So much green investment needed

A £5 billion investment programme announced by Conservatives in Government to help the economy grow out of the public health emergency recession might only be enough to fill half the potholes in Britain.
Oh dear! More new roads – just as we should realise that the degree of commuting we came to accept was no longer needed.
Oh dear! A jet-zero aircraft – electric powered airplanes for regional flights – just as we find that Rolls-Royce and others have ditched a recent initiative (“a Rolls-Royce-Airbus collaboration called the E-Fan X, was quietly canned during lockdown“).

A special part of the river Severn, just upsteam of Ironbridge – _we love this place Oh God.; merged with a sewage treatment plant in Notts.
Read the Guardian analysis here

We should be investing in a greener future.
Reduce the amount of clean water lost through broken pipes.
More overflow tanks to capture excess waste water that is instead being allowed to flow into rivers during the more frequent periods of heavy rain.
More anaerobic digestions plants to convert sewage and other waste found in drain water into gas and compost.

Read the Guardian analysis here

The Guardian has reported on just how much waste is being dumped by the water companies into our rivers. In Shropshire, Severn Trent have just been prosecuted for allowing waste water to be tipped into a river (fine £800k).
These incidents are happening more frequently because of the extremes in our climate changed weather systems but there is insufficient political concern and clout to drive green investment that would retain more cleaned water, reduce toxins getting into our rivers and provide gas & compost from waste.

Closing Collin Street to traffic in August

Received a letter to local residents on these plans and you might wonder why carry on with radical change when works to transform Broadmarsh have stopped, question marks hang over city street retail, the opening of the new Nottingham College has slipped to January 2021, more people might be working from home and the earliest any extra new development on the Island site could be is 2022. And then confusing signals have at times been given over the future of bus priority lanes on Carrington Street (only last Saturday), expanding the capacity of the London Road / Queens Road junction and the A453/A52 Clifton Bridge capacity remaining constricted cos of the unexpected and major repairs needed.

Yet the longer term vision for traffic in the city centre and across from and to West Bridgford and the north of the city has been of reduction of traffic since before the construction of the Southern Relief Route – the new Castle Marina Road and the widened Queens Drive / Waterway Street West / Sheriffs Way / Queens Road / London Road – to enable it some 20ish years ago.
A 4 lane “racing track” along Collin Street “cuts off” the railway station from the city centre and we wanted change.
The lower levels of traffic as we come out of the public health emergency actually means this is might be a better time to introduce the change, and I hope the transfer of the nearside inbound lane on Trent Bridge to cyclists will encourage the move to working from home, or commuters using their bikes.

As for some of the confusing signals that have at times come out, I’ve not heard of Queens Road junction being planned for expansion for some time now, and the notion of buses travelling south from out of the city no longer having a direct and prioritised route to the Meadows Way east bus lane seems peculiar at best, kinda running counter to the philosophy of the north of The Meadows (running along Crocus Street and Traffic Street) providing thousands of extra homes and bedrooms for people who will be less reliant on the car.

I wonder if more of NCT’s bus routes might want to explore running around the city? More of the City Council’s services are provided from Loxley House, more of the DWP’s services too; we will be moving the Central Library from Angel Row to Collin Street and Nottingham College will have a new central location off Middle Hill. And the Island site will look to be more active.

Some of NCT’s Orange and Turquoise routes offer a City Loop option from the north, and alongside NCT’s Green services and NCT’s Navy 49 use the Middle Hill / Fletcher Gate / George Street route. It’s great, and serves thousands of residents in the Lace Market and Hockley who don’t own cars.

But the Ice Arena and the Island site are only served by NCT’s Red route and the EcoLink.. Could NCT’s Brown and/or Yellow services be extended to run around the city centre travelling along all of Canal Street before coming back along Bellar Gate / Belward Street / Cranbrook Street and Lower Parliament Street, with the inbound Victoria Centre stop (J1) becoming an interchange for passengers coming in from Mansfield Road (incl. Lime, Purple and Sky Blue) who would then want to reach the south of the city centre, including dropping off much nearer to the railway station?

More interested in wildlife

Plenty of news coverage yesterday for the claim that the lockdown has made us more interested in wildlife.
Well, kinda.  
And yes, I’ve wanted to know that what I had seen was a Dunnock, and then a baby Robin, and then a Black and Brown Pigeon.  
But the regular walks has also meant that we’ve come to follow families –
– 4 pairs of coots; one of which had 6 chicks from which 3 have made it so far;
– 2 pairs of moorhens; one whose nest appears to have been destroyed (appears); one with 2 chicks of which one has made it so far;
– 3 pairs of Canada geese in particular, whose families are known to us as “2and6”, “3and5” and the latest – “2and7”: so far all the young have made it;
– 3 pairs of swans; one of which had 4 cygnets hatch on Monday and who went on their first swim yesterday; 

Great Tit; a bit blurred.

– and finally – 
– a great tit whose been feeding her chicks in a nest (a special place that we found); but was not there today cos she was out with at least 3 others – which we are assuming are the fledged chicks.  
Nice; just nice.

Planet of the Humans

Released on Youtube by Michael Moore of the 50th Earth Day, this very critical film against much of the modern environmental movement is welcomed by the Guardian reviewer as a “contrarian eco-doc“, but heavily attacked by others such as “Films for Action” and “The Energy Mix“.
I too, am critical, but found some of the stories very salutary.

An American mirror array in a desert to heat water that now lies in tatters, having wrecked acres of desert surface (which nowadays we know does have a distinctive eco-system).
Concerts put on for green causes that (despite claims) doesn’t have the power to run the whole event and relies on the un-green grid for top-up and back-up power.
Materials to create solar panels (they’re not made from glass) and batteries for cars draw heavily on mineral mining too.
Electric cars often rely on coal-powered power stations.
Wind farms that do indeed have a lifetime and can end up idle, rotting and ugly.
That burning bio-mass releases CO2 and some of the woods and forests being cleared are special environments, which one scene at the end shows, provides homes for Orang-Utans.
Some of the firms involved in the new green sectors have been the big players in the dirty or grey sectors.

It is worth reading the articles that are critical of the film highlighted above.
Off the top criticisms I’d make include –
– the documentary does not explore ground source heat pumping; or anaerobic digestion; or waste incineration;
– waste incineration often sees metal extraction for re-cycling and ranks higher in the pyramid than burial; and it adds value despite needing to be under-written by gas or wood-chip burning at source; and heating devices running off the grid in the homes;
– people need to be supplied with comfort (heating and cooling), and a first step for this should be the design of the buildings they live in or use; and planning and location is key to reducing travel; (agglomeration);
– not all natural; gas comes from grand extraction and not all bio-mass fuels are based on burning; check out Nottingham City Transport’s use of cell-cracking technology.

Loads more to be said from the documentary and in critique of it.
The documentary is a missed opportunity to convey what can be done and reflects badly on Michael Moore and those associated with it (both for inaccuracy and missing the bigger story) But it does provide a few jolts to make you think a bit more.

Planning committee – March 2020

New council housing on the former Eastglade school site, and challenges about how to boost its environmental features further.
New social housing by TumTum Housing Association of Woodborough Road, at the site of the former Woodborough pub site.
A homeless hostel by Framework on the site of the Mechanics Arms on Alfred Street North – with repeated assurances that the hostel would be continuously and well managed.

A third tram route could serve The Meadows

You have to squint, but the map shows 2 alternative routes for a tram service through Meadow Lane to Nottingham Racecourse – along Meadows Way east and Cattle Bridge Road and along Arkwright Walk and across Trent Bridge Island.

Nottingham City Council’s Exec Board has agreed the development of a business plan to provide a new tram route through The Meadows and extensions to the existing tram lines passing through The Meadows.
The new route to the Racecourse Park & Ride has the potential to relieve London Road should a further extension reach out to the A52 east of Gamston.
There are 2 potential routes –
– the more direct route out should serves Meadows Way east (with all the new housing planned for Crocus Street) and the Cattle Market (putting the market on the map in a very powerful way, serving the County football Ground and meeting the potential for more housing around the market);
– the less direct rout would have stops at Bridgeway Shopping Centre, near to Trent Bridge Island (bringing County Hall, Trent Bridge cricket ground and the City Ground) much nearer to the network and on meadow lane (serving the County Ground, the Cattle Market and new housing).
The target is to have the services running in 2028 or 2029.
A previous route reaching 2 destinations beyond West Bridgford both failed business cases some 20 years ago because the population densities to support the tram services were not high enough (West Bridgford does become quite spread out) and the tram savings are not high enough.

A range of transport improvements for Nottingham and Derby has been announced by government.
The Meadows needs these packages cos we need relief from the heavy traffic on and poor air from London Road.
But the most direct benefit will be the capacity for better and more frequent customer information to our bus stops.

Opposition calls for removal of all bus lanes

The closure of Clifton Bridge was debated in three parts at full council – 1. how to provide more capacity for transport in the future; 2. whether to support bus lanes or just open them to all traffic; 3. how Highways England should support the council and the Police when coping with the consequent problems.

CQ1: “fourth bridge across the Trent is … a sensible approach” – the Clifton Independents.
My supplementary questions –
Can the Portfolio Holder recognise that the grief suffered by the people of The Meadows goes beyond delays in journey time, and extends to inability to make journeys at all and increased air pollution. 
Does the Portfolio Holder share my frustration that the world of common sense does not count the tram bridge as a crossing, nor the footbridge as a crossing, nor the 2 rail bridges (albeit recognising they are both outside of the conurbation?
Isn’t the real insight to the future to recognise how cars are the most damaging form of transport carrying people and that what The Meadows needs is relief from people commuting by car?
Isn’t it evident that what The Meadows, the east of the city, West Bridgford and parts of the county needs is an attractive public transport alternative, and isn’t it evident that the tram has demonstrated modal switch, especially by reaching park and ride sites serving trunk roads, and and isn’t it evident that Nottingham needs a new tram line to service the Racecourse Part & Ride, and if the perhaps the county would be face up to it, a park and ride to serve the A52 east of West Bridgford? 
Does the Portfolio Holder share my heartbreak that in all of the chaos we have created with our railway network, more railway train services with extra park and rite sites does not even seem to be being explored?  

CQ2: “opening bus lanes to all traffic”
[Gotta say that “opening bus lanes to all traffic” is in fact closing all bus lanes – cos they’re no longer for buses.]
My supplementary questions –
When Chair of Transport Committee, I once witnessed a lorry parked on Maid Marian Way during the morning rush hour jamming the city and 2,000 people getting off their buses early, and walking down the hill into town along Mansfield Road? 
Doesn’t any request to close the bus lanes fail to understand how the bus network make this city tick? 
Does the Portfolio Holder share my frustration at the “common sense” shared on social media over a lane closure during this last weekend to enable around 500 more bedrooms for students, is both disproportionate and ignores how providing places to live in the city centre relieves the traffic network elsewhere, including on Clifton Bridge? 
Does the Portfolio Holder recognise that once again, it is the radical nature of Nottingham Labour Party, grounded in good planning and transport policies, that will have to carry the burden of defending the city against the panic and the jibber that the easy pitch on social media can represent? 

CQ9 “Highways England should be providing funding to the Council for short-term measures” 
My supplementary questions –
Can I congratulate the Portfolio Holder for the range of proposals put forward for relieving congestion during the loss of traffic lanes across the bridge.
Will the Portfolio Holder congratulate the highway officers who recognised that to free our buses and trams up and to bring relief to the residents of Meadows Way, they needed to close the western chord of Crocus Street to traffic and that they needed the Police to stop through traffic from using the western half of Meadows Way and Sheriffs Way as it runs through the New Meadows? However counter-intuitive closing roads to traffic at the times of a bridge failure may have seemed!!
Will the Portfolio Holder accept my thanks to our staff, and to the staff of the Police Service and to others who helped the public during the closures. In a time of pressure on finances for services, especially tackling drug dealing in our neighbourhoods, isn’t it a shame that time and money for tackling those problems has been lost? I believe Highways England should contribute to the relief of the problems they have brought. 

Re-surfacing and parking permits

A walk around the Old Meadows suggests streets most in need of repair include Wilford Grove, Collygate Road and Wilford Crescent East.

Road and pavement surfaces can be OK to use, yet damage to the top surface can invite water to break up the structure below. You’d always want to do more works than seems to be necessary.
Area committee capital funds are limited and also needed for funding of parking permit schemes.
The worst road in The Meadows is Ainsworth Drive, and it was about to be re-surfaced when it became clear that construction of the new houses would mean any new surface would be damaged.
The north end of Osier Road has been re-surfaced recently.

Current suggestions being explored for area capital funding are –

Road and pavement repairs:
– pavement re-surfacing on Wilford Grove;
– road re-surfacing on Wilford Grove, but not the replacement of speed cushions which are expensive and are the only form of speed calming that NCT will work with;
– parts of Collymore Road; and nearby parts of Bathley Street;
– parts of Wilford Crescent East, around Bathley Street and down to Felton Road;
parts of Wilford Crescent West near Hobart Close.

Parking permits:
– consultation for parking permits for Mundella Road and Holgate Road east, but not for streets west of Wilford Grove;
– parking permits for Mundella Court cos of football parking;
– parking permits for NCH managed home zone parking on Manifold, Houseman and Kelso / Lothmore; or the whole of the New Meadows.

Safety measures:
– many of the safety measures to be explored are part of wider concerns, including promoting walking and cycling, that funding from across the city are more appropriate for.

As for why maintain roads,
– even roads are most valued by the greener forms of transport – walking, cycling and riding in buses;
– potholes can be most unpleasant for nearby residents, through noise and arguably vibration;
– preventing potholes getting into the wearing pouring and the base of roads is better value for money.
It’s not just about users of cars.