Thursday 22 February 2024

Russia attacks massive Ukraine. We attack insignificant, tiny Gaza in a righteous war of self defence

 There is a parallel between what our Enemy is doing to Ukraine and what our Friend is doing in Gaza.

14,000 dead in 8 years from 2014 to 2022 in eastern Ukraine.

28,000 dead in 4 MONTHS in Gaza.

The difference is that the 28,000 dead in Gaza is partly down to UK weapons and our profitable arms trading to give every moral support to our Friend in her war of SELF DEFENCE, remember, against an attack from 2 million Palestinians living in the world's biggest open-air prison, the size of the Isle of Wight.


Britain weakly caved into Israeli terrorism in 1948 to allow our Jewish friends to take over Palestine.

Israel's subsequent wars won them more land over these last 76 years.

Normally, the upright, democratic, nations do not allow other countries to profit from aggression but it must be recognised as being different and exceptional for ourselves.  The international community allows us to break the rules.

Israel's one concession in 2005 gave the Palestinians a patch of land the size of the Isle of Wight without their agreement or, the agreement of a single one of Israel's Arab neighbours.  It only resulted in even tighter control by Israel over Gaza and even more resentment for their big, powerful neighbour being in total charge of them.  Shut our troublesome neighbour up in Gaza and throw away the key will solve everything.

Wednesday 21 February 2024

£59 m for concessions for 22/23 in WMCA

Rail and Metro services cost £10.3 m in 22/23
Metro is £7.6 m for 23 Kms in 22/23
Therefore rail subsidy £2.7 m in 22/23 for many more Kms than 23 for Metro!


Dear Kashia of ACORN, Fran and Paul - copied to Laura Shoaf for any corrections, please

I've been told by Laura Shoaf, Chief Exec of the WMCA that a report on bus franchising is being prepared, with recommendations for the full CA Board to consider on Friday 19 July.

"With regards to bus franchising, as you will be aware, TfWM is undertaking a Full Franchising Assessment which will include consideration of associated costs. The assessment is currently in progress and due to be reported at the West Midlands Combined Authority Board in July."  The members of that Board will then decide after due consideration of the options.  Not the Mayor to decide who is not empowered to be, in any way, dictatorial in stamping his Rule or Authority on others.

Am I correct in thinking that what we had for many decades before the 1980s bus privatisation was bus franchising in all but name?  Even then, council owned and operated bus services did not prevent the poor use of buses as the popularity of car use, instead of bus use, continued to rise and road traffic congestion got worse.  And, of course, the councils destroyed their public tramways in the 50s and about one-third of their railways in subsequent decades - continuing to this very day with their destruction of 6 Kms out of 56 Kms of the 120 Kms Black Country Railway between London and Edinburgh.  Is that a correct memory of the facts of the case, at that time?

Secondly, whoever the Metro Mayor happens to be from one Mayoral election to another, is an irrelevance when he/she is empowered to work with the other seven elected council leaders, Chief Execs and senior directors of the seven councils.  There is a senior leadership team that makes decisions that are then confirmed, or otherwise, by the full Board.  Am I correct in my thinking?  Please reply.

FROM MY OWN NOTES of my meeting with Chief Exec Laura Shoaf on 8 February 2024:
  • YOU REMARKED that bus franchising was being studied by your staff and a report would go, in due course, to the WMCA Board for members to consider and make a decision.  Was that in the summer?
  • I SUGGESTED: Use the money to keep fares as low as possible and continue with the present policy of talking to bus operators to give them the money to run unsocial hours buses.  Don't empire build by owning all the buses - as well as trams.  Changing the system is costly and the bus passenger may not see any improvement or lower fares or more free fares.
I would be glad to hear the other side of the case, if more people (anybody) would only be interested enough to gleefully put me right!!

Monday 19 February 2024


I need more help, your help please, to get WCC to put a path away from the poisoned air of that busy rat run, nearer to the hedge where walkers will enjoy walking much more.  The WCC Countryside Service has done an excellent job, this winter, in clearing the old, one way, Illey Lane where it runs past 'The Old Toll House' on the Grange Hill House side.

Only 100 m is needed out of the full 400 m between Bibbey's gate/track going into the dog training field and Illey Mill.  That 100 m is where the grass verge is and it already gets cut by WCC.  But it needs a professionally engineered and level, one metre wide path cut as near as possible to the hedge.  The WCC also, in some years, cuts that hedge once a year.  The remaining 300 metres that I look after must NOT be touched.  That is where I am slowly renewing the hedge.

This route is the Black Country's main gateway, access path into our NW Worcs ROW network, west of the M5 and SW of Illey Lane.

Please will you also help, Tony?  And Roy?

Please will WCC Countryside Service respond, this time?  I want to meet with YOU on site, please asap!

They are my names for what the anti-walkers' brigade have put in on my secret passage, high above Illey Lane, between the Old Toll House and Illey Mill.  Do go and have a look before the spring/summer growth, please.  I'm trying to use it more, now to help keep the path open but 'snip and cut' is really helpful to keep it open.


I re-opened it between Christmas Day and New Years Day so it can be accessed easily until the brambles and stinging nettles get going!  It is my gateway, access path to the official ROW network but mine is on WCC public highway land.


The path is on the Romsley side of the lane down to the mill, using the grass verge to begin with, with my hedge plantings at the mill end.

Sunday 18 February 2024

WELL SAID, BISHOP INGE on Radio 4 'Sunday' this morning

Saturday 17 February 2024

The Office for National Statistics projects the number of people living in the UK will rise from 67 million to 70 million by 2026.


Tough choices. We must be willing to make tough choices. It is a soundbite heard frequently from politicians, often accompanied by another chestnut: there’s no such thing as a free lunch.

Both statements are true. Free lunches are few and far between. There are tough choices that need to be made. But, like most other developed countries in similar circumstances, Britain is reluctant to make them.

Tough choices implies a willingness to make sacrifices and that doesn’t fit well with the west’s “I want it all now” culture. Politicians pander to this. They talk about the need to make tough choices but in fact look for the soft option, because that’s what keeps the punters happy.

The debate over immigration is a case in point. Migration is a hot topic here, as it is in Germany, France, the Netherlands and the US. What’s more, it is certain to remain a salient political issue.


But while the long-term solution might well be a different economic model – higher wage, higher productivity, more highly automated – getting to that better world will not be easy or cost-free. It means either higher taxes to pay for higher levels of public spending or higher prices for consumers, and quite possibly both.

So there’s a choice that has to be made: embrace high levels of net migration and fundamentally rethink housing; or reduce net migration to late 20th-century levels and fundamentally rethink the economy. It can’t be ducked.

More sensible priority for funding

Does the GP support me in campaigning for the hundreds of millions of pounds going into Metro and Sprint extensions, being diverted into helping the lowest incomes in our region?

Should they have Fare-Free Public Transport (FFPT) as I have had for 16 years?

Should they have decent, first class, low cost, highly energy efficient housing as I have enjoyed for 48 years?  My home has been solar-powered for the last ten years to bring small energy bills.

Should they be given worthwhile work to insulate every building to cut energy bills, urgently?  

Should every able-bodied person who is seeking asylum be trained and put to work in this way?   

Friday 16 February 2024

10 questions


  1. Why did the Merry Hill monorail only last from 1990 to 1993 before in use for many years subsequently in Queensland, Australia?  Is it still in use there?
  2. Why was the monorail never connected to the railway at the Waterfront/Round Oak Rail terminal with the railway having its trains back then?  It fell 400 metres short.
  3. Why was the railway not re-opened for passenger use then?
  4. Therefore, 30 years of added road congestion and air pollution?
  5. Did Centro refuse to co-operate with the Richardson brothers because Centro/PTA wanted the tram, instead?
  6. The Metro tram going to Merry Hill was born in 1981.  Is that correct?
  7. Or, what exactly, is the truth over the coming of the monorail and then its all too quick demise?
  8. May I show you the monorail station in the roof of the shopping centre with its still working lift down to the stores?  Up to now, opened to the public on anniversaries.
  9. If you keep the Dudley Tram on the railway to connect with the national railway network, would it get more passengers if you provided an electric bus from the tram stop at Waterfront/Round Oak into the bus station?
  10. Can you use the money saved to give Fare-Free Public Transport (FFPT), to encourage modal shift?

Thursday 15 February 2024


Dudley Tram aka WBHE Phase 2 from Flood St, Dudley to Cottage St, Brierley Hill. WBHE = Wednesbury Brierley Hill Extension.  I'm trying to stop Phase 2 completely or, at least, to have the tram connect with the national railway network at Stourbridge Jct by keeping it on the mainline railway

from Cinder Bank roundabout to Stourbridge Jct station.  It would have been easier, simpler and cheaper to have put freight and passenger trains on the 56 Kms missing link on the London to Edinburgh railway between Stourbridge and Burton on Trent.  Everything is already built apart from the stations.

MAPS, here:
from Railfuture:
Shows the extent of the negligence, idiocy and incompetence over more than 40 years as we all stew in traffic jams:

Shows how it destroys nature, public open space and housing land:
Show all the extensions planned since 1981:
Shows the destruction of nature, public open space and land for housing:

Birmingham Eastside Extension of 1.7 Kms from Bull St via Curzon Street Station to to a new terminus at High Street Deritend.
"An additional extension will see the Birmingham Eastside route taken further eastwards, serving Solihull and terminating at the core HS2 interchange. When open for passenger service in 2026 it will allow access by tram to the airport, National Exhibition Centre and Genting Arena."
But the £144m/Km tram is now not due to open to High St Deritend until 2027, at the earliest, because Curzon St Sta has to be built first.
£7 m/Km for rebuilding the Borders Railway of 52 Kms through the Southern Uplands of Scotland when it opened in Sept 2015!!  54% single track when the Victorians built the original to double track.

6 new overground lines for London have just been given names today by TfL, I heard on the Radio 2 News.  We get ours used to run cars, shops, homes and trading estates down them - and trams!


Wednesday 14 February 2024

Alex Ballinger MP?

"Alex served eight years with the Royal Marines, twice deploying to Afghanistan, before becoming an aid worker and diplomat with the Foreign Commonwealth and Development Office.

"His career led him to organise humanitarian efforts during the war in Syria and he led relief work in the restive tribal districts of Pakistan.

"In 2021 as Kabul fell to the Taliban, Alex was organising a team evacuating aid workers, women’s rights activists and journalists out of the country.

"Ballinger resigned from the Foreign Office appalled at the direction the Conservatives were leading the country.

"He now uses his experience to run a community-based charity that helps people suffering from poor mental health across Birmingham and the Black Country."

I do hope that Alex has fully taken on board the catastrophic consequences of our 20-year war on the people of Afghanistan.  He needs to read what Jeremy Bowen,  BBC International Editor has concluded.

13 February 2024

Tuesday 13 February 2024

Every rural ,dismantled, sold off railway would be ideal for active travellers


Every rural, dismantled, sold-off railway to any old Tom, Dick or Harriet would be ideal for active travellers - like the 19 Kms Black Country urban-rural-urban Cycle-Walk Mudway from Hart's Hill/A461 to NW Wolverhampton on two old railway lines.

Climate problems and finite fossil fuels demand more active people like me to use two wheels.  Therefore, allowing bikes on buses and trams is essential

Kicking up one hell of a fuss, being combative as you say, Zak is the only way to get noticed by the powers that be that we all have to influence.  But obviously in a pleasant, courteous way with some humour if poss, as I have tried to do.  I've used photos of one, professionally made, £400 banner of mine over the M6 Toll, cartoons and I've attempted satire, poking gentle fun at the authorities.

I've aimed to be factual, evidence-based, truthful and accurate.  I've asked, constantly to be corrected if wrong but it seems that my writings, with my sources often included, are correct .

Since I retired 65.5 yrs, I've been much more outspoken and perhaps brave but, always showing a more positive, constructive and helpful alternative.  I now have the time to attend Dudley Council and WMCA meetings to try and engage with officers and members to promote that eco-socialist agenda, as here: nine action points

Monday 12 February 2024

Questions for Customer Services

PLEASE:  What was the date when you decided to abandon the plans to convert the Camp Hill line into a Metro tramway and, instead, back into a railway line?  It is now getting three of the six new stations (above).

When did you release the press release about the change of plans?  Could I be sent a copy, please.

Who, exactly, made that decision?

Why were there so many delays and blunders that it meant that work was stopped, had to be redone, so it took 7 years to build 700 metres of tramway from St George's Sq to Wolverhampton railway station?

What were the other reasons for the delays?

What was the final cost?

What is the total length of WMCA railway lines that remain available for passenger and/or freight trains to return?

What is the total length of former Network Rail railway lines in the WMCA region, that have been turned into roads, homes, offices, shops and factories or, any other kind of built development?

How could all that money have been more responsibly and sensibly spent to slow your own declared climate emergency rather than accelerate it?

Sunday 11 February 2024

Weller Seniors lead the way! 

​Since 30.11.23, when the gas meter was taken out, my wife and I have been 100% solar powered or, importing cheap, otherwise wasted night time/early morning electricity into a 14 kWp battery, for our domestic use.  Transitioned over about 18 mths - central heating gone first, then cooking and lastly water to instant electric hot water last October.

Last 4 week total energy bill in January, including 5% VAT, was £42.

Bus Renaissance led by FFPT, and bus/business lanes to reward not enrage motorists, NOT franchising


As a transport professional, do you have any comments on this, please Kez?  Do reply in work time, if you can.   Tim


From my experience, TfWM and their pensioners' transport meetings I try to attend, do seem to be good contact, even co-operation between the TfWM officers, plus Mayor Andy Street (all in the same building) with the bus operators who welcome more money at anytime, I assume, to run bus services if they get paid from somewhere, anywhere.  So isn't that all you need instead of franchising?

What kind of organisation we have - privatisation or public control - seems to be immaterial.  Far more important is money.  Some places have brought back trams under public control rather than bringing back buses under public control.  Trams are all vanity, prestigious, wealth flaunting and only replace or duplicate existing bus routes and, even worse, mainline railways in traffic choked W Mids.  TRULY SCANDALOUS misappropriation of public money!

W Midlands taxpayers take over the running of part of the national railway network by building their own empires of trams on them, would you believe!!  Great British Railways is becoming Great British Tramways run by local councils.  We are getting 150 miles, 8 lines, 380 tram stops - all for a small fortune that should go, urgently I think, for a bus renaissance led by FFPT (universal Fare-Free Public Transport).  And given to low incomes for their homes to be urgently climate proofed.

Trams are the second most expensive transport mode to construct after High Scam 2 fast to stop at stations AND, are highly expensive to subsidise once actually in operation - and constructing them takes decades, literally!!  23 Kms in 42 years!  7 years for only 700 metres in Wolverhampton to connect the tram with the bus station and the railway station.  And that would not have been necessary if only the transport 'experts' had put the trains back on the train lines instead of the trams.  What idiocy!!

SUBSIDY FOR 2022/2023
Assume 1,000 Kms of bus routes - £9.6 m in W Mids
For 23 Kms for one tramway - a shocking £7.6 m in W Mids.

This is quite disgraceful and irresponsible spending of public money and worsens the climate emergency because every £ spent = lb weight in GHG emissions (v rough rule of thumb but helpful).

Saturday 10 February 2024

For me, this is failed leadership from our community of top people in positions of leadership

Dear leader - will proof be forthcoming that I am wrong in this assertion of guilty silence?

Four months of horror gone by and no sign of ecocidal behaviour diminishing.  Rafa, the capital with over 1 million displaced refugees, is next for the bloodbath treatment.

We are all supposed to have a conscience, but you would never think so from our apathy and total blockage over this new kind of holocaust/genocide of collective punishment we are each partly responsible for (from the parties we vote for and from our own silence, too) that is unfolding before our very eyes.  7,000 dead every month who killed no one, but WE killed with our UK weapons supporting our friend and ally with not a murmur of disquiet.

We knew then, in the 1930s and 40s and did nothing. 

We know now, in the 2020s and do nothing.

Remarkable indifference!  And not one person will respond, as usual (one person of integrity does).  But not a single MP or councillor!

JEREMY BOWEN: "Another potential audience might be the International Court of Justice in The Hague, which has ruled that Israel faces "plausible" allegations that it is committing the crime of genocide against Palestinians in Gaza.

"Israel has set a high bar for victory that might be unattainable, even over many months. It wants to wipe out Hamas, restore Israel's security and free the hostages Hamas took on 7 October.

"Many of the families of Israelis held in Gaza and their supporters do not buy the prime minister's argument that only force will free the hostages. They want a ceasefire deal, as they fear that the longer the war continues, the less likely it is that they will ever see them again.

"Israel has inflicted considerable damage on Hamas, but it has not broken its capacity to fight. A senior Western intelligence official told me that Israel had killed about one-third of Hamas forces and destroyed about one-third of the tunnel network that makes Hamas such an obdurate enemy.


Estonia's capital Tallinn has had free transport for the past 11 years

"Logically, free public transport should also encourage people to leave their cars at home, easing traffic congestion and reducing air pollution.

But a 2016 analysis of the Tallinn scheme found it didn’t really encourage many people to stop driving.

In 2014, a year into the experiment, the use of public transport had increased by 14%. However, car use only declined by 5%.

In fact, it was walkers who hopped on buses, as the number of trips made on foot dropped by a staggering 40%.

And while the share of car use marginally decreased, the average distance travelled by car actually went up.

In summary, the modal shift from car to public transport was accompanied by an undesired shift from walking to public transport and an increase in car traffic,” the study says.

Public transport use increased dramatically among the old and the young, and those on a very low income, as well as those out of employment and education.

However, there is no indication that employment opportunities improved as a result, according to the study."   World Economic Forum

World's climate breached 1.5C in 2023

World's climate breached 1.5C in 2023 

The planet has crossed an uncomfortable threshold, with the global temperature exceeding 1.5C above pre-industrial levels for an entire year for the first time in 2023, the EU’s climate service said.

The announcement came on the same day that Labour dropped its £28bn pledge. 

The finding does not mean that the Paris climate agreement has been broken, because long-term average global warming is still below the key limit. However, it highlights the urgency of action to slash emissions. The long-term average could be above 1.5C by the end of the decade, scientists have warned.

Friday 9 February 2024

8 Feb 24 meeting with Laura Shoaf

Dear Laura

Thanks so much for seeing me yesterday.  My thoughts for your correction/amendment, please.

I mentioned that only today, 8 February, it was announced on Radio 4 News, that according to Copernicus, the earth's temperature had met or, exceeded, the 1.5 C rise above pre-industrial levels for the whole of last year, for the first time.  Not good news!

I read out, with copies for yourself, three pieces written in recent weeks, with copies for yourself.  We discussed,
  • Merry Hill SC - for me, Centro/TfWM's history is unsettling when the authorities knew about Don and Roy Richardson's monorail not being connected to the railway​​at that time when the important freight line from Port Talbot could have been reopened then, in the 1990s, for passenger and freight trains over the missing 56 Kms between Worcester and Derby to complete the full 120 Kms with trains.
  • YOU MADE the very good point that Merry Hill has free car parking and, they are due to get Metro trams, too - for free!
  • I SAID that will be a great inducement for Dudley town shoppers to desert their shops for Merry Hill, just when they are spending £1 billion to regenerate the town centre.
  • You mentioned the study that your staff are working on over the important transport corridor Stourbridge, Brierley Hill, Dudley town and the options available.  I suggested keeping the tram on the railway to connect with the national railway network.
  • I mentioned the 22,000 sq m of land, called High Plateau at Merry Hill.  Down for residential since the canal was straightened in the 1990s, I believe.  I suggested apartments for the most badly housed that was highly energy efficient, solar powered and low cost.
  • YOU SAID, you would ask the appropriate officer to find out about what was being planned for the site with Dudley Council.
  • I reminded you of the decades old housing crisis and that part of High Plateau was to be taken by the Metro tram.  Along with all of the 400 m canal embankment that is the only public open space used by the public.
  • YOU SAID there is an ongoing Hagley Road study for my suggestion of inducements to discourage car commuting in favour of bus, train, tram use.
  • YOU REMARKED that Tallinn, the largest city with FFPT, had seen less success, in fact, and that the right level of fares were essential to make passengers feel that they valued the service.
  • I COMMENTED that a charge for motorists wedded and welded to their cars was necessary to discourage thoughtless, unnecessary car commuting and to raise money for FFPT or the lowest possible fares.
  • YOU REMARKED that bus franchising was being studied by your staff and a report would go, in due course, to the WMCA Board for members to consider and make a decision.  Was that in the summer?
  • I SUGGESTED: Use the money to keep fares as low as possible and continue with the present policy of talking to bus operators to give them the money to run unsocial hours buses.  Don't empire build with owning all the buses.  Changing the system is costly and the bus passenger may not see any improvement or lower fares or free fares.
  • I ASKED for the public, like me, to be allowed to say something at CA Committee/Board meetings as is the practice with Dudley Council in their public forum item on the agenda of certain committees.
  • YOUR RESPONSE - I think, you noted the request.
  • I commented on the sometimes yearly turnover of councillors on the different committees.  That they were talking shops between members and officers that did have value but decisions were never made.  I think I have seen no voting.  Not the case with Edinburgh City Council over their two tram projects that saw discussion groups, debate and vote in full council.  The Conservatives opposed.  See​
  • ​I mentioned £ spent = lb weight of greenhouse gas emissions as a rough rule of thumb with Jonathon Porritt's rider:  “The more we spend, the more we burn fossil fuels, it seems to me.  Have I got this right?” SELF, 16 February 2019  “More or less right! … Just one caveat: as we decarbonise our grid, we’ll obviously be burning rather less of the reserves of remaining fossil fuels, and relying more on green electrons. But the rule of thumb still holds for the time being!"  SIR JONATHON PORRITT, 17 Feb 2019
  • YOU TOLD ME of the Wolverhampton to Walsall railway scheme with two stations being built for a second re-opening. I omitted to say that there is a good bus service for car commuters to use and, I think I said that there were more urgent priorities for the money!
  • YOU SAID the Camp Hill line - Kings Norton, Kings Heath, Moseley line - is having its commuter trains back. Excellent but, it was down in the original Metro plan of 200 Kms of tram lines by the year 2000, dating from the 80s!
  • YOU SAID that we had to do something about the Black Country Railway because Network Rail/DfT were refusing to put the trains back on it.
  • I COMMENTED: Better to have held out, to insist on having the trains back and then national government would have paid for the upgrading of the bridges and Parkhead Viaduct to heavy rail.
Thanks again for seeing me and very best wishes. And I would value a further meeting in 12 months.

"Is there still hope for new or improved Birmingham to Manchester rail connections?" Tamlyn Jones, 9.2.24

YES, if you write about and promote the 120 Kms Worcester to Derby Black Country Railway

between London and Edinburgh.  It makes for an improved Brum to Manchester rail connection if you will only promote freight at night and commuter, regional, intercity trains during the day.

Every crossing for every motorway, road, canal is already built but, some of the track has been nicked by metal thieves as you can see in these photos:

Ready for trains since Dec 2003 when M6 Toll was opened:
This map from national railway promotion organisation, Railfuture:
Little if anything has changed in 21 years:

It is a scandal and negligence that blindingly obvious measures are being overlooked.  The Black Country Railway could help if it was used  - NOW - as the world's first train-tram-train railway.  If my advice had been acted on, trains and stations and not trams and tram stops would have been done on the whole route.  The Dudley Tram is coming to the 6 Kms between Wednesbury and Flood Street, Dudley by, supposedly, Christmas of this year (much delayed already).  This leaves 50 Kms still available for freight at night and commuter trains during the day, thanks to "passive provision is being built in" to the tram network according to Laura Shoaf, Chief Executive of the WMCA.  Only yesterday to me, Laura stated that "passive provision" was being built in for the return of trains in the future.

"Light rail provision provides the basis for restoring heavy rail services at the appropriate time" - Tom Magrath, Passenger Services Director of Centro, in correspondence dated September 2000.  For the first time in transport history, trams have to be constructed on a principal mainline railway "of national strategic significance" in order to reinstate the national and regional trains that had been so successful for 100 years!

This is the most astonishing negligence, idiocy and incompetence for over forty years - twice the length of the Post Office Scandal.