileigh Hoole

14/3/99 I quote from your report about the CDTS last week: "A draft environmental statement has been prepared, covering the effects on ecology, archeology, air quality, water and the community. It also puts the scheme in the context of planning policy and considers whether it is needed and what impact construction, noise and vibration will have".
Ê I presume that this refers in fact to the environmental "Scoping study" report. As usual, the planning "spin doctors" are trying to imply that more has already been done than has actually been done. As far as I am aware, the environmenmtal impact study has NOT been done. Why then, are we being asked to pass judgement on a scheme when all the information is not yet available? All that the Scoping study does is set out the terms of reference for the Environmental Impact Study. Given that one might expect the terms of reference to be heavily weighted in favour of delivering the Planners' preferred verdict, (ie that there will be "minimal impact"), it is not surprising that it seems to be extraordinarily difficult to get hold of a copy. I suggest that you phone the Town Hall Planning Dept (tel 234234) to ask for a copy. If that fails, complain to your local councillor.
Nic Siddle, 7 Sandileigh Hoole

15/3/99 In with my Council Tax Bill today I received a copy of the Cheshire County Council's Budget Report. So soon after the Chancellor's budget one might have expected it to be the low down on how we as council tax payers were going to be affected by the decisions made at No 11, but not so, it was headlined "Guided Busway: Decisions Ahead". It then went on to reveal that "Supporters and opponents of an innovative project to transform a disused rail line in Chester into a guided busway are being encouraged to make their views known." Now regular readers of these columns will have thought this might strange given that hardly a week has gone by without letters regailing the folly of the scheme (You're reading them!).
It was also interesting to note in the accompanying photograph that the model being shown to the Deputy Prime Minister had lots of trees in evidence.
Well, I'm afraid John, many of these have now gone! No doubt the soon to be distributed glossy consultation document will extol the virtues of this "innovative" scheme, but a white elephant is a white elephant no matter how innovative!
The real worry is that behind all this hype of the consultation process that the joint councils won't take any notice of your views anyway? How many people need to object before the plans scrapped? We need to know this! On a final note I would ask that all the Chester residents who get a consultation form, fill it in one way or the other, as I would hate to get this scheme hoisted upon us due to apathy!
The decision is yours- or is it?
Graeme Lyall, 47 Oaklea Avenue Hoole Chester CH2 3RG

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