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)