Tuesday, 19 February 2019


Dear Ian - copied to Express and Star reporters who published your piece and to your assistant Cllr Keiran and to former Defence Secretary, Michael Portillo for comments/correction, please.

You are as enthusiastic for dear Winston as Andrew Roberts.  We all have our prejudices! But do take a look at Andrew Marr's book, 'A History of Modern Britain'.  My own thoughts on Britain's Greatest Briton are these that gives a different perspective and are influenced by Marr and the 99 year old interviewed on the 'Today' programme earlier this month.  I think we are all a mixture of good and evil and of hero and villain. We are all frail and flimsy. Please hear both sides of the argument.
  1. Churchill loved action, militarism, imperialism, nationalism and the thrill of warfare.  He loved nothing better than a good scrap.
  2. He would have loved the British empire to have lasted "for a thousand years" to rival Hitler's Third Reich.  But both were no more after the one World War in two halves. Winston's greater love for war did it for Empire - both Germany and ours.
  3. He was a leading protagonist for war in the Cabinet discussions up to 4 August 1914 declaration of war, from what I have read.
  4. Yet, this was a war that was nearly lost, by our side, in the first few weeks.
  5. This was war, more than once, that could have gone either way.  Only the USA intervention in 1917 turned it in our favour.
  6. There was a 'peace' treaty that seems to have failed to recognise the above facts. It was hardly a treaty that was magnanimous in victory - a wonderful phrase attributed to dear Winston.  Akin to "justice tempered with mercy."
  7. Even IDS, the former Conservative leader, has spoken of how that disastrous war led to its sequel in 1939.
  8. According to Marr, on the 28 May 1940 at the time of the Dunkirk evacuation, if it had been only Conservative politicians present who wanted to cut a deal with Hitler, Churchill would have been outvoted.  The Conservative Foreign Secretary, Lord Halifax had found "Hitler most sincere and Goering frankly attractive." However, Clement Attlee and Arthur Greenwood, the two Labour men in the Government of National Unity, "were solid for fighting on and so, by a squeak, Churchill had his majority." (Marr)
  9. Marr has most of the Establishment and many Conservatives, looking on Churchill as "a rather ridiculous, drunken, dodgy man with a penchant for wild speeches and silly hats.  Behind their gloved hands, they called him the rogue elephant, even the gangster." In Labour circles, he was seen as an enemy of the working class, a pink faced toff who called in the army against strikers.  Tonypandy, first time?
  10. When he won his majority for war on the 28 May 1940, Churchill told the full War Cabinet, that they were all to fight on to the death.  There would be no parley or surrender. "Let it end only when each one of us lies choking in his own blood upon the ground."
  11. Therefore, twice, Churchill wanted all out total war to the death.  The first half imperial war led to the second half in 1939. Surprisingly, two Labour MPs gave him his majority for our nation to fight on after Dunkirk.  One was the Labour leader, Attlee and the other was Arthur Greenwood.  The Conservatives, Halifax and Chamberlain wanted to parley and surrender.  It was the Labour Party that won the war (and lost the peace) and not the Conservatives!!
  12. Much later, Attlee led us into the Korean War that had disastrous consequences for that peninsular to this day.
  13. It was Attlee who gave us our own deadly WMD with their amassment and renewal by every government, including Labour, ever since.  So much for Labour politicians being wimps for glorious, heroic war! Only in 2015, did the latest new Labour Party leader pronounce that, for him, "war must be the last resort".  And the man still hangs on to this day. Extraordinary!
  14. For Churchill and the War Cabinet, when victory was certain for our side in February 1945, it ended for 24,000 Dresden residents not in blood but in fire, flame and burning flesh.  Listen on BBC Sounds. My e-mail to Ian on 14 Feb, here: "Did you hear that 99 year old hero soldier, Victor Gregg, from the 2nd World War who was interviewed on Monday 11 Feb on the 'Today' programme?  He survived the war solely because Churchill and Harris ordered the fire bombing of Dresden in February 1945. His book is called 'Dresden: A Survivor's Story'. His interview starts at 0742:50 hrs."
  15. Churchill might easily have lost the war in 1940/1 but the USA came to our rescue in 1941.
  16. Radar was an important factor in us winning the Battle of Britain, together with the young pilots and not Winston's magnificent, morale boosting oratory.
  17. As Margaret Thatcher was so lucky with her enemies (Galtieri and Scargill), Winston was lucky with his friends in North America and the Empire that won it for him.  Give credit where credit is due.
  18. Was it Churchill who thought up the idea of convoys to protect our merchant shipping?  That was a real brainwave.
  19. There was Hitler's massive mistakes, of course that helped the Brits and Americans and, the Empire to win.
  20. The Soviet Union and Stalin diverted the Nazi war effort onto the Eastern Front.  Did Churchill ever formally thank the USSR for their invaluable help and sacrifice?
  21. 20 to 30 million Russians died defending our shores from Hitler.
  22. Have you ever bowed your head in silent remembrance of the death and sacrifice of those millions of evil Commies, Ian?
  23. Correlli Barnett wrote something like, "In 1945, we were psychologically victorious but, materially defeated and economically bankrupt."

​Anyone is welcome to correct my history or to expand on these notes, here - please.

Sunday, 17 February 2019

Will it take school children to shame us into action?

Dear Deborah, Laura and Waseem

I am hoping to stand as an Independent candidate in next year's election for Metro Mayor because I am so concerned that after fifty years of studying, working and living in the Black Country and Birmingham, road traffic congestion is as bad as it has ever been.

I am asking if you two chief officers and leaders in our community, would please consider giving bus passengers faster journeys into the city centre at the expense of car commuters.  Modal shift from car to bus, in particular is urgent, if only to free up road space for essential car users who need to get about on their lawful business.  Quite apart from the urgent action needed to drastically reduce our greenhouse gas emissions.

My own suggestions are these:
  1. An experiment on Hagley Road from Halesowen bus station to Five Ways where the nearside lane that carries a bus route is used in its entirety for buses, coaches, taxis, bikes and three to a car sharing.
  2. Car sharing for the driver and two passengers over 18 to use the bus lane.
  3. Legitimate vehicles in the bus lane to have traffic lights weighted in their favour to the disadvantage of the outside lane.  Or, only buses approaching a traffic light changes it to green.
  4. Has this been tried anywhere else in the world?  What do progressive nations like Norway do to boost bus use?
  5. Can we learn from TfL who seem to be more successful in getting people to use buses?
  6. There is a total of £1.41 BILLION to 2026, for five tram extensions, now going into digging up roads on the nearside lane to replace some buses and to prevent commuter/regional trains from returning to our full 120 Kms mainline railway.
  7. Instead of "buses on rails" on rails on roads, buses on roads.
  8. Can this money, under devolution, be used to slash bus fares or to even give fareless buses for all and not just the few lucky ones like me?  And, the money used to speed the transition to electric buses?
  9. Random or constant camera enforcement at traffic lights.
  10. Every bus becomes a Sprint bus.
Is any of this practical?  There has never been an experiment of this nature, as far as I am aware.

Can my suggestions be officially put on the table for you all to discuss, please?  I welcome being put on the spot with difficult questions slung in my direction!

With best wishes

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.

"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.

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?

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 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.

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

"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."

"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.

"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

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?!

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

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

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.

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)