Tuesday, 12 February 2019

Report on 6 Feb 'Ask the Dudley Leaders' Question Time'

Four Dudley leaders.  These were the Police - Chief Superintendent Sally Bourner (she used the bus and ran to join the panel - brilliant!); Health - the Director from the Clinical Commissioning Group; Dudley College Principal; and, Cllr Qadar Zada, Leader of Dudley MBC
Cllr Qada's top three issues are rough sleepers, fly tipping and community trouble, said the Chair.

FLY TIPPING
"Assist those who want to do something about fly tipping", said Cllr Qadar.  "I have invested several hundred thousand pounds in a deep clean programme to target every fly tipping zone in the borough and will increase enforcement ... We will clean the borough up ... Clearing 7,500 gullies so we don't have flooding ... Together we can solve some of the problems ... empowering local residents to help them deal with anti-social behaviour and litter ... we are targeting troubled trees.

CAVENDISH HOUSE
Due for demolition ... dilapidated ... £664,000 from the Black Country LEP to demolish it.  £82m will be invested by the company to redevelop the site.  Qadar would like to demolish the building in person if that was possible.
SELF Can the site be used for one and two bedroom apartments to reduce the housing crisis and help rough sleepers?

DUDLEY HIPPODROME
Qadar said, "We have an exciting set of plans from a consortium ... with £9 m of investment" (for that site).
SELF: Keep the facade and convert to apartments, as above.

TRAVELLERS
"Travellers on Flood St for the last 3 weeks with a porta loo", said Qadar.  "This is an isolated case.  We have agreed a departure date for them" but we were not given the date.  "We do not want illegal encampments in our borough.  Our approach to travellers is very robust ... We will have a permanent travellers site with a range of other measures.  We are still committed to that.  W, e will have borough wide injunctions.  We will lock down the parks ... People are not prejudiced in Dudley."
SELF:  Flood Street is to have the swish, glitzy, glamorous "bus on rails" Metro tram gliding down it to Merry Hill.  £343 m to achieve this; yet, Qadar said that the council has been denied £71 m since 2010 in reductions in government grants to run their services.  The lost £71 m has gone to Metro to replace some buses and trains.

POTHOLES
"Talk to Dudley Council Plus website to report a pothole", said Qadar.  "We must make roads safe for people to drive on."

BURGLARY
"One of our top priorities alongside violent crime and organised vehicle crime", said Sally Bourne.  "We will use overt and covert resources to target these gangs.  Four or five burglaries a day.  Targeting car key burglary."

AUTONOMOUS VEHICLE CENTRE
"It will make us one of the leaders in advanced technology to make sure we don't get left behind" - Qadar Zada
"With it taking over the Hippodrome site it will become part of Innovation Park which will have the VLR centre, plus autonomous vehicles and the Institute of Technology" - Neil Thomas, Principal, Dudley College.

LOCAL TOWN CENTRES
"The High St is a challenge up and down the country ... with online shopping.  We are taking on board the Preston model by growing the local economy.  It adds social value.  Our contracts will purchase within Dudley.  Free car parking has not had a major impact on footfall.  No overwhelming attendance.  More people want to live in the town centre - Qadar

BRING BACK SPEEDWAY
Qadar: We are committed to bringing it back.  Tell us where it can go.  I have asked officers to look at those sites.
Self: What about bringing back the railway, to finish it, instead of the short tramway to cut it in half to make for a train-tram-train mainline railway - a world first?!

PROPER RECYCLING BINS WANTED
We will introduce in every ward, recycling bins for segregated waste in every town.  It is a massive part of our agenda.

ROUGH SLEEPERS
No mention by the four leaders or the public in Facebook comments.  Only by the Chair, once.

ENVIRONMENT AND TRANSPORT
My question was read out by the Black Country Radio chair.  Who was he?  He never told us!
Cllr Qada - copied into this e-mail - said, "I'm in constant dialogue with Tim".  CORRECTION: He might get constant e-mails from me (like the rest of you!) but it is all one way.  A monotonous monologue and no dialogue, so far!  He will not send a single e-mail or deign to see me - as yet.  He is not interested in hearing the other side of the case.  A one sided leader with a closed mind.
In his answer to my question, he said that "improving cycling routes is being worked on."  Does this include the 20 Kms Black Country Cycle-Walk Mudway; and, signs and leaflets for the Dudley town centre to Brum city centre traffic free cycling route to tell people about it and to keep them on the route?
Qadar said that he wants to reduce nitrogen oxides, a greener housing agenda and is getting more mobile air sensors.
"The environment is very important to us ... We can't deliver on what Tim would like us to do ... Lots of other people do want Metro trams and they are a modern way of improving public transport ..."

MY RESPONSE: I love riding on trams (apart from the hard plastic seats!) but their enormous cost of installation has been at the expense of commuter/regional trains returning to our existing urban, double track railway lines that have not yet been turned into roads, housing and trading estates by planning committees of Dudley MBC.

LATEST NEWS:
This week, the Birmingham Post reported that the Metro Eastside extension has now gone up to £152.2 m for 1.7 Kms and will not be opened in time for the Commonwealth Games in 2022.  Just think how the £1.41 BILLION to 2026 on trams replacing buses and trains could be used to reverse the decline in bus use and more greenhouse gases!

BBC NEWS SITE:  Roger Harrabin on 5 Feb -  Headline: "TRANSPORT WAS THE LARGEST EMITTING SECTOR OF GREENHOUSE GASES IN 2017  On aviation, planes are getting more efficient - but that’s being overtaken by the growth in the amount people fly – and the government is expanding capacity at airports.
It’s a similar picture on trains. Humble local trains help reduce motoring– but commuter services are starved of cash whilst billions are poured into HS2."
SELF: Yes.  Humble local trains help to reduce motoring but trains are not allowed on the 120 Kms Black Country Railway through Dudley because of the obsession with trams at UK Tram Ltd HQ at Transport HQ.  Vested interests at work, aka collusion, complicity, corruption.  Network Rail has also banned commuter trains until the 2040s at the earliest and, then, only freight trains are allowed - aka incompetence, idiocy, illogicality!!

Donald Tusk on his special place

There is a special place in heaven for all those who repent.  Especially, those bright sparks at transport HQ + every cllr, MP, MEP and one Metro Mayor who all think that Metro trams are the silver bullet to solve our road and railway congestion problems in Brum and in Dudley (rundown) town centre. Their sketch of a plan features the second most expensive transport mode after HS2. Tram extensions are up to 3 times more expensive, per Km than building a 6 lane motorway. All this to supplant existing buses and trains. Brexit just can't compete with this idiocy!

Brexit is costing us billions and ratcheting up fossil fuel use at the very time when we should be reversing this ecocidal behaviour.  Even more is being spent on vanity, prestigious projects like HS2 (£55.7 billion) and £1.41 billion, for installation alone, on replacing only a few buses and trains with trams at £3 m each.  This is ecocidal idiocy.  Retrenchment is urgent out of self interest, alone.  That means trains and stations, urgently, on the 106 Kms of surviving train lines.  Fareless, electric buses on 100% dedicated bus lanes with traffic light priority for them, not commuter cars.  SCRAP £112 m ​spending on ​SPRINT buses​ for the few​, too.  Put the money into existing buses​ for all​.​  BUS FIRST, NOT CARS or, trams for the lucky few.​

A sea change in social attitudes is urgent to free up road space for essential users, by commuters using fareless buses, trains on train lines, biking and walking.  Give businesses less congested roads to cut their fossil fuel use.

Moral choices are vital; not vanity choices - HS2, Metro and Sprint - that entrench us in enhancing the natural, protective greenhouse layer.

READ today's IPPR report on reducing our over consumption, over-fishing, decarbonising our economy, carbon neutral homes, carbon sequestration, the impact of human climate change and the loss of life giving habitats on the planet.  Halve our emissions by 2030.  "We have to do multiple things simultaneously in an integrated way ... working together."  ('Today' on Radio 4, 12 Feb 2019)

Wednesday, 30 January 2019

The Stumbling Block to Brexit

Your correspondent Peter Hill is gung ho about the success of Brexit - deal or no deal.  The snag is that our Disunited Kingdom is now split down the middle.  Our remain Prime Minister converted to leave has done her level best to sort out the wishes of the 52% but, after two years of talks, things are at a pretty pass.  She has failed miserably and MPs are taking over to see what they can do.

In addition, two of our kingdoms voted leave and the other two voted remain.  From last week's excellent Radio 4 programme called 'Brexit and Ireland: What's at Stake?', about 30% of N Irish voters vote DUP that is propping up London's government and there are about equal numbers of English nationalists in N Ireland wanting to remain with England, as there are republicans wanting nothing done to distance themselves from the Republic of Ireland.  Ireland and the border barely got a look in three years ago in the referendum campaign.  We now learn that this matter is a major stumbling block to Brexit.  A week or two ago, dissident republicans exploded a car bomb in Derry/Londonderry.  It seems that they are getting very on edge about English nationalists in their own community and in England voting for Brexit that may destabilise the twenty year old Peace Agreement that brought sensible compromise, a cessation of violence and Paisley and McGuinness being called the Chuckle Brothers they got on so well in government.

Will Brexit now bring about the 'Troubles, Part 2' in N Ireland?  Are we all a good deal wiser about a break up that may have deadly consequences for N Ireland, in particular?  I, certainly, am better informed.

Not Facebook but face to face on Mon 4 Feb 2019

Rough Sleepers and very rough justice  RAISE THE ISSUE ONLINE!

I know that Ernest and Clare are organising an official HGJG meeting for Feb.  This is an additional one for those who are as concerned as I am about injustice, idiocy and ignorance right on our doorstep.

Please come to my home, 28 Hunnington Cres  Halesowen B63 3DJ (3 storey town house with red car) at 7.30 pm on Monday 4 Feb - a week today.  The idea is for us to ask questions on Dudley Council's online forum two days later.  My ideas are below.  Let's discuss all our concerns and, perhaps, get some positive, practical and sensible action from our elected councillors.
"Online forums
If you are unable to join us at a community forum meeting you can still take part through our online forums which take place on the council's Dudley Borough Facebook page and @DudleyMBC Twitter feed, from 6-7pm ahead of each round of community forum meetings. Questions and issues raised via Facebook and Twitter are forwarded onto the relevant council service to be dealt with."  https://www.dudley.gov.uk/council-community/community-council/
For me, Ernest, you are one showing real leadership over what is going so wrong in our borough.  Rough sleepers are the iceberg because they are so visible on our streets.  I think they are symptomatic of inadequate housing provision, of overcrowding and desperate poverty that, regrettably means that voluntary food banks are essential to stop some from starving.  This, in an extremely wealthy nation - in the top five - out of over 190 nations in the UN.  THIS IS A SCANDAL.
Our nation is so obscenely rich, we are now seeing the spending of the grossly immoral £1.38 BILLION to replace only some buses and to destroy any hope of commuter and regional trains from returning, one day, to our own railway "of national and strategic significance" to relieve chronic road and railway congestion in the Black Country and Brum.
QUESTIONS FOR DUDLEY COUNCIL'S 6 FEB ONLINE FORUM - from the comfort of your living room
How about saving the facade of Dudley Hippodrome and building apartments, behind, for first time buyers, and tenants? Or, supported housing for rough sleepers?
What about a new Dudley Central Mosque to replace the shabby, shameful one when the flash, glitzy and glamorous and gloriously expensive trams come swishing by?
Ever thought of putting commuter and regional trains on your wasted railway at new town centre, Castle Gate?  A station there to get passengers to Walsall and beyond and, to Brum by TRAIN!
Is it really just and moral to spend over £343 m to build a most impressive looking electric tram through rundown Dudley town centre when buses are already doing the job just as well and there are many low income Dudley residents who might appreciate free bus use, as disabled and elderly people like me have had for over ten years? Or, the money used for the NHS? Or, free NHS car parks?
In addition, over £2.5 m for each new tram at ten times the price of a new double decker bus.
One disgraceful looking Dudley Central Mosque, a casino, an unusual looking JW Kingdom Hall, a martial arts centre and one wasted Hippodrome are all on Castle Hill dual carriageway. That line of interesting looking buildings is relieved by a smart and most presentable Station Hotel. Yet, the reinstatement of the station, opposite the hotel to relieve congestion and poisonous air and to slow human climate change is not even wanted by our leaders. They only want a piddling little shuttle tram stop to shuttle passengers on our former, half finished, mainline railway to our neighbour's mainline railway at Dudley Port that is in Sandwell!
Tim Weller   Independent candidate for W Mids Metro Mayor 2020 to instil some urgency into how changes in transport policy can reduce the impact of human climate change and postpone Attenborough's "collapse of civilisations" and "extinction of much of the natural world" warning.

Thursday, 20 December 2018

3 others give their thoughts on same sex attraction

Hello Tim and All!

I have nearly finished Mark Dowd’s book, and have laughed and cried through it. It is very well written. You may know that my daughter is gay, has just changed her job at Lordswood High to becoming a housemistress in the Upper Sixth House at Tudor Hall School in Banbury and is happily married to Laura. In all their jobs they have hardly ever experienced any homophobic attitudes, but I am not naive enough to think that homophobia has been eradicated, but it impacts on lives much less than it did. Surely we have moved on from this bigotry so far into the 21st Century, and I am sorry your church members in particular have expressed their regressive views in this way.

I find it it distressing that CHURCH people found Mark Dowd’s Presentation offensive - I think the one thing to ask them is ‘What view would Jesus Christ take? We all know the answer! I actually find THEIR views offensive. As for promoting his book, I feel that your church members would have accepted a ‘plug’ for a book from a heterosexual!! In other words the advertisement  was not the issue. I agree with  all you have said, but think that you don’t have to justify Mark and his sexuality to them. I agree that some of the kindest most compassionate people I have met have in fact been gay.

Do let me know if anything further transpires from your conversations.


All good wishes
Margaret

Hi Tim

Thanks for your email. I was quite shocked that you felt the need to apologise or explain anything about Mark’s orientation.

I assure you that I was not offended by anything that Mark said. In fact I bought his book and read it from cover to cover. It was really interesting, albeit giving perhaps too much detail in parts! I am passing it on to a friend who is homosexual and Catholic who also wants to read it.

I agree wholeheartedly that we should love one another and treat everyone as we would wish to be treated. 

I am really pleased I met Mark. He is doing a great job bringing people’s attention to the problems arising from global warming. I am on the lookout for his name now whenever the subject crops up on the television or radio.

Best wishes and thanks for getting him to come to the meeting.

Helen

Dear Tim
I thought this might happen and I know the person in question and saw his body language, knowing as I did that he left The Ecumenical Study Group for the same reason. 
I think it is quite amusing that you would think that I would be offended (can't wait to read the book, which Helen or Margaret are passing on to me. I did offer to pay half towards it!) because I believe that all creatures are held in God's care regardless of creed, color, orientation or dare I say Political views.
I do wonder how people can go to church and recite the Lord's Prayer and then speak in this unforgiving way.
Tim I thought it was a marvelous evening and thank you for arranging it. 
Happy and Blessed Christmas to you, Linda and the family.
Don't forget to vote Labour next year!!!!!!??

Anne

Tuesday, 18 December 2018

Thoughts on same sex attraction

I have been saddened by the reaction of some of my friends to those with same sex attraction.  I am disappointed by the suspicion and mistaken ideas about them.  There is too much judgement and not enough understanding and tolerance of same sex people.  There is even hostility towards minority genders and, for years, even an official hostile environment to migrants/foreigners.  Perhaps, most Brits are not familiar with the four freedoms of the EU.  Our ignorance has fueled our little Englander approach that insists that we know better than the European nations whom we have fought in wars for so many centuries.

In some Northern Ireland churches, in particular, same sex attraction is seen as promoting sodomy, of fostering immorality and deviant behaviour.  Yet, I now think that Gareth Jones, my housemate and best man at my wedding in 1983 may have been of same sex attraction.  My ignorance of homosexuality and other gender issues - and my misplaced jealousy on one occasion - I now realise, may well have contributed or even caused his suicide four months after my marriage to Linda.

The practice of same sex attraction was an imprisonable offence right up to the 1960s, I believe.  This was outrageous.  As is the ignorance, even today, of the loneliness, the discomfort, even fear of those who know they are a tiny minority in a heterosexual culture that is so dominant and domineering.

It is important that we understand the difficulties and problems that comes from finding you are born with an LGBT orientation.  To understand that the discrimination and dislike, the prejudice and abuse from the heterosexual majority is the biggest and best argument against the very wrong idea that the minority same sex community is in any way enticing or promoting the majority into their own sexual orientation.  Would any heterosexual really want to change gender and so have to endure so much of the wrong, the weird and wonderful attitudes and behaviour from opposite sex people like me?  Homosexuals are not promoting their orientation.  Some, simply encouraging the closet gay to come out.  Is not the most important value that whatever our orientation, we all live in loving, faithful and honest relationships with our partners?

This is why the majority gender community must get up to speed on the LGBT community to correct the false ideas and attitudes the majority have towards them.  Mark Dowd's brilliantly written 2017 book, 'Queer and Catholic' does that.  Never judge a book by its cover, however.  Open and read Mark's memoirs.  Read of the funny events and enjoy the frank and, perhaps, too candid trials, tribulations and even sins of this former Dominican friar and, today, freelance journalist and Radio 4 broadcaster.  Once begun, you will have difficulty putting the book down.

The best social worker I have ever encountered in my 35 years in the profession was the gay, the excellent, the wonderful Martin Wager.  He got more compliments and was more loved over the four or five years I knew him than I ever enjoyed in my career of social work.

Wednesday, 5 December 2018

Plenty of good ideas for Dudley Hippo!

Dear Cllr Qadar - and copied to my powerful MP and influential councillors who are meant to decide on TfWM transport policy - I thought!

Dudley Hippodrome turned into "a driverless car testing site" - Express and Star 30 November 2018

Wrong priorities; a diversion from more important matters; and an irrelevance.  Who at TfWM came up with this idea?

Rather than demolishing the 1938 Hippodrome, can it not be used to house the homeless if the front facade, at least, can be saved?  Apartments for low income families and singles to help revive Castle Hill? A refit rather than demolition? A conversion job for housing units?

If it must be demolished, why not use it for something more worthwhile than a driverless vehicle centre?  A driverless car must still have one person in it. He or she might just as well drive the thing, in that case!  I suggest:
  1. A research centre into making batteries better at holding renewable electricity from PV solar put on every roof in the borough.
  2. Some deep thought into how your very own 120 Kms Black Country Railway can be finished with the final stages to rebuild the stations and to put the regional and commuter trains back through the new Dudley town centre at the foot of Castle Hill.
  3. Some innovative thinking into how you can reverse the decline in bus use; bus fares have risen by 13% above inflation since 2010; and bus routes cut.
  4. A electric bus and innovation centre for yet more electric bus developments, perhaps?  There is not one electric bus in the TfWM area, is there?
  5. A research centre into how we can capture and store CO2 and how to reduce all our greenhouse gas emissions.
  6. Or, a new Dudley Central Mosque to replace the shabby and unsuitable present, converted, Victorian primary school building on the same road.  Soon, supposedly, to have the glitzy, glamorous tram running past this blot on the landscape and that of shameful Cavendish House.
  7. Again on the same road, use the only feasible site of Dudley railway station, to rebuild it for the desperately needed commuter and regional trains into Brum and on to Derby.  No need for trams first to get the trains later (actually, tram trains that are still trams) where you end up paying twice and still don't get the fast trains back from Derby to Devon via Dudley and Burton to Bristol via Brierley Hill.
Could I please be granted an appointment, urgently, to see you to discuss these more sensible ideas, Cllr Qadar?

Thanks and best wishes
Tim

Steve Eling opposes Clean Air Zone

Dear Steve - I believe, I have not had one reply to any of my emails or texts, up to now.  Just complacency, apathy and negligence.  But you are not alone.

I am sorry to be so condemnatory, once again of your council's lamentable performance.  Last summer, it was the loss of 72 leaflets that I had been led to believe were to be placed in the 72 councillors' pigeon holes but were thrown away, instead.  Last week, I was told that my new leaflets could only be put in councillors' pigeon holes if they were in envelopes with each of the councillors' names on the front.  Ruth Darby kept them and they have not been returned.  Not one other Black Country council has this oppressive, rigid and unreasonable policy.  I am asking for the cost of the lost leaflets to be paid to me, please.

This evening, I have just read the report in the Halesowen News that you are opposing the Clean Air Zone extension.  Wrong move, Steve.  You are in a closed mind, tram rut and, are paralysed with inertia over increasing road and railway congestion and pollution as the population rises.  The report says you have plans for cleaner buses.  What plans are these?  You and your fellow WMCA leaders are planning SPRINT diesel buses at huge expense in Brum.  All that is needed are swift moves to get electric buses on 100% bus lanes where there is a dual carriageway, with traffic light priority for all buses; and, FARELESS buses for all and not just the few in my age group.  Old crocks like me need our cars as we lose our mobility.  The young and fit like you, who help to run UK plc need free staff buses to get you into work to free up the road space for essential vehicle users.

Over your years as a councillor, Steve, I expect, along with previous and current West Midlands leaders, you are responsible for the following:

Here is corporate corruption and idiocy and, corporate incompetence and negligence.  I think these are the only words that can appropriately and properly be used to describe this never ending financial and transport scandal, viz:
  1. Scandal One: At a time of austerity and last week’s UN report on extreme poverty in the UK, £1.38 BILLION from 2018 to 2026 is to replace some buses and trains with the second most expensive transport mode after HS2. Tram extensions are even more expensive than nearly all Maglev train projects in China, Japan and South Korea. Proof here:

  2. Scandal Two: building roads, housing and trading estates and retail units on over 100 Kms of urban railway lines - all since the 1960s closure programme that was so necessary as we all went out and bought cars. Councillors gave planning permission.
  3. Scandal Three: decades of 106 Kms of under-used and completely unused, urban, double track railway lines in the Black Country, Brum and south Staffordshire, as we've all crawled along bumper to bumper in car or bus on choked roads and motorways.
  4. Scandal Four: While, at the same time, many tens of millions of pounds were used to build tunnels and bridges for the Black Country Railway for new road and motorway schemes to pass over or under but, then, never to take the next step to put the trains and stations back.  Only trams on two short sections, totalling 6.7 Kms!
  5. Scandal Five because, since 1981, yet more tens of millions were being used to promote - not getting the trains back on 106 Kms - but, Midland Metro trams with a team at Centro House and glossy brochures produced to show what was going to be done.  But, the 15 lines covering 200 Kms never was done! Only one line was ever done, in 1999 on a railway line, of all things.  Instead of simply putting the commuter trains back! Now, being extended to Edgbaston to replace and push out buses that have to and will always have to take a much longer route to avoid the trams, six to ten every hour, in narrow Broad Street.
  6. Scandal Six: Metro One extended in the other direction, on an even more important railway line, to wreck any possibility of finishing the 120 Kms, principal, mainline railway between Worcester and Derby!
  7. Scandal Seven: Two piddling sections of tram line to muck up a 120 Kms principal main line railway. A similar short section, of 11 Kms of passenger trains, is to duplicate the 529 Platinum bus route. The bus takes 33 minutes outside the rush hour and 45 minutes in the rush hour between Walsall and Wolverhampton. 11 Kms, when the whole 41 Kms via Walsall, Aldridge, Water Orton to Brum needs to see the return of its commuter trains. And last decade's attempt at the same thing failed. Nothing quite like failure breeding failure, of course. A parochial stitch up by Walsall and Wolverhampton leaders, perhaps. Leaders who cannot or will not see the bigger picture. Leaders who cannot get their priorities right. Blind leaders ineffectually failing to show any leadership.

This is the proof that all seven leaders, the opposition leaders and, Andy Street who rubber stamps whatever you leaders want, are in no way up to the job. You have let us all down.

This is all a bigger fiasco than Brexit - by you politicians.
PHOTOS:

Friday, 23 November 2018

TOO ASTONISHING TO BELIEVE!

Hi Jules and Bob - and copied to our Black Country Director of Transport, Stuart Everton for him to correct or amend.  And to Black Country LEP VIPs.

Thanks for the feedback! All very helpful.  And, I am so impressed by your ability to engage, to actually read my stuff and reply, too.  THANK YOU!  Very, very few people are at all bothered.

You wrote:

"I'm assuming most of them would disagree with you, but have no "right of reply" in this context, so I don't think the document is either fair or impartial." 
I have no reason to exaggerate, Jules.  This is the scandal.  It is completely but astonishingly true!  I'm in my third decade of observing the transport scene in the W Mids and taking on board what I have read and seen with my own eyes.

I only write and speak what I believe to be the correct facts and figures and I always want the individuals and organisations to please correct me, so that next time I do not misrepresent their views.  I try not to be derogatory.  Just stating the true facts of the case after working on all this since the mid 90s.  I have always been polite and, I hope, good humoured.  But, as a retired old codger who no longer works for Brum City Council, I feel I can be more outspoken and courageous.  I am aging fast, so I have nothing to lose and I'm running out of time!

I do have a track record of winning some and losing others.  I was leading the campaign against two enormous road schemes in the 1980s and 90s and won!  I was using the argument, then, of putting the trains back on the tracks FIRST.  This is now happening with 20 Kms out of the wasted 106 Kms that are now getting their trains and stations back - instead of trams in the case of Camp Hill.  I lost the campaign to stop the spoiling of the second Brum to Wolverhampton main line railway by turning it into a tram line.  It has led to Snow Hill platform 4 without trains; the Wolverhampton station turned into a conference and events centre; 3 or 4 Kms of track lost in Wolverhampton; and, ever since, an inferior railway service to Shrewsbury and North Wales.  That was Metro One that opened in 1999, after work started in 1981.  Metro One on the railway is now to be extended onto the next railway line - the half used 120 Kms.  It means the impossibility of ever being able to finish the full 120 Kms with regional and commuter trains.  Never again, Burton to Bristol via Brierley Hill; or, Derby to Devon via Dudley by fast intercity trains.

All I am asking for is that we use our urban railway lines for freight and passenger trains instead of trams that take platforms out of use, stations closed for ever and railway lines built on.  And, at a fraction of the price too!  Secondly, we must put commuter and regional trains (and Railfuture's nine desperately needed stations) back on ALL 106 Kms of double track railway lines in the Black Country, Brum and south Staffordshire (to Derby).  Still 86 Kms out of the 106 Kms to go!  Thirdly, Metro trams and Sprint buses are vanity projects, status symbols, immorally expensive; done mainly to keep up with the Jones's of this world and to impress the world in time for the 2022 Commonwealth Games.  We need TRAINS back on the tracks, first before anymore greenhouse gases pumped out by unnecessary and enormous expenditure on trams and Sprint diesel buses.  Stop yet more waste of 49.3 Kms of main line railway alongside slow vehicles on jam packed M5, M6 and main roads.  And, in the process, slowing planet earth turning in to planet venus (see Wikipedia).

Trams and Sprint diesel buses can never be the silver bullet to solve all our congestion and pollution problems.  My golden bullet is:-  "for a more sensible, cost effective and easier ways to reduce congestion and pollution go for fareless, electric buses for ALL; not for the few, like me!  This, to free up road space for essential users.  Paid for by abandoning Metro, diesel Sprint and CAZ."

Does this, now, seem fair enough and reasonable to you, Jules?

I am fully supporting the excellent, 2003 Railfuture document and superb map, here:
 Incredibly, W Mids RailFuture has withdrawn the document and no longer wish me to publicise it.  I still do.  Virtually everything in this sensible document, it seems, still needs to be urgently implemented.  In recent years, this top, UK railway lobbying group actually wants the 6.7 Kms of "bus on rails" trams on the UK's last, easily reinstated, almost everything is there, 120 Kms mainline railway "of national strategic significance"!  On their map, it is the one I have written, "Passenger line still wasted".  Railfuture does not want trains, it seems.  They are not going to tolerate their big name speakers upset by campaigning/lobbying and, therefore, put off from attending future conferences to be their VIP speakers.  They also adore light rail (and very light rail) "bus on rails" trams and tram trains (still trams but able to run on heavy rail lines).  Cost effectiveness is immaterial.  See:
Over the decades I have lived here, umpteen glossy brochures have been produced by urban planners in the West Midlands.  Only 6 Kms of railway line has been opened in the urban area, ie Smethwick Galton Bridge to Moor Street.  Yet, congestion and air pollution has worsened and railway lines lost - actually destroyed, obliterated.  The only feasible site for Dudley Castle Hill railway station is the latest that is being lost forever.  Yet, I am told they do want the trains and stations back, exactly where the trams are to go; and, the £30 m innovation centre exactly on the Dudley station site!  I am being lied to.  Or, they don't know what they are doing.
For years, I have been told that it is too late to stop the Wednesbury to Brierley Hill tram extension (WBHE) going on the Black Country Railway "of national strategic significance".  
Preparatory work has started, even though the Black Country Director of Transport, Stuart Everton, told me on Monday that he does not, yet, have all the money.  He has always maintained that if he/his bosses change their mind to put back regional and commuter trains and stations, instead of trams and tram stops, he will lose the money he has got.  I don't think this is true.  HMG has given WMCA £250 million in a second devolution deal, last year.  With regional devolution, TfWM/WMCA can change their mind over how the money is spent.  The problem is that they will lose face.  One of my text messages to many of them ended with,

'Lose face for a day or have egg on your face forever.'

Unlike your good selves, not one person responded.  They all keep their heads well below the barricades and dare not speak out against the stupid, conventional transport wisdom of trams and yet more trams, as bus use slowly declines and congestion worsens on road and railways.  Their WBHE "bus on rails" tram means many more years of the 6 Kms wasted, unused for commuter trains, between Stourbridge and Brierley Hill.  Yet, in 2017, passenger trains were to be introduced, once more between Stourbridge and Brierley Hill for people to change onto the tram after 6 Kms on the train.  If, then, the trains were to go some of the way, why not all of the way to Wednesbury, Walsall and Derby?  But that train, change to tram idea, instead of trains all the way, into Brum has been squashed.  More packed trains and crowded roads for more decades.  The tram means more decades of nothing being done to finish the section from Wednesbury to Burton on Trent.  So, more years of nothing being done to relieve congestion and reduce greenhouse gas emissions that our railway "of national strategic significance" could help with.  It runs alongside or near to slow moving traffic on M5 and M6.  Yet, these VIPs all want the 89 Kms, 8 to 10 lane, Western Orbital Motorway asap!

Stuart Everton told me that I am the only one who wants trains on my wasted 56 Kms of the 120 Kms Black Country Railway.  I told him that 183 people voted for me in June last year after reading my manifesto flyer for trains not trams on our local line.  Many people support me but, not one organisation or group will come out, bravely, to say that I may have a point.  Flash, smart, glitzy, glamorous "bus on rails" trams are so irresistible.  I love them, too.  But they take the money away from much more urgent priorities - like getting the trains back on existing unused railways before they get built on.

Stuart says that what I want is £400 million.  This is untrue when out of the unused 56 Kms for passenger trains, 26 Kms has freight.  Therefore, only 30 Kms needs the rusting tracks replaced and modern signalling and stations built.  He cannot have read my 
30 Kms x £6 m per Km (as for the rebuilt Borders Railway in 2015) = £180 million.  Therefore, £200 m at today's price to finish the mainline that is needed to take the pressure off 'Grand Central Shopping Centre and Diesel Perfumed Station Tagged Along As An Afterthought in the  Basement of the John Lewis Store'.  WOW!  What a mouthful of a name they have turned it into.

Sorry this is so long.  I will send the paragraphs that quote Stuart to him for him to read, check and correct.  It would be as nice to hear from him as it is always so nice to hear from you both!

Clearer edit:

Best wishes

Sunday, 18 November 2018

A Bigger Fiasco than Brexit!

HONESTLY, our leaders have more money than sense!

Further to my e-mail of yesterday, my standing as an Independent candidate is to expose a transport and financial scandal.  I think, the biggest in UK transport history.  But I need your help, Bev - PLEASE!  Are you able to do anything with this?
  1. Scandal One: In yesterday's email, it was £1.38 BILLION to 2026 to replace buses and trains.  This further e-mail is to tell you of corporate corruption and idiocy and, of corporate incompetence and negligence.  I think these are the only words one can appropriately be used to describe this never ending scandal, viz:
  2. Scandal Two: building roads, housing and trading estates and retail units on over 100 Kms of urban railway lines - all since the 1960s closure programme.
  3. Scandal Three: decades of 106 Kms of under-used and completely unused, urban, double track railway lines in the Black Country, Brum and south Staffordshire, as we've all crawled along bumper to bumper in car or bus on choked roads and motorways.
  4. Scandal Four: While, at the same time, many tens of millions of pounds were used to build tunnels and bridges for the Black Country Railway for new road and motorway schemes to pass over or under but, then, never to take the next step to put the trains and stations back!
  5. Scandal Five because, since 1981, yet more tens of millions were being used to promote - not getting the trains back on 106 Kms - but, Midland Metro trams with a team at Centro House and glossy brochures produced to show what was going to be done.  But, the 15 lines covering 200 Kms never was done!  Only one line was ever done, in 1999 on a railway line, of all things.  Instead of simply putting the commuter trains back!  Now, being extended to Edgbaston to replace and push out buses that have to and will always have to take a much longer route to avoid the trams in narrow Broad Street.
  6. Scandal Six: Metro One extended in the other direction, on an even more important railway line, to wreck any possibility of finishing a 120 Kms, principal, mainline railway between Worcester and Derby!
This is all a bigger fiasco than Brexit!

In a Mayoral campaign leading up to May 2020, I hope you can understand I can have much fun pointing all this out.  But, I must have, please the help of the press at various points along the way.  Can you help me, Bev - please?

My blog, 'Trains Back on the Tracks' have my postings with further details that you can mention, Bev.  Publicly available:-
http://timweller1.blogspot.com/

Best wishes

Tim

On Sat, 17 Nov 2018 at 09:31, Tim Weller wrote:
Dear Bev

Please could you do a write up for the public meeting I am calling to announce my standing as an Independent candidate for the 2020 West Midlands Mayoral election?  Standing, simply because I am so concerned about what is going so wrong in regional politics and to get across my ideas for the West Midlands to Mayor Andy Street, now and, to whoever is the new Mayor.


3 point summary: free up congested roads and railways with:
Trains on our existing but unused railway lines; instead of £1.38 BILLION tram network to replace some buses and trains.  This to pay for.
Free buses for all and not the few. Go electric instead of diesel Sprint.
Free electricity from promoting, urgently, PV solar panels on east, west and south roofs.

My key action points in my campaign for the Mayor to consider:
  • No more good railway infrastructure wrecked for ever by buildings, roads and trams.
  • Instead, commuter trains from the Black Country into Brum on the 150 year old railway line that has STILL not been lost and can STILL be used.  No more railway commuters packed in like sardines from Stourbridge!
  • I'm the true friend of the motorist with an idea from Eastern Europe to free up road space for them by free buses for all and not the few (like me - for over 10 years, now!).
  • Free electricity from campaigning for solar panels fitted to all east, west, south roofs.
  • I'm the guy with another idea for the countryside to get people out and about using it more.
  • I'm on the side of the poor and the poor planet.  Get low income people housed more quickly in modest sized, highly insulated and energy efficient homes.  Extra support and bias to the homeless, rough sleepers and for those coming out of prison to reduce crime.
  • No more prestigious but grossly extravagant and immorally expensive vanity projects.
  • The above gives top priority in helping to control greenhouse gases to reverse poor planet to become rich planet.
  • Retrenchment rather than boosting the wrong type of spending to drive economic growth and yet more greenhouse gases.