Saturday, 2 April 2016

Cardiff Bus to set up new 'low-cost operation' Vale Busline

Labour Local authority-owned Cardiff Bus is setting up a new low-cost operation which
Cllr Ben Thomas
is euphemism for cuts to pay and conditions called
 Vale Busline Ltd. Labour Councillors, many sponsored by trade unions should be ashamed of themselves. Labour Cllr Ben Thomas blames closure of the bus station and he'd be right as it is near impossible to find your bus stop and when you do you find inadequate bus shelters and cuts to services but the labour group decided to put developers needs first. Could this lead to privatisation and sell off of Cardiff Bus and the new Vale Busline? Could this lead to amalgamation with NAT? More here Cardiff Bus to transfer services to sister firm 
PASSENGERS on some Cardiff Bus routes will soon see their services switched this year to a different company – which is also owned by Cardiff council.

Vale Busline will have the same senior managers and directors as Cardiff Bus, and even use the same depot in Leckwith.
But its vehicles will carry a different livery, its drivers will probably be recruited on different terms and conditions – and they might even give change
VBL has been registered with Companies House for some years but lain dormant. It has the same directors and non-executive directors as Cardiff Bus. It has now received authorisation from the Traffic Commissioner to operate 20 vehicles from the Cardiff Bus depot in Sloper Road.
Labour Councillor Ben Thomas, chairman of Cardiff Bus, Cllr for Whitchurch & Tongwynlais was unable to say how the terms and conditions and pension arrangements for VBL staff would differ from those of Cardiff Bus. He said the decision to activate VBL was a response to Cardiff Bus losing passengers for a variety of reasons, including the closure of the city’s bus station, increased competition and bad weather. He said that some of Cardiff Bus’ old vehicles would be transferred to VBL instead of being sold or used for spares, and would be deployed on routes with low passenger footfall.  (old polluting dirty buses)

Meanwhile in York Conversions to electric buses would result in a reduction in annual operating costs for each bus of between £15,000 and £20,000, while eliminating 535kg of nitrous oxides from each bus every year. Some creative thinking needed in Cardiff.
Who's that?                                            MR GARETH ASHLEY MOLE is a SERVICE DELIVERY DIRECTOR from CARDIFF also a director of .CARDIFF CITY TRANSPORT SERVICES LIMITED -
Simon Gardener is also director of Overseas investments Ltd,  Climax Studios Limited,  Cardiff City Transport Services Limited and Vale Busline Limited He is also the Employee Director 
Benjamin Garreth Thomas's Profile The first position as a director we have on file for Mr Benjamin Garreth Thomas was in 2005 at Thomas Delivery Solutions Limited. His most recent directorship is with Unitmovements Limited where he holds the position of "Transport manager". This company has been around since 27 Mar 1997 and lists its registered address as being in Staffordshire 



Cyclists questions to Assembly candidates

Cardiff Cycling City a labour party propaganda group has organised a cycling hustings, no expense spared, Tues 5th April 2016 7-9 pm at the David Morgan Room - Wales Millennium Centre Bute Place, Cardiff Bay CF10 5AL, United Kingdom 
Cycling has lived on good-will for too long, politicians have fallen far short of their target to triple cycling over 2001.  Money has gone on a few expensive projects or been diverted to highways. Cardiff’s ‘sustainable travel city’ was given £20 million (for 2009-13), with no clear achievements apart from Pont y Werin. We need the new Assembly to take commissioning of cycling projects away from County Councils, entrusting this to new bodies of cycling-oriented professionals and voluntary groups.  These bodies could be based on the city-region and under a central Cycling Wakes commissioner, as the successful English model.
The Cycling Campaign was skeptical about the city’s proposal for a “cycling hub”.  Now it’s come out that high costs deter cyclists when run as a commercial operation. It would be highly expensive to provide cycle-parking in the purpose-built hub, rather than free parking on and around Cardiff Central station extended from the current provision.  The city’s proposal was misconceived.

The main challenge for cyclists is to secure implementation of the Active Travel Act with priority for cycling and walking networks for everyday travel.  The Minister Edwina Hart went slow on this; it’s important that the new Assembly boosts its efforts.

We suggest cyclists ask Assembly candidates

  1. Will they support renewed the commitment to the Active Travel Act and giving authority to cycling-oriented experts and interests as well as committing increasing funds with payment-by-results?
  2. Will they support commissioning schemes by central bodies with strong input from user-interests, rather than by the County Councils who have largely failed to date? 
  3. Will they support enhanced provision for cycling in the new Wales rail franchise, especially  more than the basic 2 places per train?
  4.  Would you planning and providing support for sustainable transport modes at regional level. within a national framework, and how would they ensure users are effectively involved, unlike in the old Transport consortia?
  5. Would they support changing transport scheme assessments to meet sustainable transport objectives, unlike the current Weltag that counts increased car-use as a benefit?
  6. Would you give priority to the appointment of cycling officers with clout within Cardiff and the city-region, rather than a gimmicky Cycling Commissioner for Wales?

Monday, 29 February 2016

PLAN for Cardiff VIRIDOR 70,000 tonnes INCINERATOR ASH DUMP in Barry JUDICIAL REVIEW 1st March 2016

No Barry Ash Dump 14 Robert Street, Barry CF63 3NX 
 Judicial Review of Incinerator Ash plans from Cardiff TUESDAY MARCH 1st  
From  9:30 AM Photoshoot and Interviews with the lawyers
AT THE HIGH COURT OF JUSTICE    2 PARK STREET CARDIFF CF10 1ET QUEEN'S BENCH DIVISION PLANNING COURT
The legal case is being taken by a leading firm in Environmental & Public Law, Richard Buxton of Cambridge. It is a judicial review in Cardiff High Court in the name of Amanda Surringer of the Vale of Glamorgan Council’s planning approval 2015/00360/FUL of 4th Sept. 2015 (attached).
This plan is for 70 000 tonnes p.a. of ash from Viridor’s Cardiff incinerator to be trucked to Barry and processed on dockland in Barry.  
The Viridor incinerator takes domestic waste from Cardiff, Vale of Glamorgan plus S-E Wales Councils from RCT to Monmouth.  VoG chiefs argued this obliged them to take Viridor’s ash, even though Viridor had promised to deal with the ash close to their incinerator in East Moors.
The legal case had sufficient merit to win legal aid, but local action group has to raise matching funding as the community’s share of our side’s costs, saysKeith Stockdale (secretary of the Action Group):
“We had success at the first hurdle.  Judge Collins granted permission to proceed to this full hearing   Collins J order granting permission 3.12.15, attached). He rejected the Council’s argument that the case was without merit, agreeing the effects of the dust from the incinerator ash are ‘highly material’ (full quote below).  Also the Judge accepted as valid all of the appeal grounds put forward by the lawyers. This after the Council dismissed objectors’ points about the incinerator dust being toxic and that high winds would carry it far from the site, to homes in Cadoxton, Castleland, the Waterfront and even further to the town centre, the Island and the Bendricks.”
The Ash Dump company (Raymond Brown Minerals & Recycling Ltd.) backed out following this preliminary decision; they will not be supporting the VoG Council in Court and do not intend to go ahead.  But the Vale Council has declined to settle out-of-court and quash their permission.  Objectors fear Raymond Brown could change their mind or sell on their Ash Dump permit**.
Max Wallis of Cardiff Against the Incinerator (CATI campaign) says:
“Cardiff Council’s permit for Viridor was quite irresponsible in failing to require plans for the huge tonnages of incinerator ash.  Cardiff first had to take the ash on their Lamby Way tip.  Since that closed last September, Cardiff has been paying Viridor £60 000 per month to deal with the ash at their incinerator site in Oxfordshire. CATI supports this legal challenge to the backroom dealing to switch incinerator ash processing to Barry^^ and end Cardiff’s payments.”
Shirley Taylor (treasurer of the Action Group) says
“Our challenge is not simply on behalf of local residents, but to save Barry from the long-term environmental threat from incinerator ash, which is high in toxic metals. Its dust will be picked up in the high winds that sweep across the open dockland.  The ash comes from Viridor’s incinerator in Cardiff.  Nearby sites in the East Moors were dropped because of the risks of pollution to wildlife there.  Choosing instead a site in Barry surrounded by homes is crazy!” 
Available on request from womensvoice@gmail.com - 1. Order granting permission for judicial review 
2. IBA decision notice Vale of Glamorgan planning by Vale of Glamorgan Council  

The case is part-funded by legal aid (Legal Services Commission) but the Community has to raise 50%.  Most has come through collections and payments direct into the “Stop Barry Ash Dump” account**, with some on the Gofundme.com/BarryAshDump site.  Funds are still needed – we’re seeking £1-2,000 from a major benefactor!
** Bank account with Barclays (Barry branch)
   Account name:   Stop Barry Ash Dump, sort code 20-18-27, Account 73227014)


Further Information


Judge Collins wrote
“The categorisation of the waste and the effects of dust are highly material and it seems to me to be arguable that the officer's report did not adequately inform the committee of all that was needed.”
^^ Metals are first sorted out (plans do say this is to be done by Viridor in Cardiff) then the ash processed into building aggregate and stockpiled until uses are found.  The requirement to process and make use of the incinerator ash comes from Welsh Government, but there’s little market for this toxic and poorly structured material. 
Supporters 
** Alun Cairns MP supports the objectors and has asked in vain for Raymond Brown Ltd to clarify their plans.  Their agent is Stephen Bowley Planning Consultancy of Tiddington, Thame, Tel: 01844 338636. @AlunCairns
**Cllr Ian Johnson Mobile: 07738 182867 EmailIJohnson@valeofglamorgan.gov.uk;

CONTACT  Stop Barry Ash Dump  

  • Legal advisor:  Max Wallis   (Friends of the Earth Barry & Vale)    07783 330956
  • Treasurer: Shirley Taylor 2 Lee Road, Barry  Tel. 01446 732637
  • Secretary: Keith Stockdale 14 Robert St, Barry CF63 3NX  Tel. 01446 734368

Sunday, 28 February 2016

More ££ POTHOLE FUND to add to £5m borrowing

NEW POTHOLE FUND to make up HIGHWAYS DEPT FAILURE -  scam over road maintenance.
Cardiff’s invention of a new budget line to cover pothole repair shows the enhanced funding over the last 3 years has failed. With no explanation or scrutiny, the Cabinet bungs another £320 000 to "Targeted Interventions for Potholes" intended to cover repairs to approximately 3,000 more potholes in 2016/17.
Pothole Cowbridge Road West Ely Bridge 
What’s gone wrong? The Welsh Government started the Local Government Borrowing Initiative for highways maintenance in 2012, encouraging Councils to borrow (£5M in Cardiff’s case) for road maintenance, paying it back over 22 years (£349 000p.a. in Cardiff’s case, £14.7M total). The Welsh government justified this huge boost in funding, continued for 3 years, as putting Welsh roads into good nick and reducing future pothole/maintenance spending. One informed blog called it “idiotic” for violating the principle that current spending should come out of current revenues.

Some Councils claimed success RCT and Pembrokeshire; Not Cardiff; they continue to spend on “Highway and footway resurfacing and implementation of dropped kerbs” from the capital budget, though at £1.22M not £5M p.a. and have now invented the further budget line.
Is this not bunging more funds to a failing department? By common observation, they are very inefficient at repairing potholes, arriving 10 days or so late, after exposed drains have suffered a pounding. Their repairs may last a few weeks only, even days in some cases, and then they return time and again. One example is the bus-
stop outside Aldi’s on Cowbridge Rd West, just short of the Grand Ave. turn. Admittedly it experiences buses including bendi-buses tracking close to the curb and causing high pressures during braking and restarts. But highway officers know this well and deal with it by specially strong construction. Its first mega-pothole appeared mid November, endangering cyclists though most cars pulled out. Council roadmen patched it and parts of the adjacent kerbside stretch some half a dozen times before the proper repair arrived some12 weeks later.
Ramesh Patel '“They have got to have a long term plan'
complaining about potholes in 2011  
@RameshPatel32
One reason is that Cardiff’s pothole team book in a new job for every pothole needing repair. They can appear to be busy, even over-stretched, with a job-load twice or thrice the real one. Their strategy for securing more money for potholes evidently worked; the new budget-line bypassed normal scrutiny processes and got £320,000 out of a Council so short that it’s cutting children’s play services at £10-20,000p.a.
And no-one has scrutinized the failure of the last 3 years boosted spending intended to improve the highway assets, criticised at the outset by commentators. “Borrowing to cover the cost of something like road maintenance is idiotic. Once you start borrowing to cover revenue expenditure - without any return on investment - you start totting up large deficits, then large debts, with little to show for it”
Labour in Wales have largely avoided PFI – which has a large element of this idiocy when it rolls up running costs into the borrowing package – but has gone for this worse scam over road maintenance.
Cardiff Potholes 
These pictures show just how many potholes there are on Cardiff's roads 

Thursday, 25 February 2016

Save Cardiff Play Centres

Cardiff Labour Secret crazy bus service plans

Last July I posted about Cardiff council secret plans for plans for bus service in the city, and it was all denial from Cllr Ramesh Patel @RameshPatel32 yet now we have a story in the Echo 'Plans to turn former Waungron recycling centre into a bus interchange'  yet there has been no discussion or scrutiny or any sort of consultation about these radical plans 7 months later - why the secrecy?  Read the report here  

The closure of Waungron Road was even planned with this purpose in mind para 7.4 'It is relevant that Cardiff County Council is considering closing the Waungron Road recycling depot (directly adjacent to Waungron Park rail station, and some 300m from Ely Bridge). The depot land could provide an opportunity to create an interchange hub, serving three ‘core’ public transport corridors:'
'An interchange hub at Waungron Park would also be ideal as a stopping point (or terminus) for ‘orbital’ services along Western Avenue,'
Do we want a few high speed buses with few stops to the detriment of local services? Why cant we have a say? 

Para 8.1 Bus Strategy for Central Area 'City core services: The core cross-city services would not enter the bus station (as this would result in a significant time penalty).'
8.2 'Overall therefore, it is proposed that provision for bus stopping in and around the Bus / Rail Station is as follows: Cross-city buses (core services): 3 no. on-street stops in both directions (able to be accessed independently); '

Note There are NO published plans for a city centre bus station. 
Councillor Ramesh Patel secret plans to stop MOST buses going to the BUS Station  What Councillor Patel isn't telling you, that he alludes to in his comment from the Echo article 2nd July above is that the majority of buses go to the city centre NOW but that will change - is all in this document kept secret until obtained by the LDP inquiry after our persistent inquiries after mentions of Area BUS HUB/INTERCHANGES.
Cardiff Council denies its agreed by them.  There has been no consultation or scrutiny on it.  Yet the Council is justifying an over-small bus station on its basis – which is not to provide for ‘core’ bus services and to set up cross-city routes serving several interchanges (like at Waungron Rd). 
140 per hour is less than present daytime (~160).  This is not  such a strong point as the number of dedicated stands needed for the ‘Core’ services.  The officers are clearly expecting to implement the Transforming the Bus Network without consultation and without showing it’s practicable, while pretending the Core services will be able to use the tiny bus Station.
Cardiff Council in conjunction with Cardiff Bus, Transforming the Bus Netardiwork, Cff Bus Network Study Issue 3 | 6 November 2014  
The secret report states "For a bus strategy based on core services operating cross-city, it is proposed that the bus station’s future role would be modified as follows:
 Main use would be as a terminating point for regional (‘out of town’) services operated at relatively low frequencies. 
 The bus station would provide space for operational layover for both regional bus services and local city services 
 The bus station would provide a location for city bus services to turn around (but not to pick-up/drop-off) In respect of city bus services, these would stop (with short dwell times) at onstreet bus stops in the vicinity of the bus station."
The data in the report shows the city has 11 “Core Bus Routes” with under 12 minutes headway.  Such routes need a dedicated stand.  There are 25 routes with 15-30 minutes headway, plus a dozen less frequent services.  Some services are omitted (eg. the 30 minute X2 service to Bridgend) while the T4/X4 to Merthyr now operate a 15 minute service. Thus the present services to the city centre need 11 dedicated stands dedicated to each service, others require at least 10.  The Ove Arup study proposed excluding these 11 dedicated ones and operating the Bus Station only for the less frequent  services, with stands allocated flexibly.   It would be problematic to fit just those in the planned 13/14 stand bus station, with 3-4  stands for  express coaches, as promised (one for T9 Cardiff Airport, one for X4/T4 Merthyr/Newtown).
Transforming the Bus Network was publicised by the Echo Plans reveal Cardiff's long-awaited bus station will not serve passengers wanting to travel within the city

Immediately denied by Ramesh Patel 



A council spokesman told us that the Ove Arup report’s proposal of a bus station where vehicles simply turned, without allowing passengers to board or get off, had not been approved by the council or by Cardiff Bus. He said decisions about the exact nature of the new bus station were expected be taken “in June or July”.

NOTES From
Improvements to orbital services, linking key interchange hubs to allow transfer across the city without the need to transfer in the city centre. These services would also increase the connectivity from the major development sites in the north west and north east of Cardiff. These orbital services would be best operated as a series of shorter ‘diagonal’ services, rather than full 360o orbital services (to avoid scheduling problems caused by long and unreliable journey times). Interchange hub locations would be located where frequent cross-city radial services can connect with orbital services as follows: It is relevant that Cardiff County Council is considering closing the Waungron Road recycling depot (directly adjacent to Waungron Park rail station, and some 300m from Ely Bridge). The depot land could provide an opportunity to create an interchange hub, serving three ‘core’ public transport corridors:  North West Cardiff – City Centre – East Cardiff  City Line Rail Services from Radyr to Central Station (at 4 trains / hr in future), and  West Cardiff – City Centre – East Cardiff Conversion of the core bus services to cross-city operation would result in a highly accessible interchange facility, reachable by public transport from all parts of the city (and beyond, due to the rail connection). An interchange hub at Waungron Park would also be ideal as a stopping point (or terminus) for ‘orbital’ services along Western Avenue, as well as for an interchange hub for other infrequent services from / to West Cardiff. Establishing an interchange facility would be likely to require infrastructure in the form of bus priority measures, bus turning lanes, pedestrian access routes, as well as provision of an attractive waiting area (with high quality shelters, real time information, within a safe environment). ..............

For a bus strategy based on core services operating cross-city, it is proposed that the bus station’s future role would be modified as follows:
 Main use would be as a terminating point for regional (‘out of town’) services operated at relatively low frequencies. 
 The bus station would provide space for operational layover for both regional bus services and local city services 

 The bus station would provide a location for city bus services to turn around (but not to pick-up/drop-off) In respect of city bus services, these would stop (with short dwell times) at onstreet bus stops in the vicinity of the bus station. 

See also 
Para 3.5.8 Network shape and operation Many of the exemplars cities operate a high proportion of core services as crosscity routes, with designated high quality interchange hubs on the periphery of the city centre and a small but high quality central bus station. The cities tend to operate with a mix of stopping and express services, on radial and orbital routes, and extended and consistent operating hours and service frequencies across the network. 

Thursday, 28 January 2016

Labour crony praises controversial LDP on behalf of SUSTRANS on day of vote

 Chris Roberts Sustrans spokesperson and Head of External Affairs who is quoted in todays paper and on wales online supporting the LDP "welcomes the Cardiff LDP’s commitment to sustainable transport" which couldn't be further from the truth. Turns out Chris Roberts is a labour insider which makes his 'helpful' intervention on the very DAY the vote is to be taken by Cardiff Council and a demonstration against  takes place before. Daresay we will have labour Councillors quote Sustrans support, a politically motivated intervention which it appears Sustrans supports,   
(Note Chris Roberts hasn't the best record  Blaenau flop man gets top job  as Wales labour general secretary he also worked for Welsh MEP Eluned Morgan in Carmarthen, then for Richard Edwards AM in Haverfordwest, before becoming a Welsh Labour organiser, with responsibility for the South Wales valleys.)

Cardiff Council made the LDP quite farcical due to their primary objective of huge greenfield housing expansion; it promises worsening traffic chaos in the existing urban area and keeping cycling on poor-quality backstreet and riverside routes.


Plaid Cymru Cardiff Councillor Neil McEvoy: “They’re allowing this city to be pillaged so big business can make billions of pounds.“We’re already gridlocked,” he said. “If all these plans go through the only options for transport will be to leave at 3am or take a helicopter. The roads are already full.”

This follows the corruption scandal that has been allowed to pass by quietly by labour involving land made worth £39 million by this LDP was sold for £2 million  
'Scandalous' land sales saw taxpayers lose out on millions  


WHERE WAS SUSTRANS?  
  • Sustrans did not engage in the LDP hearings, only Cdf Cycling Campaign represented cyclists there - Max Wallis Ken Ken Barker 
  • we were disappointed and let down by the failure of the Inspectors to ensure grand statements about 'high quality cycle routes' and high modal share of cycling are implemented in the LDP and infrastructure proiposals/spending
LDP Action Point 8 Hearing Session 14
11.Cycling and walking mode splits will be measured through the Ask Cardiff Survey by journey purpose. Accessibility mapping and corridor surveys will inform the assessment in the Monitoring Framework if any triggers are activated (see method described in response to Action Point 9 of Hearing Session 14). Trends for cycling and walking by journey purpose from the Ask Cardiff Survey have shown significant increases.
13……… LTP includes a five year programme of cycling infrastructure delivery which will substantially complete the Enfys network through the creation of on road cycle lanes, segregated off road routes and measures to reduce vehicle speed and make cyclists safer. Additionally, to fulfil its duty under the Active Travel Act, the Council will be developing plans for the further extension of the strategic cycle network as part of its Integrated Network Map which will identify routes and schemes for developing a city-wide active travel network.

Just conisder their grand statements on Enfys:
to develop comprehensive, high quality, walking and cycling networks as part of new developments and within existing communities. Good progress has already been made in the delivery of new infrastructure. Schemes recently delivered include:
 • Enfys Route 1: Cathays Terrace centre line removal and installation of wider cycle lanes; re-configuration of Fairoak Road/Ninian Road/Shirley Road junction including installation of tabled zebra crossings to calm traffic, reduce severance and facilitate safe walking and cycling movements;
• Enfys Route 6: Cardiff Bridge to Victoria Park – on road speed management measures to provide cycle friendly environment along Cowbridge Road East;
• Enfys Route 8/Taff Trail: Tabled zebra crossing of Clarence Road for Taff Trail and centre line removal and wider cycle lanes on James Street;
• Enfys Route 9: Corbett Road/Colum Road Junction – All red pedestrian cycle crossing;
• Enfys Route 9: Traffic calming and cycle lanes along Colum Road, linked to Toucan Crossing improvements on North Road to link to Taff Trail; 

Think how limited these have been; consider Route 6 through to Victoria Park ... practically no cycling facilities with the old cyclelanes removed and now they've decided it fails the audit as an "active travel" route (except for 250m from Canton Bridge to Wellingtron St junction).

They claim for the NW Cardiff developments 
• Walking and cycling: - On and off-site measures to provide a network of high quality, safe, attractive and convenient routes within the site and linking to key local services, facilities and destinations including existing local centres and Schools at Fairwater, Pentrebane, Danescourt and Radyr;
- Links to the Taff and Ely Trails;
They've no money or proposals for the off-site links/routes.  
The Taff and Ely trails do are NOT High Quality - though they put the St Fagans link in as an 'active travel' cycleroute!

  1. we have a real problem with clear political bias on the LDP
  2. Sustrans Cymru may as well affiliate to the Labour Party. Are they a closed shop ?