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.