Wednesday, 31 March 2021


 Truly addressing the Covid/Climate/Nature emergency by slowing the rise in greenhouse gases by:

  1. building affordable homes and adapting all housing to meet Passivhaus standard of energy efficiency to meet a maximum of 5 units of electricity/day.
  2. training the workforce and new entrants for jobs to meet this rigorous standard as soon as possible.
  3. extending the present regional fare-free public transport for elders to the younger age groups for reasons of fairness, as compensation for the slightly higher risk of getting Covid and, as a reward for leaving their cars at home as much as possible.

Monday, 29 March 2021

Metro blunder at Five Ways and Broad Street

The Green Party 2017 Metro Mayor election manifesto also supported the grossly extravagant, greenhouse gas-emitting in abundance, Metro tram extensions to either replace buses and trains or, to add to the mix of multi-modal public transport to make for more changes and delays as you go from one to the other over three instead of two transport modes.  

The best example is what we now see for our 9 buses that cannot use the Five Ways underpass anymore and, along with the other ten bus routes, has a slow diversion on narrow roads, jammed with parked cars via the Arena, instead of the former direct route through the underpass and along Broad Street.  (Some bus routes MAY be able to return to Broad St but, priority will always be given to the tram, of course.)

Or, if you get off the bus before Five Ways, you might then have to wait up to 15 mins for the tram to enable you to continue your journey into the city centre.  This is not progress.  It does not encourage motorists to leave their cars at home and use public transport.  Or, does it?  Why are you, personally so much in favour of the £15 billion to 2040 for mainly 150 miles, 380 tram stops and 8 lines of underground and overground tram extensions, please?

Saturday, 27 March 2021

Solar Panels on NextDoor Hasbury

From what the climate scientists have found, the runaway greenhouse effect means, for our own survival, we have to urgently get out of burning oil and gas. There will be shortages by the end of the century, too. That leaves only renewable energy and wood. Buy your energy from a 100% renewable supplier. I would urge everyone to put PV solar panels on every sq cm of E, W, S facing rooves/roofs. You then use electrical items, one after the other when the sun shines or during the daytime. My E/W roof is completely covered with 24 panels and we get lots of free electricity and export the excess to the national grid for others to use. Check out: and research their website. Let me know, please what you conclude. THANKS! Tim Weller 4 Sept 2020

From alarming news about the ecological crisis (Covid is one) we have to urgently get out of fossil fuels when, anyway, oil and gas reserves are becoming exhausted. Electricity from renewables is urgent, even though new people who fit PV solar will not get FiT payments. "Currently the FiT scheme pays domestic and commercial green energy producers for the electricity they generate and export to the grid. The closure follows the announcement in 2015, that new generation tariffs would be stopped in March 2019." from: "We can't shop our way out of this problem ... no more consumerism", said Jane Fonda on Radio 4, 'Today' this morning. But, we do have to shop for PV! 9 Sept 2020

Friday, 26 March 2021


 "It allows nature to thrive, taking carbon from the air and boosting health." Tear Fund (part of DEC - Disasters Emergency Committee)

We can expand the Clent Hills Country Park into a 32 sq Kms Regional Park as part of the new W Mids National Park.  For farming, recreation and re-creation of habitats to boost biodiversity.

It is vital that our 32 sq Kms Golden Green Triangle in that corner between the Black Country and Brum, with the two 1,000 feet high Clent Hills, is upgraded, invigorated and protected from built development.  To address the Covid, Climate, Ecological, Nature disasters.

Not a single hedgerow, it seems, has been laid to rejuvenate even one section.  Instead there are gaps galore.  Fences and barbed wire are taking over.  Hedging trees must be planted to absorb carbon.

Every Home Office wood must be handed over to the Woodland Trust for their care, maintenance and to be open to the public.  In this way, these precious woods can be restored and be a carbon sink.

Every field is needed as part of the national effort to feed humans before animals to feed humans.  Farming in tune with nature is essential and farming using fewer finite fossil fuels, too.  Have more people working on the land.  In this way, slow the Climate, Nature disaster.  AND SLOW THE ROT!

Fewer fields for horses and more for food!  Reverse horsiculture!

No fields for built development.  Keep smaller, much warmer, practical homes to the conurbation outside the three sides of the triangle.  In this way, to help ourselves to get out of the warming greenhouse.

The hundreds of miles of public highway paths must be upgraded with every stile made safe for walkers and runners.  Far too many paths are muddy in wet weather and almost every stile is in need of replacement or repair.  The councils and the WMCA must work with the farmers and landowners to get them up to standard.  Funds must be used to incentivise them.

Tim Weller  27 March 2021

Thursday, 25 March 2021

Clent Hills Regional Park in the WM National Park is vital because of ...

Since the announcement by the W Mids Combined Authority of a W Midlands National Park, I've been supporting Prof Kathryn Moore of Birmingham City University over that initiative by herself.  I've been arguing for a Clent Hills Regional Park, like the Pentland Hills RP, south of Edinburgh.  I feel this is necessary to protect it from built development; to encourage more farming to feed the Black Country and Brum; and, for recreation.

POINTS IN ITS FAVOUR and how it could benefit:

  • The importance of our two 1,000 feet hills and the beauty of their foothills, woods and valleys to the east that, include the Abbey, Infirmary and the site of fish ponds.
  • This valuable open space for farming and recreation is a 32 sq Km Golden Green Triangle, bounded by the two main roads west of M5, Jct 3 to Jct 4.
  • The sad state of hedgerows with many gaps as they mature and never seem to benefit from hedge-laying to rejuvenate them.
  • The extensive network of public rights of way but, the shabby, dilapidated stiles and poor signs.
  • The Halesowen Railway line that now has permission from the landowner, to walk his section from Dowery Dell to Frankley and on to Longbridge on better public paths;
  • It has one SSSI, the Clent Hills Country Park and another next to it but outside the triangle.

Wednesday, 24 March 2021

From excellent Eddy Morton and his success

Fantastic news !!! Our affordable housing project the Stourbridge PowerHaus has received planning approval from DMBC. This car free development that provides 11 affordable apartments with solar panels, roof garden, a shared home working space and air source heat pumps is built To Passiv House standards using sustainable building methods with U values down at 0.18 due to the closed wood panel construction and higher levels of build quality. Our philosophy is that affordable rent and energy creates more disposable income for tenants living in the town, which in turn will be spent in the local economy. This not only addresses issues of affordability and the local economy and High street but our ambitions around greater home working to reduce commuter miles and support the retention of creative, enterprising young people and key workers within the town. All of these measures help in our progress towards zero carbon, the challenge of reducing carbon emissions and other localised issues such as air quality and traffic problems.

Affordable rent will create an additional £1000 a year disposable income per resident which equates to 11,000 a year across the whole development that can be spent in the local economy.
Affordable energy will create an additional £3000 a year disposable income per resident
which equates to £33,000 a year across the whole development
Total increase in disposable income available to the local economy is £44,000
Over the total 25 years investment horizon of the Stourbridge PowerHaus development approx £1 million pounds in disposable income is made available to spend in the local economy .
Housing can be a huge driver in the re energising of local economies whilst addressing the issues of climate change and the local environment.
join us in the Re evolution.

FIVE SCANDALS that make the West Midlands unique!

  1. Do you think there should be a public inquiry into the W Mids Police gross misconduct in the tragic, farcical, inept mishandling of the Brum pub bombings in 1974.
  2. Do you want commuter, regional and freight trains on the remaining 47 Kms of the ready-built "railway of national strategic significance" between Stourbridge, Walsall and Burton on Trent that doesn't get the isolated Metro trams on 6.7 Kms?
  3. Should regional, Fare-Free Public Transport be extended from elders like me who are well past our prime, getting housebound and are quite wealthy enough, to be also given to the up and coming generations?  Or, regional FFPT simply as the antidote/carrot to the stick that is congestion/pollution charging?
  4. Should you investigate the case of Cllr Yvonne Davies who remains the suspended Leader of Sandwell Council on a trumped-up charge of racism and antisemitism?
  5. Would you like to write a piece about the major, business and commnuter route, the infamous 22 Kms Black Country Cycle-Walk Mudway to be the CA's top transport priority so that all can use it without wellies, walking boots or rough, tough mountain bikes or, using horses?

Monday, 22 March 2021

Four challenges for the other six Metro Mayor candidates

Dear Dr Nathaniel - and copied to Cllr Yvonne Davies and Julie Hambleton who both get my full support, of course.  I have 'blinded' your email address, Dr Nathaniel in case you do not want it broadcast.

It was lovely to hear from you.

I was outspoken, again at my second hustings last Thursday.  The script in bold (below) is exactly what I read out at the hustings, via Teams (like Zoom).  I was given only 90 secs, as all the other six declared candidates also had.  My next hustings is on Tues 30 March and I will be equally outspoken to cause maximum embarrassment to the politicians I am so unhappy about.  All the hustings are public and, I think, recorded.  You have to do a search on YouTube, I expect for any recording.  The reasons for my dissatisfaction are here and your support would be greatly appreciated.

Even before the next hustings, I intend challenging all six declared Metro Mayor candidates in this way:
"I am asking each declared candidate to show where they stand on these burning questions -
  1. "At the hustings on the 30 March, will you publicly say that you support Julie Hambleton in calling for a public inquiry into the outrageous, mishandling, incompetence by W Midlands Police of the 1974 pub bombings?
  2. "Will you, now come out publicly on the side of Cllr Yvonne Davies, Leader of Sandwell Council, who was suspended on a trumped-up charge of antisemitism and racism by the Labour Party and whose suspension was fully supported by declared Metro candidate, Liam Byrne MP?
  3. "Will you, now publicly condemn both the Snow Hill, Wolverhampton, Shrewsbury railway being converted to a tramline on 20 Kms, with the loss of 25% of Snow Hill station and the total loss of Wolverhampton's second, principal mainline station; and, now the impossibility, too of ever being able to finish the Burton to Bristol via Brierley Hill (aka Derby to Devon via Dudley) principal, mainline railway?
  4. "Will you now condemn the £62 m for cycling provision in Brum only but nothing to finish the much more important business and commuter route that is the region's longest and continuous, 22 Kms, strategic, Black Country Cycle-Walk Mudway from Brierley Hill to NW Wolverhampton through three council areas?"
Do I have your agreement and support over what I am attempting, Nathaniel?

Very best wishes for all your anti-racism, pro-humanity work.  Keep in touch, please.

Tim   (Weller)  declared Ind candidate for WMCA Metro Mayor 2021

Tweet to Guy Shrubsole

Plse read my last email to you about the right to roam on even public rights of way being restricted to younger walkers who can risk climbing loose, rickety stiles, many without footsteps. Elders, like me, lose out. Dudley Council in the bleak, backward Black Country is BAD!

Sunday, 21 March 2021

Succinct arguments for NOT adding another transport mode

You want, "to deliver the transformation of our transport network that is needed."  I can assure you that "a sustainable mass transit system" to bring that about, means more changes and, thus delays between bus, train and, now tram.  What good is that with your new, fancy-worded "sustainable, mass transit system"?  Buses and trains are mass transit.  Why add trams to the mix-up in the name of impressive sounding multi-modal?

Why put the "bus on rails" (UK Tram) tram on roads when you can miss out on the rails and put them straight on the roads - called electric buses?

The "bus on rails" trams simply replace buses and trains that would be more sensible to keep.  And, then use the hundreds of millions of pounds saved to make the buses and trains electric and entirely fare-free, not just for some of the people, like me since I was 60 years old.  But, for everyone.  Why only me?!

Extend the existing fare-free public transport to the rest of the population to help recover public transport use in the wake of Covid.  It would boost public transport numbers, reward drivers for leaving their cars at home and positively address the Covid, Climate, Ecological, Nature disaster that is slowly enveloping humanity.
Therefore, we are inviting you to register for the online meeting on Wednesday March 24th, 19.00 to 20.30 hours GMT, and take part in the discussion led by Wojciech Keblowski. Wojciech is a critical urban geographer working on transport and alternatives to capitalism and is based at the Free University of Brussels. He has written several articles on FFPT, which can be found here.
Register here for the Zoom meeting.
Climate Action Network West Midlands.

Friday, 19 March 2021

To Tim Baggs of the RCN - Metro Mayor powers are poor

I'm still undecided about becoming a confirmed candidate but, am writing now to let you know about what I see, have now concluded, as the rather disappointing powers and influence granted to the position of W Mids Metro Mayor (not Bristol or Manchester).  Andy Street has been a great spokesperson for the WMCA over these last four years and has been brilliant at holding public meetings (up until Covid) and letting me make some quick remarks when I have attended.

I should mention that the four main subject areas that the Metro Mayor has some responsibility for, in association with the seven council leaders are transport, jobs, skills and housing.  Andy's powers are limited and he is meant to work with the council leaders and cannot overrule them.  The local authority leaders do not have less power in the West Midlands because of the Metro Mayor.  The Birmingham Post's Political Reporter, Jonathan Walker calls the position - a "figurehead".  Andy, himself said in a BBC 'Today' interview in May 2017, shortly after his election, that he has no "formal" powers.

For us, I think the CA Mayor position should be by an advertised, fair, open selection process and not election!  Presumably, all 18 senior officers of the Combined Authority were appointed in that way.  No expense spared for the new regional government of a thick, high hierarchy of bigwigs but a miserly 1% for nurses!!  We also have a Young Combined Authority, but that must be much cheaper, of course.

FFPT for Bristol? 26.2.21

 Dear Tim,


Thank you for your question on my Facebook Live Q&A and for your follow up email.


I appreciate you taking the time to share your views. We have made improving connectivity through public transport in Bristol a priority, after years of successive administrations failing to deliver the transformation of our transport network that is needed. This includes improving priority for buses, cyclists and pedestrians across our city and bringing forward plans for a sustainable mass transit system that will connect people to people, people to jobs, and people to opportunity.


We do this, however, in a context of limited powers. Since the deregulation of bus services in the 1980s, local authorities do not have powers to compel bus services to reduce fares or to franchise bus services locally. Nevertheless we continue to expand provision to public transport for residents of all ages across the city, and to ensure this is affordable for all.


Kind regards


MR signature for letters


Marvin Rees

Mayor of Bristol

Birmingham Airport

With my councillor hat on - this is a tricky one, I think. On the one hand, I don't like the idea of a Green-led council (which Solihull will be, soon!) holding a stake in an airport; it feels incongruent. On the other hand, investment buys influence; the problem with not holding a position is that you don't then have a seat at the table, and the risk with the airport being entirely privately-owned is that it would be possible for BAHL to sideline the councils completely and agree expansion plans directly with the national Government. Solihull (for example) having a stake would allow us to make the Green counter-argument in the boardroom, and not just in the car park. Those aren't the rules I want to play by, but they're the rules we have and ignoring that because we don't like them is naive. So I'm not sold on complete divestment, at least not in the current context.

Steve Caudwell


One day, there will be no oil and no gas worth pumping out.  And, honestly, every drop needs left in the ground, NOW because of deadly greenhouse gases to give us the runaway greenhouse effect.  We will then have to go back to walking, cycling and horse riding to get about.  I am trying to postpone that time for my descendants.

Democratic deficit

Although we live in representative and supposedly participatory democracy, it is still very difficult to actually participate in the decision-making process.  And even with major expenditure, democracy does not get a look in as we are seeing with the £15 billion for mainly underground and overground trams to 2040.  No consultation; no discussion; no debates in council chambers; no voting.

The decisions are made behind people's backs at 16 Summer Lane and Baskerville House in the case of MC.

Democratic deficit dealt with because councils are not discussing and voting on tram extensions and I think they should.  And doing the same with FFPT to see if we can raise interest that way.

The WMCA offices at Summer Lane need opening up and more scrutiny and for the councillors to have wider discussions. Lets learn more about the WMCA and its democratic structures. There is a transfer from the local authorities to the WMCA.

24 December 2018 from Malcolm Holmes

Many thanks for your email. It was good to meet with you last week. As we discussed, Andy took away an action to undertake a further check that the introduction of West Midlands Metro trams on part of the South Staffordshire rail route doesn’t prevent the future operation of heavy rail services in the longer term, should a business case become positive.

To the business community

It is the business of all of us to curtail our activities to minimise finite fossil fuel use and the resulting greenhouse gas emissions.  It isn't fair to live it up today when we know there will be shortages tomorrow AND a most uncomfortable existence from climate breakdown.

Use CAZ money for FFPT

"It would be helpful if you could provide an indication of specific elements with the overarching topics of Sprint and regional Fare-Free Public Transport you wish to cover, so that officials can prepare accordingly and ensure they have relevant information to hand."

Can you use CAZ money to fund FFPT?
Would FFPT provide better value for money than Sprint?
Does Sprint make for a two-level, two-class bus provision?

Wednesday, 17 March 2021

Midlands Connect writing in Feb 2021:

No mention here of the 120 Kms, half used, virtually ready-built Black Country Railway between Worcester and Derby.

A new poll of 10,000 Midlands residents by transport body Midlands Connect has revealed overwhelming support for investment in the region’s transport network.  Of course it would!

Ahead of next month’s budget, 85 per cent of respondents were supportive of Midlands Engine Rail, a region-wide rail improvement scheme that will boost connectivity across the region.  What a surprise!

Midlands Engine Rail’s flagship scheme is the Midlands Rail Hub; a set of interventions including signalling upgrades, new tracks and passing places, that will create space for 20 additional trains to go in to and out of Birmingham Moor Street Station every hour. Once complete it will boost connections to Leicester, Derby, Nottingham, Worcester, Hereford and Bristol, as well as the reopened Moseley, Kings Heath and Hazelwell stations on the Camp Hill Line. The Midlands Rail Hub has a local approval rating of 86 per cent.  All Birmingham-centric.  What about the Black Country?

Maria Machancoses, CEO of Midlands Connect

 Darwin’s theory of evolution outlines a simple mantra - ‘adapt or die’. It is this, our ability to respond to changes in the environment, disruption and adversity, that has underpinned the success of the human race for thousands of years. Each time we are faced with turbulence, we react, and find a way to not only survive, but thrive, despite challenging circumstances. After World War Two, the state welfare system was born, providing free healthcare and a boom in council housing to sustain the injured, destitute and those in need. Following the financial crisis of 2008, we reacted by creating new regulatory bodies, vetting financial directors more closely and creating new compliance and governance structures designed to prevent another crash. This latest crisis, the COVID-19 pandemic, is a force of nature and of climate change. Our reaction must demonstrate a new found respect for our environment, one that tackles the thoughtless, careless abuse of a one off geological inheritance and a terrible downside to our exploitation economic shortfall while addressing the biggest challenge of our generation; climate change.

In tomorrow’s Budget, the Chancellor has the opportunity to demonstrate his intent. We’ve heard of Government’s plans to ‘Build Back Better’ by using, not LEPS but less - of the conveyor belt of major infrastructure projects and repeated pledges to ‘level up’ for the poor with level down for the rich like me, but now is the time to translate these words into action. Pre-pandemic, we’d made huge strides in boosting the use of public transport of railways, in the West Midlands, rail use had more than doubled in the decade leading up to 2020. Lockdown restrictions brought the network to a standstill, erasing our progress. We have a limited window to welcome people back onto our network, in greater numbers than ever before, but to do this, we need investment less capital for building and more revenue to pay for the use of the revenue.

Firstly, we need a network that links the whole of the Midlands region, east to west. Less than twenty per cent of journeys from Birmingham to Nottingham and Birmingham to Leicester are made by rail, an overreliance on cars exacerbated by slow, infrequent connections. We need more space to bring trains into the city centre at Birmingham Moor Street station; anyone who has been stuck waiting in a tunnel under New Street station will testify to the fact that before lockdown hit, it was running at capacity, just one crowded platform or delayed service was all it took to cause a domino effect of delays and a queue of services stuck in tunnels waiting for a way through. Finally, we also need to create space on our rail network for more rail freight. Transporting goods by rail takes lorries off our roads and reduces carbon emissions by 78 per cent. It’s a no brainer.

Luckily, this bit’s for you Mr Chancellor, the Midlands has a rail programme that addresses all of these issues – Midlands Engine Rail. Its flagship scheme the Midlands Rail Hub, will be a game changer for Birmingham. It will get people out of their cars and onto trains, creating 20 new rail paths into and out of Birmingham Moor Street Station every hour, from places like Nottingham, Derby, Leicester, Worcester, Hereford and Bristol. It will bring passengers onto the doorstep of the new high speed network, trains that will roll in to Birmingham Curzon Street next door. It will give us space to run regular services on the soon to be reopened Camp Hill line, servicing Moseley, Kings Heath and Hazelwell, and will create room for over a million more lorries worth of goods to be transported by rail every year. The Midlands Rail Hub is an affordable, deliverable vision that we can start implementing now, an investment that will speed our recovery from COVID-19, supporting hundreds of jobs and boosting sustainable travel Midlands-wide.

We’ve also submitted plans for a region-wide ‘tap and cap’ smart payment system for public transport. As well as improving safety, allowing contactless payments via bank card or phone; it will boost convenience, by allowing seamless travel across all modes including train, tram and bus; and value for money, imposing a daily fare cap and catering to those who choose to work more flexibly post-COVID. If given the £20million funding we need in the Budget, it could be up and running in Birmingham by the end of 2022.

When it comes to our transport network post-pandemic, Darwin’s observations must guide us once more. We must adapt and evolve, not only welcoming back the passengers we had, but bringing more people onto our public transport network than ever before. This virus has taught us the huge power of our natural environment, and just how much can go wrong when we fail to act. Now is the time to act on climate change, and invest in a green, sustainable, carbon-neutral railway. Our future depends on it.

This article was written by Maria Machancoses, CEO of Midlands Connect

Monday, 15 March 2021

Transport from the WMCA Devolution Agreement

47  a " to facilitate the movement of goods and people, ... This will include consideration of options for reducing congestion, such as a joined-up approach to dynamic demand management and implementing an integrated intelligent transport system (my emphasis) which will help improve journey time reliability and allow people and businesses to make informed decisions about their travel choices.

b  "The West Midlands Combined Authority will have the opportunity to bring forward alternative proposals for the management of current and new rail stations in the Combined Authority area.  If such proposals would lead to the transfer of any rail stations to the West Midlands Combined Authority, the Combined Authority, with West Midlands Rail, will be obliged to bring forward a business case for consideration by government."  page 17


Sunday, 14 March 2021

"Lost an empire and not yet found a role"


Our military and non-violent involvements in the world, particularly our wars during and after empire all point to us behaving in an imperialistic way regardless of our ownership of other countries.

Other European countries in giving up their colonies and, therefore, diminishing in the eyes of the world, have not acquired WMD or continued fighting distant wars like the UK has.  They have accepted their non-colonial, new role and behaved like the other countries, numbering very nearly 190, who have not got WMD or expenditure on armaments at such a high proportion of their income as we have.

Why does the UK have so much trouble in accepting that it is far better to live without an empire and, without warfare and, without threatening other countries with WMD?

Losing an empire, after fighting the one world war in two parts, has made very little difference, it seems to me.  Nor has our membership of the EU made any difference.  We just carried on regardless, anyway!

Cartoon on 12 mths of Covid!

Saturday, 13 March 2021

70 years of transport destruction - twitter to Ashvir

For the last 70 years, Ashvir we have been given all the money we needed from HMG but it has been squandered on destroying our Light Rail (LR) tram network, then the train network, yet more of the train network gone when the tram network was rebuilt on the train network! Absurd!

Governance changes to involve councillors BEFORE going to CA

Proposed items for discussion
I would like us to talk about these matters, please at our Teams meeting on Wed 17 March at 11 am.
  1. Governance - full, frank and fair discussion to involve all councillors, and at full council, to hear both/all sides of every issue before voting.  Edinburgh City Council did that over their tram last decade and the tram extension to Leith and Newhaven in 2019.
  2. Greater scrutiny of construction costs of innovative transport modes like Metro and Sprint and, greater scrutiny of Metro track maintenance costs before a decision to proceed is put to the WMCA Board members.  And only after the seven councils have properly, fully considered and voted on whether or not to proceed.  Those seven decisions are then brought to the Board meeting.
  3. Disadvantages of proceeding to be fully laid out as well as the advantages, eg the extremely high greenhouse gas emitting in construction, of the two biggest concrete crash barriers I have ever seen, put in the Five Ways underpass that, with the trams, means that buses can never return.  And, possibly not to Broad Street, either.
  4. Aside: I love trams because they look great, glitzy and glamorous. The problem is that for all their attraction, we now have a slower and worse journey into the city centre from the west. We either have to change and wait for the tram or stay on the bus and have a longer and slower ride. This is not progress!
  5. Construction cost comparison, as here:
  6. Was the demolition of Perry Barr flyover because of Sprint?
  7. What are the full implications of ULR (Stourbridge Shuttle), the LR test track for 2.2 Kms, Metro LR all being put on a former mainline railway that, for 100 years, brought passengers from London and Oxford to Dudley Railway Station and the Black Country?
  8. What are the implications for freight that might need to come off the Camp Hill line in Brum and be diverted via the 120 Kms, half-finished but already built, Worcester, Black Country, Derby mainline?
  9. Why has it taken 70 years, to only now for Andy Street to be able to make headway with the railway industry over the joint running of passenger and freight trains, when this was the norm for about 100 years?
  10. Is the joint running of fast regional trains over the full 120 Kms mainline railway between Worcester, Dudley, Derby, with slower tram-trains, all on one set of double tracks, seen anywhere else in the world?
  11. What plans do you have for the 3 Kms Pensnett branch line from Moor Street, Brierley Hill north to A4101 High Street, Pensnett?
  12. Comparison study of Fare-Free Public Transport (FFPT) that is now seen in Dunkirk, Tallinn and Luxembourg - and many more in E Europe and around the world.


Friday, 12 March 2021

The Commitment -

The danger, I think, we are all in is that we are living unnaturally on a natural planet and infinitely on a finite planet.  There is trouble ahead!  I just love what that heroine, St Greta Thunberg is doing.  What an inspiration.  What an example!

Making a commitment, this is my second, is the very least we can do!  It gets us thinking and thought leads to action.

Thursday, 11 March 2021

Bob Whitehead says ...

We have to move away from privatised travel to social travel, away from privately owned buses and trains run for a profit, and away from private cars. Post-Covid we need a completely new model, free and accessible at the point of use.

Don't forget the elephant in the room. Unless we suppress the virus and achieve zero Covid, the best of plans can be led astray.

Twitter to W Mids Metro

I love trams because they look great, glitzy and glamorous. The problem is that for all their attraction, we now have a slower and worse journey into the city centre. We either have to change and wait for the tram or stay on the bus and have a longer and slower ride. This is not progress!

Tuesday, 9 March 2021

Hostile environment for illegal migrants at work - courtesy of Liam Byrne MP and, now Shadow Metro Mayor!

A MATTER OF CONCERN - but what is the truth in all this, Liam?:-
Yvonne Davies, who remains the suspended Leader of Sandwell Council from July 2020, was wrongly accused of racism by yourself, Liam when you said at the time, "There is absolutely no place for racism or anti-Semitism in the Labour Party."  This, when she was suspended for doing nothing wrong but quite properly (but hardly, in fact) 'criticising' the State of Israel, as we are all free to do and should do when deserved.  Yet, according to the 'Guardian' in 2007, it seems that you brought in (or, at least, fully supported) the hostile environment for illegal migrants (asylum seekers), to be frightened away from these shores.

You said, "What we are proposing here will, I think, flush illegal migrants out. We are trying to create a much more hostile environment in this country if you are here illegally," said Mr Byrne. "We have to make Britain much less of an attractive place if you are going to come here and break the rules."

As you know, this led to the outrageous and despicable Windrush scandal in the next decade.

Do you still hold those views over the desirability of having a hostile or hate-filled environment in the W Midlands for some residents whom you consider should not be here?  Are you proud of your legacy?
Do you accept it is very difficult, if not impossible, to be sure who is a legal immigrant and who is illegal?

"The right to seek asylum is a legal right we all share. It isn’t illegal to seek asylum, because seeking asylum is a legal process. It also isn’t illegal to be refused asylum – it just means you haven’t been able to meet the very strict criteria to prove your need for protection as a refugee."  from:

Will you, please ask your party to deal with the matter urgently, as you said at the time?
Or, will you now apologise to Yvonne and do all in your powers to get her rapidly reinstated as leader?

Dr Nathaniel wrote to me:
"Importantly, this policy the very system of barring and terrorising that Liam Byrne, as minister, invented and introduced:"

There you find:

Liam is quoted as saying, "What we are proposing here will, I think, flush illegal migrants out. We are trying to create a much more hostile environment in this country if you are here illegally," said Mr Byrne. "We have to make Britain much less of an attractive place if you are going to come here and break the rules."    (from the Guardian on 16 May 2007)

Yvonne's tweets: One post features a link to a petition calling for a parliamentary debate over whether Israel has "improper influence" over British politics, while another suggests "Israel's hand" was behind criticism of Jeremy Corbyn.

From the Express and Star on 8 July 2020:

Birmingham Hodge Hill MP Liam Byrne, Labour's candidate for West Midlands Mayor, has urged his party to urgently deal with the matter.

He said: "As a complaint has been made to the Labour Party, it is right that it is investigated and dealt with quickly and swiftly.

"There is absolutely no place for racism or anti-Semitism in the Labour Party."

White state racism from Dr Nathaniel Adam Tobias C———

Dear Dr Nathaniel

Your email makes sober and shocking reading, with much helpful reading material added, too.  I never knew,
"that people with “no recourse to public funds” are barred and terrorised away from accessing the joined-up healthcare they need, and we need them to have, during this unequally devastating pandemic. Importantly, this policy is the very system of barring and terrorising that Liam Byrne, as minister, invented and introduced".

I thought it was the Conservatives and Theresa May, in particular, who brought in the hostile environment.  I would never have dreamt it was New Labour and Liam Byrne in the noughties!

However, I have found this:
"Overview. NHS treatment is not classed as a public fund for immigration purposes and can be accessed by person regardless of their immigration status, including a person who is subject to the 'no recourse to public funds' (NRPF) condition ... Therefore a person may be denied treatment if they are unable to pay for it."

I think you should be tough on Liam Byrne and remind him of his misdeeds.  I will, anyway if the appropriate opportunity comes in any election hustings I might be invited to.  You write,  "This election is tricky."  Not so tricky that Andy, Liam and the rest of us can't be told when we are wrong or discriminating.  White state racism remains prevalent and is a terrible stain on our society.  I can only apologise for my ancestors' behaviour through the centuries with their empire building and the despicable genocide of slavery by my white forebears that lasted 300 to 400 years.  I can only apologise for my own racism, sexism and all other prejudices that I am a party to.

I want to make the point that the Metro Mayor is largely a 'ceremonial' appointment with no "official powers" as Andy Street volunteered in a BBC 'Today' interview shortly after his election in May 2017.  Jonathan Walker, the respected and experienced reporter on the Post has written of the Metro Mayor being, "a figurehead".  The Mayor Chairs the WMCA Board but is beholden to the seven council leaders, it seems and has to do their bidding.

We all have to receive pleasant, polite but pertinent questions and comments to put us on the spot.  You must not hesitate, sir  You must influence us all over the despicable, white state racism that is still far too prevalent in British society, as we have seen with dislike/discrimination/targetting of Meghan Markle.  My barbs of constructive but, no holds barred, criticism is this, Sir:

Sunday, 7 March 2021

24 March 2021 Zoom on FFPT extended not Metro trams

Birmingham City Council’s Climate Emergency plan, adopted on January 12th this year, acknowledges that a feasibility study looking into FFPT would be acceptable, but the council will not do it by itself. We would like Transport for West Midlands to undertake a parallel study, but being an unaccountable body, we have little purchase with them.

Therefore, we are inviting you to register for the online meeting on Wednesday March 24th, 19.00 to 20.30 hours GMT, and take part in the discussion led by Wojciech Keblowski. Wojciech is a critical urban geographer working on transport and alternatives to capitalism and is based at the Free University of Brussels. He has written several articles on FFPT, which can be found here.
Register here for the Zoom meeting.
Climate Action Network West Midlands.

Levelling up is not being done

We have an uncaring government that seems to get precious little right. Why can't those with more money than they can possibly spend, part with some of it to those who have too little?

Saturday, 6 March 2021

Metro mayor must work with, and cannot rule over, our 7 council leaders

"Does having a metro mayor mean that local authority leaders have less power?

The metro mayor works together with leaders of the local authority to create a strategy for the wider area, but local authorities will still be responsible for most public service delivery (such as children and adults’ social care, waste management, and recreational facilities). The metro mayor’s job is to focus on wider issues that span beyond individual local authority boundaries, such as local labour markets, skills training, housing markets and transport infrastructure and services."

"metro mayor-led combined authorities", is used

"Metro mayors give more cities the opportunity to take advantage of powers, funding and leadership that Greater London has benefited from at the city-region scale since 2000."

"Metro mayors cannot be removed as long as the devolution deal and arrangements are in place – this is because a metro mayor is required by law in order to negotiate the devolution of powers. But it is possible for the full combined authority, along with the mayor, to be abolished in its entirety."

"What checks and balances are the directly-elected metro mayors subject to?

"An important part of the devolution deals negotiated between combined authorities and national government was deciding how the new metro mayors will be scrutinised and held to account.

"In the current devolution deals, the metro mayor chairs the combined authority cabinet, which is made up of the leaders from each local authority.  Rather than the stronger executive powers and assembly scrutiny model that is used in London, most of the deals have agreed that the new metro mayors have to consult the combined authority cabinet on their strategies. These can be rejected if two thirds of the cabinet members do not agree with them. The cabinet also reviews the metro mayors’ spending plans, and is able to amend these with a two-thirds majority.

"In addition, the 2016 Bill requires all combined authorities to set up at least one overview and scrutiny committee. Each local authority within the combined authority will appoint one member. The committee has the power to suspend decisions put forward by the metro mayor and combined authority cabinet.

"The checks on metro mayors are higher than that faced by the Mayor of London and other global counterparts such as the Mayors of New York and Paris. But while metro mayors are not able to take as many decisions affecting the whole area alone, they will have a significant democratic mandate and larger public profile compared to many of their cabinet colleagues."

The supplementary voting system, a shorter form of the alternative vote system, gives voters the opportunity to mark their first and second choice. If no candidate receives a majority in the first round, the top two candidates continue to a second round while the rest are eliminated. The second-choice votes of everyone whose first choice was eliminated is counted.


Women want gender equality. Yes, but not this ...

Don't be a fossil fool loving the boys' toys and wanting to be part of their preoccupation with warfare, arms manufacturing and war games; of grandiose, luxury, vanity trams; and, of the constant building, demolition and rebuilding of Centenary Sq and so many other buildings in Brum.

We men must take Attenborough, the Prince of Wales, the UN IPCC and our international obligations seriously and mend our ways to have any chance of mending the planet and its life support systems.

We men must take on the same caring, sharing, compassion and empathy that women do.



  1. Where are we already on delivery of equal representation of women in policy making across the West Midlands both as elected persons and non elected. What could be done better, what is a reasonable target and by when? 

What will each candidate pledge to achieve? 

TIM WELLER: We have a woman Chief Exec in Deborah Cadman and one woman leader out of seven council leaders in the W Mids.  This is a heavily male dominated leadership team that may explain the very low priority given to Mother Nature that David Attenborough has been so brilliant in highlighting must be our top priority to improve the prospects for all life on earth.

  1.  For current Mayor: Have equality impact assessments been done by the Combined Authority to date? If yes, in relation to which policies. 

Mayoral candidates (not current Mayor): Has an equality impact lens been applied to the policies that you are putting forth? Provide an example.

TIM WELLER: No.  I would expect an equality impact lens to be applied to all the policies put forward.  I would want WMWV to advise me over my own.

Will each candidate pledge to do this for the Local Industrial Strategy and other major policies?

TIM WELLER: Yes, in accordance with WMWV guidance.

  1. Covid has disproportionately negatively impacted employment opportunities for women. What steps are you, will you take to address this? Be clear on where funding will come from and precise on what policy is in place and/ or should be in place. 

Answers ideally should include what’s happening on transport, infrastructure, childcare, mental health provision (‘localised high street hubs’), and access to WiFi (digital strategy).

TIM WELLER:  A caring, sharing, compassionate society must be at the heart of all we do, from now on and is essential in responding to the climate emergency we are in.  Men like me have much to learn from women in being this kind of society. 

  1. There have been sobering statistics as to the increase in domestic violence to women and children during lockdown. What are you doing to support the third sector and/or what do you propose could be done better? 

Will each candidate pledge to increase funding and support for organisations working to end violence against women and children?

TIM WELLER:  Funding for such organisations and groups is essential and urgent and extra funding can easily be found by stopping all further work on the current weird and wonderful transport priorities of spending £15 billion to 2040 to replace some buses and trains with a grossly extravagant, luxury and a grandiose network of eight tramlines over 150 miles that simply cause further changes of another totally unnecessary transport mode.

  1. What do you think the legacy impact of the Commonwealth Games will be and why? 

TIM WELLER:  Such is the urgency of drastically reducing finite fossil fuel use, it is urgent that we cut all flying and rely on lower impact shipping, instead.  Even that heroine, St Greta Thunberg and her quite outstanding example of sailing across the Atlantic should be followed!  Cancel Commonwealth and Olympic Games for Covid, Climate and a healthier planet.

Tim Weller

I am a keen hill walker, guerilla gardener, cyclist and small-time environmentalist who is out to be more successful in reducing my Hypocrisy Quotient than I have ever been in increasing my IQ!