Letters - November 21, 2017
We cannot afford to lose Talbot Road
Those Blackpool councillors who voted in favour of this £21m tram extension along Talbot Road should stand up and speak out how they truly believe this level of disruption will be worth it in the long run. Worth it for who? And how?
It is simply preposterous to believe this short section run of a tramway extension is going to bring thousands more people to the town. If these passenger numbers really do exist, they would already be getting off the trams at North Pier in droves every morning and walking along the short distance of Talbot Road. They are NOT. Equally does Blackpool North train station have droves of working commuters who need to travel by tram north to Bispham, Cleveleys or Fleetwood every morning? Or the opposite direction to South Shore? Simply NOT.
The few commuters who do arrive by train either work in the limited number of town centre offices or the new Bickerstaff Council Building opposite the train station. They don’t need to travel anywhere by tram.
How anybody can justify this short tram extension from the Promenade to the site of the Wilko store - the length of an average bus stop distance - with the repeated phrase ‘be patient it will bring long term gain’ are simply kidding themselves.
With months of unprecedented traffic congestion it’s not surprising residents, motorists and businesses are angry. At the end of all this traffic misery there is no magic wand that will clean up the very shabby Talbot Road. What the council tax-paying residents get is a tram extension that will not connect directly with North train station platforms. They will gain a short extension of a Promenade tram route that has been operating over 130 years.
Manchester Victoria and Piccadilly Trains Stations tram connections work well because of their prime city locations. The Manchester system has high passenger usage because of its commuter belt stopping locations around Greater Manchester. Blackpool does not have the year round business commerce or commuter passenger footfall to justify this £21m extension.
A proper thought out regeneration funding bid to The Lancashire Enterprise Partnership to improve Blackpool should have been made to build a modern purpose built bus station. And cleaning up Talbot Road is very important as first impressions count when visitors step off the train.
What is fundamental here is this tram extension is not supported by a wide majority.
The council has pushed ahead with this project despite not getting the full rubber stamped authority from the Secretary of State for Transport. For a town which is pretty cash strapped with ongoing austerity cuts, the shortfall of this project, approximately £5m, is a cavalier approach.
In the meantime the town is experiencing a shocking traffic grid lock situation. The impact on businesses, motorists and bus services is colossal. The biggest fear is how on earth can emergency response vehicles cope with this level of traffic congestion.
Blackpool does not have the road infrastructure to cope with the loss of Talbot Road to become a pointless short tramway that leads nowhere and benefits nobody.
Campaign To Build A Bus Station
Why we no longer trust our politicians
People in general no longer trust the political class. The referendum, the elections of Trump and Macron, the emergence of ‘ outsider’ parties in France, Germany, Hungary, Spain, Greece and Finland all point to a breakdown in trust between the electorate and the political establishment.
The main reason for this is because politicians have failed to stand up for the nation. These same politicians failed to see that for many voters, whose networks are also their neighbourhoods, it matters greatly who governs us, and from where.
Economic and geopolitical issues are important but far more important is the question of identity, who are we, where are we, and what is it that binds us together. This has become the key question across Europe and the USA.
Identity is the foundation of trust. Politics assumes there is a shared identity. That is why it is extremely serious when trust collapses.
Today Western Liberal democracies are experiencing a crisis of identity.
The ‘we’ has been diluted by globalisation, the decline of native ways of life, and mass immigration that has added other customs, religions and languages and, above all, other competing loyalties.
To make matters worse, we cannot question this in a fair and reasonable manner without being accused of racism and xenophobia. This means that one cannot assess the costs and benefits in a calm and rational manner. The result is we no longer are prepared to trust our politicians.
Identify is connected to sovereignty. Democracy is impossible without a ‘we’. A united, shared sense of belonging is crucial. Patriotism is not a hatred of others, it is a love of what is ours. It is based on respect. It seeks to include not exclude.
In a brilliant short essay entitled ‘The Lion and the Unicorn’ George Orwell spelt this out as the Nazis threatened our very existence in 1940.
I recommend it to all politicians. It is the voice of sanity at a time of near madness.
Dr Barry Clayton
Those who fight for a better world
I’ve just been reading a wonderful quotation of Indira Gandhi, former Indian Prime Minister: “There are two kinds of people, those who do the work and those who take the credit. Try to be in the first group; there is less competition there.”
Throughout history establishment figures have ridden on the backs of those who fought for a better world. A few examples from history are the groups of people who fought against slavery, apartheid and women’s right to vote.
These causes were opposed by the establishment at the time, denouncing those who wanted change as trouble causers and lunatics.
But once the movement for change became popular and unstoppable it brought about changes in the minds of those in authority who decided to take credit for these reforms! Proving Indira Gandhi right.
Injustice needs to be addressed
When hospitals, the police, local authorities or other offices of the State are involved in an inquest, they often have legal representation funded by the public purse.
Yet the family suffering a bereavement, sometimes in the most terrible circumstances, is likely to be refused the same publicly-funded legal aid.
Without professional support at a coroner’s hearing, distressed relatives are likely to be seriously disadvantaged.
They are completely unfamiliar with the process and could miss the opportunity to ask the right questions, or they may have to give evidence without any guidance.
The Home Secretary’s adviser on the Hillsborough disaster, the Right Reverend James Jones, has now said there is a “pressing need” for families to be represented.
This cannot be yet another missed opportunity to address this injustice.
President, Association of Personal Injury Lawyers (APIL)