Friday, August 27, 2004

Borough Council Sit On The Fence 

At long last Stafford Borough Council’s Cabinet have come to decision on M6 Toll. And surprise, surprise it’s not a decision at all. Despite Councillor Doug Davis tell the recent meeting at Codsall that the proposal was worthy of serious consideration he and his colleagues have now decided they don’t have enough information on which to make a decision! I suppose this was not unexpected as they could not be seen to be supporting the plan when David Chambers the Conservative Prospective Parliamentary Candidate for Stafford and a number of Conservative Councillors whose wards would be affected have publicly said they are against the plan. Unfortunately taking this stance shows not just how desperate the Conservatives are in not wanting to rock the boat, but also how they are prepared to sacrifice the lives of hundreds of local people in the hope they will not lose votes. Its unbelievable the Council are prepared to sit on the fence in this way!

Thursday, August 26, 2004

"Ears" Training 

Tonight I spent an interesting couple of hours at the Old Railway Station in Stone taking part in a Lib Dem training course designed to help local parties get better use out of the parties “Ears” software package. This software, which has been developed by the Lib Des over a number of years, helps in keeping track of canvass data and voting intentions of local populations. Stafford Constituency has now been using this package for quite a while and so the information it contains will certainly be useful when the next general election is called.

Wednesday, August 25, 2004

Stan Robinson Haulage 

Stan Robinson is certainly a well known name in Stafford and today I had the pleasure of sending a couple of hours visiting his business premises at Ladford Fields in Seighford. Stan runs a large national haulage company, which he started about thirty years ago with one lorry. I’d wanted to visit Stan for sometime, but the proposed new M6 Toll make it even more urgent. I wanted to know how he say the future of road use, and to discuss with him his alternative plans for a new motorway link between the north and the Midlands. While I’m not in favour of building more road, and support the concept of finding better ways to shift freight and control the use of road space, I have to say the suggestion Stan put forward of a new motorway from Warrington to Birmingham, via Telford did seem to have more merit than the Governments proposal for the new M6 Toll. It was obvious talking to him that as a person involved in the daily usage of the road system he brought some good practical ideas to the table.

Even he admitted that moving freight by rail had advantages and was something he had investigated with EWS – the rail freight carriers. As a large proportion of Stan’s business is moving loads from Stafford to Devon and Scotland putting these on trains did make sense. However his enquiries with EWS had resulted in him being told he would have to get this loads to either Rugby or Warrington before they could be transferred onto the train, which is of course a none starter. It’s clear that what this Country is lacking is a workable integrated transport policy but that if on was in place it would fine favour and support from many quarters.

Monday, August 23, 2004

Little Onn Fly-tipping Problem 

Tonight I meet with a couple of local residents from Little Onn who were concerned about fly-tipping on the old airfield near to their home. I have to say that over the past few years I’ve had a steady stream of calls about abandoned and burnt out cars on the perimeter road, but of late these complaints have dried up. However it now appears a builder has taken to dumping rubbish in the same spot. The residents in question has taken the problem up with the Council direct only to be told that as the land was private there was noting the Council could do. Unfortunately things have now come to ahead as some of the rubbish included drums of chemicals. Luckily before our meeting one of the residents had contacted the Environmental Protection Agency who had agreed to take action. To help matters the last lot of rubbished dumped included some paper work which gave the name and address of the builder in question so hopefully his days of illegal dumping are numbered.

Friday, August 20, 2004

A Week Of Public Meeting 

This week has been extremely busy with meeting about the M6 Toll Road proposals. David Kidney the local Labour MP has called a number of public meetings, all of which I have attended. On Monday night it was at Hyde Lea, Wednesday at Burton Manor, Thursday at Derrington, and tonight at Holmcroft. In an attempt to get the Lib Dem message across the Stafford Constituency Party have been delivering leaflets in the areas that might be affected by the proposal, and I’m sure it was these that ensured such a large turn out at each venue.

It was clear that David was walking a fine tightrope has he tried to show his opposition to the scheme without criticising his Government more than he needed to. I was also obvious that most people who attended the meeting were against the proposal. David Chambers – the Conservative Prospective Parliamentary Candidate was also in a bit of a fix. I have to admit he was honest with the audience and did say that the Conservatives in Parliament were, like Labour, in favour of the scheme, although he did go on to say that personally he was against it and would support David in his attempt to get it scrapped. After the Holmcroft meeting I was talking to one of the residents who said he could not see any point in voting Conservative or Labour as they were both supporting the scheme!

Wednesday, August 04, 2004

Hospital Transport 

This afternoons meeting at the County Council was interesting. It was a working party made up of representatives of the Health and Development Services Scrutiny Committees which is looking at the way members of the public get to and from hospitals throughout the County and to see if the County Council has Highways and Transport Authority can help in this process. This afternoons meeting was to allow the working party to listen to, and question, the facilities manager at Stafford District Hospital on that hospitals development plans for the next few years. It was clear that the way patients and more importantly visitors get to both Stafford and Cannock hospitals is not the Trusts highest priority. One on the biggest problems that get raised with me is how visitors without cars can get from Stafford to Cannock to see their sick relatives. This is especially difficult for the elderly who might have to catch a couple of buses to make the journey. As Cannock Hospital seems to be the focus for elderly care this is a big problem! To my amazement it became clear that this transport problem had not really been considered by the hospital authorities. One possible answer which I asked both the County Council and the hospital to investigate was the extension of the staff shuttle bus service to include members of the public. It’s clear to me that elderly residents living in an around Stafford could probable get to the hospital easier than trying to get to Cannock. From there the shuttle bus service could take them direct to, and return them from Cannock with ease.

Monday, August 02, 2004

Gnosall High Street Traffic Problems 

The High Street in Gnosall has always had a traffic problem. This morning I had a site visit with Paul Boss from the County Council’s Highways Department to look at the problem. We met at 10.00am at the Grosvenor Centre and walked down the High Street to its junction with the A518. It was clear that traffic did have problems negotiating this road. The road is narrow with a blind almost ninety degree bend near to the village supermarket. The flow of traffic is not helped by cars being parked for most of its length. As we watched the traffic and talked to local residents it became obvious something really needed to be done to easy the flow of traffic. Two things did spring to mind - either removing the parked cars or making the road one way. However both of these ideas are fraught with problems. Putting double yellow lines down will mean some residents will have no where to park, and in any case the ban would probable not be policed, and making the street one-way would not only increase traffic speeds but would also be very inconvenient for residents who live further up the High Street. After almost an hour I agreed with Paul that he would return to his office and review the options while I would talk to local residents and seek their views. I am worried that something needs to be done to improve this road but I’m also realistic to know that an easy answer is almost impossible to find.

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