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

Part 1: Newton Lane, Hoole to Saughall

pointNovember 2014- These pages have been newly reformatted with a new font and layout to hopefully be easier to read and navigate. No new material has been added but they will remain online in memory of our years of struggle. We're delighted to say that the Friends of the Millennium Greenway have taken up the reins and invite you to visit their excellent website.

November 2009- Well, we're sure you'll agree that the time is long overdue for this hopelessly out-of-date version of our virtual journey along the Millennium Greenway- largely dealing as it does with the bitter, years-long battle to preserve our car-free path from the iniquities of the CDTS 'Guided Busway'- to be gracefully retired into the archives and a complete re-write to take place. This would add all of the new photographs and other material that this writer has been thigh-deep in for the last few years, tell of the very welcome extension of the route to Guilden Sutton that is about to take place, add better access information and detailed maps, provide a guide to hotels, shops, pubs, cafes etc close to the path- and generally provide a much, much more positive, regularly-updated read than it currently is!

That's a lot of work and sadly, we are now financially utterly incapable of taking the job on- without your help. If you are in a position to donate towards the site's renaissance, brilliant. If you're in business along the route, consider advertising with us. We can design (for free!) a jolly banner advertisment for you with details of your business, your contact details, links to your website and email- and a map directing Greenway travellers to your establishment!
Your contributions can remain anonymous if you wish, otherwise your name will be added to our heroes page!

So, if you're in any sort of a position to help, please contact Steve Howe to discuss further- 01244 345099 / 0775 1521 600 Email - or just click on the link below... Thank you!

February 2003, and the long battle seemed to be at last at an end, if this remarkable statement by Chester City Council was to be believed! On the same page is reproduced a remarkable editorial from the Chester Evening Leader, Lessons to be Learned from the CDTS Fiasco...

On 20th September 2003, a welcome event occured- one none of us ever though we'd see...

September 11th 2002: People of Chester rejoice! At a full meeting of Cheshire County Council, a majority of councillors today made the historic- and extremely welcome- decision to refuse to assist in funding the ludicrous CDTS Busway project! (And the very same thing occured at a subsequent meeting on 2th October: see below).

Right: 13th September 2002- just some of the 400-odd people who turned out to celebrate the County Council's wise rejection of CDTS and show their support for the cycleway/footpath...

The previouis week they had received a final report about the viability of the Busway. Although, to nobody's surprise, heavily supportive of going ahead with the project, it admitted that the estimated cost had rocketed from around £10 million to somewhere vaguely in the region of £18 million!

In addition- and doubtless one of the reasons many councillors lost their nerve- was the expressed opinion of (pro-busway) Environment Director, Peter Cocker that "capital costs for major construction projects like this have a habit of rising alarmingly once the first sod has been cut. The cost estimates have been scriutinised using all available data but they remain estimates and not certainty..."

It was also revealed that around £3 million had to date been spent upon the CDTS planning process. (considering the thousands of man-hours expended upon the stream of reports, glossy brochures and 'consultations' since 1984- eighteen years ago- and that around £1 million alone was spent upon the lawyers employed by our councils at the Public Inquiry in Feb 2000 to take on their own people,
this figure may in truth end up being far, far more... will we ever know?

Regarding the amount of correspondence he had received regarding CDTS, Council Leader Paul Findlow told the meeting that he had received letters in support of the Busway in "nearly double figures"- while "hundreds and hundreds" had come from objectors. More details may be found in the full County Council press releases here...

So, what now for Chester City Council? They could now decide to go it alone- doubtless with the good wishes of those county councillors who disagreed with the decision (the most rabid examples being David Robinson, Sue Proctor and Hoole's own Molly Hale) and, many suspect, with the generous assistance of the private sector. But surely, one asks, the County's commendable decision makes their case for the busway no longer viable- if the costs are considered excessive for the County and City working together, how on earth could Chester's taxpayers be expected to afford it alone? City council leader John Price and all manner of businessmen's organisations, economic development forums- and the Chester Chronicle- are, it seems, far from coming to the same conclusion, however.

So who can tell what new twists in this most twisted of tales the future may bring. Much more on all this soon...

The County Council debate over the go-ahead for CDTS on 24th October 2002 resulted in much the same outcome as the vote of September 11th- a majority of County councillors opposed to funding the busway.
Much to the disgust of their opponents, who had worked extremely hard to change their minds. To the extent- in some cases- of of pretty much 'making it up' as they went along. Take, for example, County Councillor David Robinson, who informed his fellows that there had been "massive objection" to the construction of the cycleway / footpath on the site of the old railway- a clumsy lie.
And County Councillor Sue Proctor, who justified her, to our minds, slightly frantic case for the busway to be built by letting it be known in the debate that "two people have been mugged on the cycleway- not that any of them (glowering horribly up at we, the assembled members of the public in the gallery)- seem to care very much about that"...
Strangely reminiscient, we thought, of the pack of lies put about- and duly printed by a gullible local press- back in July regarding "a string of sexual attacks on women and young girls
" on the cycleway- none of which were ever traced by the police- and neither, to nobody's surprise, was the source of the story ever revealed...

Local people's frustration may be a t an all time high and their The busway is, at least, once again front-page news- thankfully, to many of us, for much more positive reasons than ever before. Nontheless, many local people have remained, remarkably, unaware of the impact on the economy and environment CDTS would have if it was allowed to go ahead.
Chester's taxes continue to rise, the streets are full of potholes, cars are everywhere and her people have virtually nowhere at all to walk and cycle in peace and safety- 'Safe Routes to School' is a farce- but millions can still be squandered merely to allow day trippers to have easy access to the city centre shops...
In the light of the County Council's decision, a renewed debate is certain to bring with it a whole new crop of objectors, especially from those thousands who have had the opportunity to enjoy for themselves the peace, tranquility and convenience of a cycleway and footpath which, despite the hollow assurances of politicians who'll never use it, will assuredly be ruined by being made to squeeze into whatever space is left from concrete bus tracks...

By February 2003, the long. long battle seemed to be at last at an end, as this remarkable statement by Chester City Council seemed to indicate...also here is a hard-hitting editorial from the Chester Evening Leader, entitled Lessons to be Learned from City's CDTS Fiasco...

And then, on 20th September 2003, a most welcome and encouraging event occured- one none of us ever though we'd see. On a rainy Saturday afternoon a group of happy folk assembled at Kingsway Chapel to hear the new leader of Cheshire County Council, Cllr Nora Dolphin publicly thank all those who devote their spare time to litter picking, pruning, weeding and in other ways caring for the cycleway. County Council Cycling Officer Anna Geroni also gave an interesting talk as did the tireless Audrey Hodgkinson, Secretary of the Anti-CDTS Groups- and also now busy with the new Friends of the Millennium Cycleway. Both of them have worked long and hard- albeit from 'opposite sides of the fence'- to see that the cycleway was completed, to publicise it, ensure it is well maintained and, eventually, to see it extended.
Representatives of many groups were present but, considering the (for all involved in the years-long CDTS debate on either side) symbolic importance of this event, with the notable exception of city councillors John Ebo and Janet Black, together with her husband, ex-councillor Alex, (Cllr Colin Bain also sent apologies)- those of the politically elected variety were, sadly, nowhere to be seen.
Several of these, we should remember, continue in their nitwit belief in the Busway as the magic answer to Chester's transport problems and continue to plan for the day when it actually gets built... Some chance.

So, if you're wondering what all the fuss is about, click on the links below to explore the place for yourself- how it was, how is now- and how, God forbid, it will be if the damned Busway ever does get built. Enjoy!
Contact your city councillor (telephone the couincil switchboard, 01244 324324, ask for 'members services' and request their names and contact details, or go here) or your county councillor (01244 602424 or here)- and tell them what you think!

To become a Friend of the Millennium Cycleway (it's free!) talk to Audrey Hodgkinson: 01244 343055 a.hodgkinson@virgin.net

"In 1997 the consultation draft of the Chester Transport Study stated the following, and I quote: "The system is needed to permit redevelopment and regeneration of major brownfield sites in Chester". This appeared at the top of the list of factors supporting the CDTS, not pollution and traffic reduction, not the improvement of the environment but development and that's what this has all been about".
G. Hughes, Chester, October 2002


Newton Lane Bridge
Behind Woodlands Drive
Brook Lane and Northgate Village
Chester Railway Station
Heathfields Close

Brook Lane & Liverpool Road bridges
Victoria Road
Liverpool Road
/ 2 (former Travis Perkins site)
Parkgate Road

Chester University College
Countess Way
Abbot's Meads
Crossing the Canal
Westbourne Road
Blacon Cemetery

Blacon Hall Road

Durham Road

Church Hall Close
Old bike: Church Hall Close
Grafitti: Saughall Road

Flowers: Highfield Road

Rural Bridge near Hermitage Road
Beyond Saughall...

cycletrack and flowers

Having returned to our starting point, we invite you to to join us for part 2 of our exploration of the Mickle Trafford-Deeside railway: Newton Lane to Mickle Trafford

"What a great walk- feel as though I have been on the ground myself. Hope all goes well in the future- who wants green fields turned into bus lanes and sheds?"
Keith Bateman: May 1999

In case you're still entertaining doubts, prepare for a shock when you go here to see some 'artist's impressions' of the completed busway.

Some background material: Notes for a Controversial History parts I, II and III
Lack of time has resulted in this material being by no means complete or up to date and for the moment is liable to omissions and inaccuracies. One day, however, we promise you that the full story will be told...
However, much more can be learned by perusing our extensive collection of letters to this site and the local press in support of, and- very much in the majority- against the CDTS proposals... the latest batch are here!

write to us!
Write to us! Your contributions and comments are very welcome...

Be sure to visit the latest excellent source of local cycling news, full of fascinating information: Chester Cycle City

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