Friday, 31 May 2019

Nearly £2 BILLION (to 2026) to replace diesel buses with diesel Sprint buses and using electric trams to destroy the UK's only mothballed mainline railway!


24 May 2019

Nearly £2 BILLION (to 2026) to replace diesel buses with diesel Sprint buses and using electric trams to destroy the UK's only mothballed mainline railway!

In the 1990s, I was told in all seriousness by the Leader of Dudley MBC, Cllr Fred Hunt, that the Wednesbury to Brierley Hill Extension (WBHE) would be open by 2000.  It was not. In March of last year, I was told by the Black Country Director of Transport, Stuart Everton, that work was due to begin in the summer. It did not. The official start date for the main works is now the third quarter of this year.  Therefore, there is still time for cooler heads to prevail.  You three journalists are distant and independent from the fray.  If you think I am on to something here, please write a little more so that the blunder is further delayed to enable a review of the scheme.  If I am wrong, please tell me!

Metro One was opened in 1999.  That meant the permanent closure of Low Level principal station and a loss of passenger services, I believe, to Shrewsbury and possibly Crewe (I would like that confirmed or corrected, if you are able, please).  WBHE is even more devastating on heavy railway services for growing freight and passenger services, that are at full capacity now, in the Black Country and Brum. Platform 4 at Snow Hill station is still unused and wasted!

£55.7 billion is being spent on HS2 to increase capacity.  The politicians’ £449 million for WBHE is soon to be spent to reduce capacity!

All political parties are still wanting the 1981 decision to have a network of electric trams to replace some diesel buses and diesel trains.  This, when electric buses and electric trains would have been more sensible, financially responsible and with lower greenhouse gas emissions. Not one public statement condemning the scandalous destruction of urban railway lines that continues to this day.  No public statement on the sheer stupidity of converting the 120 Kms Black Country Mainline Railway into a piddling little shuttle tram line over 6.7 Kms. No public statement on the matter of this important railway "of national strategic significance", having a Very Light Rail Innovation Centre, a trail of trees and, in south Staffordshire, a new extended cycle-walkway.  All on a nationally important, mainline railway!!

From the powers that govern us, there has been:

       NO discussion or debate in any of the seven council chambers on spending nearly £2 billion.
       NO vote, of course.  There was, however, in Edinburgh, in March, over their tram extension.  And in went ahead: 36 to 26 councillors voted in favour.
       NO democracy - in the land that goes on (wrongly) about being the Great Mother of all Parliaments and the best democracy in the world!
       YES to improper but powerful influence at Transport HQ by the national tram promotion group that wants trams everywhere, regardless of the cost.  That lobby group also has its HQ in Transport HQ.
       YES to collusion + complicity = corruption at 16 Summer Lane.
       YES to continuing to squander nearly £2 billion over the next seven years.  This, at a time of continuing austerity causing suffering for the NHS/social care and, the £2 billion resulting in a worsening climate catastrophe of £2 billion of totally unnecessary greenhouse gases to hasten planet earth turning into our 'twin' planet, venus.

I think the green transport policy is free bus travel for all and not just the disabled and elderly, like me.  Dunkirk and Luxembourg are going down this route with total free public transport. Many eastern European towns and cities are already doing it.  £2 billion would pay for this and the no 9 bus route experiment, I have proposed elsewhere.

With best wishes

Devolution, sharing sovereignty and converting the last mainline railway!


The process for UK devolution to its smaller countries was not followed for leaving the EU or in converting a mainline railway into a tram line, a test track, a trail of trees and an extended cycle-walkway.

The three minor countries have to share sovereignty with England in a united UK but the UK is not willing to share sovereignty with the EU in an eventual federal set up very different from three countries being part of England/UK!

The 1990's and 00's careful, sensible and gradual process that led to eventual devolution was not followed for a matter of even greater import - our future membership of the EU.  For something more complicated than devolution, all the checks and balances built in to get, eventually an assembly and one parliament was not followed over the matter of the UK leaving EU membership.

On 5 April 2019, 'Have I Got News for You', Ian Hislop commented, "Thatcher said we shouldn't have a referendum on Europe.  It was too complicated an issue to put to the public. She was right."

Similarly, for something so game changing, expensive and, therefore, climate breaking as the decision to convert a safeguarded, 120 Kms mainline railway into two very short sections of tramway, on that matter too, none of the checks and balances were followed.  There was not even any kind of debate or even discussion beforehand, let alone a vote. Not even one of the constituent councils of the WMCA had a debate and vote.  The elected members were content to have the decision imposed upon them by the UK pressure group for trams that has infiltrated Transport HQ.  This, to spend nearly half a billion to destroy the middle section of a mainline railway that reduces capacity.  Yet, £56 billion is spent to increase capacity on our railways with HS2!

Never mind!  That will make £92 billions of benefits for the UK, says the business case!!  Are we living in Alice in Wonderland? Or, know what we are doing? This must be dishonest, crooked economics when all the crucial, fossil fuel resources are finite and, when burnt, screw up the planet's climates in changing the composition of the atmosphere for the worse?

Wednesday, 8 May 2019

International Conscientious Objectors Day 15 May

International Conscientious Objectors Day is marked around the world every 15 th May
and Hereford Peace Council will be commemorating the day with a short vigil between
12.30 hours and 13.30 hours in the Walled Garden, Ledbury.

Conscientious objectors are opposed to war and killing for a variety of reasons - some
moral, some religious, some political.

In the First World War there were some 20,000 men in the UK who objected to war and
resisted the propaganda, the peer pressure, and the full and sometimes brutal force of
the state. They refused to take part in war: the killing of strangers - of men like
themselves. These men and their supporters, women and men, are the forerunners of
today’s non-violent resistance movements.

Today, thousands of conscientious objectors around the world are currently imprisoned
for their beliefs with little or no recourse to Human Rights legislation.
Local Herefordshire records are hard to find but it is thanks to people like Cyril Pearce,
who compiled the Pearce CO Register, that there is some information regarding 34 local
Herefordshire war resisters during the First World War. It is known that there were two
teachers, Harold Watkins and Rendel Wyatt who faced Ledbury Military Service Tribunal
in March 1916. Two other men from Ledbury, a farmer, Robert Fitzpatrick and Hubert
Warren, a clerk, also resisted but little seems to be known and recorded about them.
The short vigil will start and end in silence and stillness to remember those past and
present who resisted killing others and faced persecution and imprisonment. Short
appropriate readings of poetry and prose will also be chosen. Everyone is invited to
attend including local families who may wish to offer brief narratives of their relatives’
story of conscientious objection and war resistance during the vigil.

The vigil is open to people of all faiths and those with none. If anyone would like to be
involved or take part the link person, on behalf of Hereford Peace Council, is David
Chapman who can be reached by email:
The Walled Garden can be found opposite St. Michael’s Church in Church Lane,
Ledbury, HR8 1PJ

As President John Kennedy observed: “War will exist until that distant day when
the conscientious objector enjoys the same reputation and prestige that the
warrior does today.”