25/3/00 If I know in advance of a trip that there is no chance of parking my car at the end of my journey, some councils do warn visitors. I make other arrangements to travel by, train, bus and, coach. If however I know there will be a grandiose Park & Ride site with 1200 car spaces with a busway that would save all of 6 seconds on the journey time no way would I leave my car at home. Who cares about country folk and their lanes and villages becoming congested and polluted?
That my actions and other motorists heading to the Historic City of Chester means trouble for Cheshire residents and residents along the track with buses buzzing past their property at speed every few minutes, I should care? To ask day-trippers, shopping trippers, Uncle Tom and all to leave their cars at home just to save an historic city more damage, and other people's quality of life and wildlife habit is really asking too much. So your tax bill will be hiked up yet again for the CDTS hard luck. I mean even most of your council is prepared to make this sacrifice on your behalf and they are on your side aren't they? That doesn't make much sense to me but it must make sense to you in Chester I guess.
Mr. Al Right-Jack.
Councillor is on wrong track, clutching incorrect facts on CDTS: 31.3.00
Cllr Peter Byrne's letter shows a lack of knowledge that is surprising and alarming in one in his position on the county council.
He appears not to have read the evidence presented either by the council or the objectors at the public inquiry. If he had, he may have learnt that:
1.Whatever the intention of the council in promoting CDTS, the evidence from surveys of Park & Ride users in Chester, carried out by the council and Anti-CDTS group, suggests that CDTS phase 1 will result in an overall increase in car mileage.
Some users will switch from taking the train or bus for the whole journey to drive to Park & Ride. The council does not dispute this.
2. The council predicts that there will be a reduction in traffic in the urban area of Chester, with people who would have driven into the city centre using CDTS. However, the number of car journeys into Chester that they estimate will be removed is only 220,600 per year, not half a million quoted by Cllr Byrne. This is a reduction of only 3% in traffic on Hoole Road, and less than 0.5% of the total traffic entering the city centre.
3. The council calculates that this reduction will cut the time it takes to travel from M53 to inner ring road by 6 seconds. It seems from the council's own evidence that CDTS phase 1 will not provide a solution to Chester's traffic problems. In many respects, it will hinder the council's objectives in promoting CDTS - to reduce traffic, improve the environment and maintain the economic vitality of Chester. It is therefore quite reasonable for objectors to question whether the £11m of public money the council want to spend on CDTS could be spent on other things in the same way they are applying for CDTS funding - through the Local Transport Plan. To improve rail and bus services, they will, of course, have to work with operators of those services, but this does not mean that they can 'only aspire'.
There is a great deal they can be doing. Unlike CDTS spending money on walking, cycling, and public transport would reduce traffic, improve the environment, and help to ensure Chester's continuing prosperity. Cllr Byrne is mistaken when he says the Sustrans walk/cycleway was part and parcel of the scheme under consideration at the inquiry. As he well knows, the Sustrans scheme has already been given planning permission and is construction. The inquiry was only considering the Park & Ride site and the guided busway.
I welcome the Investment Cheshire County Council has made in provision for cyclists, but there are still far too many hazards and obstacles facing cyclists in Chester. We will not encourage more people to get out of their cars and on to their bikes until these are addressed.
The council is currently consulting the public on the Local Transport Plan as before it can get funding from central government for the proposals; they have to demonstrate that these proposals have public support. The plan currently includes CDTS as a high-priority scheme. I urge readers to write to: Local Transport Plan, Room 264, County Hall, Chester and tell the council they do not want CDTS. To pass their concerns on to the government, they should copy their letter to: Eira Hughes, Director of Planning for the Northwest, Sunley Tower, Piccadilly Plaza, Manchester.
For completeness, Cllr Byrne is again mistaken when he says that I was the anti-CDTS group's consultant on cycling matters. I was employed to write and present the group's main proof of evidence. Dr Johanna Cleary was our expert on cycle planning.
Ann Chapman, Chester.
31.3.00 Cllr Peter Byrne's latest rant on the anti-CDTS campaign beggars belief.
I do, however, give him credit for being consistent as he always manages to alienate the general public whenever he puts pen to paper or opens his mouth!
I am fast coming to the conclusion that he too is against the proposals, but because of the Labour whip; the only way he can sabotage them is to shoot himself in the foot as their spokesman.
Keep it up, Cllr. Byrne, you are doing a great job!
6.4.00 Cllr Byrne asks, "What do you expect the council to do?". For an answer, I point to the government's Transport White Paper, page 18: "We want local people and business to have a real say and influence over transport. We want to be sure that the views of local people have made a difference". In other words, Cllr Byrne, listen to your electorate and act on what they say.
After spending tens of thousands of pounds on consultation, the council did not like what the people said, so they carried on regardless and spent further tens of thousands of taxpayers' money on legal fees to defend the scheme against the people. This is why people object to the use of expensive Q.Cs. That the people were voluntarily prepared to donate a further £10,000 for the Anti-CDTS to pay professionals to prepare and present their case, is some measure of the strength of opposition.
If Cllr Byrne had attended the inquiry for more than a few minutes, he would have a greater understanding of the arguments and also know that lawyers did not bully the Anti-CDTS experts. On the contrary Dr Cleary had the QC lost for words: "I fear there is a deep philosophical gulf between us," he shrugged. Like Cllr Byrne, he did not seem to understand that the only way to reduce traffic congestion and related pollution and environmental damage is to reduce car use by improving walking, cycling and public transport facilities. As shown by the council's survey, CDTS Phase 1 would encourage car use through the provision of a 1,200 space car park and buses with superior facilities for car drivers.
If built the Hoole park & ride will have real time digital displays telling drivers when they can expect the next bus. According to the Local Transport Plan, ordinary urban bus users will have to wait until 2001 for the same facilities. There is no mention of when rural bus users might expect to enjoy the same high standards.
The government will decide whether or not funds are granted and the council must show that it has consulted on the Local Transport Plan and that it has local support. It will therefore be good use of a stamp for readers to write to the Local Transports Plan, 264 County Hall Chester and tell the council they do not think CDTS is a good use of public money. To ensure the government gets the message, they should also send a copy of their letter to Eira Hughes, Director of Planning. Gov.Office N.West, Sunley Towers, Piccadilly Plaza, Manchester
Catherine Green, Vice chair Anti-CDTS
6/4/00 Attention all those readers who protest against having concrete busway and another Park & Ride imposed on the rare pieces of green open space Chester has left.
Cllr Peter Byrne has declared you should all be quiet now the CDTS Public Inquiry has taken place.
Cllr Byrne believes that the County Council have every right to spend you poll tax employing a QC to try to annihilate arguments of the numerous people who are opposed to the busway. He also has the arrogance to ask what planet these residents inhabit.
We inhabit, Cllr Byrne, a planet which we don't want covered in concrete. We inhabit a city where we want a pleasant pathway on which to walk and cycle that isn't blighted with buses whoosing past every four minutes. And "yes" I anticipate his ill found reply, in fact, what he calls the "crucial point in the whole business". According to him CDTS will "intercept cars at some point of the periphery and transfer them to public transport " How will it do this? Perhaps Cllr Byrne is going to stand by the motorway and instruct people to get onto the bus?
There was no proof at the inquiry only supposition that people will use the bus. Let us not forget that the council relies on the vast income they receive from the city centre car parks. So they don't quite want to discourage their use!
You can see from Cllr Byrne's example that he and his colleagues are not really interested in the strength of opposition against CDTS. What exactly are the councillors doing for you. Oh yes - they put up poll tax. How much more will they put it up to pay for CDTS and its upkeep which is useless to most residents in Chester?
Mind you, Cllr Bryne might himself off to pay the extra. Just like he offered to pay "out of his own pocket" any devaluation of properties near the bus route and Park & Ride.
I wonder what planet he was on when he said that?
Dr Chris Bridle, Hoole
7.4.00 I am a neutral on the CDTS debate, with no interests in the political colours of County Cllr Peter Bryne, but his attitude leave a lot to be desired.
On the CDTS, he says the county council should employ its best resources in order to win its case. Win against whom? Its own citizens?
To do this, they hire fast-guns to sort out the trouble -makers. The QC then moves on, having not the slightest interest in what it was all about, with a nice wad of townsfolk's cash in his back pocket. Cllr Byrne sees no injustice in this.
I do not understand the way Government funding works, but after reading Cllr Byrne's attempt to explain, it appears to be an undignified scramble by councils to grab what is available before someone else does.
You do not have to be a rocket scientist to realise there will be some 'white elephants' built when money is distributed in this manner. You do not impress with your adversarial attitude. When people have a chance to express their views, testing them one against the other, big mistakes can be avoided. Also, there is another advantage: the more we are involved the more we are implicated. When mistakes happen, as they must, we take responsibility and learn from them. It's called political adulthood.
So you should be thanking the Anti-CDTS groups and Mrs. Chapman, not attempting to belittle them.
F.W. Campbell, Handbridge.
7/4/00 The County Council Highway Dept., is to be congratulated for creating the off-road cycleway and footway along the Mickle Trafford to Shotton railway line.
A decent surface now exists from Fairfield Road, all the way to Blacon. There are already significant numbers of users along this route who must feel it is money very well spent. Here at last, in Chester you can see whole families out on their bikes in complete safety, people walking their dogs, children learning to ride, pushchairs being pushed -all enjoying the budding spring amoung the trees that have been spares the busway axe.
What a pity that this apparent priority for people to be encouraged to travel by foot or cycle is not replicated with new roadworks being carried out locally.
In particular, I refer to the extensive road improvement that has just been completed on Sealand Road, between Ferry Lane and Blacon Avenue. At great expense, a new low noise road surface with striking road markings has just been laid, which is wonderful for car drivers.
What a pity that, for very little extra marginal cost, the existing footway could not have been widened and improved to form a walk/cyclway. This would benefit the significant numbers of pedestrians and cyclists from Blacon who already use the pavement to get to the existing cycle route along Sealand Road (which has been there since 1960's)
Time and time again, we are told there is extremely limited money for improving the pedestrian and cycle network in Chester, yet when opportunities present themselves for general highway improvements, cyclists and pedestrians appear not to be considered. Is it any wonder highway planners have such a poor reputation among the local population when such inconsistencies appear in engineering implementation on the ground?
Chester needs joined-up thinking so that the priority for encouraging walking and cycling is apparent wherever new works are being carried out. I would urge all citizens in Chester to look critically at all highway schemes in the city and ask whether improvement encourages walking and cycling. If not, then the highway planners need to know it is not good enough.
18.8.00 An open letter to Chester Cheshire Councillors
We request you take a walk or cycle down the Millennium Cycleway during a weekend. Witness for yourselves the wonderful benefits the traffic free nature trail pathway is bringing. Ask yourself if you have ever seen so many happy smiling faces in any pedestrian area of Chester or on any pavements in Cheshire. See toddlers wobbling about on newly acquired cycles; see the relaxed faces of parents and older children deriving huge benefits from healthy safe exercise, instead of being glued to a box in the corner. See parents, who in some cases, have been cajoled by their children into borrowing a bike then buying one after many years of just hopping in their car, to accompany their children along the full length, and further in some cases, of the whole route. Witness the puzzled and disappointed people as they come to the premature end (cut short by the council) of the cycleway at Fairfield Road. Perhaps you will see something is done about that very soon?
We request you talk (and listen) to the people using the route, put the well being of your electorate first. We, as a nation, are potential heart attack victims due to lack of exercise, this route will help reduce that risk; it will also aid mental health - being a tranquil green area. Gauge for yourself how many cars these cyclists/walkers would have used if they were not using the pathway. Consider that they are not polluting or congesting the roads, and less likely to fall ill. Please question if it is worth sacrificing this hugely popular facility by ploughing the planned busway down it. Would people still flock to a concrete busway (what a prospect, what a view) with noise and dust every four minutes, instead of a wildlife tranquil area? Do you know what would happen to users of the path if there was a gas leak from these buses, as the gas is heavier than air isn't it, wouldn't it sit around at ground level for some length of time, at child height? Remember the CCC planners did admit the CDTS busway might not reduce congestion at all on Hoole Road. Most people and against this Park & Ride busway scheme
which would cost the earth in more ways than one. We suggest the council should widen the pathway it, is not the recommended width now (admitted at the inquiry). Another good idea would be to continue the pathway to Mickle Traffod thus giving that area the option to leave their car at home, these people are as marooned as the Hoole area.
Audrey Hodgkinson (sec) Anti-CDTS
20.10.00 Sustrans has created a tranquil traffic-free route along the disused Mickle Trafford-Shotton railway line for cycling and walking through built up areas of Chester with enough space for tree to mature and wildlife habitats to remain.
The CPRE believes Chester has acquired a fine and rare asset.
The enthusiasm and enjoyment of all those now using the new greenway is rewarding. Public consultation has consistently shown that a cycle/walkway in natural green setting is what most people want. It is very clear that the imposition if a double-width concrete busway (CDTS) built along side this route would destroy the tranquil nature of this route. Phase one CDTS also has a Park & Ride site, which would breach Chester's greenbelt.
Ann Jones, Planning co-ordinator, Chester District CPRE.
2.11.00 Following the recent C.C.Council report on the fall in numbers of people using existing park & rides, and city car parks, the Anti-CDTS Campaign Groups have submitted a post inquiry submission to the DETR (Dept. of Transport, Environment and Regions. The following is a brief summary:
The report calls into question some of the council's basic assumptions concerning the exceptional need to develop Chester green belt as a 1,200 space car park & ride site, and turn a successful Sustrans cycle path into a busway.
To summarise, the report indicates that the numbers of people using the Chester city car parks and the park & rides during 2000/01 (to date) were significantly fewer than projected by the council in their case for CDTS Phase 1. In other words, the traffic growth trends used to calculate the need for CDTS were exaggerated.
At the public inquiry the council argued that CDTS would improve access to the city centre and ameliorate the adverse impacts of traffic growth that would otherwise occur. The latest report indicates that the traffic growth due to cars driving into the city centre to park, and the demand for park & ride, are both lower than expected, the numbers in each case actually having fallen. The latest report states that "the park & ride market appears to be maturing and the increases enjoyed in previous years have now eased off." These latest figures show that the council's evidence, which assumed a steady rise in traffic and growing demand for park & ride, was flawed.
The figures also show that people who are discouraged from parking in the city centre, by higher charges and other means, will not necessarily use park & ride instead as the council has also assumed.
Catherine Green (Vice Chair) Anti-CDTS Campaign Groups.
21.11.00 Over the next few weeks the Inquiry into Chester guided busway (CDTS) will take place.
I have recently read the proof of evidence for both the county council and some of the objectors, and am amazed at the sheer scale of the incompetence of the council.
The proof of evidence assumes that to reduce cars on Hoole Road requires a Park & Ride scheme to be established near the junction of the M53 by Hoole Hall. This is purely an assumption, and there is no assessment of alternative cost-effective solutions, or a balanced view on the loss of an opportunity to develop the linear park. The bottom line of the scheme is that £10.million? is required to be spent of the Park & Ride to reduce traffic by as little as 3%. Is this cost-effective, or even helpful to someone who travels in and out of Chester frequently?
I do not intend to reiterate the case against, which is ably argued by the objectors. However, I would just like to note that the majority of the council's case for the scheme is based upon emotive assumption at best. Even the initial traffic reduction figure produced by the council had to be corrected down to three per cent, and a further downward correction seems likely.
From the evidence presented, it would be a strange quirk of justice for the Chester Guided Busway to go ahead. The £900,000 spent on planning and presenting this ill-conceived scheme to the inquiry could have been spent on far more cost-effective and logically sound solutions, such as either improving the existing transport infrastructure or helping to entice people to existing bus facilities (have you used the Northgate Bus station lately?). I am left wondering if the council has the interests of local people at heart, rather than the interests of the droves of consultants enjoying the feast of rate-payers money.
C.D.Watson, Yewdale Drive Whitby
2 5.1. 01 I have tried to keep up with every twist and turn by reading articles in the Standard, Evening Leader and council documents etc., only to find our councils plans most puzzling. Have I got it right?
We are expected to jump for joy whilst Cheshire and Chester councils turn a blind eye towards environmental issues? Covering wildlife areas for a planned Chester guided busway of less than a mile (phase 1) to stop cars crumbling our roads' a councillor says. Heavy goods vehicles don't cause
the damage then? Forget country dwellers, they can continue to suffer the dangers of rat runs and crumbling roads it seems, as this planned busway would rely on cars travelling on outlying roads to access a new and massive park & ride feeding it. Plans for improving (not reducing) Chester car parking must mean the same amount of cars entering the city centre surely? Are the crumbling roads mended already?
Public transport buses are again being cut. Lack of funding, fares too high? Yet just for phase 1 of this busway the estimated cost is at present £13m+ (and a cost analysis has yet to be made, very odd?)
If this is all correct then it is no wonder people from all walks of life are objecting. There has to be something radically wrong with any plan if well over1,000+ individual objection letters - and a petition of 1,600 signed by Evening Leader Readers, were received by the DETR before the public inquiry. Many more have followed since it seems. They can't all live on the phase 1 route that would be affected by the buses can they? Is it possible 'ordinary folk' are leading the fight for the environment? Perhaps they accept, as I do, we all exist in the real world not a superficial world paper money and strange 'awards' the demands of which can lead us down a very reckless road indeed.
I think, councillors you will find the 'major breakthrough' is in the ozone layer with manmade disasters the result. You can't get more major than that! It looks to me 'providing the alternative' (a council description of this busway) is a meaningless statement, given the real alternative should be improved public transport throughout the whole region. Chester and Cheshire council steering committees - I have as 'alternative' for you - on your bikes!
A marooned Cheshire resident.
12/4/01 I have been on a well-earned holiday; somewhere they manage to exist without motorised-wheeled vehicles. Yes, there are such places believe me, and I only put on 1lb after indulging their fabulous food. Walking does one good; it keeps one healthy and slim.
I shouid like to ask Mr. Milward (Standard 29/3/01) to reconsider which is the selfish group? Those like Anti-CDTS Campaign Groups trying to help stop global warming and now expecting pleasant natural routes, without motorised vehicles, to walk, cycle and even encouraging others to leave their cars at home sometimes? Those who take action to do something to reduce their car use by walking/cycling or using public transport~where possible?
A bus carries more people and a train takes hundreds of cars off the road. Selfish- those who can see what humans are doing to this planet, trying to consider future generations and stand up against more wholesale destruction? Are we selfish to consider those suffering floods and strange damaging weather conditions? Or should we all continue to be car-orientated, assisting the 'poor' motorist to get into town or anywhere else they fancy, ripping up more and more greenbelt and wildlife areas no matter what the world consequences will be?
Please try to be realistic- look a little further than your 'need' to use a car, fretting in queues of your own making, in your own tin boxes and likely only transporting one person at that! Why should Mother Earth continue to be buried under concrete for motorists to be two or three cars further on in this queue? The council admitted these figures when cross-examined by our transport expert witness at the Public Inquiry.
What huge sacrificing of local money and resources for such a diminutive, fleeting 'gain', proven by government surveys to be wiped out by yet more cars? Why should we have to pay not only in green space but also in huge local tax hikes for car users to use luxury buses others do not have, for a half-mile journey from the city?
Those environrnentally aware, those without cars etc who choose the better option (less pollution) of public transport from the start of their journey don't get this luxury. We find time (by getting up earlier) to walk, cycle when possible, we hop on a utilitarian bus and pay more for this lack of luxury too. You may call this selfish, Mr. Milward, I call it commendable, and, by the way, I own a car too, as do most members of the Anti-CDTS Campaign Groups. We are not anti-car, just praying others take on board that we must all reduce their use.
By the way, only two votes were recorded: in favour of the busway CDTS and they were from both councils. This figure could have been reduced too, no doubt, if counciDors had been given a free choice, as many have told their constituents they did not think it a good plan but had to toe the party line.
During heavy rain periods the path is under many inches of water on the council playing field areas (the only part the council are responsible for). While there may be litter, especially on this part, as it never seems to be cleared- we have litter everywhere we walk- it is not in the centre of Chester it stays there for months, and may never be cleared. While you sit comfortably in your car, consider us unselfish people walking/cycling, sometimes on cold, wet days, trying to save our planet and its wildlife. It helps you too, for by staying off roadways, we do not have to use pedestrian crossingsl
A.Hodgkinson a Secretary Anti-CDTS Campaign Groups
12/4/01 Standard readers, particularly those interested in the continuing controversy about the Chester Guided Busway (CDTS Phase 1) will have been concerned to read a Public Notice by the Government Office that letters sent to them concerning the busway and the Local Transport Plan have been lost. This undermines people's confidence in the consultation process.
It is now clear that whatever the decision of the TWA Inspector, the city and county councils should re-assess the Local Transport Plan and the busway project.
Do we need yet another park and ride scheme? Chester already has four sites and a total of 3,170 spaces, one of the bighest park and ride provisions in the country. In addition, it also has the use of the Zoo's 5,000 parking spaces as an overflow for the Upton site at peak times.
At a time when the city is taking pride in its urban renewal and the use of brownfield sites instead of greenfields for housing and employment, is it appropriate to cover acres of a greenfield site with tarmac for a 1,200 space car park?
Does it make sense to tear up the recently constructed Sustrans cycleway in order to re-level the cuttings aud embankments to take the guided busway, and then have to build a new cycleway alongside the bus track?
Is it good value for money to spend some £13 million of taxpayers money on the scheme? Remember, this is only Phase I of the CDTS, Phase: 2 (Blacon to Deeside) and Phase 3 (the link with Wrexham Road) will be even more costly. It is still not clear how much of the £13 million will be a government grant and how much will have to be borrowed. What impact will this have on local finances, bearing in mind the recent steep rise in the council tax?
Should the council take on the extra cost of nunning an additional park and ride service at a time when its own assessment is that park and ride usage and revenue are falling and that demand for park and ride services may be 'maturing'?
As the local and national elections approach, all candidates should make it clear where they stand on the busway issue so that electors can make their own judgement.
W V Jones, 101 Daleside, Upton Heath
12/4/01 R B Milward has not been following the CDTS debate. Otherwise s/he would know that the council's own traffic modelling projections forecast that CDTS would save cars on Hoole Road an average of six seconds on their peak time journey. These figures were made public only at the insistence of the anti-CDTS group which is extremely fortunate to have Mrs Audrey Hodgkinson as its dedicated and conscientious secretary.
Mrs Hodgkinson is a representative of over 400 members of the anti-CDTS groups who raised £10,000 to object to CDTS at the public inquiry. More bad news for proponents of CDTS was revealed in a council report to the Highways Committee m December.
Mr/s Milward calls into question the popularity of the Sustrans cycle route which, I agree, is underutilised given its tremendous potential to take even more traffic off the roads. To date the council has failed to promote the route as a healthy and safe altenative to car travel for local journeys. It would be used by many more people for daily commuting if the councils would provide more access points, signposts and safe crossings of connecting roads, such as St Oswalds Way.
Instead, I'm convinced that they are trying to keep the route a secret so as to prevent even more opposition to its destruction by CDTS.
Catherine Green, Vice-chair Anti--CDTS Group, 63 Brook Lane, Chester
12/4/01 I am a relative newcomer to Chester and a regular cyclist in town and on the cycle network.
I have cycled previously in Bristol which seems to be at least ten years ahead of Chester in provision for cyclists. There is, as far as I know, only one set of traffic lights (at the Old Dee Bridge) and no junctions that allow cyclists to wait in front of cars.
There is no attempt to route bikes through the centre of town or provide adequate cycle lanes, although there is the new lane on Northgate Street that allows riders to cycle towards oncoming buses, giving one the choice of riding in the midst of pedestrians or negotiating the dangerous by-pass.
Anthony Beal, Chester
26.4.01 With regard to 'fare share for all' Mr. Milward says if two steam engines could pass one another, then there is room for other users. When trains were using the lines, it was illegal for the public to be on the line except at stations.
If the busway is allowed, there will be children and animals along the same route, a scenario for disaster Mr. Milward. I don't think people would complain about one tree being lost, but we are talking about a greenway which was kept when the railway was there, but will just be concrete if the busway is allowed.
In a proper democracy, anyone with an ounce of brain would know there are enough roads for the use of buses.
12/4/01 With regard to 'Why Wait', it is Mr Milward who is the selfish one. He calls people 'Nimby', but if this was where he lived in Waverton, he probably would squeal the loudest.
Mrs H, of the Anti-CDTS, is right to keep people inforrmed and you are wrong about the use of the walkway/cycleway, from what | see many, many cyclists/walkers are making use of the greenway, which would only be a 'concreteway ' if the busway is allowed.
You say you haven't seen many people on the greenway, alternatively have you been in Princesss Street and watched bus after bus going by nearly empty?
At the moment, Mr Milward, you have your countryside in Waverton to go home to. Is it selfish to try to keep what little is left of ours?
3/5/01 In last week's Standard you reported the council's decision to carry on spending ratepayers' money on the guided busway, even though this still has to be approved by the government. This is typical of the council's arrogant 'we know best' attitude. Just look back at the amphitheatre cover-up, the Forum and those masts on the Town Hall Square- all three projects were overwhelmingly unpopular with Chester residents and visitors- but were steam-rollered through anyway.
I suspect the 'artist's impression' of the busway that accompanied the article must have been taken from council literature, since it bears little resemblance to the possible finished busway.
The picture shows two lanes of busway using the full width under one railway bridge archway with a separated cycle/pathway passing under a separate archway- how safe and tranquil!
In reality, 95 per cent of the bridges between Mannings Lane and Brook Lane are single-arch and on the other bridges the arches are inaccessible, so according to the 'artist's impression' that leaves no space at all for a cycle/pathway- or is tbat the real intention?
Of course, there is a way to match tbe illusion with reality, and since the council's view is 'spare no (taxpayers) expense", they could issue compulsory purchase orders to buy up 15 feet or so of tbe Newton, Hoole and Brook Lane back gardens that border the proposed route and alter or replace tbe existing bridges with wider versions and bingo!- everyone (at the council) is happy. The other altemative is to leave the cycle/pathway as it is and invest the £7+ million on a realistic long-term solution to tbe traffic congestion problems- and in the meantime stop allowing developers to build even more houses on every available inch of land around the city centre- Brook Lane, Victoda Road etc- as these add even more cars to the daily battle in and out of the city.
Dale Brocklehurst, 51 Victoria Road Chester
3/5/01 It is the cowslip season again. Over 70 years ago when I was a child, one of my father's meadows was so thick with cowslips that you could hardly see the grass. But they were not those little pale yellow flowers yon see now. They were bigger, a very deep yellow and each floweret had a little avior pointing to the nectar; above all they had a heavy sweet scent. When my mother made butter at that time, we used to say the butter was a deeper yellow and smelled of cowslips. These were the flowers people used for cowslip wine.
We children loved them as much as the cows: we used to make long 'daisy chains' then wind them into cowslip balls, throwing the balls backwards and forwards to each other as we played 'pig-in-the-middle' or other games. At the end our hands used to smell of cowslips.
In my native Suffolk the cowslip meadows have long given way to the coarse grass used for silage. My wildflower book of 1950 does not mention this sort of cowslip. The last time I saw one was 25 years ago, walking with the children at the edge of a ploughed field, near Mannings Lane, almost certainly part of the area the council intends to concrete over as a car park. There was one single strong healthy plant in full flower. Now, where there was one plant there must once bave been many more. Do any of your older readers remember cowslip meadows near Chester? Can any botanist tell me if these cowslips are now extinct? I would love to see and smell them again.
Meg Pendlebury, 292 Hoole Lane Chester
3/5/01 Several interesting thoughts developed after reading the article on page four of last week's Standard. Cllr John Price is obviously worried about votes judging by his utterances regarding the Tories and their misgivings with regard to CDTS. This leads me to think the secretary of the Anti-CDTS was correct in feeling tbe busway project was so massively unpopular with the electorate that authorities would hold back any finai decision until after the elections in the unlikely event it is given the go ahead.
Nothing wrong with 'U' turns, much wiser for councillors (and MPs) to do a 'U' tum than continue to stumble blindly on with a disastrous scheme.
CDTS appears to be getting more unfeasible even to those shouting loudest "innovative" at every twist and turn. What is innovative about business money being sought? That happened with railways, and look where that led us.
Are we witnessing the council, with not just coid but frostbitten feet, trying to find a partner to part fund this scheme? Does this mean they are as worried as locai taxpayers are about the installation and running costs of this over-ambitious, wasteful project? We should ask coucillors who voted for CDTS to do an honourabie 'U' turn. We would respect them much more if they did, and local taxpayers would have more faith that democracy exists in Chester. Far better they puli the plug now. The Dome was unpopular with the electorate too, and no amount of money poured into it managed to save it.
Councillors, please listen to the people and stop wasting our money.
A floating voter
10/5/01 Every week in The Standard I read articulate and well argued cases against the CDTS. I think the case is clear that the CDTS would not offer value for money, and would destroy a natural area that is well-used and loved by walkers and cyclists. There are only a few highly misguided souls who actually believe that CDTS would have any real effect on the traffic on Hoole Road (even the council's own figures back this up) and I'm sure we all notice the almost empty park & ride buses constantly around the city.
Doesn't the government want to encourage more walking and cycling? Isn't the cycleway the sort of area that Mr. Prescott should be preserving and copying in other areas? Isn't encouraging cycling into town centres better than the doomed concept of trying to build your way out of congestion?
So far the council has acted appallingly over the affair and even now is acting in the arrogant manner we are well accustomed to, by continuing to spend our money planning the implementation of the CDTS while the public inquiry result is still awaited. Do they know something we don't? Is the Public Inquiry just a corrupt whitewash? What conclusions are we to draw from the news that letters sent to Eira Hughes objecting to the scheme have been stolen?
If there are political reasons for the scheme why can't we hear about them? Why couldn't the other dependent items (if there are any) go ahead without this expensive and unwanted extra? Isn't there a government policy that expensive building schemes cannot go ahead without the consent of the local people?
I know there are a lot of questions here but don't they need to be addressed? I am copying this letter to Mr. John Prescott, Mr.Tony Blair and our curiously silent MP Christine Russell, but I won't hold my breath for any answers. Can any reader help me in understanding all this?
In the meantime I can only hope that Mr. Prescott has the wisdom to leave well alone, and I urge all voters in the next elections to be clear on where candidates stand on the issue so that local people who are summarily ignored by the council can have some influence.
Sue Thompson, 29 Shavington Ave., Hoole.
14/5/01 The latest government research findings that road traffic rose by less than half of 1% last year, can we expect a review of all local plans regarding road building/busways and further park & ride sites?
Also in view of the fall in car parking including park & ride sites, that we appear to be now witnessing, could the long-suffering local taxpayer expect a tightening of council purse strings on our behalf with regard to the costly and unnecessary plans such as CDTS busway and Western Relief Road?
What is the council's policy on petitions these days? Recently they accepted a petition in which each signature counted, when only a short while ago a local newspaper's readers' petition regarding the CDTS busway signed by over 1,600 readers only counted as one vote.
For the record, there were over 1,000 individual letters against this scheme with only two voting for it - Chester City & County Councils. Many more objections have been received after the official closing date.
Audrey Hodgkinson, Anti-CDTS Campaign Groups.
14.5.01 It is almost a year since Sustrans created a linear park and woodland as part of the millennium National Cycle route Five along the former Mickle Trafford to Shotton railway line.
CPRE believes this tranquil; traffic -free route is one of Chester's finest green open spaces, linking the urban area out into the countryside. If you have not walked or cycled along the route, go now before it is too late.
It is hard to understand why our councillors and M.P want to build a double width concrete busway (CDTS) for 180 bus journeys a day along this route.
Perhaps it isn't too late for them to change their minds.
Ann Jones, Planning Co-ordinator Chester District CPRE 101 Daleside Upton Heath.
25.5.01 Chester is still waiting for the decision on the Guided busway scheme (CDTS phase 1)
Could it be that the decision on the highly controversial project is being held back until the election is safely out of the way?
It should be remembers that over 1,000 local people felt strongly enough about the impact of the busway to make formal objections to the Transport Works Act Inquiry - and raised the money to presenting their case. Any councillor would take pride in such a mandate at the ballot box.
In addition to the serious impact on the environment - the construction of the 1,200 car space Park & Ride site at Mannings Lane, the destruction of the existing popular cycleway, the devastation of the linear park, and the cutting up of the valued green space at Northgate Village - there are other factors which have received little attention.
The Examination in Public Panel Inspectors considering the Cheshire Structure Plan gave approval to the wider CDTS scheme, but this approval was heavily qualified.
The Inspectors expressed concern at the 'rather sharp' escalation of the cost of CDTS and stressed that it would be necessary to examine in detail both the final figure of the cost and whether the scheme represented value for money.
The Inspectors also stressed that a package of 'complementary measures' would have to be put in place to make CDTS effective.' Such measures as bus and cycle lanes and other traffic and parking management proposals need to be spelt out in principle in direct relationship with CDTS.' Without these, the Inspectors considered 'the costly scheme would indeed be wasteful.'
These complimentary measures have never been spelt out in direct relationship with CDTS. What will be the impact on the level of city centre car parking provisions, on parking charges and fines? What is the relationship between CDTS and the proposed workshop car-parking levy within the city?
In fairness to the people of Chester, these matters should be made clear by our representatives. The last thing we want is another fiasco like the amphitheatre decision.
W.V. Jones, Upton.
31/5/01 Over the past year, many of your correspondents have commented on the lack of support for the CDTS guided busway project among the people of Chester.
Like many of them, I have been looking in vain since the opening of the SUSTRANS cycle roue to find a single person amonng my friends, acquaintances and work mates who suppors building a concrete busway through this new linear park.
However, this has now changed. I can inform your readers that I have at last found three people who support CDTS- all of the candidates from the three main political parties who have been canvassing for votes in my neighbourhood. What I cannot understand is why any of these candidates is supporting the busway when it seems that 99 per cent of the people of Chester do not. To me, this seems to be democract turned on its head. These people are supposed to be our elected representatives who turn our views and wishes into action through the local political structures. If no one from any of the three main political parties is willing to oppose the CDTS project, then maybe it is clear who we should be voting for- no one.
Craig Steeland, Chester
31/5/01 I would like to draw the attention of Hoole residents to the fact that their Iocal Conservative caandidate for Hoole, John Ebo, has distinguished himself in recent years as a consistent opponent of the CDTS busway both inside the council chamber and in the community at large. He also spoke out against the busway at the public inquiry last year.
For many of us who object to having the CDTS imposed on us, it would be extremely useful to have a representative who would be prepared to support and advise us in the event of the scheme's adoption, and also help us to continue opposing it.
I must say that as a lifelong Labour voter I would much rather see elected an independently minded man such as John Ebo who is prepared to represent the interests of the local community than one of the yes men and women of the locai Labour Party machine which did not allow a free vote on the busway.
Graham Bromley, Chairman, Anti CDTS Campaign Group, 30 Knowsley Road, Hoole, Chester