|20/5/99 As B. Johnston asked in last week's Points of View, "Is the
CDTS busway really good for Chester?" What the people of Chester should be doing
is looking at themselves individually, where thet live, where their normal bus
stops are and where the busway is going to run. Then they should ask themselves,
what benefits are there for me if if the CDTS busway is there and I live there.
Then the people should turn to the CDTS organisers and ask them to justify putting
up the local Council tax by one pound to help fund the CDTS project not for the
Chester people but for the people who live outside Chester.
MT McLean, A not-so-impressed council tax payer
20/5/99 I have read many letters from objectors to the CDTS busway and much guff from the authorities. High time I added my support, in writing, to the multitude of far-seeing people people of Chester who are against the CDTS busway. What a splendid job the organtsers have done so far, they have given us much more information we should surely have been entitled to get from our representatives in Council.
Is it too much to ask for the people of Chester to have a cycle/walkway without motorised vehicles? Surely not. we have a large population, give them a chance to experience healthy walking, jogging, cycling- who knows we may get others catching on to the idea there is life without using a car. Whilst I do not live near the route, I am already planning cycling trips with the whole family, something we have not ventured to do in Chester before, our roads are too dangerous. My children have studied the map of the line in much detail and we have walked some five miles to see the wildlife for ourselves. As RSPB members we revelled in the sound and sight of many birds. Passed the time of day with I reckon around a hundred odd people (only started counting after many had already gone by). One young lady had a telescope and tripod. She was very busy showing excited youngsters the birds and whistling their songs so that they may recognise it again. I am a little surprised that schools have not been involved in
protests over this cplanned devastation of what could be a real asset to Chester. But there again if a public meeting is stopped on school premises I expect them is little teachers can do even though this subject will affect every child in Chester. Are we going to leave children with nothing but ruined green areas and distinctly unhealthy car pollution?
Are we really going to allow our council to let ponds be filled in that have rare newts in (Northgate Village)? Have we so many ponds in Chester district it does not matter? Are we really spending over £40.5 million (going up by the minute) stopping cars a miserly mile from our centre but feet from people's houses? Pollution does nor stop in one place, it blows through the air we all breathe.
Isn't it time instead of forever taking we gave back a precious piece of green area? We have snatched so much of it I feel ashamed. What are the next generation going to say about the concrete jungle Chester will become if we do not make our voices heard right now. This is not flag poles, this is much more serious, and we have the Government on our side. I am writing to Tony Blair, J Prescott and a good few others without further delay. Spend the cost of a stamp and save local tax payers millions.
An invigorated Cestrian
20/5/99 Here are a few more facts about the CDTS the public have a right to know.
160,000 questionnaires were sent out. Only 1400 were returned and of these a majority of people living in the local Chester area were actually against the scheme. This hardly amounts to a massive vote of confidence, but guided by- or should it be led by- their officers the County councillors arrogantly dismiss this as a little local opposition. After all they know best don't thy?
The environmental assessment, which is an important part of the Transport and Works Act process, has been done by Chris Blandford Associates and paid for by the county council. It cannot therefore be a truly independent report and will of course be biased towards the council's case. Remember, he who pays the piper calls the tune but unfortunately this tune is distinctly off-key.
Already the city council are conspiring with the county council to make public open space land available for the CDTS at the Northgate Village in advance of the scheme. This is prejudging the outcome of the TWA enquiry and is simply wrong. It also craftily avoids the need for the county to compulsorily purchase the land and risk this part of the order being referred to Parliament for separate approval. Are the city councillors aware that their officers are acting in this manner and if so why is this abuse or power being allowed to continue?
Assuming the scheme gets built then 12 months after the buses start running, people living near the track will be able to claim compensation for loss in property values. The idea of compensation may seem inviting but don't forget that the millions of pounds which could be paid out have to be found by all of us ratepayers. I have never seen any mention of this particular financial time bomb by county council spokespersons who were probably hoping it would not become public knowledge until very late in the day. Sorry to have blown their cover.
JS Smith, Exton Park, Parkgate Road, Chester
20/5/99 How much longer is the county council going to go on repeating that they want the opinion of the people of Chester concerning the proposed system for the old Shotton-Mickle Trafford rail route? Letters in the local paper appear every week in increasing numbers. Is it that they are reluctant to lose the considerable amount of money that they must have spent to date? Have they failed to realise the devastating effect that the construction of this unwanted and unnecessary system will have on the areas concerned?
On Saturday morning last I stood on the bridge by Blacon Station (that was) and looked along the line towards Saughall, along a corridor of magnificent trees in full leaf. I then crossed the road and looked towards Chester, where for some distance the trees have already been felled, and the site left bare, but not cleaned up. The question here is why, when Blacon is not in the first phase?
Considering the vast area of housing that Blacon now is, we should not suffer the loss of the small area of trees and bird life which we do have. Furthermore, when the trees are gone, where is that green pleasant walkway that we are told people, on foot or bicycle, were going to enjoy?
The plan should be stopped at once.
Highfield Road, Blacon reader
20/5/99 I think that now is an appropriate time to air my own views concerning the proposed use of the disused rail track and the removal of green belt land for another park and ride scheme on the south side of Chester.
In the first instance no effort has been made to consider a wider use for this corridor and its links to other systems. It would seem to me that it could best be developed for people who come on vacation to the city and who wouuld wish to take their families on a day trip out of the city to see the countryside and visit interesting places.
I would propose a narrow guage railway running on one side at speeds of not more that 40 mph and with passing places along the route so that a train could run on the hour from each of the directions.
It is not fair to existing residents to have a noisy bus going past every 10 minutes or so but a little rail engine going past once an hour would be acceptable.
The proposal for the CDTS would mean that yet another green field would be lost for the park and ride scheme and the knock-on effect would unlock new greenfield sites for commercial development between Mickle Trafford and the Southerly bypass. There would be new slip roads, roundabouts and traffic lights.
I don't believe that another park and ride scheme is practical and local residents of Brook Lane and Kingsway have an excellent bus service into Chester and in general terms the proposed CDTS park and ride facility is of little use to Chester and district residents.
However, a narrow guage railway working a longer route from a central station in Chester would be a benefit for all tourists who wish to explore the area and at the same time stay in accommodation within easy reach of central shopping attractions.
Local residents would benefit because there would be ample space along the route for walking and cycling and there could be unmanned stops or halts for the train to pick up walkers for a return journey.
Trying to push through a double track concrete bus route is arrogant and shows complete disdain for the people of Chester, It demonstrates that the council is absorbed in the sense of their own greatness and contempt of others who are the majority who don't want it.
By the time this letter is printed the meeting will have taken place and in any event much of what I have written has been said before but I think I am the only writer who favours a narrow guage railway with passing places and moving around those tourists from the centre of the City to places of interest along the coast and beyond Frodsham Marshes.
28/5/99 We shall not let anyone prostrate Chester for the sake of a miserly few jobs (if my) for local people. We have lived here all our lives and watched with horror at its sad demise. Those of you who have only just arrived may think it fine, but it has lost its very soul. The residents are now fighting to regain it and are not prepared to watch Chester be buried in concrete.
Has no one in the planning department heard of a thing called damage limitation? Plans should be under way to cope with commuters by providing more and free bus services, on existing roads, and not just from park and ride sites either. Surveys should be telling you where these people are coming from every day. We would rather our tax was spent on really helping to stop pollution and environmental damage, this would be less costly to us in every way. Those who chose to ignore the fact they are ruining our quality of life should be made to pay a very high price indeed for their work car park space. We are not talking about the people with unsocial hours or invalids needless to say.
Visitors must be discouraged from coming to Chester in cars. Be honest, tell them we cannot cope. Arrange for shopping vouchers for those coming by train or bus. This would be cheaper for us all in the long run.
We should not support any big business that comes to Chester creating havoc on our roads, with no regard for local people or our city. They bring very few jobs- five local people- one large concern. For this we are expected to pay millions of pounds of local tax, lose our green spaces, risk our health, and watch their employees sit in their polluting cars all the way from their home to their work place, or park and ride sites, no doubt one car-one person. Existing park and ride buses only run at 50 per cent capacity anyway. The price is too high, for too little, for too long. The campaign- No CDTS busway- will continue. If you feel as strongly as we do why not join us, ring Paul Hobbs (01244 401856).
This is a historic town and we must keep its character or we risk losing everything. When Cestrians do not want to go into their own city centre, whether on foot, bus or cycle, never mind car, it should strike authorities there is something very wrong.
We are the backbone of this city. Put the heart back in Chester suburbs, put the heart back in the city. Stop the massacre. Stand up and be counted. We demand a walkway/cycleway/nature trail without motor vehicles to try to recompense for the damage planners have already caused to our once green and beautiful city suburbs. Councillors should be serving their electorate, as Cllr Ebo, now we want to see all those who privately agree with us actually to say so out loud, you are not made of straw.
Objectors to CDTS busway
28/5/99 The local Press has aired people's views extensively on CDTS and one thing keeps on coming out: this system is for the benefit of visitors coming to Chester- it serves little purpose for citizens.
Although the capital is coming from national and European funds, the running costs will presumably be the responsibility of the councils. Since the proposals fail to give any 'proforma' budget of the annual costs, or indeed an estimate of the likely fares to passengers using the service, it seems the council is content to accept a black hole in its finances.
Since the system does little for the citizens, one assumes the benefactors will be the businesses in Chester. It seems logical and fair, therefore, that every shortfall in revenues should be to the account of the Business Rate of Council Tax only In this case it is only fair and reasonable for the businesses to be contacted now and their agreement obtained or plans revised.
The city council should tell domestic rate council tax payers that no extra costs will accrue to them. Domestic council tax payers would welcome this assurance.
Whereas it is sensible to keep a watching brief on the new technologies of mass transport systems it is early days yet and many new systems are likely to appear in the future in response to this global problem. Also many other changes are likely to impact on the problem such as retail sales by Internet and home deliveries reducing shopping journeys by car to the city.
The Park & Ride system should now be optimised before new solutions are sought. This involves detailed consideration for giving all bus services priority including investigation of the practicability of more major radial one-way systems fed by the ring road around the city- or possibly two-way for buses only and one-way for other vehicles.
Each sector of the city needs a one-way 'in' and a one-way 'out'. For instance Wrexham Road serving its Park & Ride side may be one-way 'in' while Parkgate Road and Boughton may be one-way 'out' with the Hoole Road being a one-way 'in'.
Any solution must look again at the problem of disabled drivers. At the moment the city is frequently clogged with cars on double yellow lines causing blockages and restricted access. Some simulation and experimentation will be needed to optimise Park & Ride. The investment made so far is only a beginning. It is time to be creative and imaginative and cost effective to achieve sensible control of traffic and pollution.
Mark Rogers, Walmoor Park, Sandy Lane, Chester
3/6/99 The County council has voted to push forward with the CDTS (guided busway). Several individual councillors did not support the scheme but sadly they were outvoted.
The focus of the debate now moves to Chester City Council which will shortly be asked to give its approval.
The city councillors are our closest representatives directly responsible for Chester residents. Before our councillors make their decision would they please consider the following:
1. The govemment guidance on local transport plans requires that transport schemes such as the CDTS should..."command widespread local support" (Page 32).
Are councillors convinced that CDTS does indeed command widespread local support?
2. The CDTS consists of three phases; at present only phase 1 is being considered. However, to be a Chester to Deeside system, phase II, the section linking Chester city centre via Blacon/Sealand Basin to Queensferry, will also have to be completed.
Are councillors ready to commit themselves to this essential phase to complete the link, bearing in mind the additional costs and the impact on the communities along the route?
Remember, if only phase 1 is completed there can be no Chester to Deeside system.
3. Are councillors ready to accept not only the capital costs of building the system but also the ongoing costs of track and bridge maintenance, Iandscaping upkeep and possible subsidies for the running of the services?
4. Are councillors prepared to accept the associated transport measures which the EIP Panel (Structure Plan) said would have to accompany the CDTS to make it effective? These include the building of the Western Relief Road, additional bus lanes on approach roads into Chester, eg on Liverpool Road and Sealand Road, and strict control of city centre traffic and parking. (EIP panel report page 114, para 5.27).
Do councillors support the offtcers' proposals to introduce a city centre workplace parking levy to be introduced with the opening of phase I of the CDTS in order to encourage greater use of park and ride? (Highway and Transportation Committee. Paper J. 27th May 1999 para 4.7.10).
5. Do councillors believe that the year-long construction work and local road closures are a price worth paying by local residents to build the CDTS? Are councillors satisfied that residents' rights will be protected when the Transport and Works Act will confer immunity from claims for nuisance which may arise from the construction and operation of the system? (Environment Statement CDTS, para 2. 10).
Having considered these questions, it is to he hoped that our councillors will not vote to proceed with the Transport and Works Act Order.
William Vernon Jones, 101 Daleside, Upton Heath, Chester
3/6/99 We hobbled (because my husband had sprained his ankle on the beautifully kept pavements around Hoole these days) to All Saints Church Hall on Wednesday, 5th May.
It did the old heart good to see it packed with people young and old. Some kind people gave up their seats for us and we sat listening with amazement to two young men (Clint and Paul) on the stage, who it turned out were ordinary people. They said it not us. The amount of information they had obtained left us all gasping.
Then another young chap called Barry delivered some hidden facts about the CDTS that left us in no doubt there were more Cestrians opposed to the CDTS than were in favour of it. (We knew this all along of couurse, because Chester people have more sense than they are credited with by the council or planners). What a joy to hear these extraordinary 'ordinary' people.
Members of the audience asked questions and were given answers, where possible, with grace and good humour, mostly from unearthed official documents. They were not afraid to say sorry if they stumbled once or twice. There wasn't an arrogant bone in their body, what a treat.
It seemed the whole audience were as one. The atmosphere was light and had many moments of humour. We have been to some meetings, on other subjects where after a short while, people began shuffling, and getting restless, not at this one. We watched all the helpers handing out documents, uhich were supplied by Chester Friends of the Earth and Chester Preservation Society. These had just been released to the local press.
It made us feel good that there are still people, young and not-so-young, who care enough about our old world to stand up to bureaucracy where it is failing badly. Who are not thinking about themselves all of the time, but the world environment and how to help reduce the impact needless car use has on us all, and stop needless devastation of our green ares too. They wanted quality of life for us all and a lovely walk/cycle route to observe wildlife and have a rare chance to leave traffic behind.
How to make money was not on their minds. Many of these people have given weeks of time seeking the facts that were revealed. They were not paid and even spent their own money on expenses. A very scarce breed indeed. Bless them all and more power to their elbow. Talking about money, they will also save over £56 million being wasted of local tax payers money, as we will have to pay every penny of this CDTS ourselves over many years should the scheme go ahead. (I do not know about you, but I think local tax goes up too much too often now) Value for money this CDTS busway certainly is not. The busway must be sunk without trace before it rampages mindlessly through our countryside.
We went to bed feeling very happy. It really is nice to know there are some great people living in Chester, and Chester deserves every one of them and many more besides. What a pity some of these did not stand as candidates for the local elections- the turn out would not then have been dismally low.
We still surf the Internet and root out any additional material on Steve Howe's web site. Great fun. (Our bones may crack but our brains are still lively). We also noted G Lyall prompted Sainshury's to put back the bottle banks. Well done that man! (You can write as many letters as you like, in our book, each one will be for the good of us all). Thank you for your efforts on our behalf.
8/6/99 I am grateful to Cllr Peter Byrne for his response to some of the questions I raised in my recent letter.
Cllr Byrne confirmed that the cost of Phase I of the CDTS alone will be about £10 million. If Phases II and III, and the associated Western Relief Road are also built, then the cost will rise dramatically.
He also made it clear that some of the cost (we are not told how much) will be borrowing costs, which we as county and city taxpayers will have to pay. It is still not clear whether the running costs of the System will require a subsidy.
The councillor agreed that the CDTS scheme did involve the council's acceptance of a package of additional traffic and transport management measures for the City such as the expensive new bus lane on Wrexham Road and the controversial bus lane on Hough Green.
Cllr Byrne also confirmed that the county council has "volunteered" Chester to be a pilot for a Government scheme to tax city centre workplace car parking spaces to "encourage" greater use of the park and ride schemes.
There was, however, no reply to my question whether councillors believed that the CDTS scheme commanded widespread local support which Government Guidance states is essential for such major schemes.
He also made no comment about my concerns that the Transport and Works Act would confer immunity from claims for nuisance which might arise from both the construction and operation of the scheme.
He also dismissed the impact on the local community of the year-long construction work and road closures. He implied that this was the price that had to be paid to build "Valhalla".
This comparison of the CDTS with Valhalla is particularly unfortunate. In Wagner's Ring, Valhalla is a grandiose project that is financed by stolen gold, whose construction is steeped in deception and betrayal on a grand scale, and which ends in a complete disaster.
Mr W V Jones, Daleside, Upton Heath
8/6/99 The CDTS is bringing nothing to the needs of local residents, the scheme is of no benefit to my ward and yet it is the people living here who will take the majority of the brunt and disruption caused by its progress.
It is a costly development that will not alleviate traffic congestion, and is a lost opportunity for a traffic-free zone through a heavily built up area.
CDTS is likely to increase traffic levels near an accident black spot- the A41 roundabout- and is also likely to increase parking problems near the proposed intermediate stop at Newton Lane Bridge.
The bus services will be subsidised, and therefore people living in Chester will choose to use it instead of existing bus services, and they will use their cars to drive to the stop.
I am extremely concerned about the damage to the existing bus services that meander around Newton. on which the busway can have only a detrimental effect.
A lady also recently brought to my attention the negative effects CDTS would have on the shops in Hoole, as they will be bypassed by people using the busway.
The busway is all bad news and does not have the support of local people. I believe it is the first input on developing from the A41 to the motorway.
I am also particularly worried about the apparent all-party support for the scheme, for which I have no explanation.
I am currently involved in talks with all parties, including the Chester Preservation Society, the Campaign for Rural England group and Greenpeace. In the near future, I will also be speaking with the project leaders of CDTS, so they can tell me why they think the scheme is a good thing.
After I am completely briefed on the subject, then it is a case of presenting the opposition view to my group.
Councillor John Ebo
11/6/99 A heavy responsibility falls on our city councillors this week when they decide whether or not to proceed to a Traffic and Works Act Order for the CDTS Phase One.
This order will transfer considerable powers out of thc hands of the councillors to the Secretary of State, John Prescott.
The Environmental Statement makes it clear that: "The granting of statutory authority in this way means that works would then enjoy the status of a statutory undertaking, conferring on it certain privileges, such as immunity from claims for nuisance which may arise from its construction or operation" (Environmental Statement CDTS Para: 2-10).
The Environmental Statement, released two weeks after the public consultation provides evidence of the destruction that the CDTS Phase One would bring. Major engineering would be required to build an enlarged roundabout at the A56/M53, slip roads, ramps, link roads, access roads and a massive car park for 1,200 vehicles.
The double concrete busway would devastate the greenway along the railway corridor, then cut across the green open space of Northgate Village, remove the public open space in front of the Northgate Arena, double the width of Victoria Road and open a road into Delamere Street. Ninety extra buses each day would add to the existing congestion.
A decision of this importance to the city should be taken by the full city council which will allow all members to express their opinions and which will allow the people of Chester to listen to the debate and witness the outcome of the vote.
Ann Jones, Planning Co-ordinator, Chester District Council for the Protection of Rural England, Daleside, Upton Heath, Chester
11/6/99 The secret agenda is almost complete. Broughton Shopping Centre is now up and running, as is the Oaks Shopping Village. The new Ellesmere Port shopping development is nearing completion.
While miles apart, what have all these locations got in common? They are all offering copious free car parking. The car owner does not need to take a bus, or cycle or walk a mile to shop at Boots the Chemist. They can drive up to the door, make their purchase and drive away. Easy isn't it?
Who wants to shop in Ellesmere Port? Well, if you walk through the new shopping arcades, well out of sight of the old rundown Port, you could be anywhere in the country. They are all like peas in a pod, but there are thousands of free car parking spaces. That is a saving on the shopping bill as well as carefree shopping.
What about the much vaunted Chester Deeside transport System that does not serve the city centre and is an unwarranted expense for that very reason. This expensive busway will rape the tracks that tlhe railway system needs to completely serve Chester city shops with customers, while also serving nationwide, and that can displace the car-choked roads.
It its claimed that the silent majority are all in favour of the scheme. What keeps the silent majority silent is the certain acceptance that, public consultation or not, this has already been decided. It is going to happen. Make no mistake about it, it is going to happen, so why not just turn your back to the wind and accept it. Already, we are halfway through the consultation agenda. The matter is next to get the approval of Chester City Council. Some hands will shoot in the air in approval, on the naive supposition that at least the busway will keep the trackway intact, until later.
When it is seen that the busway has not done Chester any good, it will therefore become necessary to spend more millions on another experiment. Yes, millions of taxpayers' money.
What about: The walks amongst the green leaves with the birds fraternity, and that means most of us, but wait. Surely all that comes after: Feed the kids, roof over our heads, warmth on our backs, pay the rent, pay the rates. That is all about the stuff that does not grow on trees. Money! That horrible stuff that we can't live without, has to be earned. It works like this: No customers, no shops. No shops, no rates. That adds up to a whacking great rate bill for the motorists to think about on their way to the out-of-town shops. Not that the planners will give it a second thought at all.
James T Indermaur, Shaftesbury Avenue, Vicars Cross Chester
11/6/99 It's perhaps pointless to pursue the CDTS argument because the case for it is clearly lost- lost sadly by those who have promoted it so badly.
However as we all know masts and posts rule so we'll no doubt get it anyway. Nevertheless the absolute head banging drivel in Bob Clough-Parker's article must be challenged.
It appears we have a poll of 175-1 against which is not significant? If it were 175-1 for would the significance change? Will another busway reduce cars on the Hoole Road? No it won't, not one car. This is where the scheme is so dishonest.
Drivers want to know will they be bribed or forced not to go into the centre. CDTS doesn't say. Will CDTS create one single business in Chester? No it won't because business long ago started wanting to be where access for staff, services and for retail outlets would be easy. That will never be in the centre of the city.
You bet we have serious concerns about a half-baked half-explained scheme.
Alex Woods, Long Looms, Great Barrow, Chester
2/7/99 A critical stage has arrived this week as Cheshire County Council sends plans and documents to the Secretary of State for him to make a final decision about the Chester Deeside Transport System (CDTS).
The public notice invites objections to be sent by August 11 1999, to: The Secretary of State DETR, c/o The TWA Processing l Unit, 76 Marsham Street, London SW1P 4DR.
The Council for the Protection of Rural England (CPRE) urges all those concerned about the construction of a double concrete busway along the Mickle Trafford to Shotton disused railway line, the building of a fifth massive greenfield park-and-ride site at Mannings Lane and the serious loss of public green open space at Northgate Village to write to the Secretary of State.
If a substantial number of objections are received by the Secretary of State, it will help him to decide that CDTS is so controversial that a public inquiry should be held. Some of the reasons for objecting are:
1. The loss of a potential tranquil greenway for walking and cycling only, through a densely built up area which has a proven shortage of green space.
2. The loss of Green Belt land irreversibly turning the green fields of Mannings Lane into a brownfield site, vulnerable to development opportunities.
3. The scheme is not designed for local people to use or those without a car. CDTS would be mainly dependent on a car journey to the new park-and-ride car park to gain access to the busway.
4. The very costly scheme would be a waste of money as it would not prevent congestion on Hoole Road unless more money was spent on restrictive measures to prevent cars from entering the city centre.
5. The Government White Paper on Transport requires major transport schemes of this kind to command the backing of the local community. Public consultation and letters to the Press have provided evidence of substantial controversy.
Ann Jones, Council for the Protection of Rural England, Chester District, Daleside, Upton Heath Chester
8/7/99 I would like to bring several important issues regarding the CDTS scheme to the public attention. Copies of the documents that the council have put before John Prescott relating to this project can he viewed in the Iibrary. Having studied these documents, the following points should he noted.
I. The powers that the Transport Works Act will give to the council means that the council can deviate from plans submitted, and that they can alter the footpath/cycleway in anyway - even removing it from the present route.
2. The councils will have the powers to remove any wildlife habitat, trees etc., even if in conservation areas.
3. They will be given powers to sell off whole or part of the transport corridor and the busway system itself (privatise)
4. All public rights of way can he removed.
5. None of the public consultation figures have been included in the documents.
The land has now been transferred from Sustrans to the council, so giving the council total control over the cycle/footpath- confirming what the general public thought would happen.
It is important that people should make their views known about this project to John Prescott, Secretary of State DETR, c/o The TWA Processing Unit, 76 Marsham Street, London SWIP 4DR by 11th August 1999.
Paul Hobbs, Chester Preservation Group
Do you remember years ago?
When we could walk, cycle and go
On lane so peaceful, car so slow.
A nod, a wave and on they'd go.
Those days have sadly gone for good
No safe route to picnic wood.
No peaceful walks. We wish we could
Write 'No busway'- we really should
Keep all green space we have left
Or humans and wildlife will be bereft
Of healthy life and cheerful voice.
Come on Chester, it's your choice.
Write John Prescott, write today
Lose more concrete- no busway
Chester residents have your say!
There is a chance we can keen our Mickle Trafford railway line nature trail a peaceful, traffic-free route. We must all play our part. It must not become yet another costly environmental disaster.
8/7/99 The Standard has given excellent coverage to the debate on the CDTS (busway). Local people have been allowed to express their concerns and the councillors have been able to put the case in favour of the busway.
The main arguments put forward by the councillors are:
I. 'Something' must be done about the traffic.
2. This scheme will give us an environmentally friendly bus service.
3. Traffic on Hoole Road will be reduced.
4. Workers will have a link from Chester to Deeside.
These arguments deserve careful examination.
1. There have heen several 'answers' put forward in recent years to solve Chester's traffic problems. We now have the most extensive park and ride scheme in the country, with four sites and a total of over 3000 car spaces. In addition, there is agreed use for 'overflow'
park and ride at the zoo's visitor car park which has 5000 spaces.
The traffic problems remain.
What is the guarantee that 'more of the same' will suddenly solve all our problems? Phase I of the CDTS is no more than yet another highly expensive park and ride scheme.
2. An environmentally friendly bus is already running on the Upton park and ride service. That shows that it is possible to make our existing bus services environmentally friendly without spending £10 million on an environmentally damaging busway.
3. If we examine the trafffic on Hoole Road it is clear that there are essential elements which will be totally unaffected by the busway.
Residents will still need to use their cars for journeys other than into the city centre. Visitors willneed access to the numerous private hotels and customers and delivery
vans will still have to get to the local shops. As a major approach road into the city, buses, coaches, delivery vans and taxis will have to use the road to reach the city centre or the railway station. It is difficult to see how the busway will reduce this core traffic. It is also not clear how new traffic would be prevented from taking up any spaces on Hoole Road created by the busway. The council states that 'complementary measures' will he put in place but
we don't even know what these will be.
4. Businesses are being asked byTravelwise to set up their own bus or car sharing schemes to get their employees to work. A park and ride service could run from the existing sites
on Sealand Road and at Upton to the Deeside Industrial Park. There is no need to construct a special busway along the disused track through Blacon to get to Deeside.
In conclusion there are no certain benefits to be had from what is becoming an increasingly expensive scheme whose construction and operation will have such an impact on the lives of local people.
The county council has submitted the CDTS Phase I plans to the Secretary of State and we now have an opportunity to write to hiin to express our views and to demand a public inquiry at which all the arguments can be considered.
W V Jones, 101 Daleside, Upton Heath Chester
12/7/99 I am writing to lodge an objection to the proposed guided busway that constitutes Phase I of the Chester and Deeside Transport System (CDTS), and to request that, in view of the considerable local opposition to the scheme, a public inquiry be held.
The scheme fails the criteria established by the White Paper on Transport, in that it does not command the support of the local community. An analysis of the county council's own survey shows that the scheme is opposed by 87 per cent of those living adjacent to the line by 74 per cent of those within 200m of it, and by 57 per cent of Chester City residents.
The scheme does not provide a service for local residents in the Hoole and Newton areas of Chester, and therefore will not contribute to a reduction in the number of local car journeys undertaken.
The scheme will encourage car journeys to the proposed new park-and-Ride site from areas outside Chester, giving rise to congestion and pollution.
Chester is already served by four park and rides, plus bus and rail services. No further infrastructure projects are required.
A stated aim of the scheme is to provide a competitive edge for the shopkeepers of Chester over those of Ellesmere Port and Broughton (and possibly Trafford Park). It cannot be appropriate to devote large sums of public money to the partisan support group of retailers.
An important compulsory purchase order was published after the closing date of the consultative process:
COMPULSORY PURCHASE ORDER: ALLEYWAY TO THE REAR OF WAVERLEY TERRACE, CHESTER CH2
Compulsory purchase notices were posted adjacent to the areas involved, dated June 23. I wish to object to the compulsory purchase order on the following grounds:
Before the posting of the notices on June 23 no indication was given by the Councils involved of the need to compulsorily acquire this land.
Plans and documents made available at public exhibitions prior to this date do not include this requirement.
The public notice concerning Phase I of the scheme makes no specific mention of the requirement to compulsorily purchase land at the rear of Waverley Terrace. Indeed chapter 13 of the Draft Environmental Statement, prepared for the county council environmental committee states (para 13.13): "No special measures are considered to be required for runoff from the proposed busway impervious area."
(7 May 1999) Appendix 3 to the Environmental Statement prepared for the same committee states (para 6) "The CDTS Steering Group considers that sufficient information has been presented in the consultation to enable all concerned to reach an informed judgment about the proposals, consistent with the stage of scheme development. Local people are able to clearly understand how the proposals, consistent with the stage of scheme development. Local people are able to clearly understand how the proposals would affect their communities and properties."
These statements were made to the County Environment Committee six weeks before the compulsory purchase order was published and the council's interest in the land first made public.
The county council consultation document on CDTS Phase I required the submission of responses by April 23, that is two months before the compulsory purchase order was published.
The consultation exercise is therefore seriously flawed in that consultees were denied an opportunity to comment on an important element of the proposals before the closing date. Meanwhile, misleading statements were being made to the County Environmental Committee.
Roger Hughes, Waverley Terrace, Newton
12/7/99 People living in Chester are against the CDTS scheme, much to the dismay and disarray of county council officials, whose attempts to conceal this information have been uncovered.
A re-analysis of Chester council's own opinions survey on the project describes the presentation of the original report on local opinions as clever, cryptic and almost misleading, but containing useful buried statistics that needed to be brought to the surface and examined publicly. The detailed re-analysis unearthed the following facts:
Most people backing on to the line don't want CDTS, nor do those within 200m, nor do those in the city urban area, nor even those living in Chester district as a whole.
An outright majority (52 per cent against, 42 per cent for) of those in Chester City Council District oppose CDTS, according to a survey conducted by Cheshire County Council. Apparently these percentages were NOT going to be pointed out to Councillors.
Despite a costly joint council campaign in favour, public support for the CDTS busway seems to have slid from Cheshire's claim of 62 per cent in 1995 to just 42 per cent today.
Chester City Council is due to meet today to consider whether to approve the next legal stages of promoting this scheme Cheshire council having already done so, but this research shows that opinion in Chester is against it, despite government guidelines requiring local support.
For Cheshire or Chester councils to assert that Chester people want CDTS is erroneous.
Tough alternatives to building new roads and parking such as this- reallocating of EXISTING road space away from cars and towards public transport walking and cycling is now on the agenda.
Chester people appear not to want CDTS. How will Chester Council respond?
Chester and District Friends of the Earth and the Cheshire Preservation Group
12/7/99 We of the anti-CDTS campaign intend to do everything in our power to ensure that the CDTS does not go ahead. We will fight the council tooth and nail and we will win. We will win simply because all the arguments are in our favour.
Chester Council is doing its best to give the impression that the scheme will go ahead, come what may. However, the hundreds of objections we expect will be logged with the T W A office, and the terrific sense of outrage expressed from many quarters should leave the council in no doubt as to the level of opposition throughout the city.
In such circumstances a public enquiry must surely be held to examine all aspects of the scheme and its effects.
15/7/99 Quite right too! We refer to the protest over the proposal to place a guided bus and cycle way on the former track of the Shotton-Mickle Trafford railway line. The area has also been granted permission for the road sides from the Arena to Brook Lane end of Victoria Road plus a chunk of the Northgate Village Green, to be used for a cycle track guided bus. The decision was made by the new Leadership Board on 15th June 1999. Nobody wants this folly as the area is already well served by current buses and trains.
There have been letters by the ton in all the local papers and we are sure that the local councillors forget those who selected them and seem only to regard their own opinions. The plans for their folly have already cost thousands of pounds- plus the uprooting of trees and bushes. The track should be used as a bridle path and footway for a very nice country walk within reach of the City.
We ask the council to throw out the proposal for good.
(Miss) Dora Taylor, Chester Community / Ratepayers Party, 60 St Oswalds, Newtown Chester
15/7/99 Many demonstrators and helpers have given up holidays (as Graeme Bromley and his wife have done) to further the cause against the proposed busway. We should be truly grateful for the work these people do, completely unpaid, to help all Chester (and for that matter Cheshire) residents as we shall all be lumbered with the massive bill if this project goes ahead. If anyone else would like to help in any way please phone 01244 320207. We know there are a lot of you out there.
We ourselves have delayed celebrating our 41st wedding anniversary to be here, joining other concerned people from all over Chester, not just residents near the track. It was not a hard decision to make as the environment, wildlife habitat and the struggle to get Chester a motor free cycle/walkway are paramount to us, as they are to all thinking people. It is the duty of all citzens to protect the environment now, and all green areas in their region, as England is fast becoming a grey concrete jungle, not a green and pleasant land. Out of 182 SSI and nature conservation areas, HALF have gone since the 1960s.
Animals can't speak (otherwise the noise from them would be deafening, planners would never get away with any more devastation). We, as many others, take great joy in the wildlife around us: frogs, hedgehogs galore, foxes, rabbits, etc. they add a great deal to our quality of life along with the wondrous sounds of birds singing. Who would want anything more? We have sadly seen many changes. When we first came to live in the Hoole area there were owls of many kinds and bats venturing forth as dusk, both enchanting to see and hear. Sadly these are in decline as more and more green areas are turned to grey. We watch the sky for the swallows and swifts to arrive each year- there is, at the moment, still some wildlife habitat left to provide the insects they need to survive. Many birds have been pushed over from the area devastated by the motorway, slip roads and roundabouts, when the huge and beautiful old trees were felled (on the Vicars Cross road). The planned busway together with the planned building on the playing field and allotment adjoining the area will cause their decline yet again. To listen to and see blackbirds, thrush, wren, bullfinch, chaffinch, willow warbler, greenfinch, goldftnch and many others that visit our birdbaths and feeding station is something we treasure. Most of these will perish without the trees and bushes along the embankments they rely on to nest and feed.
The environment is so important that is why we are all here tonight. Many others could not attend this demonstration because of prior commitment, but rest assured committee members are planning more demonstrations at various times of the day, on different days of the week, you can join us then perhaps. The CDTS busway (concreteway) lame statement given out by many councillors that this route used to be a "transport corridor" has nothing to do with it. The motorway used to be greenbelt and- need we say more? Are we to lose all wildlife areas to feed the car?
We are not against car drivers, most of us own a car, we are asking everyone to stop needless car use and car share where possible. With more green buses running on existing roads, on the routes people need them, at reduced fares this planned disaster has no legs to stand on, which might be our fate if we don't get out of our cars more. Councillors must provide tranquil routes for walkers and cyclists now.
This white elephant could rampage along a delightful nature trail, with dire results for our wildlife, environment and pocket.
Ralph and Audrey Hodgkinson
22/7/99 The people who oppose the CDTS are not against progress. We just do not see that pouring millions of tons of concrete along a green corridor is progress.
The councillors who commissioned Hoole Park earlier this century and planned the awe inspiring, now mature trees had a vision and a sense of progress, but it did not involve concrete.
With road traffic expected to rise by a third in the next 20 years, buiding one small busway to take two to three per cent of the current traffic off Hoole Road will not reduce congestion in th. city centre. People need to be persuaded to leave their cars at home. The Mickle Trafford to Shotton Iine presents an opportunity to develop a really safe and attractive alternative to driving. It will encourage more local people to get out of the habit of driving everywhere.
It is not too late to save this precious linear park from the developers. If enough people write objecting to the plans, there will be a public inquiry. Please write before 11th August 19999 to John Prescott, DETR, c/o TWA Processing Unit, 76 Marsham Street, London SWIP 4DR. It doesn't need to be a fancy letter. If you think our money could be better spent and the land better used, just write and say so.
(Ms) Catherine Green, 63 Brook Lane, Chester
22/7/99 It is encouraging that seven of our city councillors did not vote in support of the Chester Deeside Transport Systems (CDTS) as proposed by the Cheshire County Council. At the city6 co9uncil meeting held on 12th July, five councillors voted against the scheme and two abstained.
CPRE urges all those who are concerned about the construction of a double concrete busway through Blacon, Newton and Hoole along the Mickle Trafford to Shotton railway track to write to the Secretary of State. If a substantial number of objections are received by the Secretary of State it will help him decide that the CDTS is so controversial that a Public Inquiry should be held.
CPRE believes that the CDTS is designed to open up greenfield sites for development opportunities at Mannings Lane, in the Sealand Basin and on Wrexham Road. It is no wonder that the developers are enthusiastic supporters of the scheme.
Some of the reasons for objecting to thc scheme are:
The loss of a potential tranquil greenway for walking and cycling ONLY through a densely built up area which has a proven shortage of green open space. The serious loss of public green open space at Northgate Village. The loss of green belt land, irreversibly turning the greenfields of Mannings Lane into a brownfield site vulnerable to development opportunities. The scheme is dependent on a car journey to the new park and ride car park to gain access to the busway and is not designed for local people. The very costly scheme would be a waste of money as it would not prevent congestion on Hoole Road, unless money was spent on restrictive measures to prevent cars from entering the city centre. At least 90 more buses per day would be added to the pedestrian/ vehicle conflict in Frodsham Street.
Ann Jones, Chester District CPRE, Upton Heath, Chester
22/7/99 An Ode to CDTS...
Chester has four so let's have one more;
and make it a novel as well.
Forget all the trees, the birds and the bees;
and build it in concrete for sure.
Let's not go too far, but still use the car;
and end up in Chester with more.
But oh how much better to be a trend setter
and have a green route that's strong.
So let's make a stink, to make councillor rethink;
and tell Mr Prescott it's wrong.
David Atkin, Upton resident
22/7/99 It would appear that Chester City Council has put aside £900,000 to fight all objections to the CDTS busway scheme. May I suggest that they spend considerably less and organise a city-wide referendum on the subject? Preferably one supervised by the respected Electoral Reform Society, so that we can be sure that (a) the question(s) posed are unbiased and (b) the results are accurately and widely reported.
As things stand, the protection of local democracy rests with a handful of city councillors who, ignoring their party lines, were brave enough to represent the wishes of their electorate at the recent full council meeting on the CDTS folly. There are many more who have private misgivings about this concreteway and it is to be hoped that they join the brave few before it is too late. Thank you, courageous councillors. for putting, your heads above the parapet.
Previously one of the silent majority, my own misgivings about the proper conduct of this affair began a number of years ago when I duly completed the residents' questionnaire and realised there was no greenway opinion offered, ie without any motorised transport, similar to the Wirral Way. I have since learned that the number of non-returned questionnaires were counted as in favour rather than as "don't knows" in the overall totals. Surely some sleight of hand here?
This economy with the truth has continued with the insistence that this scheme is the only solution to Chester's transport problems, when reading the council's own environmental report (available in public libraries, or to buy at £50!) shows that the projected decrease in traffic on Hoole Road is only two-three per cent. The trade-off for £60 million, destruction of urban wildlife habitat and Chester's green lung, is not warranted for a paltry two-three per cent.
This is a shoddy piece of government and tantamount to maladministration. My advice to the city and county counciis is to let this one slide into oblivion beforee it wastes more taxpayers' money and/or attracts the attention of the Parliamentary Commissioner for Administration.
C.A Gibson, 34 Knowsley Road, Hoole Chester
23/7/99 A report from the Daily Telegraph backs up one of the main claims of the Anti-CDTS Campaign group- more Park & Rides are not going to solve Chester's traffic problems.
This is the the second independent transport unit to come to this conclusion. The first came from Oxford University a couple of years ago. Our elected representatives have their heads in the sand when they continue to wholeheartedly back this fundamentally flawed scheme.
When will they wise up and get down to the business of finding alternative strategies, such as actively promoting walking and cycling, rather than just indulge in wordy environmental rhetoric in all the glossy council documents?
Chester is a compact city. It doesn't need a grandiose scheme.
Graeme Lyall, Oaklea Avenue, Hoole Chester
29/7/99 We thought we ought to let you know we two OAPs are still around. The ANTI-CDTS demonstration at lhe Downhill on Monday, 12th July gave people of Chester hope. In a city where the council has been unfettered for so long, leaving residents feeling there was nothing they could do as the council never listens. It made the heart feel good to feel the despondency lift even from those most gloomy when they arrived. The atmosphere at the demonstration was determined, buoyant, with much of humour added- not threatening in any way. We asked one of the organisers why this should be. We were told all the people running the demonstrations knew people power would win this battle, all they needed was to give people hope and the rest would be hlstory. This they had done and the fact that so many people had called to offer help in so many ways proved Cestrians were not going to roll over and let planners do whatever they liked to Chester and its people this time. Those days have gone. The strategy of officials telling people they were going to get this disaster in concrete whether they liked it or not has not worked.
We have heard much about apathy but talking to people around us we found this not to be the case. Yes, many people there had done nothing up to then but a very high percentage felt it had not been worth the effort either to vote or even bother to send in signatures. Why, because authorities do what they like. Well of course they will if we don't stand up to them. And of course the authorities want us to believe they are all-powerful and we can do nothing to stop them. We all have to stand up and be counted this time. Send a letter to J. Prescott, The Sec. of State. c/o The TWA processing Unit, 76 Marsham St.. London SWIP 4DR.
Five councillors are listening. (Many more are actually, but find the whip too uncomfortable to oppose as yet). Most councillors already know this is a bad scheme and say so privately.
29/7/99 The Guided Busway is at present before the Ministry of the Environment and I expect it will go through because it is a fashionable initiative at the moment; and the councillors want it because they have already spent so much money advertising, having all the trees etc., cut down in readiness and so on, that they will look ridiculous if it does not go ahead. Ministers tend to please councillors if it doesn't cost them too much.
Actually there are two related problems not one, both so enormous, that this £40 million scheme is like a flea tackling an elephant. Problem number one is obvious: endless noisy cars and lorries going round and round with nowhere to park and continually getting in their own and everybody else's way. Problem number two is the serious one: all these cars and lorries give off petrol and diesel fumes which line our throats with the same sulphurous filth that covers our buildings. We can clean our buildings, but asthma, for example, can kill; and our children and old people are most at risk.
How to tackle the problems: first, we must change the society. At present the "bigger the bug the bigger the car", as people move up in the world they acquire larger and larger cars, giving off more and more fumes even if the only person inside is the driver. We must preach by example: does the Lord Mayor need such an enormous, petrol-eating car? Could he not manage in a Mini with gold mudguards or something?
Secondly we must help people to leam to share again: I know joint fetching and carrying does go on in schools now, but if it was properly organised from the top these awful school queues could be stopped. Much more importantly, each sizeable firm now has an enormous car park, which is a waste of public space. If car-parks were heavily rated according to size the heads of firms would organise minibus services, shared cars, shared taxis etc.. in no time at all.
Thirdly, whatever happened to the electric car? We only see it as our very efficient milk floats. We are an oily generation: our transport is all petrol and diesel, our homes are heated with oil or its by-product gas, our food is grown with chemicals made from oil and even nylon is oil-based. The oil must run out. Meanwhile a small electric car might qualify for free parking in Chester just as a bicycle does; also electricity might solve the problem of these enormous lorries, pumping out sulphur-heavy diesel fumes, delivering goods to shops all the time.
Finally, cleanit up pollution in Chester means providing clean air to replace polluted air when the rain falls and the wind blows. This clean or cleaner air comes from two sources- green spaces within the city and suburbs and from the greenbelt outside. I only really know Hoole well because I mostly walk or bus, but when it was built in the 1920s and 1930s large meadows were left free of housing for people to re-create themselves. These turned into playing fields, a park, allotments and- in one case a least- a meadow was left in the middle of a council estate just as a meadow. these areas were free from the smoke of chimneys in those days, the number of cars was minute. A small area of woodland was also left between a council estate and a meadow and the park was planted with trees. Trees clean the air better than other plants because they are so much bigger. This clean air was waiting to be blown down into Chester. From the green-belt, starting at Mannings Lane, an even larger amount of clean air was available. Now ten acres of this Mannings Lane green belt is to be turned into a parking space for 1200 cars if this Guided Busway goes through; and a possible route for the green-belt clean air to get into Chester is to be blocked by masses of little buses to add to the general congestion inside the town.
Hoole no longer provides clean air for Chester because the ring-road, the endless new roads and all the new housing estates built on what were green meadows or clumps of trees means that the air is almost as fume-filled as in Chester. If we want to clean up Chester we also have to guard its surroundings.
We must change ourselves and our attitudes to vehicles, not piddle about destroying ever more green spaces under the illusion that a very few less cars possible not entering the city is going to make the slightest difference to the amount of dirty air inside it.
M E Pendlebury, 293 Hoole Lane Chester
29/7/99 In answer to busway facts. Sustrans was given £43 million to make cycle/walkways from the lottery. They obviously bought the railway line to then pass it on to the council, and the council had people involved with Sustrans.
I think if this busway goes through a watchdog authority, not connected with council, should look into who gets the contracts and who the contracts are passed on to afterwards. I suppose Mr Byrne calls 'being properly looked after' being under concrete, a total waste of £7million- and people who have been involved with the council know they can change things whenever it suits them. Are you saying Mr Byrne, Sustrans would not have been capable of looking after the line? They seem to in other areas.
Having people going up and down in buses will make it more rubbish-strewn, especially when drug addicts, vandals and drunks get aboard. Existing buses on the roads are going round six at a time empty even now.
I think the people of Chester are sensible enough to know when something is not right, and only being done for greed, but, of course, it will not be up to them. They only live here. Your 'busway facts' did not reassure me Mr Byrne. In fact they made me more anxious the people of Chester are being ripped off.