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Ealing and Northfield Ex-Mayor Livingstone Tram

Local Labour sees the light, Mayor still not listening

Ealing Times quotes local Labour politicians on their somewhat belated realisation that the Tram might have done for them.

It seems the light has dawned on the likes of ex-leader Thomson and ex-finance portfolio holder Beecroft that ignoring people and trying to foist the West London Tram on them is not a good way of getting elected. The next person who needs to start listening is the Mayor unless he wants to get booted out too in May 2008 just in time so that he can spend lots of time watching the London Olympics.

There is no sign of Ken listening though. He is sailing along with the West London Tram and has just published what is called Supplementary Planning Guidance for consultation (follow link for tedious document). Among other things, this document effectively says:

  • Borough planning policies should seek to help make the Tram successful
  • Boroughs should refuse planning permission for developments likely to prejudice the development of the Tram
  • Boroughs should aid the Tram by supporting a Transport and Works Order Application.

The most Canutian paragraph of this document, paragraph 3.6, is really quite funny:

“As tram schemes, both Cross River Tram and West London Tram projects will be taken forward through an application for powers under the Transport and Works Act (1992) (TWA), and where appropriate the relevant London boroughs should show their support by being prepared to co-promote any such Transport and Works Order Application. The TWA process will help to safeguard and provide for compulsory acquisition of the land required for construction. Appropriate support for the scheme within borough planning documents, including SPG, will be a material consideration at the TWA Inquiry.”

In other words the Mayor is asking for help from the three West London Tram boroughs when two have previously stated their opposition and one will formally change its position on May 18th. The logic of this paragraph is that the three boroughs should look to scupper the Tram by ensuring that their planning frameworks specifically exclude the Tram and make no concession to it whatsoever.

The real issue is why does Ken Livingstone want to proceed with the Tram and initiate the Transport and Works Order process that will lead to a very expensive public inquiry. Could it be that he wants to use the public inquiry, currently scheduled for Spring 2007, as a platform for electioneering for re-election in May 2008? The public inquiry will be futile and extremely expensive. We are talking about £10s of millions. We know Ken likes spending our money like water and he will not baulk at hiring the best barristers he can. This will force objectors, all of us, to spend similarly. The inquiry will become a pre-election political jamboree paid for by us.

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Ealing and Northfield Tram

Ealing council’s Tram fight starts here

Last night the Ealing Conservative Group met. It was confirmed that there would be a Council meeting on 18th May at which there would essentially be one item on the agenda: withdrawing Ealing Council’s support of the Tram and Ealing Council becoming an active opponent of the scheme. This was one of the Conservatives’ key election promises for the local election this week and we will make sure that the Tram is stopped in its tracks.

Categories
Tram

Tram tangle

The Ealing Conservative Group published a couple of press releases on the Tram this Monday. Firstly, they pointed out that the large gap between tram stops (double the current gap for bus stops) will be a major drawback for the elderly and disabled. What is more, once people get on the proposed trams they will have fewer seats than the buses that replace them. Secondly, the local Conservatives pointed to the specific local reasons why the proposed West London Tram will not work. Essentially the Uxbridge Road is not suitable and the whole thing will never payback sufficiently to justify the expense.

Part of the reason for this pair of press releases was an article in Sunday Times about the Conservatives supporting trams. Of course we support trams where they make sense. The Tories made more investment in light rail than the current government. We are sensible people though and the proposed West London Tram will not work, so we oppose it. If there really is £650 million to throw around it should go into the pot for Crossrail which will deliver real benefits for the people of Ealing by connecting us to the City which is the most important source of wealth and jobs in Europe. Doh!

For my part, as a resident in Ealing and someone who runs a business in Hammersmith, I am dreading the Tram and the four years of misery and disruption that it will cause and will work hard to kill it off.

Categories
Tram

TfL needs to be told NO again

The Ealing & Acton Gazette this morning leads on the Tram. Apparently Transport for London official Pat Hayes has said that local support for the Tram was welcome but not necessary for work to begin. I guess I would be this arrogant too if I was one of TfL’s lords of transport, the 621 TfL managers who earn over £50,000 (see previous posting).

The Tram nutters seem to be intent on proceeding in spite of 59% of the people who responded to the consultation saying no. Neighbouring boroughs Hammersmith & Fulham and Hillingdon are against. If Ealing votes No Tram on 4th May it will be substantially harder for TfL to proceed.

The harsh fact is though that the Tram will only go ahead with government financing and the government is losing faith in these so-called light rail schemes. The National Audit Office quotes the following figures: Croydon Tramlink was 24% behind its passenger projections after three years and Sheffield Supertram was 45% behind after 8 years of operation. The NAO also notes that “Light rail has had limited impact on road congestion, pollution and road accidents”.

So whilst we should not be complacent it is likely that this scheme will fail as Livingstone does not have the money and the government is unlikely to fund it.

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Ealing and Northfield Tram

Vote No Tram

In preparing our election address I pulled out the public consultation results that Transport for London published in March 2005. Luckily I had kept the original paper copy because TfL does not make it easy to find an electronic copy on their website. The facts in this document were spun outrageously. TfL’s press release at the time is still on the TfL website but this only talked about their twisted little market research exercise. The links to the consultation results do not work (because then you might find out the truth). The facts were that 16,895 West London residents took the trouble to respond in writing to the consultation exercise. Over half of those who took part who gave an address lived in Ealing. 59% clearly opposed the scheme. Ealing clearly said no and our council and the Mayor refuse to listen.

For all of the parties’ positions on the Tram see the Save Ealing’s Streets site. They also have jaunty Vote No Tram posters you can download, print off and stick in your window. I have put a colour one in the window this afternoon.

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Ealing and Northfield Tram

No tram thanks

Ealing Times have just posted an article on the results of Ealing Southall Conservatives’ residents survey on their site. Over the last six months the local Conservatives have got responses from 2,500 residents of Northfield, Walpole and Elthorne wards. 78% did not want the West London Tram. 77% thought that the council was bad value for money.

I was one of the team who have spent most Saturday mornings for the last few months banging on doors. It was actually really good fun meeting local people and getting their views first hand.

Categories
Tram

More Tram consultation, but quietly

Received Save Ealing’s Streets newsletter today. Apparently the Council is consulting on the Supplementary Planning Document (go to page 75) for the Tram. Consultation ends 10th February. Strange that this kind of thing is not on the Council’s homepage or do they want us not to notice that we have a another chance to stick our oars in?

See Ealing Times story.

Categories
Ealing and Northfield Tram

Tram facts

A letter in the Telegraph today from Irvine Bell points up the problems with the Sheffield Tram – passenger projections 20 million, actual performance to-date no more than 12 million.

Categories
Ealing and Northfield Tram

Government loses appetite for Trams

Judging by the article in today’s Telegraph the chance that the Government will fund Ken’s Tram is diminishing. Livingstone would be seeking about as much cash as the Government has given to all light rail schemes since coming to power in 1997. Since then cost over-runs have made the Government wary of funding more black holes.