Bus services are getting there

Deep funding cuts by Herefordshire Council have left many local bus services in a sorry state. Now work by Leominster Greens and others to restore some vital bus links by getting the town and parish councils working together is paying off.

Ludlow Town Council has agreed to back Leominster’s initiative on the 490 service between the towns by giving a £1,000 grant.

“This is welcome news,” said Leominster Town Councillor Trish Marsh. “We want people to come to Leominster to shop. Not everyone has unlimited access to a car – a surprisingly high number of local people don’t own a vehicle.”

Hereford city travel survey

Residents in Hereford city are being urged to take part in a city wide travel survey. The survey results will be used to make sure the council’s transport model for the city remains up to date.Hereford is undergoing an unprecedented period of change and regeneration; the data captured will ensure the council’s transport modelling is capable of supporting transport projects and developments across the city.

Councillor Philip Price, Cabinet member infrastructure said: “We want to make sure we have a cross section of views from residents that we can analyse and consider within the plans, to make them robust. I would urge all residents that receive a questionnaire to take part, so we can ensure we have the very best transport outcomes for everyone.”

The survey will be sent to all addresses within the city boundary and are expected to arrive on door mats from 1 February. All respondents will be entered into a prize draw with a chance to win one of ten £50 Amazon vouchers.

From Herefordshire Council website.

Public railways for everyone

In what is quickly becoming the only punctual thing about our privatised rail system, the annual increase in rail fares came into effect yesterday.

This year, prices have gone up by 2.3%. And in the last decade, fares have gone up at twice the rate of wages. This is effectively forcing people off the railways, because they simply can’t afford it.

Not only that, but while we’re made to pay more and more, the service gets worse and worse. We now have one of the least efficient and most expensive rail networks in all of Europe.

But it doesn’t have to be this way.

Today, Green Party activists around the country have come together to campaign at their local train stations, calling for the railways to be brought back into public hands

The message is clear. We want reliable, affordable, convenient trains. For everyone. 

This isn’t about harking back to the last period of UK public ownership. This is about looking to today’s best examples of modern, clean, connected rail networks – run in the interest of passengers rather than profits. 

Sadly, our government is more interested in spending tax money on roads rather than rails, making people more dependent on highly polluting forms of transport, while passing the spiralling costs of privatised rail onto passengers like you and me.

We want commuters in the UK to enjoy their journey to and from work, rather than endure it. Nobody should have to perch on a luggage rack, miserably crushed against someone else’s back. And they certainly shouldn’t be paying more and more for the privilege each year.

We need low carbon transport and high quality journeys. And the first step is taking back our railways from greedy, inefficient private companies.

Sign and share the petition today, and demand that railways be brought back into public hands

Motorway through Hereford?

Marches LEP and Herefordshire Council are pressing ahead with their scheme to build Hereford’s north-south bypass, including a new crossing of the river Wye to the west of the city. They applied to the Department for Transport for funding (c £1.9m) to help develop the Outline Business Case and the planning application. The application documents are publicly available, so we reviewed them and wrote to DfT prior to the Autumn Statement to ask that they refuse the application for funding. We said:

  • The claimed benefits for the Bypass are overstated and unsubstantiated, in some cases illusory;
  • None of the many negative impacts are mentioned;
  • The letters of support from several other local authorities and enterprise partnerships are too similar to have been written independently
  • The evidence base is mostly made up of documents produced by the LEP, Herefordshire Council or by their consultants, with little or no outside scrutiny or independent evaluation.

We were particularly concerned to see in the application, claims that the bypass will “reinforce the importance of the A49”, allowing it to act as a sort of relief road for the increasingly congested M5/M6, and to become a major artery for traffic between north and south Wales. If this were to happen it would mean villages and settlements alongside the A49, both north and south of Hereford, would be subjected to more traffic – on a single carriageway trunk road that already has dangerous bends and junctions and an unenviable accident record. It is evident that there has been no consultation on this point with communities likely to be affected.

At the time of writing we don’t know if or when the requested funding will be provided – DfT’s list of successful schemes published after the Autumn Statement thankfully did not include the Hereford Bypass. But we don’t expect those pushing for this hugely expensive and damaging road to give up at the first attempt!

It’s Christmas: a cycle network for Hereford?

Crowds at Hereford’s Castle Green Christmas Fair voted overwhelmingly to spend Santa’s £1,000,000 gift to Hereford on a comprehensive cycle network to reduce the city’s traffic delays and make roads safer, especially for children. Research suggests that school traffic is a major factor in rush hour congestion, so safe cycle networks would make a massive difference for a fraction of the cost and with no environmental damage.

It should be pointed out that Santa, like much political debate at the moment, is fictional (ssshhh, don’t tell the adults), and Hereford has not, in fact, been given a million to spend, although even more oddly the Council are pressing ahead with a short road to the south of Hereford for many times that cost which their own research tells them will do nothing to help congestion in the city.

The opinion poll was carried out at the Green Party stall at the popular annual event, with Christmas revellers voting with baubles for one of three options: a park and ride, a cycle network, or one twenty-third of a bypass. Actually, £1,000,000 will buy even less than this. They were also invited to create a paper Christmas bauble to hang on a Christmas Tree card on which was a message for 2017 to Jesse Norman MP. The tree will be presented to Mr. Norman by Green Parliamentary Spokesperson Diana Toynbee. Message ranged from ‘stop fracking’ (Norman is an Energy Minister and voted in favour – South Herefordshire is in the firing line) to ‘Fair Votes in 2017’ and several asking him to prioritise the natural environment we depend on, and stop Tory cuts to vital services.

Green Spokesperson Rob Hattersley said: ‘It was great so many people wanting Greens to do well in Hereford, and a general feeling that now is the time to engage with politics, not the time to withdraw. It was encouraging too to meet supporters from other parties keen for progressives to work together, on the day when Green co-leader Caroline Lucas campaigns with the Lib Dems in Richmond.’

 

 

 

Mystery of the disappearing PC World bike racks

Hereford Green Party have asked PC World why the bike racks have disappeared from outside their store.

‘We are sure sure PCWorld want to play their part in reducing congestion and pollution, so we are mystified as to why the racks have gone, quite apart from the fact that if cycling customers cannot park their bikes securely they will shop elsewhere’, said Rob Hattersley from Hereford Greens.

‘It’s really important for customers to know there is somewhere safe and secure for their bikes, or they will simply drive and add to Hereford’s traffic problem’, Rob, a keen cyclist but also a driver, added. ‘A kind PCWorld assistant allowed me to leave my bike inside the store on this occasion! Actually, biking from home right to the till inside was kind of ideal, but that’s not the point!.

 

Mobility: A New Urban Design and Transport Planning Philosophy for a Sustainable Future

The book sets out a rationale for a transformation of the mobility landscape and argues that the sustainable transport options simply cannot thrive in a world that remains wedded to more mobility and the manifestations of that cultural and political bias (subsidy, infrastructure and an astonishing lack of attention to death, injury, air pollution, climate change and social justice).

The book argues for the explicit adoption by all levels of government of 3 zeros:

  1.  Zero death and injury in the road traffic environment
  2. Zero air pollution from traffic sources
  3. Zero carbon transport

We have experienced over 200 years growth in mobility measured by the distances we travel every day or every year and this growth is fed by eye wateringly large subsidies, a persistent bias in politics and planning in favour of more distance and more speed and an astonishing lack of awareness of the huge negative consequences of the growth in mobility. This book takes a detailed, forensic look at mobility and concludes that it is bad value for money, damages health and community life and consumes vast amounts of scarce public cash in the name of more and better infrastructure.

Every government and political party with the exception of the Greens, proclaims the benefits of more airport capacity, more roads and bypasses, more high speed rail and accepts the growth in mobility as good for happiness, wealth and quality of life. This book sets out a very different story. More mobility does not produce the good things in life and kills over 3000 people every day in road crashes, creates noise and air pollution that damage health, feeds the growth of greenhouse gases that make damaging climate change more likely and destroys healthy, active travel and community life in sociable neighbourhoods.

The time has come to bring an end to the mobility fetish, to replace far with near, to create liveable and child friendly cities and to bring an end to the role of the car as a default option.

The book shows why this must be done, how it can be done and sets out a policy process to get it done.

Enderby Wharf & Air Pollution

Planning permission has been granted for a new cruise ship terminal in Greenwich. Ships moored in port run their diesel generators to provide power, and this creates terrible air pollution. Yesterday the Radio 4 programme ‘Costing the Earth’ investigated the situation. The answer is simple. Connect the ships to shore based electricity supply so they don’t need to run their generators. This requires some additional investment, but when planning a new port like Greenwich’s cruise liner terminal at Enderby Wharf providing such infrastructure should clearly have been a condition of the planning approval. Los Angeles was the first port in the world to build such a system, back in 2004. By now it ought to be standard practice. Radio 4’s Tom Heap interviewed lots of people in making the programme, but nobody from either local or national government, or the developers, were prepared to talk to him. As ever governments and commercial developers drag their feet, hounded by community groups, health professionals and environmental activists.

London has long had air pollution problems, dating back centuries. I was born not long after the Great Smog of 1952 and one of my earliest memories is of my family replacing open coal fires with gas ones as a result of the 1956 Clean Air Act. By the 1960’s pollution from cars was a big issue. On the 1971 ‘O’ level English paper, one of the questions was ‘Should the car be banned?’ I argued that it should. The many disadvantages, including local air pollution, climate change, accidents and communities divided by roads outweighed the benefits. This, I recall, became the policy of the Ecology Party, first called the People Party, (later, the Green Party) when it was formed in 1972-73. Since that time the evidence of the damage to human health has grown very much more detailed.

Air pollution from various forms of fossil fuels has long been a problem, for London, and for all big cities. As an issue it has periodically risen up and slid down the media agenda. Now at long last the Cleantech Revolution means that we can still have the many benefits of modern city life, but with radically reduced pollution. Technically much is possible. What is needed is for governments to understand this and take action. Tragically they seldom do, unless forced to do so by the valiant efforts of campaigners and activists, with the support of wonderful organisations like the activist lawyers of Client Earth and insightful radio programmes like ‘Costing the Earth’.

Event | 23rd Nov | R4H | Has Britain lost the art of joined up transport planning?

Professor John Whitelegg of the Stockholm Environment Institute, and former Green Party councillor in Lancaster, will be addressing the lack of transport planning in the UK and the impact on sustainability as well as efficiency at a meeting organised by Rail and Bus for Herefordshire.

The meeting takes place at 2pm on Wednesday 23rd November at the Merton Hotel, Commercial Road, Hereford. All welcome. For full details contact Gareth Davies (Chair) on 01531 633594.

Tell Campaign for Better Transport your bus stories!

Bus users have been telling the Campaign for Better Transport – and their MPs- how important bus services are to them. These stories show how valued buses are to every aspect of life.

“I use buses to get to meetings which aren’t on the train line, so buses are important for my business”

“The bus cuts are so bad that I am considering getting a car again, and I am sure that others are considering the same thing. This will result in increased carbon emissions and increased traffic”

The Campaigns is asking bus users across the county to let them know how important the bus is to them, and of threats to cut services in their area. This will inform their campaigning and help promote buses to MPs and government.