The Mickle Trafford to Deeside Railway:
What the people really think- part 2
Some letters to these pages and the Chester press in opposition to the CDTS Guided Busway
Back to page 1 On to pages 3 | 4 | 5 | 6 | 7 | 8 | 9 | 10 | 11 | 12 | 13 | 14 | 15 | 16 | 17 | 18 | 19 and Letters in favour of the Busway parts 1 | 2 | 3
13/8/98 I found it difficult to believe my eyes when I
read the Standard's commentary on the sorry state of Chester's local
democracy in its editorial of August 6th: 'Listen to the People'.
A statement of this nature is surely unprecedented in our local press and is to be soundly congratulated. A few well-chosen words that say much about the helplessness and anger felt by the rapidly growing number of people who are concerned for the future of our city and disillusioned with the attitudes of those entrusted to govern her. The letters of condemnation and self-justification at this very moment winging their way to the Standard's offices should make for engrossing reading.
One could comment at length on any one of a number of recent planning controversies: the Electric Light building, the Forum, Tower Wharf, the lost opportunity of Mercia Square- shabby attempts to close libraries and nursery schools- it goes on and on. But look at the situation regarding the Mickle Trafford railway. Week after week over the last couple of years at least, the Standard and other sections of the local press prints letters presenting a range of well-argued reasons why people are completely opposed to the imposition of buses upon a corridor that, remarkably, has remained a peaceful, green, wildife-rich haven in the midst of an increasingly urbanised and traffic-plagued environment.
But who is there to represent them and speak for them? Nobody at all. Certainly not their councillors- every one of whom- for reasons best known to themselves, have assumed paid-up membership of the pro-bus lobby. These individuals aside, never have I yet seen a letter from anyone supporting the busway proposals. Not once. Our councillors and planners tell us they have received many such letters. So why do they not appear in the pages of the Standard?
The arguments of this largely non-recreational cycling and walking minority in defence of a ludicrous project set in a place few of them are ever likely to visit reflects on one hand their low opinion of the intelligence of the electorate and on the other the bias of the so-called 'experts' employed to advise them. They call the busway "imaginative"- that it will "carry the city forward" into the next century (how often have you heard that pathetic pun? Even my four-year-old didn't think it was amusing) They are tickled that no other council in the country will have one like it- which is no surprise- a shiny new toy that the other kids haven't got, even though it cost a fortune and probably won't get played with much anyway...
They refer to the desire of the people for somewhere to be at peace and to walk and cycle with their children just for once away from speeding, don't-give-a-damn motorists and stinking buses as 'arcadian'. They say "what about the old folks and the disabled?" They play on people's fears about burglary and loss of privacy.
I wondered how long it would be before one of them played the paedophile card. Sure enough, in last week's Standard, Cllr John Boughton says "one of the main concerns" of the parents he has spoken to is that they fear the consequences of sending their children to school along an "unlit, well-screened greenway" from the "malevolent and predatory adults we hear so much about these days." A thinly-veiled threat that, if we don't approve the busway, we're wilfully putting our children at risk. In an ongoing campaign of misinformation and dirty tricks, this one surely takes the biscuit. But stick around- there'll be another one along in a minute. And who ever said the greenway should be unlit anyway?
Last week, a miserly two days in peak holiday season was allowed at each of two branch libraries for the public to view and comment upon the planning application made by Sustrans for the construction of the cycleway/footpath along the old Deeside railway line. I attended Upton library for this purpose on Monday afternoon, staying for a couple of hours, and was gratified to see a fair-sized group of people reading leaflets with titles such as 'Home Zones: Relaiming Local Streets', the 'Safer Routes to School Newsletter' and- Lord help us- 'The Slower Speeds Initiative' (fat chance)- as well as studying the maps and literature relevant to the railway itself. A lively conversation was in progress, during the course of which it became clear that not one of these people was in favour of the busway proposals. Nobody from Sustrans was present, to the annoyance of many. The city council planning officer in attenance, one Steven Ingrams, was at pains to explain that the current plans dealt only with the cycleway/footpath and were nothing at all to do with the proposed busway- a claim treated with considerable derision by the audience. Everyone welcomed the cycle/footpath, but not as shown in the planning application- shoved to the extreme edge of the corridor. Mr Ingrams fended off the barrage of questions and comments from those assembled by insisting that his role was merely "to interpret the planning process" and stated that, while he personally had little enthusiasm for the busway, he could not be influenced by the comments of the people present, and had to deal with the planning application "in isolation from, and uninfluenced by" the obviously high level of public unease regarding the scheme. Why? Surely the whole aim of the exhibition was to ascertain what people actually thought? What was the point otherwise? A number of those in attendance, given Mr Ingram's inability to adequately deal with their enquiries, expressed their dismay at the lack of anyone else with this responsibility. Needless to say, the entire community of caring councillors were notable by their absence.
Forms were available at the library for those who wished to submit written comments about the Sustrans plans. Interestingly, upon later visiting the city council planning department at the Forum, I was astonished to discover that no such comment forms had ever been, or were going to be, made available to the public at that location.
The entire affair seemed to many of us a mockery of the consultation process. It surely doesn't have to be like this. I assumed the duty of local councillors and their officials was to listen to the views of those who elected him or her to office, to accurately represent those concerned parties and to act accordingly. Not so, it seems. In Chester, the apparent role of our elected representatives is to dismiss the views of these citzens as naive and irrelevant. But enter the smooth-talking suits from Fatcat Investments and Holdings PLC- and just watch those councillors perform. Knock it down? No problem. Office block? Thank you very much. Jump? Certainly, sir. How high? Possessing no culture and few original ideas of their own, they fall for it everytime, backed up by a plague of local sycophantic 'experts' to tell them what they want to hear. What kind of democratic representation is this?
The Standard's editorial concluded with the memorable line "But if they choose not to listen to the people, local government comes dangerously close to local dictatorship." The student of history will be familiar with the eventual fate of most dictators, but mark also the words of Bertrand de Jouvenel: "A society of sheep must in time beget a government of wolves."
Steven Howe, Lime Grove Hoole Chester
A response to this letter from county councillor Peter Byrne may be read here
13/8/98 Once again we have council members advising us to support
the proposals for the three-way travel system on the disused Mickle Trafford
railway. Cllr. Boughton claims all councillors from the city, county and parish
councils support the project. What he doesn't mention is the large number of
people (ordinary folk) who object to the scheme and would like their voices
heard. These are the people living adjacent to the track who will be most affected
by the noise and disruption that takes place when a major project like this
is initiated, and when finished, the noise and pollution from the transport
On inspection of the plans for the Sustrans cycle/ walkway (not much detail shown) it would appear that the single track would be used by both parties, walkers and cyclists, making the walkers vulnerable to being knocked over or injured. The track measuring some three metres is far too narrow to accommodate both parties. What's the difference between this track and Hoole Road pathway? You would be breaking the law if you cycled on this but the path is probably wider that the one planned by Sustrans. It looks like another cheap-jack scheme as so many of our council projects.
The major users of the park and ride system just off the M53 roundabout would be people travelling off the M53/A56 which includes the area where Mr Boughton lives.
If he feels the scheme is so good why doesn't he campaign for the scheme to be extended to Mickle Trafford and beyond and have a park and ride in the middle of Mickle Trafford?
Let me remind him people living in and around the proposed track area will not use it, but they will have all the disruption. And by the way the artist's impression of the 3-way system printed a few weeks ago (giving the artist a little artistic licence to present a pretty picture) was a complete facade. Are they going to build new bridges, walls and fencing, and complete it with landscaped banks as presented in the pretty picture? Don't hold your breath.
T. Whitehouse, 76 Sefton Road Hoole, Chester
13/8/98 What an opportunity missed if the council make Sustrans
include a busway on the disused Mickle Trafford to Shotton railway line.
Blacon, Hoole and Newton have very little countryside left and this would have been an opportunity to give something back to the residents for all this over development which has taken place. But, of course, the council cannot get money from cyclists or walkers. The council are going to spoil the good work Sustrans could do for people, just because of their ego. I would very much like to know if any other council has imposed this lunatic idea on other disused railway lines Sustrans have bought.
At this rate the council are getting the land free, so they can charge people to go on a busway, which will just be like most of the buses on the roads, going up and down nearly empty.
If Sustrans cannot make the council see sense, then I suppose any other objections will fall on deaf ears, as always.
13/8/98 I would like to inform your readers as to the results
of a meeting which took place at the Deaf Centre on 6th August between the Canal
Basin Community Forum and concerned parties. Also attending were Mr Andrew Farrell,
Chief Planning Officer, Chester city council and Charles Lloyd, Cheshire county
council Traffic Manager.
The key points to come out of the meeting of interest to all Chester residents were as follows;- Charles Lloyd (Cheshire county council Traffic Manager) said the Chester western relief road would be built to enable further development of the area. There will be a public enquiry next April concerning the Chester western relief road.
A probable review of the local plan is to be released in the New Year. Andrew Farrell said there are no plans to link the proposed Mickle Trafford/Shotton bus route with the proposed Chester western relief road bus route.
Chester city council are looking into establishing a bus lane from Sealand Road park and ride site into the city. The existing cycle path would be retained.
Andrew Farrell said there would be greater publicity regarding planning applications and associated matters. Proposed building developments should reflect the image of Chester and be of high quality.
As people can see the above key points raise the following questions that have yet to be answered by the relevant bodies: With increased development comes increased traffic congestion. Studies have shown that building roads just generates more traffic. Therefore is Chester city council and Cheshire county council going against the recently released Government White Paper on transport? Why are Chester city council permitting the destruction of historic buildings to be replaced by glass monolithic buildings, disregarding local public opinion. (i.e. The Electric Light Building)? At present, the city council adheres to the minimum three-week public consultation period regarding planning applications. Are we therefore going to see a greater and more widely publicised consultation period regarding planning applications? One hopes so.
Friends of the Earth will endeavour to keep Chester residents informed of future developments.
Clint Hughes, Friends of the Earth
13/8/98 Cllr Boughton's sounding off again! This time using hearsay,
scaremongering and "council speak" to back up his views. He's also trying to
rubbish someone with apparently the same views as him regarding 'safe routes
to school'. Is this what the Cut and Thrust of local politics is really about?
In his letter Cllr Boughton also encourages people "to write in positive support of the (council) plans (for the CDTS) to offset many of the negative comments currently being expressed". Please do, but dream on Cllr Boughton if you expect a tide change, as the overwhelming majority of people who have put in any original thought on this matter have seen through the much published hype and have rejected the CDTS proposals as an expensive and destructive folly. This is patently evident by the many constructive comments expressed since this proposal was first railroaded as is seen in both the local press and by formal objections to the county council structure plan and the city council local plan.
The people speak, Cllr Boughton. Why won't you and your colleagues listen and throw out the busway proposals? Isn't that what local politics is all about?
Graeme Lyall, 47 Oaklea Avenue Hoole, Chester
13/8/98 I would like to reply to a couple of letters printed
on 6th August. Firstly, Mr Robin Samson of 12 Ring Road, Great Boughton, attacks
the CPRE. If it weren't for the likes of the CPRE Chester would be in a worse
state than it is at the moment. They are looking ahead to the future, so our
children will have somewhere reasonably pleasant to Iive and work.
Chester has 13 supemarkets so the Safeway expansion is needless. As for creating jobs. Well Mr Samson, what about the future of the small local traders? Or don't they count? I suggest you think before you speak.
Secondly, Cllr J R Boughton, 8 Glebe Meadows, Mickle Trafford raised the question of safety of the proposed Sustrans bus/cycleway. if Cllr Boughton cares to do a little research he will find that even in city areas of Birmingham there are safe cycleways. Such schemes can work successfully if planned and managed properly, without the need for a busway. Is Cllr Boughton suggesting that Chester has a greater number of, I quote, "malevolent and predatory adults" than other cities? If so, I think something urgent should be done - perhaps Cllr Boughton should make it his priority.
I'm sure there are the recources available to make a cycleway safe for all. After all, the local councillors are going to receive a substantial monetary renumeration, and the county council chambers are to have an expensive refurbishment.
The proposed busway is merely an excuse to enable developers to build on greenbelt land, i.e. Mannings Lane area.
I hope this has alleviated some of the ignorance shown, or is it really ignorance? Perhaps if certain people, including public servants, lifted their noses out of the money trough, they would be able to look at local issues in a more intelligent and well-informed manner. Thank heavens forthe prospect of yearly local elections.
P A Hobbs, 41 Victoria Road Chester
I would just like to thank you for your letters about the proposed
How dare the 'powers that be' give it the 'thumbs-up'- everybody I've spoken to is longing for a green quietspace to meander in.
As you rightly say, to get peace and quiet, you have to get the car out, which is crazy and defeats the object.
When we first moved to Vicars Cross in 1970, I walked and pram-pushed my four children up Pearl Lane and for miles around Christleton and Guilden Sutton. Now the roar of the motorway penetrates all this area, and like you, myself and husband retreat to the Welsh hills- but when you have little ones it's a nightmare finding somewhere quiet- and SAFE- for their bikes.
Two of our children have their own children now, and I watch my daughters drivingthem here, there and everywhere because there's nowhere safe to play.
At 59 and 60-odd we still like to cycle ouselves and would like to sample the greenway before we get too old!
YOU are the voice of sanity in all this and we will certainly write as a family to our councillors to say NO to a busway.
Good luck with your efforts. Best wishes,
Doreen Hulson, Shaftesbury Avenue, Vicars Cross Chester
18/8/98 I must confess to having been unconvinced by the huge
swell of protest against the proposed busway. On the one hand I am a committed
cyclist, and walker and yearn for a place in and around Chester to escape the
domination of the motor car. On the other hand, I can also see the part that
a properly thought out mass transport system can play in reducing the chaos
and danger on our roads - I am all for buses if it means less cars on the road,
and therefore could see some sense in the proposals for a busway that made use
of brownfield sites.
However, having taken your Virtual Stroll I have certainly changed my mind.
The route is entirely unsuited to such a development. There is no way such a busway could happily co-exist with a cycle path- SusTrans must be out of their minds! Yes, we need more investment in cleaner, better public transport, but not here in Chester's last tarmac-free sanctum!
Iain Kemp, Newtown Chester
20/8/98 Parents, Grandparents, councillors and school governors
who are concerned about "malevolent and predatory adults", should know that
a child is 50 times more likely to be killed on the roads that to be murdered
by a stranger.
In Odense in Denmark, a town the size of Oxford, traffic accidents to children fell by 85 per cent after the government ordered local authorities to protect children from traffic on their way to and from school. Now over 60 per cent of Danish school children cycle to school every day whilst in Britain, fewer than four per cent do, even though more than 90 per cent of them own bikes.
The disused Mickle Trafford/Shotton railway line presents a wonderful opportunity to provide the children and adults of Chester with a pleasant, healthy and safe way to get around, on foot and by bicycle. Chester has miles and miles of bus route; another one is surplus to requirements. Just as new roads generate more traffic, a new cycle/footpath will increase cycling and walking. The proposed width of three metres for the cycle/footpath at the edge of the old track is insufficient for cycles and pedestrians going both ways at busy times. Why should users of the Chester section of the visionary Millennium National Cycleway be forced to the margins by an unneeded busway? If park and ride users must be offered a traffic free route to the city centre, a cycle hire facility could be made available, as at stations in Holland.
Cathy Hanavan, 63 Brook Lane, Chester
20/8/98 Two years ago a respondent suggested that I was mad when
I made a plea for cyclists to be permitted to use pedestrian areas where there
is no safe and viable alternative. Now there are more and more cyclists using
pedestrian areas, pavements, and counter-flowing one-way streets as there is
still no alternative.
Whilst I applaud the start that is being made to provide cycleways on the outskirts of the city (but not alongside bus lanes) there is a need for a radical rethink about access to the centre - ask the postmen - they are experts.
One of the delegates at April's European Transport and Environment Conference in Chester said that the priorities for movement about his city were 1. Pedestrians, 2. Cyclists, 3. Public transport and service vehicles, 4. Private cars if there is my remaining space.
Come on, city council, we are seeing action on number one- how about number two?
Tom Walker, Handbridge, Chester
20/8/98 Now that the period for objections to the Mickle Trafford
cycle/pathway has closed, could anyone from the council provide the answers
to two simple questions:
1. How many objections were lodged? And
2. How many favourable comments were received?
Surely this is what should determine the fate of the line.
Lisa Dawson, 24 Moss Bank, Chester
20/8/98 Councillor John Boughton offers a strange reason for
running a guided busway on the old Mickle Trafford railway route. Of course
parents are concerned for their children's safety but the councillor is surely
aware abduction/molestation and accidents are many, many times more prevalent
in the home (involving people the child thinks it can love and trust) and on
the roads (involving vehicles with inattentive drivers, often travelling too
fast) than on quiet greenways. Harm to any child anywhere is worth avoiding,
but buses speeding beside the walkway/cycleway won't provide any extra safety-
only sensible parents can do that by carefully warning and riot alarming their
child and ensuring they travel with equally alerted friends.
John Boughton has given me an even stronger reason for a multi-million pound busway (white elephant?) If we build a park and ride (and a Tesco superstore/business park/retail shed park?) in the pleasant green belt between Chester and Mickle Trafford, he said, we can only ensure people want to use it by having a dedicated transport system without delays getting into town.
Of course, other Park and Rides exist without such a system, but this seems to be an admission that this one is not expected t o relieve the A56 (Hoole Road) of traffic - so the local people are set to lose on all scores. No wonder everyone is against the busway except the councillor for Mickle Trafford Ward!
Presumably he has other reasons for supporting the busway- my back-of-envelopesums say it can never pay its way, let alone repay the investment required. I wonder where that money is coming from?- I'd be glad to show them my calculations.
Brian Rose, 12 Alpraham Crescent, Chester
20/8/98 A planning application for a cycleway/walkway from Mickle
Trafford to Shotton is likely to go before the Chester City Council for approval
At the recentExhibition of the cycleway plans at Upton Library, Council officials stressed that the cycleway plans had nothing to do with the proposed busway. However, the plans and sectional drawings showed that the cycleway was confined to the margins of the rail track that the central section was reserved for the busway.
The city council has always made it clear it not support the use of the disused rail track for a cycleway/walkway only and that the cycleway will only be considered as part of the overall Chester Deeside Transport System which is dominated by the busway.
It is clear, therefore, that if approval is given to this particular route for the cycleway then implicit approval will also be given for the busway route along the main part of the rail track.
As the city council has always considered the cycleway as only part of the larger Chester Deeside Transport System, it is difficult to see how it can give approval to one element in that system without also considering its relationship to all the others.
The chester Deeside Transport System is a Complex scheme. the people of Chester and their councillors must have the detailed plans showing how the various parts relate to one another before any decision is reached. They must also consider the huge cost of the project, its impact on the communities through which it runs, its relationship to the Western Relief Road joining Sealand Road to Wrexham Road and the links with more development on Seand Road, Wrexham Road and at Mannings Lane.
I believe that the cycleway/walkway should nun along the central portion of the track making the rail corridor into a safe and tranquil greenway for cyclists and walkers only- a much less costly scheme.
The off-the-track cycle route proposed by this planning application should not be approved as it will clearly sign approval for the busway down the centre of the track. This will be denying full public consultation and a public inquiry as the decision will already have been taken.
W V Jones, 101 Daleside, Upton Heath, Chester
20/8/98 RE: Sustrans planning application for the Mickle Trafford
line. The planning application recently submitted for a cycleway/walkway on
the disused Mickle Trafford railway line shows the true priorities of the local
councils in Chester. The cycleway and walkway is to be squeezed in on the edge
of the line so that, one day (maybe) the infamous busway can be driven down
the middle. As a result of pushing the cycleway off the line, numerous trees
will have to be felled and the opportunity to create a new linear park in the
heart of Chester will be lost forever.
This is the only national route in the UK where such a warped set of conditions have been imposed on Sustrans by a local council. What's worse is that the only point of the busway (if it ever happens) is to attract more people to drive to a new car park on the edge of town at Mannings Lane. Thus chester citzens, children and adults, who want to cycle and walk locally, yet again have to make way for hi-tech transport fantasies driven by the demands of big business.
Richard Whittington, 19 Laurel Grove Chester
27/8/98 In view of the recent article that appeared in
The Chronicle newspaper (28th August) the Chester Preservation Group feel that
it is important that the general public and councillors should be aware of the
full facts, considering the application goes before the planning committee in
September, the article was grossly misleading.
In it CDTS project manager Carlton Roberts James states that the CDTS concept has been around for a lot longer than Sustrans' proposed cycleway.
In fact, in 1984 a study was carried out on the then disused Mickle Trafford to Shotton railway line, and a report was published as to what should be done with the disused track. None of the proposals to come out of that report involved a busway.
However, there was a proposal for a cycleway/walkway, and Sustrans carried out a detailed study. As a result, in depth working drawings and costings were produced.
On 16th December 1985, a joint meeting took place between the city and county councils, which led to a decision that the route should be preserved for use as an urban and rural path, and that Sustrans Ltd's proposals should be further investigated.
These detailed working drawings show the cycle/ walkway running on the old track bad. There is no mention of the CDTS scheme anywhere in these plans dated July 1985.
Mr Roberts James also is quoted as saying: "Sustrans knew from the start that we needed part of the line for the busway. They knew what they were getting". It is evident from these plans and meetings that this was not the case. Mr Peter Foster from Sustrans stated: "Naturally we were disappointed not to have the entire track, but it was made clear to us that the busway scheme was already in the pipeline. We had the choice of withdrawing or making the best of things".
These comments are, according to their own documentation inaccurate, as the aforementioned documents prove. Even in the 1988 Greater Chester Local Plan there is no mention of the CDTS scheme.
In this article it states; "The £56 million Chester-Deeside Transport Scheme (CDTS) was conceived an decade ago, long before Bristol-based Sustrans chose to bring 2,500 miles of redundant rail lines to life with a national network of cycleways."
Yet by 1985 Sustrans had already built over 60 km of path which was open to the public. With another 40 km due to be or actually under construction. One or which was of very similar characteristics to the urban section in Chester. A proposal was put forward for members and officers to visit this particular project in order to assess its style and quality in the Chester context. Andrew Farrell, Chief Planning Officer, acknowledges the reaction as a warning that all is not well with the planning process, but points to the huge mass of information his department has made available over the years in the build up to the planning application.
The actual official public consultation period for this project was a three-week period in the height of the holiday season, which consisted of a two-day display of plans in two out-of-town libraries. This for such a major project is deplorable, especially when in a summary of the govemment's White Paper, it specifically states: "We want local people and business to have a real say and real influence over improving transport. Local authorities will be expected to consult widely and involve their communities and transport operators in the decisions they make."
Taking this into consideration, a senior planning officer has been quoted as saying he had to deal with the planning application "in isolation from, and uninfluenced by" the obvious high level of public unease regarding the scheme.
Our chief planning officer advises opponents of this scheme to consult their councillors. This is clearly not a viable approach. One councillor has publicly stated that although he has a duty to listen to his electorate, "this does act mean I have to agree with them or do as they want me to."
As for the building of park and ride facilities on greenbelt land, this contravenes Official government guideline P.P.G. 2. Yet there are presently three park and ride sites in operation or being constructed on green belt land around Chester. Therefore, if the councils are willing to blatantly disregard official government policy, what chance has the electorate of Chester of being listened to by our public officials?
There is a history of park and ride facilities being built with retail development being added at a later stage.
Being as the Sustrans application is due before the planning committee next month (September), should there not be a public inquiry held first. As there has been such a great public objection regarding this scheme a public inquiry is a necessity.
Tony Brandon and Clinton Hughes, Chester Preservation Group
27/8/98 Many thanks to Councillor Peter Byrne for his prompt
response in last week's Standard to my letter
of the previous week. It produced a good deal of amusement around the kitchen
table in this, and no doubt many other Chester households.
Let's take the councillor's points as he raises them.
He accuses me of displaying an attitude towards councillors and the planning process which is "only too prevalent" among correspondents to the Standard while at the same time displaying a "lack of real knowledge of what goes on." Can we take it therefore that good councillor Byrne disapproves of the opinions of the many correspondents to this august organ? Knowing far more than the likes of them about "what goes on" (what indeed?) he doubtless feels a little more respect for the dignity of his office and the status quo in general is in order.
He says I claim councillors do not listen to their electorate and give in too easily to the demands of developers, but in this I could not be more wrong. He claims that on those occasions when councillors do take right decision, it is then thrown out by the ever-obliging DoE inspectors. Point taken, but he then unfortunately goes on to use the scandalous loss of the Electric Light building as an example, firstly by repeating the same tired claim about the "impossibility of retaining the building because of the sewer' (he would be wise to check with the city engineer's department and Welsh Water before believing everything he's been spoon fed on this one) - and saying the "developer needed the site to generate funds for the rest of the development" (Like I need my neighbour's house to generate funds to pay for my own? Hardly justification). Not unexpectedly, he tops it off with the "they would only have gone to appeal anyway, so what's the point in fighting?" card. Judging by the performance of Chester's councillors, none at all it seems. With the notable exception of Cllr. Steve Davis, the whole bunch of you had the white flying long before it ever came to a fight.
Continuing the theme of councillors paying no attention to the wishes of the people, Cllr. Byrne corrects me by saying "what I really mean is that councillors disagree with my standpoint, which I think is the right one." Do they? It's difficult to tell, when the majority of them are so noticeably absent from the debate upon the many crucial planning and environmental issues that currently plague our city. The publicdebate at least. Or does Cllr. Byrne claim to know that the opinion of every other councillor agrees absolutely with his own- and that all unanimously disagree with me? How humbling. The herd mind at work again.
But enough of shabby attempts to personalise the issues. In reality, none of this is remotely about me or my opinions. It is about my children, my neighbours, and my community. Green spaces are being lost at an unbelievable rate. 0ur roads are death traps for cyclists- yet another tragedy occurred just this week- and no-go zones for children, despite the empty rhetoric about 'safe routes to school'. Where are they to play and breathe clean air? Where are families to walk and cycle together in peace and safety? And what will our betters allow to remain for the generations that follow?
It is also about the unique and special city I love and what it is being turned into by a tribe of take-the-money-and-run developers assisted by hand-wringing so-called local representatives. When did we last hear councillors pleading for new parks, greenways or car-free streets?
Cllr. Byrne claims I cannot show that my view of matters such as the future use of the Mickle Trafford railway is not the majority view, given his quip that "you can't ran a democracy by counting letters to the local press" apparently I can't. But nonetheless, I can still produce hundreds of these apparently-irrelevant letters and articles by all sorts of people published in the local press over the last few years absolutely coming to the same conclusion that putting buses on the old railway is a stupid idea. I can also produce the excellent report published by his own County Council in 1984 strongly advocated the line being used for walkers and cyclists only. I asked it before and received no answer. I ask it again now - Where is your proof to the contrary, Cllr. Byrne? Where- outside of town halls and planning departments- arethis majority of our people that actively support the CDTS, the destruction of the Electric Light building, the rape of the green belt and all the rest of it?
The great differences, it strikes me, between the Standard's Points of View and Chester's democracy behind-closed-doors are that the former is freely available to all, the level of reasoning and debate is high and it presents its readers with a damn sight better chance of communicating their concerns than within the farce of today's representational politics. Personally speaking, the number of emails, letters, personal callers and other messages of support and agreement I have received since last writing to the Standard has been phenomenal. Yes, councillor Byrne and the rest of you, I agree that my opinions alone count for little- but be assured I am far from alone.
Cllr Byrne's treatment of the concerns of the residents of Cranleigh Crescent I considered, both at the meeting we both attended (but from which their city councillor was notable by his absence) and within his letter, condescending. Not for a moment did those people believe he accepted their argument. Regarding this, their objection to the placement of an access gate- and their presentation of a viable, less complex, alternative plan, he makes the absurd claim that "it may be possible to do something at the cost of losing the whole scheme." Oh come now. Scrap a £50 million beanfeast for the sake of one small gate? You're not going to let that happen.
Far better, perhaps, if the long-suffering Sustrans should choose to withdraw from the scheme as it stands. They are already far from happy with the proposals for this, the only section of the National Cycleway to be shared with other traffic - and the massive public opposition to it. Not to mention the doubtful legality of wasting charitable money on the tree felling and earthworks necessary for building their cycletrack down the extreme edge of the line- earthworks that will doubtless provide economic benefit to the decidedly non-charitable busway builders. Sustrans, who actually doknow a thing or two about the sensible utilisation of old railway lines, would indeed be well justified in getting out of this appalling mess, thus leaving a prominent gap in the circuit and exposing the city to national ridicule. Common sense may then prevail.
How can our councillors- every one of whom, I remind you, apparently support the CDTS- be surprised by the public disquiet when the public continue to be told so little? Just how does this single bus-route, costing many millions of pounds to build, plan to operate profitably, given the statement that Tesco's planned collection of tin huts at one end of the line and the Deeside Development Zone at the other is to play no part in the funding of the scheme? Where isthe money to come from? Where are the profits to be made- and by whom? Bus fares? Nobody funds white elephants. A little less secrecy and some real public consultation may win you a few more supporters. Maybe.
Cllr. Byrne's condescension continued as he informed me that the "planning process and democratic process are rather more complicated than I think" and that I "do democracy no service by impugning the motives and intelligence of those who disagree with me." I am not a politician and admit to caring little for this game of personal and party insults that politicians seem to find an adequate substitute for reason- No culture and few original ideas? I leave you simply with the words of the big fella; "By their fruits shall ye know them".
Steve Howe, Lime Grove Hoole Chester
28/8/98 Two years ago a respondent suggested I was mad when I
made a plea for cyclists to be permitted to use pedestrian areas where there
is no safe and viable alternative.
Now there are more and more cyclists using the pedestrian areas, pavements and counter-flowing one way streets as there is still no alternative.
While I applaud the start being made to provide cycleways an the outskirts of the city (but not along bus lanes), there is a need for a radical rethink about access to the centre. Ask the postmen they are experts, One of the delegates at April's European Transport and Environment Conference in Chester said priorities for movement about his city were: 1. pedestrians, 2. cyclists, 3. public transport service vehicles, 4. private cars if there is any remaining space.
Come on city council! We are seeing action on number one- how about number two?
TOM WALKER, Allington Place, Handbridge, Chester
21/8/98 We thank Councillor Peter Byrne and chief planning officer
Andrew Farrell for kindly visiting our house on Tuesday, August 11, to meet
Cranleigh Crescent and Highcliffe Avenue residents. Thanks, too, to the 30-plus
residents and individual representatives from Hoole and The Glen in Blacon.
There was lively discussion as heartfelt concerns were put forward about plans to build access paths and gates through the heart of our community.
Concerns included: the removal of security fencing, danger for children, homes and vehicles, congestion, parking problems and the loss of our green, presently a children's play area.
Cllr Byrne brought to our attention that the cycleway would focus on leisure use (contrary to information sent to us by Sustrans that it will be used by 'local people on everyday jouneys').
As plans show the cycleway will be totally unlit, it worries us that the only users in the darkness hours will be the criminal element of our society - who will be given direct access to our homes!
The meeting has made us a little more hopeful that our plea- to put the access somewhere else- has been heard by someone (even if they don't actually have any direct say in the matter) The test now is to see if democracy will be seen to be working, or will the voice of a community fall on deaf ears yet again?
We put forward a strong, passionate case but our fear is that this will be watered down through the bureaucratic process by people who don't share our concerns. We truly hope the fine summer evening spent in our garden will go some way towards achieving our goal- to keep the play area and security fence as they are. At the same time the opportunity is there to rekindle a little faith in our elected body of councillors and the planning office. We hope they take it!
EMMA AND WILL RIDING, Cranleigh Crescent, Chester
21/8/98 Parents, grandparents, school governors and councillors
who are concerned about 'malevolent and predatory adults' should know that a
child is 50 times more likely to be killed on the roads than to be murdered
by a stranger.
In Odense in Denmark, a town the size of Oxford, traffic accidents to children fell by 85% after the Government ordered local authorities to protect children from traffic on their way to and from school.
Now more than 60% of Danish schoolchildren cycle to school every day, while in Britain fewer than 4% do, even though more than 90% of them own bicycles.
The disused Mickle Trafford-Shotton railway line presents a wonderful opportunity to provide the children and adults of Chester with a pleasant, healthy and safe way to get around, on foot and by bicycle. Chester has miles and miles of bus routes- another one is surplus to requirements. Just as new roads generate more traffic, a new cycle/footpath will increase cycling and walking.
The proposed width of three metres for the cycle/footpath at the edge of the old track is insufficient for cycles and pedestrians going both ways at busy times.
Why should the Chester section of the visionary Millennium National Cycleway be pushed to one side by an un-needed busway?
If Park and Ride users need to be offered a traffic-free route to the city centre, a cycle hire facility could be made available, as at stations in Holland.
CATHY HANAVAN, Brook Lane, Chester
27/8/98 Since moving to Chester 10 years ago I have seen one
planning debacle after another. The traffic lights (after which congestion increased
manyfold, as any local driver will tell you), the Town Hall Square (in which
it was proved possible to take a number of reasonable elements together and
make a dog's dinner) and so on.
We have the debate about the Electric Light facade, and the "reasons" offered for doing away with it. Let's be quite clear; these days construction design is such that if we wanted a thing saved or modified in any way, it could be done. Cost and other issues being relevant, certainly, but surely good design is that art and skill of reconciling often complex constraints... And indeed the Mickle Trafford/Shotton linear park, to which I would like to add my tuppence worth.
It was interesting to read Cllr Peter Byrne's aggrieved reply to Steve Howe. That he should take it so personally means at least it is telling. On this issue the good councillor should, as a public servant after all, take note that the People have actually spoken (for once) on this matter, clearly and consistently, over several years. How could people not object? Both to the busway concept and to the manner of its being pushed forward; there is a sense of dark Byzantine subterfuge. Using Sustrans to open a way in particular is surely on the wrong side of ethical. Are there things we are not being told? Have contracts, memoranda of understanding, already been issued?
My point is, do we not realise the opportunity before us in this piece of ground? As a linear park/cycle road, that is. This is a chance to build a piece of cultural infrastructure totally in keeping with the expressed ideals of both transport and planning for the next century. If properly realised, it would go some way to suggesting alternatives to motor vehicles in the first place. It is a cultural matter, of how transport is perceived in itself.
Even pedicabs? Not as silly as it sounds; various people are trying to launch this idea as a viable public service in Oxford and other cities, and so far have been firmly sat on, usually by the local councils.
For once we should not have to look to Strasbourg or somewhere to we how things should be done. Fact-finding committees might come here for a change. It would be justified in goodwill value alone. Last not least, it would add an interesting piece of amenity value to our city, rather than subtracting from it. How can local government hope to retain a mandate or any credibility when it is seen as so divorced from the hopes, indeed better interests of those who elected them? More importantly, let us move positively, now, to create a unique use of this transport corridor in creating a visionary linear park, creating an interface between town and country to the advantage of both.
28/8/98 Much as I admire imagination and enthusiasm, they must
be constrained by realism, and it doesn't surprise me that the proposed Mickle
Trafford-Deeside guided busway has attracted buckets of cold water.
First, who is behind Sustrans and if they get their busway, do they plan to live with the financial outcome- or just dump it on the council tax payers?
It seems improbable that such a line would be viable when it neither gets to the city centre nor links areas of substantial population.
Commuter rail lines into London may be crowded but they still lose money, largely because rush hour trains are full in one direction and empty in the other. Yet there have to be enough trains and staff to handle peak demand and neither come cheaply.
The Chester-Liverpool line generates a good deal of traffic in both directions all day, but it still requires substantial subsidy. Any fixed link between Mickle Trafford and Deeside would inevitably be a bottomless financial pit.
One must also examine the motives of Individual proponents- public transport can create an apparent bonanza for unionised workforces and a political launching pad for their 'leaders'. Heaven help the customers!
In an un-ideal world, the fact is that congestion is an indicator of prosperity. We should use it by speeding people on their way, obstructing traffic and creating pollution. Let's aim to assist traffic leaving the city centre by. for example, correctly calibrating the traffic light sensors so that it doesn't take five minutes to negotiate the Overleigh and Fountains roundabouts in the middle of the night, reinstating the centre lane of the A51 through Littleton to Tarvin and making it 'peak hour priority' and by lots of other little schemes. if people could only leave quickly it would help free up the city centre. Car drivers shouldn't be vilified- most of us are pedestrians, car drivers and public transport users, depending on where we're going, when and why.
Thank goodness there's a choice: you wouldn't catch me driving to London for the day when there's a nice quick train to take the strain.
Let the zealots stop telling us what's good for us, albeit not applying it to themselves, and let's try to be a bit more human and above all sensible.
Brian Griffiths, Parkgate Road, Mollington, Chester
29/8/98 Your Web site is excellent. However, I am a little surprised
to find no views from Sustrans itself concerning the Mickle Trafford-Deeside
Therefore I have reproduced here the two letters I received from them in July in response to a query to their head and regional offices, followed by some comments of my own.
1. (From Peter Foster)
"The arrangement resulting from the protocol is the most practical, we feel, given the Council's strong views for the guided busway along the former railway. We have now acquired the line and will be discussing future arrangements with the Councils shortly. Without the protocol the DETR would have blocked our acquisition.
Sustrans' Board view is that Sustrans cannot prevent a future public transport use of a disused railway as long as the provision is integrated with other public transport and any cycle track rebuilt as part of those proposals.
Please feel free to lobby Councillors on the details of the guided busway, anticipated levels of patronage, number of car journeys removed from local roads, integration with Chester Station, City Centre and the Neston railway line etc. Some letters of support for our current planning application to Chester City Council and Flintshire would be helpful."
2. (From John Grimshaw)
"We had little choice. In order for the Department of Transport and the Environment to agree to release this particular disused railway into our ownership, they required that we entered into an agreement with Cheshire County Council to allow a future guided busway. We felt that given that choice it was better to enter into such an agreement and achieve a high quality cycling and walking route, rather than not enter into it and probably see the line remain derelict for some time with an eventual likelihood that a busway might be built anyway, quite possibly without any parallel greenway.
It would be wrong to say that we actively support the guided busway although I am sure that our agreement with the County may be interpreted in that way.
Obviously if you felt that we should have taken any other course of action I would be most grateful for your advice."
Concerning this last remark, I had nothing to suggest. But what
is interesting is that it is not the Councils but the DETR who seem to be responsible
for imposing the busway on Sustrans.
No, I do not much like the busway either. But as a Sustrans supporter I am not prepared to oppose the planning application; it is vitally important for local Sustrans supporters to make sure that the cycle/walkway planning application succeeds, not only for its local benefits but also so we can get access to the rest of the National Cycle Network. Sustrans' view (expressed to me verbally) is that they do not see the combined greenway/busway scheme as impractical, nor the busway itself as a major obstacle.
Furthermore, repeated and impassioned objections to the busway by a small number of people - no doubt highly sincere, and often on quite justifiable grounds- are not supported by Sustrans, simply because such objections do not help its case.
The other point is that no-one- not even the handful of councillors cited- has made any persuasive attempt to argue the purpose or even possible merits that the busway might have. Yes, we all want to see some decent provision for Chester's cyclists; but there is one thing that cycles are no good for, and that is carting stuff about. If anyone can tell me of a safe way of transporting supermarket-size bags of groceries on a bicycle I would be most grateful. I would actually have no objection to the busway, and might even be persuaded to find a good use for it- provided that (1) the buses are emission-free (2) the busway is adequately segregated from the greenway, and (3) the space allocation to the greenway is generous. But neither the plans nor the advocates for the busway give any such assurances.
Steve Heavens, Saughall resident
4/9/98 In response to statements made by the project manager
of the Chester-Deeside transport System (CDTS) and the head of planning, CPRE
adds further comments about the proposals for a busway/cycleway/walkway on the
Mickle Trafford-Shotton disused railway line.
The EIP Panel, although agreeing the CDTS would be consistent with the proposed Development Plan, was concerned about the escalating cost of the CDTS and whether the busway represented value for money in achieving the objectives of encouraging use of alternatives to the car.
The Panel concluded that without strict measures to prevent traffic from entering the city centre, CDTS would be a costly scheme and would indeed be wasteful.
The head of planning stated any connection between the proposed Park & Ride site at Mannings Lane and a next-door foodstore was a 'blatantly untrue suggestion'.
In its response to the Local Plan, Healey Baker, acting for Tesco Stores Ltd, stated Tesco had evolved proposals for a package of development of land near the junction of M53 and A56 (Mannings Lane site). This package would provide a Park & Ride location-linked to the city centre by the proposed busway.
Tesco wishes to see eight hectares removed from the Green Belt and allocated for a Park & Ride and other facilities associated with the proposed busway, and a retail foodstore. As far as CPRE is aware, these proposals have not been withdrawn.
CPRE is concerned that new Structure Plan policies for retail development in Chester, together with new Government policies to open up development sites related to public transport routes and the 'sequential approach' to choosing retail sites, could outweigh Local Plan policies protecting the land at Mannings Lane from development.
CPRE believes a cycleway/walkway, similar to all the other excellent Sustrans schemes throughout the country, should be given permission to be constructed along the central route of the disused railtrack and not forced off the track as proposed by the present planning application.
The expensive engineering, the problems involved in acquiring land near the track and the felling of trees would no longer be necessary, allowing Sustrans to achieve its aims with less cost and in time for the Millennium.
The recent Government White Paper on Transport requires new transport schemes to have the backing of the local community.
There is evidence of overwhelming local support for the cycleway/walkway only. The busway, however, remains controversial.
ANN JONES, Planning coordinator, Chester District CPRE, Daleside, Upton Heath, Chester
4/9/98 The planning decision regarding the future of the Mickle
Trafford to Shotton disused railway is close at hand.
The cycle/pathway part of the project is likely to go for approval on September 23. Yet it has been disclosed that the plans are incomplete and more work has to be done.
This has been confirmed by County Cllr Peter Byrne, chairman of the CDTS Steering Group.
Of great concern to the general public is the funding of such a large project (£56 million). This has also not been finalised, but it is likely the private sector will be involved. In what capacity is not known. No detailed information has been released.
Members of the public and other interested parties have requested precise facts and figures as to use of the guided busway, but no such information is forthcoming.
With such large public opposition to the busway, it seems unlikely it will be used by Chester residents. Again many have voiced their concern that if the project is a financial failure, Chester's ratepayers will suffer.
The legality of the proposed Park & Ride site at Mannings Lane is also greatly in question. According to government sources, the building of Park & Ride schemes are not permitted within Green Belt land.
This is one or the points raised by Tesro in its official objection to the Local Plan, dated November 12, 1997. Tesco states Park & Ride schemes are not allowed within the Green Belt (as per PPG2) and wants the Green Belt Boundary amended so this area is no longer contained within it.
The Local Plan is being reviewed early next year. This calls into question chief planning officer Andy Farrell's recent statement that Tesco will not be allowed to build on this area because of local and national guidelines.
The local council is already breaking these guidelines (PPG2) by the location of other Park & Ride schemes on Green Belt land, giving an inroad for developers.
In a recent statement from Christine Russell MP, she backs the building of Park & Ride schemes in Green Belt areas by declaring them permissible. However, Mrs Russell does not give any precise details as to the document that countermands PPG 2. It is vital Mrs Russell gives this information before any decision can be made upon this site.
The public has a right to this information and interested parties need to be able to study such a document.
CLINT HUGHES AND TONY BRANDON, Chester Preservation Group c/o Linden Grove, Hoole, Chester
6/9/98 Your recent correspondence in the local press on the above
subject of the disused railway track has to be the most reasoned and mature
assembly of the case for local people that I have seen so far.
I am writing to support your campaign to ensure that this disused track is kept solely and exclusively for walkers and pedal cyclists only, for the long term and not, as the various local authorities require, as a guided bus track as well at some future date.
I live close to the track in Newton and I work at Deeside Industrial Park. There is no effective way of travelling to and from work on public transport at present, but even if there are plans to introduce such public transport it should travel by existing roads which are already quite adequate.
Some time ago I spoke to my local Councillor to voice my opposition to the impositions placed upon Sustrans and to indicate my support for a footpath and cycleway only along the whole route. I might as well have talked to a brick wall for all the interest and support I received.
As you say, it is clear that the Council has decided to have a busway, whatever we think.
Because of my work and charitable commitments, it is not possible for me to do much by way of lobbying, attending meetings, etc, but I thought you might like to know you have my support for your campaign. I very much hope that this daft scheme (busway) will be abandoned.
Incidentally, I hope that further plans to build a "park and ride" scheme at the Mannings Lane A41 junction (or close by) is also opposed in due course. We do not want a repeat of the roadworks stupidity at Bache repeated here, nor do we want a Tesco store on land I understand they have purchased there. That would get me into the lobby campaign!
Neil D Wallace, CIPD MIMgt, Mannings Lane South, Chester
10/9/98 With regard to "Fat cats call tune" in Points Of View
recently and Mr Ingrams saying "the current plans dealt only with the cycleway/footpath
and were nothing at all to do with the proposed busway." I'm not surprised this
was treated with derision.
If Sustrans had a free hand they would make a cycleway/walkway only, which is what they do. It is pressure from the council to put this on the edge. This is the kind of thing in planning which is so abhorrent. Get one thing through, conning the public, and then it is easy for them to get their own planning permission for the busway through, whenever.
With regard to "Forum feedback", I wonder if Mr Hughes has this in writing fom Mr Farrell that "there are no plans to link the propsed Mickle Trafford-Shotton bus route with the proposed Chester Western relief bus route".
10/9/98 CDTS project manager Carlton Roberts James defends Sustrans'
application to build an offset cycle/walkway on the Mickle Trafford railway
on the grounds that this safeguards space required by the CDTS busway in the
event that this gains planning approval.
This is a sensible enough principle, but its practical impact in this case is less than Roberts-James would have us believe. This is firstly because a central cycle/walkway, as favoured by CPRE and many of the objectors to the Sustrans plan, need in no way be a permanent structure. CPRE, FOE et al have been banging on about this since the CDTS was unveiled- a central cycleway would still allow all other options to be pursued, even a busway, though they don't tend to mention this use. Secondly, offsetting a central path (if required) needn't incur "abortive expense" because most of the access ramps and fencing could be made common to both options.
Proponents of CDTS are fond of telling us that its finer details are not yet fixed, so their inflexible reaction to calls for a central path (a mere detail in the grand scheme of things, one would have thought) will confirm in the minds of many objectors that one aim of building an offset cycleway is to so degrade the line's linear park potential that for this use, and CDTS opposition, will collapse. The critics are right; this is a way of subverting the consultation process.
Roberts-James goes on to devote many column inches to describing the public consultation facilities built into the Transport and Works Act. Now most CDTS objectors simply reject the busway part outright, so to them, the TWA consultations, granted after taking yet more steps towards a busway getting the go ahead, are as welcome as a choice of deckchair on a sinking ship. It seems a little odd that Mr Roberts-James, an intelligent broke with the job of promoting CDTS, should spend time writing a long letter for publication which is unlikely to be read by anyone without a keen interest in the subject, and which is unlikely to influence the views of those who do. So then, the letter wasn't aimed at the public, was it? It was aimed at our elected representatives, hence also the excuses for the slow progress of CDTS. All this talk of extra consultation will be a soothing balm for councillors whose consciences are bothered by the prospect of voting for the offset cycleway in the face of massive public opposition. (It requires a degree of doublethink to believe that in order to listen to the public, you really have to ignore them, but politicians am adept at this.) And this is interesting, because if the CDTS project manager is writing letters to try and influence councillors, that implies some of them are still open to influence doesn't it?
So in the end I have to say thanks to Mr Roberts-James. If anyone else had said there was much point in writing to councillors about this, I probably wouldn't have believed them, but now I just might give it a go.
Well, you just don't know until you try.
Alan Jones, 82 Brook Lane Chester
10/9/98 I have just returned from a cycling holiday in the Netherlands
with my partner and her three children aged 11, 8 and 6. We travelled over 320
miles in our journey from south to north and had a wonderful time enjoying a
country which actually encourages pedestrians and cyclists.
In our journey we came across so many examples of good design practice to make things easy for people using bicycles and we had plenty of time to reflect on how things could be in Chester to improve things to encourage cycling. I will describe a few examples which were the most striking which could be put into practise here if only there was the awareness and political will.
10/9/98 This is an open letter to the city council, as we have
received information which indicates that the council can no longer afford the
park and ride schemes and are looking for private sector involvement. If this
is true (would the council please confirm this to the electorate?) to what extent
will the private sector involvement be?
Does this mean that there is the possibility of development on and around the present and proposed park and ride sites? if the council cannot afford the park and ride schemes, would they explain why they are presently constructing one on the A483, and proposing to build two others- Mannings Lane and Parkgate Road?
The information we have received indicates that a report is being prepared regarding this matter. If this is so, would the council please release details of when it to be completed so that the public can view its contents?
If this information is correct, it calls into question the whole validity of the park and ride schemes, and also the CDTS project which relies on such schemes.
We await the council's response to the points raised in this letter.
Chester Preservation Group
11/9/98 Leaving aside other considerations concerning the future
of the disused Mickle Trafford-Deeside railway line, would it not be pleasant
to have a public right of way running through urban Chester into the open countryside
along which people could stroll or cycle entirely seperate from the danger,
noise and pollution of motor vehicles which must be endured on every other road?
John J Roberts, Blacon Chester
17/9/98 If, as has been stated by the city planners and councillors
that the planning application for a Cycle/walkway along the Mickle Trafford-Deeside
disused railway has nothing to do with the proposed busway then the route on
the very edge of the track makes no sense. Why, if the cycle/walkway is being
considered on its own is the centre of the rail track being left unused to become
The Chester-Deeside Transport system (C.D.T.S.) has always been presented to the public as a three in one scheme combining a two-way guided busway with a cycle/walkway at its side. The planning application for the cycle/walkway clearly indicates the busway 'envelope' along the centre of the railtrack.
If permission is granted for this particular alignment of the cycle/walkway along the edge of the railtrack then intentionally or otherwise the first element of the C.D.T.S. will have been put in place. The public may be allowed to express views on the C.D.T.S. at a later stage but a vital decision about that scheme will already have been taken.
It is to be hoped that we are not heading for yet another unfortunate planning decision to add to the sad catalogue- the Capital Bank glowering over the Groves, the gridlock on the Wrexham Road roundabouts, the ever-increasing development in the Sealand Basin and Caldy Valley, and most recently, the chaos resulting fmm the Safeways expansion at the Bache.
WV Jones, 101 Daleside Upton Heath, Chester
127/9/98 Copy of a letter to the members of Chester City Council
planning sub committee.
The Sustrans planning application is due to be considered by you on 23rd September. I hope that you will consider very carefully before you come to a conclusion. I consider that it prejudges whether the CDTS busway proceeds and for that reason and for that reason alone the application should be postponed for the time being.
I strongly suggest that the way the pathway/cycle track has been shown is a misconception, its locauon having been prostituted to the needs of the CDTS busway.
There is a strong lobby of opinion in the city that the busway is an unnecessary luxury, especially at this time.
I can find no evidence of a "comprehensive appreciation" of the relative merits of the scheme imposed onto Sustrans (which shows a dull and constricted pathway/cycle track running to one side of the sacred cow, the busway). A much improved facility for cyclists and pedestrians, imaginatively designed is a must and should have been considered as such. Clearly there is not adequate room for both facilities, the pathway/cycle track must have precedence over the busway. The priorities, adopted in a number of county/district transportation studies, list 1. pedestrians and 2. cyclists as the two top priorities.
In consequence of the lack of safety and for the many reasons stated already in the objections submitted and in points of view published in the local press, I feel that councillors should reconsider their entrenched positions in respect of the CDTS busway. They should stand up and be counted. It is important to know whether you are representing us, your constituents, or not; particularly where considering the viability of CDTS.
When the 12 Point Protocol was agreed its constant was stated to be 'secret' and it was some considerable time before I was able to ascertain its contents. In contrast to Cheshire County Council, access to Chester city Council is very difficult and time-consuming; letters are not answered, no-one is available to answer a query, displayed information is not well presented and nofication given is often too short or nonexistent as far as I am concerned. I find that arrangements for raising private finance are difficult to ascenain and, when published, seem to be devious. All these points leave one with a feeling of unease- one further reason why councillors should be seen to be open in their attitude to our doubts over how the CDTS is being introduced and how the sustrans application prejudges the busway decision.
I and many others hope that councillors will now reconsider this issue without bias or constraint and will see fit to reject or postpone Sustrans' planning application.
F. W. Crowe, 21 Housteads Drive Hoole Chester
17/9/98 What an opportuntity will be missed if the council agree
to the planning application for a cycleway to be built at the edge of the Shotton/Mickle
Trafford railway line.
I need routes where it is safe and interesting and peaceful to cycle with my husband and five year old daughter without having to worry about the noise, danger and pollution of motorised vehicles. Separate routes like that are going to do far more to encourage other people to leave their cars at home too. Isn't that what present transport policy is supposed to be about?
The cost of putting only a cycleway/walkway along the centre of the disused railway would be minimal compared to the tens of millions that the cycleway/walkway/busway will cost. More bus lanes and reduced speed limits within the city would do much more to encourage people to use public transport and bicycles than what is proposed.
The meeting where the planning application for the cycleway will be agreed or not is on 23rd September at 10.30am. If you agree that it should not be accepted as it stands then come to the meeting with an A4 sheet of paper saying simply NO to this adulteration of an extremely good idea.
The original Sustrans plan would be ideal for pedestrians and tourists alike. Why not show the councillors the extent of opinion against the existing plans very clearly?
L. Young, Chester
24/9/98 I really do feel Sustrans have been treated very unfairly
and probably illegally by this council. Imagine a developer buying land, for
instance like the Blacon Meadows, and being told by the council, you can only
have a piece on the edge, we want the rest. Their lawyers would be appealing
to the inspector for the Environment at the drop of a hat.
I, too, think it would be best if Sustrans pulled out left this greedy council high and dry, instead of being made a scapegoat for them.
You don't have a bus without people getting on and off to their houses. At present the proposed busway is mostly at the back of people's houses. So it makes sense to me the only reason for putting this busway is for the developers. nm are adequate buses for the developers. Therea are adequate buses for the other people so the only reason I can come up with is the council are after land for building on the green field sites which we left.
The Sustrans planning proposal is no good as it stands. They have received Lottery money for cycleway/walkways and it is out of order for this council to involve them in this sort of scam.
We wish again to state that the huge difference in the numbers of letters against the development of a Guided Busway on the Mickle Trafford-Deeside railway versus those in favour of it (and the almost total lack of letters from the public in this latter category) is a true and accurate representation of the letters to us and appearing in Chester's local press, and- unlike material emanating from certain councillors, planners and other local vested interests- NO attempt has been made to doctor the facts...
Letters opposed to the Busway 1
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| 5 | 6
| 7 | 8
| | 9 | 10 | 11 | 12 | 13 | 14 | | 15 | 16 | 17 | 18 | 19 Letters in favour of the Busway
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