90% of local residents would scrap the busway tomorrow


I’m extremely grateful to the hundreds of local residents who have completed my online survey on local transport and particularly the current works on the A580. As I write, over 800 local residents have now kindly taken the time to send me their views, which is an extraordinary response and shows the strong views held by the local community on this issue.

If you’d like to complete the survey and have not yet done so, you can still complete the survey by clicking here.

As a local Councillor, I’ve always made my view very clear that I feel that the busway project is a costly mistake that will cause congestion once it is completed (not just during construction) and won’t make a significant improvement to local public transport. The huge cost could have been spent much more wisely restoring the rail link to Leigh, with a new park-and-ride station in Little Hulton, as well as improving existing bus services which (ironically) could end up suffering more if the bus companies revise their services to travel down the busway rather than through the communities where people actually live.

It’s a real shame that Wigan Council and Salford Council have never chosen to listen to local people and have pressed on with this scheme, and that they continue to seem oblivious to the disruption caused to residents trying to go about their business each day – to work, to school, to visit family and friends.

Here are the headline results:

  • 96% of those responding have been personally affected by the current roadworks.
  • 53% were happy with their local bus service and 28% thought it was poor; 31% were happy with the local trains and 26% were unhappy.
  • 74% think that the busway will continue to cause disruption once the project is finished, and just 2% think that the busway will take traffic off the roads once it is finished (22% felt it would make no difference).
  • Only 7% think that the busway will be a good thing and 80% think it will be a bad thing.
  • 76% would have preferred a rail link to Leigh and a railway station at Little Hulton.
  • 90% of local people would scrap the busway if it was still an option.
  • 71% thought that Salford City Council’s changes to Chapel Street and the Crescent made things worse. Just 6% thought they were a good thing.

Like 90% of those who responded, I’d scrap the project tomorrow if I had the chance. However, as this is sadly unlikely, I will continue to work with colleagues to alleviate the worst excesses of the scheme and try to provide improvements where possible. For example, I’m currently trying to persuade Northern Rail and Transport for Greater Manchester to change the rail timetable so that the three express rail services (one in the morning, two in the evening) stop additionally at Walkden to give commuters an alternative option to driving into Manchester.

Rewarding hard work with lower taxes

If you’re a teacher, or a police officer, or a shop worker, you’ll be paying less tax now thanks to the Conservatives in Government. Tens of thousands of local residents are better off through the huge rises in the tax-free personal allowance introduced since 2010. A full-time worker on the minimum wage has had their income tax bill halved. A typical taxpayer will be around £700 a year better off.

If you elect a Conservative Government next year, you’ll pay even less tax. We’ll increase the personal allowance even further to £12500. Most workers on the minimum wage will pay no income tax at all.

What’s more, if you want to make progress in your career, and become a manager or run your own business, or a head of department or headteacher, or a sergeant or inspector, we’ll reward you by increasing the threshold for the higher rate of income tax, not penalise you with a punitive extra rate of taxation.

It’s your money – you earned it and you should keep more of it.

Democracy In Action?

screenshot-webcastI’m pleased that Salford’s full Council meetings are now being streamed online. Click here to view the first broadcast – last Wednesday’s meeting.

I’ve been calling for this for some considerable time, and I consider that anything that helps more people to get involved or witness our democracy (however imperfect) in action can only be a good thing, especially as the powers-that-be continue to insist on holding Council meetings at a time unsuitable for most working people.

I’m not sure Wednesday’s meeting was a sparkling example of democracy in action, though, as once again the Labour Councillors attempted to talk out any opposition rather than give them the chance to speak. At a previous meeting, having guillotined the discussion, they asked us why we hadn’t moved a request for more time. This time we did – and it was promptly refused.

That said, if you scroll to 2:53:50, you can see my attempt to squeeze into 90 seconds the ten or fifteen minutes of debate response we should have had on the final motion. My colleague Cllr Andy Cheetham, who had also indicated his wish to speak, did not get the chance to speak at all (although he had already skewered the City Mayor over the audit committee report earlier in the meeting).

On a final note, I was sad that the Labour Councillors saw fit to gut Cllr Chris Clarkson’s gentle motion to encourage schools to fly the Union flag and consider including the national anthem in assembly. Labour Councillors in Bolton were given a free vote on a similar motion but the Labour Group in Salford is never afforded such freedom of choice!

Misguided Busway Chaos Intensifies

I’m afraid that from next week there will be another new set of misguided busway roadworks on the A580, and that this new set will be the most disruptive yet. The Manchester bound lane closure will be horrific.

From Monday 15th September, a full time lane closure will be in place (Manchester bound) on the A580 East Lancashire Road, between Walkden Road and Moorside Road, for approximately 4 months. The Council say that “delays are expected during these works and road users are advised to use alternative routes where possible”. I am not quite sure what “alternative routes” local people are supposed to use here. I do not imagine that either the A6 or Worsley Road will be any less gridlocked.

Also for four months from 15th September, the Manchester-bound footpath between Old Clough Lane and Walkden Road will be closed. This is the pathway past Walkden High School and so it is of particular concern to parents of pupils walking to the school.

Finally, again for the same four month period from 15th September, there will be an “off-peak” lane closure of one lane Liverpool-bound between Old Clough Lane and Newearth Road. Off-peak means that they knock off work around 3.30pm before the evening rush hour, but I wouldn’t be surprised if they overrun.