Monday, 31 October 2022

Re: 26 October CA/CANWM meeting

Dear Laura, Andy and Ed - and who was the fourth at last Wednesday's meeting, please?


The millions of pounds and the staff at TfWM/WMCA and MMA are there to help those who are suffering, NOW!

Scrapping Metro/Sprint is the first and most basic action to get more and warmer homes, heating, food, help, ambulances, to those who, shamefully, are at the bottom of our society, including migrants who must be put to work and also be properly housed.

Therefore, you cannot avoid talking transport at the Green Forum on 21 Nov that is not on transport anymore!  Do you agree?  Fare-Free Public Transport (FFPT) would help the poor and that is transport.  You are all moving in that direction and that is excellent.  The multiple crises are all linked as one.  The transport money must go for FFPT and for insulation/retrofitting and getting low cost, highly energy efficient apartments at High Plateau, Daniels Land and other overlooked sites - all for the disgracefully badly housed.

Best wishes

Tim Weller

Sunday, 30 October 2022


Hi Chris - please reply

It was brilliant that four of you got to see four of them - last Wednesday, was it?  The problem is that I spoke to Ed Cox on Friday after the Board meeting and he told me that the four of you gave him the impression that you no longer wanted transport as the topic for the Green Forum on the 21 Nov.  Is that true?  What exactly was agreed last week?

Are you on my side that transport expenditure and the workload that Metro and Sprint are generating means that funds and staff are not available to work on retrofitting urgently or, on all the other measures that can help those at the bottom of the pile to survive more comfortably this winter?

Are you on my side that we all need to be united, if at all possible?  Are we, however agreed over these basics:
  1. ​Like ​lowering the importance of getting international and national companies moving into state of the art, brand new, prestigious buildings in the centre of Brum?
  2. Like, spending £15 billion (Feb 2020 figure) to 2040 on mainly 150 miles of underground and overground trams to replace buses and trains?
  3. Like weaning them off vanity, over indulgent, extravagant projects like Metro and Sprint and into the mundane and vital work that you are doing so well ​with FoE ​to cut GHG emissions and to slow climate catastrophe?
  4. Like reopening/finishing the 120 Kms Black Country Railway to ease the congestion and air pollution on the parallel in places or, nearby, M5/M6?  They were and, still are, using trams as the catalyst to get the freight and passenger trains back​ on that railway "of national strategic significance"​.
  5. Like putting small, highly energy efficient, low cost apartments at High Plateau and Daniels Land at Merry Hill to relieve the housing/migrant crisis?  Over 10,000 sq metres are STILL lying wasted, unused because of Metro having priority at Merry Hill instead of housing for the badly housed.
Do you agree with me that although Metro and Sprint look green, they are not, in fact, because of the very heavy price in both finance and GHG emissions and, they are the wrong priority, anyway when first ​and foremost, ​buses and trains must be made as least as good as the average on the mainland of Europe?

It would be great to hear from you, ​Chris.

PS bonus

Saturday, 29 October 2022

Extract from 'My Ten Point West Midlands Plan' from December 2019

Dear Andy Street and all you triumphant Conservatives advancing to an even Greater Than Ever Better Britain Brexit Land.

Well done on your great victory in England and, to a lesser extent, in Wales.  Commiserations on your wipeout in Scotland and sad loss in N. Ireland.

Thursday, 27 October 2022

October 2022 Scotland expedition report

250 Grahams/Donalds left out of 364 after 16 summits visited this month.  No frost at night.  Damp throughout but two good clear days for great views.  The day with the wind turbine on a Donald summit, Bowbeat Hill 626 m, in the Moorfoot Hills SE of Penicuik.  And the day I walked up Windlestraw Law 659 m and Whitehope Law 623 m.

7 to 9 hour days when I was attempting summits left me exhausted.  I was well pleased with the 16 total (out of a possible 22) and the lower walks on rest days.

Walking poles were a great help in fording swollen burns.  One took the water right over both hubs of the bike!

3 nights were like sleeping in a drum; rainbows and goldfinches at Aultbea, Wester Ross; and full wet weather gear just to get from the car park to the old but transformed Loch Ewe Church in Aultbea in a southerly gale that was blasting straight off the sea into the south facing front door of the church.  You had to quickly shut it behind you to keep the torrential rain and gale out!  Inside was an amazingly fine, modern, packed church at their 11 am service in a six or seven-year-old restored, updated and made energy-efficient building.  What a pleasure to see.  Three men led the three sung psalms, instead of musical instruments and hymns, from the Scottish Psalter.

Lots of showers to begin the 3 weeks, followed by cloud and still more rain.  Two complete rainbows seen in the period of sun and showers.  My last day - a big circuit to take in four Donalds - was in cloud and murk and was the only day of low cloud throughout the 9 hours bike and walk.

I achieved two out of the four Grahams I wanted in NW Scotland and those two were the most remote that needed 8/8.30 am starts.  The 29" wheels bike was a great help and made all the difference to get within striking difference of the two remote summits.  But still long walk-ins even then!

The most almighty very heavy rain bucketed down on me just ten minutes after I had safely got back to the car from the first long day of 8 hours.

Four nights in three different hotels.  Left on Monday 3 October and returned on Sunday 23 October.  The last full day was to complete the last four Manor Hills summits north of St Mary's Loch but after an exhausting 9 hrs to do the first four, I was easily diverted to do a little guerrilla gardening.  I came upon native hardwood planting at 450 metres on the rough track I was cycling up, straightened one sapling and collected lots of tree guards that were lying around having been pushed off the growing trees.

Last Friday's long circuit round the Peebles horseshoe was satisfyingly accomplished throughout in cloud and murk.  I was overtaken by a fast young man with map and compass held out to guide him.  He was doing the long circuit by starting and finishing in Peebles, like me but without the help of a bike.  I had stopped in tiredness after a long ride, sat on the grass and took a long hard look at the steep valley side on the other side of the burn that I had to get up.  I realised I had stopped just in time.  There was, I thought a way to avoid much of the bracken and then heather to get up onto the ridge to find the Cross Borders Drove Road to my first summit, Birkscairn Hill 661 m.  I started the big walk 300m short of Glensax after abandoning the bike by the track.

Above Gairloch Harbour were two 300 metre rocky hills that looked daunting to climb but I did one from round the back in deteriorating weather.

I came away from one Graham when I soon met a stalking party that had spotted me when I was getting ready at the car.  They walked down to meet me just after I walked up from the road.  A truly lovely estate manager in charge of the stalking.  The first time that I had relented when similarly spoken to.  The other two men, in previous years, let me continue.  Very decent of them.  This was the day, for plan B, I returned to Gairloch Harbour to find a way to climb one of the 300 m hills mentioned above.

A fabulous day photographing on the shores of Loch Maree and then a late four-hour Beinn Eighe mountain trail that was well worth doing but I came down in the dark for the last few hundred metres.  Highlights were a Caledonian pine forest, a deep vertical gorge alongside a well-cairned trail and lochans passed in the higher reaches to the summit cairn at 550m.

Best meal was a simple pea and mint soup, followed by a cheese and cranberry toastie at Traquair House.  A delicious meal and lovely staff, too.  Interesting house of three floors to explore and, the priest steps to escape from the top of the house at the approach of a search party in the 17th and 18th centuries.

So damp this expedition I actually had condensation dripping on me twice as I slept with head and shoulders under the rear windscreen - just as I normally do.  Dampness was discovered on both my black cycling bumbag and bivy tent when I came to unpack back home.

At Peebles, my night stays were noted for rain drops from trees sounding like I was in a drum, so loud was the split splatter on the steel roof!

Left 3 October; returned 23 October 2022. 

Nick Bevan of

Dear Nick

Thanks for quickly replying and reassuring me that my form has been received.

More importantly, I would like you to please speak to the owner of 'The Cat's Pyjamas' that either he must pay or, the company who painted over the mini mural on his property.  The action has spoilt a wonderful trail or treasure hunt for both young and old to try.  Out of the 14 animals/birds/fish, his was the only one that was destroyed by the painter that, presumably, was brought in by the owner to paint his shop - and NOT the BT phone box/cupboard as well!

Would the decorator pay Leah Hatton to repaint her mural?  Or, the owner and decorator share the cost?  It really is important that the mistake is put right.  We all have to put right our own errors and at our own expense, too!

I asked Steph for the name of the owner of 'The Cat's Pyjamas' so I could also ask for him/her to put right the mistake.  Is this possible, please?

Could you also take up my suggestion that the pedestrianisation that you have on Saturdays and Sundays should be extended to seven days a week.  On the 26 September, I wrote:

"The Art Trail is a Shrewsbury BID initiative.  Do go and see what you think, Chris.  The Comics Salopia hoardings also need promoting with a paper map to help tourists find them all.  I think there are eight to find, plotted on a map - PLEASE!

"Some improvements are much needed and would make your town even more special, inspiring and worth visiting.  More pedestrianisation would also help, by the way!  Brum city centre banned cars from their two main shopping streets many decades ago (the 1980s, I believe) and the place is still thriving with shoppers and businesses.  Do extend yours - please and make the town even more attractive!"

The infernal combustion engine must be controlled for the sake of the nationally declared climate emergency that UN Sec Gen, Antonio Guterres has given a Code Red warning to humanity for.  And, for reasons of shortages of fossil fuels, clean air and a much more pleasant shopping environment.

Best wishes

These people need persuading to act on climate justice


  • Sir Peter Hendy, Chairman, Network Rail 
  • Andrew Haines, Chief Executive, Network Rail
  • John Larkinson, Chief Executive Officer, ORR
  • Andy Lord, Chief Operating Officer, Transport for London
  • Maria Machancoses, Chief Executive, Midlands Connect
  • Mark Thurston, Chief Executive, HS2
  • Kate Nicholls, Chief Executive, UKHospitality
  • Anit Chandarana, Lead, GBRTT
  • Mr Ahmed Al Musawa Al Hashemi, Chief Executive Officer, Oman and Etihad Rail

Monday, 24 October 2022

To Tom Bissell of MMA

TEXT to Tom B:  My official and stamped MMA stylus-biro soon fell apart. Could you please send me a replacement? THANKS!  28 Hunnington Cres  HALESOWEN  B63 3DJ   (The biro section fell out, literally)

It was really good to speak to all three of you yesterday on my way to Scotland for more summits - otherwise I would have been on the bike (food fueled, only)!

Since you are liaising between the public and MMA/TfWM/WMCA, I was anxious to meet with you so that you could get something of a different perspective on Metro.  The only one, as you told me - out of a million who all want more Metro. 

The trams are wonderful and I take every opportunity to travel on them instead of the bus. However, your predecessors did destroy our first network in the 1950s, then about one third of the railway network in the 60s onwards and, in the 80s your colleagues set to work to busily rebuild the tram network but, on the closed railway network not yet completely turned into roads or buildings.  And this is what you are doing with WBHE, of course, a railway "of national strategic significance"!!

I would like both of you and Gil/Jill (was it?) to simply take on board the knowledge of this old man who, since 1968, has lived, studied and worked and now retired in the Black Country and Brum.

Using existing transport infrastructure, rather than wasting or destroying it is basic climate change prevention or mitigation and, of course, environmental gain/improvement.

Would you concede or, allow me one tiny satisfaction in knowing that, at least, my guerrilla gardening exploits at Merry Hill since the 1990s are safe?  See my email, below.

The Metro tram rejoins the former principal mainline railway at the Cinder Bank roundabout on the Dudley Southern Bypass.  Where the trams come off the railway after Canal Street tram stop, Hart's Hill, I am suggesting it still goes into the Waterfront and almost all the way to Merry Hill Shopping Centre but, it should terminate at a new Level Street tram stop.  This slightly shortened route is to
  1. save £100 m by not needing to build the 400 metre, steel and concrete, double track, standard gauge, tram viaduct on the 400 m long and high canal embankment, plus a second canal bridge;
  2. save my 'magnificent' guerrilla garden from being wiped out;
  3. save the only public open space at Merry Hill;
  4. everything (and more) in this photo between the road and the canal gets bulldozed for the massive viaduct;
  5. save nature - of which we are part and depend on for our very existence;
  6. save the view of five lovely hills from the canal towpath and from the boats on the high canal embankment; and 
  7. save all the 10,000 sq metres of land designated for housing - after some decades, is still available for very low cost energy apartments for the poor and, "the stranger in our midst", as here:
Level Street tram stop would enable passengers to walk to the Waterfront and, in the other direction, to the shopping centre.  Level St is marked on the above plan and crosses, west to east, the roundabout in the top right hand corner of the plan, above.

Other maps and full details are found here:

What do you think?  Any chance?

Best wishes

Forum now on cost of living and net zero instead of transport

Thanks for this, Katie and Ed.  For the forum, I would like you all to address what I have written here, please.  This is all about climate, cost of living, shortages and building a more sociable and humane society - starting from the bottom, for the most important citizens.

I think it is vital that all WMCA members and officers cancel any further work on tram and Sprint extensions in order for the money to be used to remove all fares from bus, train and tram operations in the West Midlands.  It has been done for me over the last 14 years, since I was 60.  It can easily be afforded for everybody from the hundreds of millions saved from abandoning further Metro, Sprint and HS2 expansion.  High Scam 2 is an unnecessary luxury of only benefit to those who do far too much travelling as it is and, only between three cities and two of their airports, too!

Those targetted for further financial help must be those having to choose between heating their homes or eating nutritious meals.  A massive insulation programme must be targetted at the worst homes occupied by the poorest.  Landlords must be forced to pay, of course.

Solar PV must be encouraged on roofs and not on fertile land that is needed for farming to give food to the local population.  Further measures are here:
Actual examples, that I can visit for myself, must be given over what is meant by affordable housing.  I asked Gareth many weeks ago but nothing has been forthcoming.  Low energy bills, highly energy efficient homes fit for the workers mean not one square metre bigger than my own mid terrace, 1960s, 3 storey townhouse where I have lived for nearly 47 years.

Best wishes


That brilliant question and my dreadful diatribe!


You are so good at engaging and, educating me over fracking, that makes me so glad that we met!

Please forward this to John who asked the great question that so completely floored me.  I would love him to know that he put me on the spot.  However, I need to acknowledge that 200 years of developments in climate science does speak volumes in now finally addressing the poisoned chalice that we have all so thirstily drunk from in discovering the very mixed blessings of oil, gas and coal.

It is probably too late for climate but, just because of coming shortages, we need to urgently cut back on their use, as my wife and I are doing, as here.  It means immediately stopping the rest of the totally unnecessary destruction of the 120 Kms Black Country Railway for a forty-year-old shuttle tram extension to bring even more destruction at Merry Hill.  This very foolish expenditure means that - such is our addiction to, and dependency on, finite fossil fuels - every pound we spend means yet more fossil fuels burnt and gone forever.  And, every pound we spend might be seen as a pound in weight of GHG emissions as they continue their alarming rise.

My talking of seven decades of tram, then train destruction was a perfect case example of how we have worsened our climate problems by our stupidity and, secondly, caused even worse air pollution, road traffic and railway congestion in the West Midlands.  Actually, a triple whammy when you add in the waste and shortages of finite resources!

Is this the final word, now on John's question?  But he is welcome to respond, please!

While writing, I do feel that your brilliant humanitarian work must reflect the changing times we have seen this year that has brought or, will bring, poverty and suffering this winter for low income people in Dudley much more than for my income bracket.  But, I know you are aware of that.

Very best wishes


Friday, 14 October 2022

We must, please practise democracy ourselves - on 8 Nov!

Jules, Richard, Chris, Bob

We must please practise democracy ourselves - on 8 Nov!
Our meeting is 8 Nov; their forum on transport is 21 Nov.  Therefore, as the first item on the 8th can we please have a discussion and vote on whether what I am proposing is acceptable to you four key players and, to the others who attend on the 8th?

TfWM/WMCA must be lambasted for lack of democracy over Feb 2020, £15 billion Metro extensions without discussion, debate, vote.  NOT ONCE SINCE 1981 when the Metro development started!!

I am proposing for the officers on the 21st to respond to this:

1.   The immediate scrapping of High Scam 2 (not in their remit, I know but we were successful in scrapping the eastern arm), Metro extensions and Sprint extensions.  Tens of billions of pounds are being spent to 2040 on 150 miles of Metro expansion, alone!

2.   POSITIVE: The carrot of Fare-Free Public Transport extended from my old crocks age group to everyone else.

3.   HELPFUL: The stick of the Clean Air Zone made stricter; as well as road pricing to penalise the car commuters who don't need their motors for their job but who thoughtlessly clog up the road space for essential business users.

4.   CONSTRUCTIVE: My two year Hagley Road experiment, as here:

These basic, vital proposals are in the light of multiple crises: climate, energy, cost of living, inflation, resource shortages, population, spending way beyond what the planet can possibly deliver.  My proposals/suggestions are for pure humanitarian reasons - above all else!

The completion of the well over half a billion pounds (and similar weight in ruinous GHG emissions!), WBHE (the tragic, immoral Dudley Tram) is being fast tracked by the new foolish Truss government, would you believe!  I want it stopped at Level Street to save, at Merry Hill, housing land, public open space canal embankment, a nature site that includes my guerrilla garden and, trees, shrubs.
Tim Weller

Sunday, 9 October 2022

Dudley Tram terminates at Level Street?

Hi Cathy

I'm away hill walking in Scotland (but not today with atrocious weather) and will not be at your excellent Transport Scrutiny Committee on Thursday.  I see that I have Mike Waters down in my diary for your meeting.  Is he, in fact, speaking at your committee and what on, please?  You were brilliant at getting Anne Shaw (and it reflects very well on Anne, too) to come to your last meeting and I'm sorry I'll miss Mike.

Now that they will not keep the tram on the Dudley Mainline Railway down to Stourbridge via Brierley Hill, could you ask if the tram could terminate at a new Level Street tram stop, please?  It would be on Level Street between the Waterfront offices in one direction and Merry Hill in the other direction.  Easy walking and no further than where the Merry Hill tram stop is due to go, anyway.  No diversion from the existing planned route is needed and the suggested tram stop would be on the north side of the Level St roundabout.  Plan here:

There is a good bus connection between Brierley Hill and Dudley town centres, so the tram terminating at Cottage Street is hardly essential.

Would you feel able to ask your members if any of them support my wish that the housing land taken by the Dudley Tram is saved, along with the 400 metre canal embankment that is the only public open space and, my guerrilla garden - please?  There was one councillor who did speak up and agree with me at the meeting before the last one.

Remember, that I would guess £100m would be saved by not building the 400 m concrete and steel viaduct and the second canal bridge for the double track, standard gauge, tram line.  Under this new suggestion, the first canal bridge would be needed if the tram really cannot stay on the railway all the way to Brierley Hill and Stourbridge.  The present freight trains from Port Talbot would need to operate at night for the trams in the daytime.  This is done elsewhere, of course, to maximise efficiency.

Today's Network Rail never likes freight and passenger trains on the same lines.  Yet, it was common practice for the first 100 years of the railways.

The red line of the Metro route is marked here:

Thanks so much for what you doing to help in getting the best and most sensible solution, Cathy.

from Population Matters

Each one of us puts pressure on the natural world, consumes the Earth’s finite resources and contributes to climate change. One of the most effective ways that we can help our planet today is by choosing to have a smaller family.

Sunday, 2 October 2022

A call for prophetic ministry from our church leaders

Dear friends - and Christian leaders

I am very concerned about the, so far, 13 years of massive expenditure on High Scam 2, the 150 miles of immoral "bus on rails" Metro tram extensions for the W Midlands and the prestigious Sprint - "the bus that thinks it's a tram".  This is on top of borrowing money to splash out on tax cuts at a time of rising inflation, rising interest rates, rising armaments expenditure going from 2% to 3% of national income, plus ongoing funding of the Ukraine War that is threatening a low-powered nuclear exchange.  The final insult and idiocy is that we now have a national, self-inflicted, financial crisis to nicely cap all the others!

High Scam 2, Metro, Sprint are all greedy, selfish, wealth flaunting, vanity projects that make the multiple crises worse and divert resources away from the poor and "the stranger in our midst", who should be our top priority, not flash, unnecessary transport projects to, supposedly, entice motorists out of their cars and relieve congestion/pollution.

Food banks are as necessary as ever and now the churches may have to open their smaller, more energy efficient buildings this winter to become warm shelters for the local community as the energy crisis deepens.  Your Amos-like prophetic role is as essential as ever.  I would like to see our top church leaders joining me in speaking out.  E-mail addresses are in the attachment, below.  I wrote this to Joy last night:

"For me, the well over half a billion pound, 10.7 Kms Dudley Tram on a ready built, 120 Kms principal mainline railway is immoral and stupid expenditure.  Especially, when there are so many people in great need who should have the hundreds of millions going into trams, so they can have homes at High Plateau and Daniels Land, Merry Hill.  It is something that I have to speak up about and condemn.  It is part of my discipleship and commitment to the Way of Jesus Christ.  I would like every West Midlands Christian leader/cleric/Bishop to see it as part of their prophetic ministry.  David M spoke about Amos last Sunday in our church service and rooted it in what had occurred two days previously, 23 Sept.  Amos had the right idea!  Another one of my heroes!

Best wishes

Saturday, 1 October 2022

For the best of all possible reasons, our side always feels it has to expand and dominate and promote its culture and democracy to Russia and China

For the best of all possible reasons, our side always feels it has to expand and dominate and promote its culture and democracy to, Russia and China, in particular!

Four regions of Ukraine annexed by Russia, this week (end Sept 2022).

All my life I considered Ukraine as being part of the USSR and had more in common with Moscow than Washington, London or Paris.  Especially, when Crimea was given to Ukraine by Kruschev in 1954, I think it was, when I was 6 years of age.


Our foolish crowing over winning the Cold War in 1991 when it was Gorbachev who magnanimously initiated its ending;

our failure to credit the Russian submarine commander who chose not to fire his nuclear missiles when he was being depth charged by the USAF in the 1962 Cuban missile crisis;

our failure to disband NATO when the Warsaw Pact disbanded;

our promotion to Moscow of the Chicago Boys and their right-wing, trickle down, the rich first and last, economics;

our warm embrace of the extremely wealthy Russian oligarchs to London;

yet, our failure to be generous, open and friendly with Russia after Yeltsin, when Putin came along;

our failure to welcome his offer of help after 9/11, 2001;

or to understand his strong right-wing, nationalistic and patriotic Russian feelings;

the idiocy of being unable to get into the mind of Putin in order to maintain good relations with him, when things had started out so promisingly;

the sheer stupidity of President Bush, in April 2008 in Bucharest, Romania in persuading his allies to open the door for both Ukraine and Georgia to join NATO, despite Putin's disgust ("an open-ended promise of membership one day ... Putin made his displeasure plain" - 'The World Tonight', Radio 4 on 29.11.22);

our view that conceding anything to Putin was wicked appeasement, so that our sphere of influence, our NATO and military exercises and nukes had to come right up to the Russian border;

our NATO "was founded in 1949 as a counterweight to the Soviet Union" and "any state in the alliance is effectively under US protection" but it led to the Warsaw Pact being formed in 1955 to counterbalance NATO but dissolved in 1991 after our mighty Cold War victory;

our subsequent subsuming of the former Warsaw Pact members into NATO;

our being shamelessly unapologetic (not even regretful) at our side overthrowing their fairly elected pro Russian president that initiated the disastrous war in February 2014 that ratcheted up a gear or two, eight years later - this year.

All this has contributed to the tragedy of the West siding with Ukraine and funding its war and training its troops, when it was not a member of NATO and, when we had not made it clear to Putrid that this is what we would do if he invaded Ukraine;

If I lived in one of the four regions annexed, I would not care a toss whether Zelensky or Putin ruled over me.  I would simply want my friends, my family, and myself to stay alive and earn a liveable income/pension to the natural end of my days.

The scale of the horror, the fear, the killings and destruction over where a national boundary line should be drawn on a map.  It is just not worth it, in my opinion.  But how we humans love to hate and kill one another to make a point - or a boundary line.  Our death wish to make us one of the most short-lived species in the history of the planet!!

Tim Weller    1 October 2022 (updated 30 Nov 2022)

I suppose this does, rather obviously, display my thoroughly jaundiced and agnostic and sceptical and dissident views!