The Solution’s Behind You
The BBC were interviewing Ed Balls today at the Labour Party conference in Liverpool. He was pontificating on the solutions, that he would do to could Britain out of the financial mess, that largely his party got us in.
Who is right or wrong on the solution is a matter for the future.
Butb I think, that the solution to our problems was behind Ed Balls in his BBC interview. But then politicians never look behind themselves, except to see where the knife is coming from.
Over the last twenty years or so, Liverpool has been transformed, from a basket case, to one of the most vibrant cities in the world, by developing the city in a professional and quality manner. Liverpudlians will point to the European City of Culture in 2008, as a catalyst for a lot of the change, but in some cases it just gave developers a reason and possibly an excuse to invest.
London too, is changing and has been greatly improved over the last few decades. The development of Docklands started it and now the Olympics is pushing the city to new heights.
You could also argue, that Manchester got a kick start from the 2002 Commonwealth Games, but just as with Liverpool and London, the process was going to happen anyway and perhaps these events were just advertising for the place on a wider scale. Wikipedia says a lot about how the Games got Manchester moving after the 1996 IRA bombing. One might even say now that Manchester’s driving force is football.
Liverpool is getting a lot of publicity over the next couple of days, and how many will think about going there for a weekend break? When I was there last, I met a plumber who had come to the city for the day to ride his bicycle along the Mersey. Liverpool is almost becoming a seaside resort!
These three cities have benefited from a process that could best be described as Infrastructure for All.
I could also add how Newcastle has benefited from the waterfront developments along the Tyne. Other cities, like Leeds and Birminghamhave also been improved to everybody’s benefit.
I should also ask, if Glasgow is seeing the benefit for the 2014 commonwealth Games yet.
We must do this more in our run-down cities and districts.
Even on a local basis, Dalston has improved a bit in the year I’ve been here, mainly because of the opening of two new railways, that got built early because of the Olympics. But even if the Olympics hadn’t happened, they would have still gone ahead.
So we should look at all the infrastructure projects on the stocks and do those that are most valuable as soon as finances allow.
Priorities should obviusly go to those that give the greatest benefit. I would start with.
Housing, which would provide homes for our ever increasing population. It should be energy efficient and hopefully built, so that people who live there, don’t need to own one car per person, as we must wean ourselves off our own personal travelling spaces, they cost everyone else dear.
Selective rail projects, to remove bottlenecks and level crossings, improve stations and add a few new ones. In Suffolk, they are adding a new loop at Beccles so that more trains can run from Ipswich to Lowestoft. How many more Beccles-like problems are there out there, that need urgent removal. Many of these projects would have positive knock-on effects in other areas. Some level crossings, like the one in the centre of Lincoln, would have enormous benefits to road traffic, if they were removed.
Rail freight projects, which remove trucks from the roads. This would mean a few more interchanges such as Radlett, but the benefit to roads like the A14 and M1 would be high.
Personally, I would add a better bus network, with much better ticketing and disabled-friendly, information rich two-door buses, like you have in London. I have a free pass for buses, so why do I have to be issued with a ticket when I use a bus in Cambridge. It should be just touch in on all buses.
And of course, it’s important that we create interesting places for people to go. Some sports clubs have been trying to build new grounds for years and this process should be speeded up. And we don’t want any more stadia, like Coventry, Scunthorpe and the Rose Bowl designed solely to be driven to. They should be built near the transport hubs., which in itself would probably make them more financially viable.
You will notice, I’ve missed out new roads.
In many ways they are not infrastructure for all.
Some may need to be built or widened, but our priority should be to get unnecessary traffic off the roads.
I believe that we are seeing a drop in the number of trucks from the roads, as more and more container traffic is diverted to the trains. But this process needs some selective action at rail junctions, and it also needs more rail-based distribution centres near large conurbations. But the Nimbys don’t like these. Some also object to freight trains passing through at night.
There has been talk for years about taxing foreign lorries in this country, just as the Swiss do. The last time I drove the southern part of the M25, it was full of trucks registered aboard. We have the Channel Tunnel and goods to and from Europe should go through it on container trains, just like most of the freight goes in and out of the ports at Southampton, Felixstowe and Liverpool.
Every truck removed, is an increase in road capacity.
We also need better interface between the roads and rail. How many cities build large car parks in the centre, when perhaps building them on the outskirts and providing a tram or rail link to the centre? Cambridge was very much derided by doing this with a guided busway, by many including myself, but they now seem to be making a success of it.