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

What the People Really Think part 5: letters to these pages and the Chester press in opposition to the CDTS Guided Busway

16/3/99 Please find below some correspondence that we had recently with one of our erstwhile local councillor- R S Hale- regarding the CDTS. I hope you will be able to find some space for both his letter and our response on your excellent website. Keep up the good work.

Dear Mr & Mrs Nelson,
My colleague David Hall has passed onto me the grumble sheet you completed which highlighted your concerns over the future use of the redundant railway line at the rear of your property.
I have to tell you that a great deal of misinformation has built up regarding the proposal to create a combined cycle/footway and a public transport system. It has not gone unnoticed that much of the correspondence in the press is punted anonymously but I do agree there is opposition to the scheme but it is not as great as you suggest and in the main is headed by the same individuals.
A survey has been carried out by Cheshire County Council within the Chester district that revealed there was a majority in favour of approximately 60%. Understandably most expressions of doubt and opposition came from those living near to the line. I realise that those of us in all the three political parties who support the scheme to operate this dedicated transport route along existing track need to convince residents such as yourselves that we are sensitive to your concerns and fears.
A further series of exhibitions are planned soon in order to report progress to allow residents to see for themselves how the two councils are progressing with their plans to create this transport corridor. The views expressed by the public at previous exhibitions have been considered and where possible have been included in the current proposals. An environmental assessment is being carried out. Existing fencing and hedging have been recorded and noted for repair and enhancement where necessary.
As you will be aware the railway line is suffering from neglect and vandalism. There needs to be a programme of thinning and pruning the overgrowth and this may be of concern to you. However there is a need to manage what I believe will become a "Green Route". Additional planting is also intended. To leave things as they are is not in my opinion an option and that is why I believe the Government allowed Sustrans to acquire part of the line in order to create a cycle way/foot way as Phase One of the overall development. As I understand it Sustrans are able to obtain their resources from the recently created Landfill Tax fund.
Traffic congestion in cities is one of the major issues facing virtually all Councils in the UK. Chester has the opportunity to accept the challenge of reducing the onslaught it faces daily from the motor car by using this redundant railway line. Maybe we can discuss these various issues further should we meet up during the election period.
Yours Sincerely
R. S. Hale, Old School House Pulford Court Pulford Nr Chester CH4 9EU

Our Reply:

Dear Mr Hale,
Thank you for your prompt response to the concerns that we raised on our "grumble sheet" as you so delicately put it. Firstly I would like to stress that we have no opposition whatsoever to a combined cycle/footway, we believe that this will improve the quality of life of the communities that the disused rail line passes through. However, we do object very strongly to the proposed- or should I say foregone conclusion- public transport system.
We also have followed the debate in the local press and disagree with your assertion that "much of the correspondence in the press is printed anonymously". We suggest that you look at this website (You're reading it!) which faithfully reproduces the many letters to the local press on this matter. The majority of these letters are directly attributed to the concerned Cestrians that wrote them.
We are sure that a great deal of misinformation has built up around the proposals because if half of what has been alleged is true then the local council could only be described as devious, greedy and totally unwilling to listen to those voices raised in opposition. However, if "approximately" 60% of people are in favour of the proposals then this poses further questions:
Are the 40% of residents that do not want the scheme to go ahead to be ignored?
Of the 60% that were in favour of the proposals how many thought they were only being asked about a combined cycle/footway and NOT a bus lane?
How many of that 60% would still be in favour now that trees have been cut down to facilitate this "green" transport initiative?
You are correct when you state that you need to convince the local residents who live alongside the track bed that you are sensitive to our concerns and fears and if your letter is anything to go by you will have a very hard job.
We filled out our "grumble sheet" because we felt there was a certain amount of hypocrisy on your part to champion the cause of those who have complained about the masts in the Town Hall square whilst ignoring the HUNDREDS of complaints regarding the guided busway. We are in favour of a green footway and cycle path where local residents can walk and cycle in safety. The busway proposal quite clearly does not deliver this. No matter how environmentally friendly the buses are they will still produce fumes, still make noise and still push those who are foolish enough to think they can enjoy a stress free walk/cycle to the extremes of the track bed.
Yes we do have a NIMBY attitude here but we are sure that if a bus lane were to be built that ran across the back of your property in Pulford you too may come round to our way of thinking.
Chester IS a congested city but this bus lane will not help the people of Chester. The majority of people using it will be day visitors who do not even live in the city. People will still use their cars- this has been proved time and time again in cities across Europe. We believe that Sustrans have provided footway and cycle paths in various cities in the UK but have never been asked to run buses along them. You and your fellow Councillors have squandered a genuine opportunity to produce an environment where local people can walk and cycle in peace, free from the congestion that will ALWAYS exist in a popular tourist city like Chester.
The line is suffering from neglect and vandalism but how will are you seriously suggesting that a footway and cycle path won't solve this but a busway will? As for your assertion that the overgrowth is being "thinned and pruned" then I can only recommend that you come and look at the 20-30 year old trees that have been "pruned" to the rear of our property.
I certainly hope that we do have the opportunity to discuss this further in the run up to the forthcoming election. Your letter has certainly helped us decide whom we shall be voting for.

And on 20/3/99 I trust that this morning, like us, you received your glossy brochure from the Council on the CDTS with its lovely artists impressions.
Some questions immediately spring to mind:
It is suggested that "everybody" will benefit from the CDTS. However, there only three stops- a new park and ride built on what looks like greenbelt (?), Newton Lane and Frodsham Street (which is in the centre of town anyway). Considering that the Council is so concerneed about the elderly how are they going to get to the M53 or Newton Lane if, say, they live in Vicars Cross?
The footway/cycleway is also described as a "proposal". I thought this was supposed to be the main thrust of the development- it's the only bit that has been officially approved. Also, how exactly can a footway/cycleway lead to better "buses"?
Finally, it looks as if you were right about the extension to Deeside. Phase 2 only "could" extend to Flintshire.
Reading between the lines it looks as if phase one will run from the M53 to city centre and that's about it! Surprisingly the Park & Ride is not in Mickle Trafford anymore and a "new bus lane" will have to be constructed to link to Mickle Trafford.
The only people who will be using this scheme as it stands are those motorists coming off the motorway. The majority of which will not be Chester residents.
Mark & Helen Nelson, 71 Oaklea Avenue Hoole Chester CH2 3RG

18/3/99 The county council is pushing forward quickly with a decision to construct a guided busway, the Chester Deeside Transport System (CDTS), along the Mickle Trafford-Shotton disused railway corridor.
The First stage would involve the construction of a massive new car park on prime greenfield land in the Mannings Lane area, the construction of a new double width concrete trackway along the railway corridor and the construction of a new road across the Northgate Village green space.
The county council is intending taking the plans for the CDTS to the Secretary of State for his approval, but first will consult the public for their views.
CPRE is strongly opposing the transport scheme as it will completely destroy the existing greenway and open up new greenfield sites for development opportunities in the Mannings Lane area, in the Sealand Basin area, in the Wrexham Road area and in Deeside. It is likely that the developers will continue to strongly support the scheme.
At a time when both the city and county councils are struggling to balance their budgets on transport issues and councillors are having to decide which local bus services and school buses they can still afford to keep, and how many times they can increase the city centre parking charges to subsidise park and ride schemes, the question must be asked: 'Would this expensive guided busway scheme represent good value for money and who would pay?"
Ann Jones, Planning Co-ordinator, Chester district CPRE, 101 Daleside, Upton Heath, Chester

18/3/99 It is apparent from last week's press reports that the County Planner's "spin doctors" are at it again. The reports say of the CDTS (Mickle Trafford busway): "A draft environmental statement has been prepared, covering the effects on ecology, archaeology, 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".
I presume that this refers in fact to the environmental "scoping study" report. As usual, Backford Hall is trying to give the impression that more has already been done than has actually been done. As far as I am aware, the environmental 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 to hand?
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 only 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 Department (tel 324324) to ask for a copy. If that fails, complain to your local councillor.
Nic Siddle, 7 Sandileigh Hoole, Chester

1/4/99 It is time to stop this folly befalling the fair city of Chester. Do take the time to send a form or letter to the Engineering Dept., Backford Hall, CHI 6EA. We must not allow more greenbelt land to go under tarmac, enough has been whittled away already by planners who likely don't even live in the areas they re wrecking.
The peaceful walk along the old railway line is just what is needed to encourage us all to walk or cycle more for the sake Of our hearts and minds, let alone the environment. Realists amongst us take on board that limited use of our cars is in our own interest- each and every one of us will suffer the consequences of global warming, and we already suffer from the highest respiratory diseases in the country. Most of our councillors seem to think we will put up with second rate walking/cycling facilities yet again.
Some of us have sent letters in and will keep doing so but we ask everybody to take a few minutes, now, to wite, or complete a form if you have one, saying NO to this busway. No matter where you live it is of the greatest importance that we are not foisted with yet more roads in any form, as all roads encourage even more traffic.
Where do planners think the exhaust fumes go from these cars? Your letter/form saying 'No to the busway' will matter. Your children should be encouraged to write too, for it's their future well-being that is at stake. Do it now for all our sakes and for the wildlife that will be devastated by buses running every few minutes.
Two OAPs

1/4/99 The other day I visited the CDTS exhibition at the New Scene Youth Centre. What I saw and heard really shocked me.
I was told by a county council representative that the Westerly Relief Road was not going through green belt land. This I know to be untrue. I heard this gentleman repeat this statement to several other members of the public.
I was also surprised to see that the cycleway plans (Sustrans) had been drastically altered from those which have been passed by the city councillors. Several new bridges have been introduced and the cycleway had not just been moved off into the margins but completely off the track route.
When I brought up the issue or the cost of the scheme and the development of the green belt, the representative simply waved his hands and walked away.
The only conclusion from this experience and others is that the public are being deliberately misled by the council over this scheme. The public should be told the truth and proper consultation take place.
I intend to see the council brought to account over their behaviour, I hope others do the same.
P Hobbs, 41 Victoria Road, Chester

1/4/99 A splendid glossy leaflet from Cheshire County Council arrived with my post this week explaining the virtues of developing park-and-rides in Chester. This I found deeply alarming. The other side of the angument hasn't got that kind of money to throw at publicity, so a truly good public debate cannot happen.
Some of the arguments against this development are:
I. Park and ride does not decrease car use. Yes it reduces pressure in town centres, but it does nothing to encourage us car people onto public transport. So we need to travel to Chester on public transport, not just to the city centre from the Park and ride if we really want to tackle environmental issues.
2. The existing park and rides in Chester are on occasions used by people who live in Chester, driving out to the park and ride and bussing in, because it's cheaper than the local bus. How this reduce traffic or help public transport?
3. Once a park and ride has been built on an area of green belt land around Chester for ostensibly green reasons, it will then become very difficult to argue against further development on the site, thus further eroding the Green Belt. Look what happened near the Sainsbury's park and ride at Caldy Valley. This increase of retail sites out of town will surely diminish trade in town, and drive business to the out of town sites. Then we won't need the park and ride, because it won't be worth going into town to shop! Private finance will be helping to complete this project. I wonder how many investment companies and corporations offering money already own land in the 'right' places to take advantage of the erosion of the Green Belt?
This proposal will spend £7m reducing traffic in less than one square mile of Chester, leaving traffic levels elsewhere to continue to spiral out of control.
We need the Chester Deeside Transport System to be more imaginative and look beyond making developments that centre on car use. We need transport planners to come up with innovative and creative ways of getting us into and around Chester without cars. Please county planners, look beyond car dependency and give us something that really is for the next millennium.
Diana Wilderspin-Jones, Bryn Gwyn, Bottom Road, Summerhill, Wrexham

8/4/99 The people of Chester are being asked for their views on the Chester Deeside Transport System (CDTS) guided busway....... or are they?
In reality they are being asked only about Phase I of the scheme. This is the section from a new park and ride at Mannings Lane, through Hoole and Newton, crossing the open space in Northgate Village to the city centre. Phase I forms less than half of the Proposed CDTS.
Can we consider Phase I in isolation from the rest of the scheme? Surely as the Chester-Deeside system we need to look at the entire length of trackway from Mannings Lane through to Deeside, that is Phase I and Phase 2 (which is the section from the city passing through Blacon/Sealand Basin to Deeside).
If we endorse Phase I we will also be committing ourselves to Phase 2 otherwise there can be no Chester to Deeside system. If Phase I alone is constructed then we will have an expensively engineered busway from Mannings Lane to the city but we will certainly not have a Chester Deeside Transport System.
The County Council quotes the EIP (Cheshire 2011) Panel lnspectors in support of the CDTS. However, the county does not quote the inspectors' comments in full. The inspectors made it clear that the CDTS must form part of a complex package of measures including the construction of the Western Relief Road, new bus Ianes on the approach roads into the city and severe restrictions on car parking in the city centre. Without these any benefit expected from the CDTS and even the existing park and ride schemes would be lost. The inspectors also expressed concern about the rapidly escalating cost of the CDTS and questioned whether the system represented value for money. (Reference: 2011: Report of the EIP panel. Pages 114-115).
There are clearly many aspects of the CDTS project which the county council has not set before us. We need to give all aspects of the scheme and the associated package of transport policies very careful consideration before committing our city to what could be a very expensive mistake.
W V Jones, 101 Daleside, Upton Heath, Chester

8/4/99 In my book I am very lucky indeed for the following reasons: (1) I have a job, a car, legs to use when a car journey is not required (as I consider environment). The quality of life should be top of every list. (2) I no longer live in Chester- the quality of life has plummeted since I resided here some years ago.
I feel it is partly the residents' fault for not taking an active part in local district affairs (apologies to those who have). Many more must write to the planning depts and their councillors, instead of shrugging their shoulders. If enough of you make the effort to object to anything it can't be passed. Don't be down trodden- do something about your plight. (3) Without using my car I can get to an area to take a relaxing walk away from traffic. A great luxury for Chester residents, especially those living in the Hoole area, where major roads, including the motorway, converge and are so confining for residents who may not have the use of a car- or indeed are environmentally aware and wish to use their car less. As a walker myself I have often wandered along the disused railway track, a little bit of wilderness and puzzled why this has not been slightly developed to allow comfortable paths for both walker and cyclists.
What a shock I had on this visit to be told about the proposed busway. Went along to an exhibition by the track: the 'good news' was a squashed-in walker/cyclist path; "horrific news" a two lane busway (wildlife and quality of life ignored) was also being proposed. Have any of you seen the bare earth on the embankment? Are You really going to allow this to happen? If it were in our area we would have banners out all over the town but people were demurely stating the busway was not required, a walkway/cycleway was. This is what people wanted, somewhere without motor vehicles. I wanted to scream.
Do write to your planning department now before it is too late. Maybe I should mind my own business but I had to write to your local paper anyway.
Devoting this lovely long track to people and animals not motor vehicles would add so much to your quality of life and help clean up air pollution. Do think about the consequences if you do nothing to stop this busway. Whether you live in the area or not you still breathe the air. The priority of planners should be to entice car owners to leave their cars at home most of the time. This would be achieved painlessly if they were given a delightful traffic free walk/cycleway with the occaisonal glimpse of wildlife abundant in this area at the moment. Of course those who can't use their own legs could use the buses running on existing roads. Throwing yet more green area for cars to gobble up is not the solution. Planners are not able to see the trees for the cars, you must tell them they am wrong.
It's breaking my heart and I don't live here my longer.
Mrs Steffan, living in the South (but once a Cestrian always one)

8/4/99 The county council has spared no expense in distributing glossy coloured leaflets to every household in Chester to promoted CDTS - the Chester Deeside Transport System. The leaflet describes CDTS in glowing terms as a vision to carry Chester into the next century- an environmentally friendly transport system, mostly paid for by the Government. So how could we not be delighted?
It is not surprising therefore that the leaflet fails to describe the severe environmental damage that CDTS would inflict on Chester's green fields, greenways and wildlife habitat. The leaflet also fails to mention the stringent new measures to prevent traffic entering the city recommended by the independent inspectors if CDTS is constructed. The leaflet fails to mention thut CDTS would open up greenfield sites for new development opportunities in the Sealand Basin, the Lache Lane area, Wrexham Road and the Mannings Lane area.
The leaflet highlights Phase I of the CDTS but does not say that CDTS would severely cut up 40 (forty) acres (16 hectares) of Chester's most sensitive green belt on the eastern side of the city at Mannings Lane which is in the ownership of Tesco.
The leaflet fails to say that the disused railway line from Mickle Trafford through Hoole-Newton-Blacon to Deeside would be totally reconstructed with changes in ground levels to accommodate a new width of 10 metres. Seven metres would be needed for the double concrete busway in addition to three metres for the hardcore cycle-walkway. As the original trackbed was only eight metres wide a lot of engineering would be required.
The leaflet also fails to mention that the double concrete busway and hardcore cycle-walkway would cut across the green open space of Northgate Village to gain access to the city centre.
A post-paid return slip for public comment is enclosed in the council's leaflet, CPRE recommends that comments are sent in after careful thought.
Ann Jones, Planning coordinator Chester District CPRE, 101 Daleside, Upton Heath, Chester

8/4/99 We took it upon ourselves to walk around Northgate Village after reading letters from G Lyal and others quietly pointing out the salient points of the two lane busway. What a beautiful, peaceful place. The planners hould be congratulated, this is how our future must be planned. Are we really to believe councillors and planners are even thinking about trundling buses through this area? Surely not. In this day and age this is the last thing that should be passed. That anyone should be creating yet another road is unthinkable, given global warming and the need to encourage people to leave cars at home. Stringing along a pitiful cycle and walkway will fool nobody. We are enlightened people who realise the car will go on gobbling up our precious green fields and wild places if we let it. It is certainly time we all took on board the fact that car use must be reduced where possible, and to encourage us a traffic free nature trail would be ideal, giving healthy, pleasant exercise for both mind and body. Better to walk without danger, fumes, noise and grit in our faces- we've tried walking with traffic, who could be encouraged by that? We shall certainly be saying NO to the CDTS busway.
A big thank you to all those people who have worked tirelessly, without payment, to put these points across to readers, and attended meetings. We only hope everyone who wants a traffic free nature trail will write or send forms back to Backford. We reap what we sow, if we accept this second class crammed-in cycle/walkway with accompanying two lane busway we have only ourselves to blame.
We must tell our councillors and planners to put our health and safety above all else, and trust they will think about respiratory problems- rife in Cheshire (reported to be the worst in the country).
Planners can no longer tell us park and rides are the answer, stopping cars one mile from the city centre and even closer to homes, with exhaust fumes going into the air we all breathe will not satisfy us. But unless you tell them you want a traffic free route to walk and cycle on they will carry on with this busway.
Given pleasant traffic free places to walk and ride, more people will be encouraged to use their cars less. This will reduce traffic on existing roads, for more buses and lead to a better environment, without resorting to more devastation, further green fields under tarmac and a two lane bus track cutting across a very pleasant nature trail. In this equation we must also remember the wildlife already being decimated by existing roads. What kind of message are we giving children?
More publicity must be given to our railway station in holiday brochures, with an explanation that as a very small city we can only preserve its character by limiting the use of cars. With the added attraction of a nature trail on the Mickle Trafford route this could be a huge investment for a healthy future both for residents and visitors. Cycle hiring would flourish. Councillors must think carefully. Are you really telling us we must prostrate ourselves yet again for the car? Some of you have voiced concerns about this busway. Let us see if you all see the red light after seeing our letters saying NO to the busway, YES to a nature trail.
Enlightened Cestrian

8/4/99 Following the recent Budget, it is now costing the country dweller a further 4p per litre on the price of petrol to allow him to visit Chester, to shop at the urban supermarket, to drive to the park and ride, or even to fill up his fuel tank. This is only the beginning of the promised rise in fossil fuel prices and vehicle taxes as government measures to combat the ever increasing threat of global warming.
Has the time now come, therefore, to look again at some of Cheshire's future transport schemes in the urban pipeline?
Chester now has four park and ride services in operation, more than any other city in the country. Is there such a vital need for a further massive car park on a greenfield site in the green belt to support a very expensive idealistic guided busway along an abandoned railway track?
Are the existing park and ride operations already so overloaded that we need more immediately?
Is there a desperate need for a Western Relief Road, cutting through green belt land only to add to the already large volumes of traffic in the Sealand Basin?
Will there be so many cars travelling from the surrounding country areas requiring these facilities in a future beset with ever increasing fuel costs?
These schemes should now be reassessed under the "sustainability" criteria, and during the pause for reconsideration, an opportunity will arise to give the rural communities a better deal with transport issues. Funds could be made available or diverted from these expensive projects to investigate and provide a more user-friendly rural transport system encouraging the country dwellers to leave their cars at home, to provide a programme of systematic repair to rural roads, to control rural traffic with calming measures and speed controls, and make the country lanes safer for walkers, horseriders and school children, and to conserve our roadside verges for the wildlife and flowers that made the Cheshire countryside worth visiting.
Town and country dwellers all pay comparable taxes to the state, to the county and to the city yet regrettably in recent years the rural taxpayer has not had an altogether comparable share of all the transport and road improvements bestowed upon his urban neighbour. This would be the opportune time for the council to think again and for country dwellers to remind the county council and its officers that the rural communities are in urgent need of more environmentally friendly roads and transport services, and for the time being place the Western Ring Road and the Chester Deeside Transport System in abeyance until some of the rural issues have been resolved. The solution of the rural issues may affect the need for either or both of these two ambitious and costly schemes.
George M Bramall, Sandhollow Farm, Harhill Road, Burwardsley, Chester

8/4/99 Government policy is that residents have an option to throw out transport plans that would drastically affect their quality of life by sending in objections. Send in one objection form/letter per person objecting, otherwise it may only be counted as one objection no matter how many sign. It seems our council planners are trying to push this busway ahead, though some councillors are seriously questioning the need to put more green fields under tarmac, so close to the Upton park and ride.
In these enlightened environmental times the last thing we should be doing is putting the walker and cyclists with any form of motor vehicles. That this route is a confined, high banked setting with resultant fumes (no matter how green they are painted) hanging in the air is considered good enough to squash cyclists and walkers alongside two lanes of buses on a very narrow path, adds insult to injury. If existing walkers/cyclists are objecting, how on earth do they hope to encourage others to use vehicles less? As walkers and cyclists we won't be using this route if it is ever opened to motor vehicles, it ruins the natural beauty of this wildlife haven. We can't believe, in this day and age, the long mistreated walkers and cyclists- the very people who are saving on congestion and pollution in this sad world- should be thrown in yet again with motor vehicles. The way forward is not stopping cars a mile from anywhere, using yet more greenbelt land to park them, but stopping them from being used as much in the first place.
It is time councils and planners realised the only way forward must be to provide decent traffic free routes for every able-bodied person to use, to encourage us from our cars. Park and Ride buses should use the Hoole Rd along with essential traffic (a Backford Hall engineer said "They are looking to close this road for all but essential traffic") Therefore putting more buses on it would not be a problem, so why is the destruction of this green corridor being even considered? It was also stated that park and ride passengers must have a pleasant green route otherwise they would not use it. I have news for Backford Hall staff- thousands of people use underground trains each day, pleasant that is not! That planners have not, even now, seen the needs of the cyclist/walker as comprehensible- perhaps we should have them use cycles or walk to work for a week, no matter how far out of Cheshire they may live.
Hoole area is blocked in by major roads and motorways, it has little quality of life and with further destruction of wildlife area, who can blame people getting into their cars to find a traffic free area for some peace and relaxation whilst they walk or cycle. This is the very thing we should be tackling- access to wildlife routes without using the car to get to them, otherwise it creates even more pollution. The aim must be to provide traffic free wildlife areas for both commuters and others to enjoy a relaxing, healthy, noise, exhaust pollution (no matter how "green") and grit in face-free walk or cycle, with the added joy of seeing wildlife and the wild areas intact, not squashed flat.
By the way, we live a field away from the proposed busway, some just a few feet from the track- yes feet- if you don't believe it go to the top of Sefton Rd and look over the bridge. We also have a car and therefore not prejudiced against it.
We shall not vote in the election for any but a Green candidate, most people are now taking environmental issues very seriously and we feel sure more Green candidates will stand for election this May. Thank goodness we shall be able to choose between the "bury everything in tarmac" and 'consider the environment brigade." Our quality of life could be on an upward curve soon.
The Hodgkinson family

13/4/99 Copy of Letter to Cheshire County Council Environment Policy Unit..

Dear Sir, Thank you for your invitation to submit suggestions for inclusion in Cheshire's interim Local Transport Plan (LTP).ÊI have already written on a number of occassions to protest about the ill thought out and poorly researched CDTS scheme. To re-iterate the main points:
The evidence given by the County to the EIP was based on the assumption of exponential traffic growth if there was no CDTS. Given that part of the justification for the scheme is that the roads are already at capacity, this is obvious and blatant nonsense. At some point it must become self limiting. I would wish to see only proposals which are based on sound analysis included in the LTP- and not ones driven by political or job-preservation needs. I also think that in seeking public support, then there has to be more openess about the policies which may be poltically unpopular (such as the extent to which car parking in town will have to be curtailed and the rate at which car park charges will have to rise)- there is an educative obligation on the Council to shift Public opiinion so that we all start to think about all alternatives to the car (and not just buses). More to the point, if the necessary restrictions were introduced anyway, the traffic would be reduced enough to make the scheme uneccessary.
The enormous sum of money being proposed for the Busway (it "could be £56million"- I'd put money on it rising to at least £80 million before we're through) would be much better spent on other things (more cycle tracks & racks, advanced stop lines, sequenced traffic lights). There should be more facilties for carrying bikes (and pushchairs and wheelchairs) on trains- without extra charge. Past, if politically no longer "correct" experience in places like Sheffield show that subsidised public transport CAN make a huge difference to traffic flows and be financially viable when viewed holisitically. The LTP should look at ways of redefining the budgets which currently seem to inexorably lead to more and more cuts in sudsidies and hence in services.
Provision For Cyclists
Cheshire's provision for cyclists is little more than "lip service". From the downright dangerous schemes (eg the original cycle slip track in front of Winston's on the Gorse Stacks roundabout- now thankfully removed) to the statements by the CEO that there is an intention to discourage cycling on the ring road without providing alternative routings across town, there is an obvious total lack of belief in cycling as being part of the answer to Chester's traffic problems. I ask you to look at the width of the new cycle track on the road by the zoo. The width of the track (including the drainage covers), is less than the width of a pair of handlebars. More to the point, on both sides of the road, there are footpaths that could have been easily widened to make safe dual use track separated from the traffic- again, just an indication of the lack of imagination and common sense or purpose in the County's cycling policy. The insistance on propsing a double track busway for the CDTS forces a maximum width on the cycle track of 3 metres- not enough for two to ride abreast if there are any pedestrians using the track. It is only by allowing the use of the track for "sociable" cycling that one will encourage the current non-cyclists to take to their pedals.
The lack of tracks and other facilities for cyclists at the Sealand Shopping Complex and the Business Parks speak volumes for the Councils' lack of concern for cyclists, despite all the public pronouncements. The way in which the track on Sealand Road heading towards town terminates on the pavement without a ramp onto the road also suggests that the tracks are planned by non-cyclists who do not understand the problems encountered on Bikes. It is vitally important that the LTP seriously addresses ways in which to encourage cycling (and walking)- particularly of children to school. For this, it is not enough to consult only with the established cycling groups (such as the CTC)- they will cycle anyway, even on the main roads. You have to canvass the opinion of the cycle owning non-cyclists (there are more bikes than cars in this country) to find out what would induce them to get back on their bikes.
Needs of Residents
The CDTS proposal is an example of a project which has clear appeal for the engineers and planners because of its perceived "status". But it will bring few benefits for local residents.Ê There is only the one local stop at Newton Lane- what this is likely to do is decimate the local Kingsway buses which also pick up on Hoole Road. I therefore would expect there to be fewer buses which I (living in Sandileigh) can sensibly use as a result of CDTS. This seems to me to be counter to the whole thrust of what the LTP should be about. I understand that a significant proportion of the P&R users actually live closer to town than the P&R's - they drive out to catch the bus to bring them back into town. Again, a total failure in terms of getting people to understand the need to stop using their cars.
Loss of Green Belt Land
I believe that the county's current transport policies are damaging to the environment, both in terms of green belt loss and wildlife damage. I do not believe that the case for another Park & Ride has been proven, particularly in view of the fact that the latest reports suggest that usage at Caldy Valley has fallen since the opening of Wrexham Road. If there was such a need, it could be provided in a more environmentally sound way by a P&R in Mickle Trafford coupled with a shuttle train service and bus from the City Road railway station to town. I am convinced that if this plan is allowed to proceed, there will be associated "land take" and that within 5 years, all the land between the A41 and the M53 will have been earmarked for building of one sort or another. Whilst the LTP will concentrate on the transport side of things, it is important that the environmental effects are taken into consideration.
I hope that this rather rushed note gives you a flavour of what I would wish to see in the LTP.
Nic Siddle, 7 Sandileigh Hoole

15/4/99 I can only hope that the present consultation with Chester residents about the CDTS is a genuine consultation and not a sham exercise. At last we get to have our say about this crackpot idea. As it is almost impossible to find anyone who actually supports this scheme, maybe there is hope that we can finally bury it because the CDTS proposal will not produce any benefits for local residents.
The CDTS project is unnecessary, extremely expensive and unlikely to meet its stated objective of reducing congestion. Relieving road congestion is not the same as encouraging the use of alternative modes of transport. Relieving road congestion is like the pot of gold at the end of the rainbow. Some car users may be persuaded to use the park and ride and CDTS combination for the last 1.75 miles of the lessened Hoole Road, they will obviously return to using their cars.
It would appear that the sole aim of the project is to get shoppers as quickly as possible to the shops in the city centre, rather than encouraging the use of alternative modes of transport. As there is only one stop proposed on the CDTS Phase I route (at Newton), the project will be of little use to most Chester residents who might live near it. CDTS is simply another wheeled, internal combustion engine powered by park and ride bus which can run on concrete troughs as well as normal roads. Park and Ride buses have all of the existing local road network to use. They do not need to use the precious disused railway corridor which could be developed into an imaginative, attractive route for local pedestrians and cyclists to use for local journeys. Don't let them spend £7,000,000 pouring concrete over this green corridor in our already overdeveloped city.
In any case the CDTS plan does not address the issue of how people make their journeys from home to the Park and Ride site in the first place. Some thought should be given to developing an integrated cycle and train solution to enable people to travel from home to the centres of the larger cities within the county. For this to happen there needs to be better provision for cyclists on trains, improved cycle parking facilities at stations, the development of new cycle hire facilities and the provision of safe cycling routes to train stations. There are a number of examples from the Continent where this has been done successfully. Such ideas are likely to be readily applicable in Chester, especially given the flat geography of the city.
CG Steeland, Chester

15/4/99 The joint councils were recently trumpeting that the Chester Access Group, an independent lobby group which ensures that facilities are accessible for all, unanimously endorsed the CDTS proposals- This wasn't qualified however by whether the group were considering the bigger picture or were merely commenting on the specific facilities as they would find them? For instance did they also note that only car owners and those that can make it under their own steam to the Park and Ride site or the stop at Newton Lane can realistically have access to the scheme? They might also have considered that the scheme might adversely affect the ability of the existing bus infrastructure and that this in fact would disadvantage all non-car drivers, those who choose not to use their cars and also all those who do not live immediately adjacent to the Newton Lane stop or the Mannings Lane Site?
Is it not worrying that in an era when councils all over the country are endeavouring to promote and develop sustainable forms of transport that our council, so obviously still steeped in the car culture, Select a car-dependent scheme in which to major on and to invest substantial amount of tax payers money?
You still have time to to comment on the scheme. Closing dater 23rd April.
Graeme Lyall, 47 Oakleigh Avenue, Hoole Chester

22/4/99 Rail Freight have a wonderful opportunity to take the burden from lorry drivers/owners who are protesting about fuel costs, by putting freight back on the railway where it belongs- less traffic, less damage to roads, less fuel costs (we all pay for these), less delay, less torment for villages, less danger, and most of all less pollution... Putting heavy loads back on the railway is one thing government and councils should be doing, planning further roads must be out of the question. Perhaps those of us who never bother to object to councils or government about using up more and more of our precious, fast dwindling green space, for yet more roads/roundabouts/ busways/car parks, will wake up and do something to stop this plundering.
Yes, the CDTS idiocy must be stopped. Before the May elections, write or infom your councillor. Write objecting to the CDTS to Backford Hall, Chester CHI 6EA. Save our quality of life, don't squander it because commuters won't use the bus or train, instead of one person one car. Why do planners pander to these selfish people? Perhaps it's because they make a fuss, and residents as a rule do not. We should prove them wrong this topic. Write to John Prescott. Do something- before it's too late- We still have a chance to stop further decimation of our green belt. Stop the speculators, waiting in the wings for any encroachment which will give the green light. The future well being of our environment is in your hands. It must be worth a letter or two.
A very concerned resident

22/4/99 In reply to the 'Concerned Resident' of 15th April Points of View- "Labour hijack"- he/she should be made aware that the Liberal Democrats are the very people who are helping to destroy the green open spaces and are regularly keeping us informed as to how they are going to do it. I would add that the Labour and Conservative councillors are no better.
In green spaces let me mention the CDTS which is causing a great deal of concern in households close and not so close to the proposed route. Sleepless nights, endless fraught discussions, agitated debate with seemingly no solution, no choice, no compromise and no voice. A voice is what we need. Let's try our local councillors. The following is an extract from a debate with our local Liberal Democrat candidate:
Resident question: "Would you like 16 buses per hour past the back of your home?"
Lib Dem answer: "I don't know what you're complaining about. Sixteen buses per hour is a small price to pay for any improvement in the quality of life for the people who live on Hoole Road."
Resident: "A high percentage of people on Hoole Road rely heavily on passing traffic for their livelihood. If the majority of people in this ward voted Liberal Democrat yet were against CDTS would you represent our views in council?"
Lib Dem: "No."
Resident: "But why? We are the people who put you in a position of power to represent us, the local people."
Shortly after this the debate deteriorated and the Iiberal Democrats left, leaving the small group of residents standing, cold and seriously concerned as for who they should be voting on the 6th May. If this is the attitude, who will you vote for to ensure your voice is heard?
K Moffat, Oaklea Avenue, Hoole Chester

22/4/99 In reply to last week's "Concerned resident", I would also be concerned if I were a Liberal Democrat councillor in Hoole. I would not however be concerned by a Labour hijack but by the clear mis-reading of the electorate's feelings towards the proposed CDTS. When canvassed by the Liberal Democrats last week, I raised my concerns and objections to the busway and was met with an uncompromising view and an attitude which verged on rudeness and annoyance. If I were a Liberal Democrat councillor, I would at least listen to people's views and concerns instead of dictating to local residents what the Liberal Democrats see as good for them.
In sharp contrast, the Labour councillors (although admitting they would follow the party line) offered due concern for my views and offered to facilitate these views being heard in a fair and correct way in the council area. Regrettably, there is no party in the Hoole Groves ward who will fight for and support the very many and growing number of people with concerns about a noisy concrete busway cutting through Hoole's largest green area.
Whatever the Liberal Democrats have achieved in the past in terms of preserving green open spaces will be overshadowed by their blinkered views which support converting a very large green space into a carbon monoxide polluted piece of tarmac (proposed Mamings Lane park and ride) and a two lane concrete busway.
Support the cycle path and walkway and object to this noisy concrete busway which is being cleverly marketed as a good thing for you, the residents of Chester.
Equally concerned resident: Dr C M Bridle, Hoole, Chester

22/4/99 I would like to endorse the sheer folly of any idea of a busway for the former rail track, for the following reasons:
1. That strip of land is virtually irreplaceable, once it has a new dedicated use.
2. The title of the scheme is fallacious: the busway does not go to Chester or Deeside, it would serve Iess than one twentieth of the city population, and therefore, by any stretch of the imagination, could not justifiably called a transport system.
3. Presumably a pompous title was given to excite interest.
4. No effort has been used to consider a wider, acceptable use for that invaluable facility, as could be expected from the transport authority for the whole of the county of Cheshire.

We disagree- in August 1984, Cheshire county council itself produced a report, astonishingly- in light of their current 'wisdom'- stating that Chester was increasingly short of recreational green space, that cycling can make a major impact upon traffic congestion and health- and that the old railway should be retained as a cycle track and footpath! Incredible but true.

5. The track was planned and constructed to run trains on and become part of the national transport system. Chester has already in place five railway tracks entering Chester covering all the cardinal points, creating a vast captive area, were it properly utilised. It is wrong not to use them to the fullest extent. 6. Where no stations are at present there are ideal locations for unmanned halls.
The foregoing are just a few ways in which the strangulation of roads, and the density of pollution could be vastly relieved, at minimal cost, if minds could be prised open.
James T. Indemaur, 41 Shaftesbury Avenue, Vicars Cross, Chester

22/4/99 I write again to register my objection to the proposed CDTS on the disused rail track through Mickle Trafford. I read in your newspaper the claim by planners and councillors of the support they were getting from those who went to see the exhibition. I can only presume that these people saw the layout at the Town Hall venue because if they had gone to the Newton location they would have seen the total disregard of people's privacy by looking out of the door of this building across to the houses backing on to the track.
It is an utter disgrace that buses will be passing these houses every 10 minutes. We were informed previously to this exhibition by councillors that it would give access to people along the line and would help those older, disabled etc., to get into town quicker and safer. Not so- only two access points now proposed. Another mistake or an untruth like the 100 people who objected which turned out to be in excess of 500?
If the park and rides system is so successful why does the Upton park and Ride bus run for major periods of the day empty or the odd few passengers on board? How much do the ratepayers pay to subsidise these buses?
I notice also Cllr Byrne claims that numerous people gave a positive response to the CDTS proposals. He forgot to mention that many hundreds give it a negative response and don't want it. A lot of the people seeing the exhibition in the Town Hall wouldn't know where the track runs. If he and other councillors are so interested in reducing pollution in Chester why don't they get rid of the clapped out buses we see running empty around the city and stop them running their engines at the bus depot for periods of 10-15 minutes up to 10 at a time throughout the day? £7 million would go a long way to improve this situation.
I would say to all the planners and councillors when you next send out any questionnaires: ask the people do you want a CDTS system or do you want a warden-controlled country walk and publish these answers.
To finish, I wondered why the two cottages on the A41 just before Hoole roundabout suddenly disappeared without trace. Now I know. It is to make overspill exits from the park and ride. This just after the council has spent thousands to make access to the A41 at Mannings Lane safer. It beggars belief.
J A Whitehouse, 76 Sefton Road, Hoole Chester

22/4/99 I note that it is on Thursday, 20th May at 11am that Cheshire County Council will be considering if it should apply to the Secretary of State for the Environment, Transport and the Regions for an Order under Sections one and five of the Transport and Works Act for the construction of the guided busway and the entire works associated with Phase One of the Chester Deeside Transport System.
I think that now is the time to telephone sitting and prospective county councillors to find out what are their views on the CDTS. There has been sufficient exposure in the Standard and elsewhere for everyone who can read to have developed an informed view and judging by what I read, the hoi polloi don't like it.
I have kept my powder dry on this issue because I believe that by and large the consultation programme is a sham and I base this upon my experiences when I opposed the hare brained scheme for trams running into the city centre. (Not to mention the Millennium Wall or the Olympic rowing lake. We have indeed been here before.)
Many of these councillors get full of their own self importance (not you Ed!) and forget who put them there in the first place; so put a shot across their bows and let them know your views and find out theirs at the same time.
Old Wavertonian

22/4/99 We are promised with CDTS a Transport system that will "take us into the 21st Century". But who will it take? Certainly very few of Chester's residents will be within reach of the system. So what evidence is them that the system will be used? A survey perhaps? All the cars coming off the northbound slipway from the A55 have already passed up the opportunity to use the park and ride at Christleton, so why do we expect them to use a new one?
We are promised that there will be a government or EU grant (not yet applied for). But the maximum a grant can cover is only 70 per cent of the capital cost. That leaves the other 30 per cent and the interest on any loan to be paid by the ratepayers at a time when central government has cut grants to the bone. We will pay whether we are able to use the system or not.
We are promised a journey time from the car park to the city of seven minutes, with a frequency of eight buses per hour. But how long will it take a car to get from an already congested roundabout at rush hours into the part with yet another exit from that roundabout? Probably more than seven minutes- nobody knows. And how can eight buses an hour be promised throughout the day without a vast tract of land being used up in the green belt to park hundreds of cars? The other park and rides seem to do well on their promised intervals of 10 minutes.
We are promised an environmental impact assessment on the proposed busway. But why has this not been forthcoming before work started on the track, and several hundred trees (or equivalent) were felled? How many more trees will be destroyed in Phase One in order to connect the track with the car park and out in the planned fences and lighting along the whole route?
We are promised landscaping with beech (native to chalk and limestone) and honbeam (native of SE England) and the attendant high maintenance of grass and hedges. But the indigenous trees felled were sycamore and elm, and the local hedgerows are hawthorn (an excellent barrier) and elder- both of the latter with early leaves, flowers and autumn berries for wild life.
We are promised that there will be a local bus stop in Phase One at Newton Lane, and that local bus routes will be affected. But to get to this stop most residents would have to pass the 52/53 stop in Kingsway, or the 53 stop outside the nursing home. Is this just a sop for residents to say that we are being catered for?
We are promised screening for the houses backing on to the busway once the natural barriers are down. Some houses am barely 15m from the track, but are the owners being offered compensation for loss of value and privacy when 2m wooden fences and new plantings replace their open aspects? And will they be reassessed for the purposes of council tax, for loss of amenity and nuisance when 16 buses an hour (yes- eight return journeys) pass by, and 6m tall lamp posts pollute their gardens with unwanted light?
We are promised that wild life will still be welcome. But with 2m wooden fences, hedges and wire barriers along paths and a 20cm drop (8 inch) to the guided trackway (four drops in all) what chance have non-climbing rabbits or bumbling nocturnal hedgehogs of surviving? Will a rescue bus check the track each morning?
These are typical of some of the promises made by the powers that be, many of whom, incidentally do not live in the city. We are not being given all the facts.
We are not promised a new Cheshire greenway free from fumes so that we can enjoy a safe green route into the city or out into the countryside to join the network of Cheshire footpaths- a true Millennium Way that will survive for the children of today and for their children.
It is time to ask our candidates for the May council elections what they intend to do for us. Now is our chance to say NO to CDTS.
A. Read, Newton

Pages 1 | 2 | 3 | 4 | 6 | 7 | 8 | 9 | 10 | 11 | 12 | 13 | 14 | 15 | 16 | 17 | 18 | 19 Letters in favour of the Busway parts 1 | 2 | 3
Letters opposed to the Busway 1 | 2 | 3 | 4 | 6 | 7 | 8 | 9 | 10 | 11 | 12 | 13 | 14 | 15 | 16 | 17 | 18 | 19 | Letters in favour of the Busway
Top of Page | Site Front Door | Chester: A Virtual Stroll Around the Walls | A Virtual Stroll Along the Mickle Trafford Railway | Site Index