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Letter re "Congestion charging"

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  • Simon Baddeley
    Letter prompted by a local MEP s letter to the Birmingham Post decrying congestion charging. S ... From: Simon Baddeley To:
    Message 1 of 1 , Aug 7, 2001
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      Letter prompted by a local MEP's letter to the Birmingham Post decrying
      congestion charging.

      S


      ----- Original Message -----
      From: Simon Baddeley <s.j.baddeley@...>
      To: <thepost@...>
      Sent: Monday, August 06, 2001 5:32 PM
      Subject: Congestion charging


      > 6 August 2001
      >
      > The Editor
      > BIRMINGHAM POST & MAIL
      > Colmore Circus
      > Birmingham B4 6AX
      > Fax 625 1105 thepost@...
      >
      >
      > Sir
      >
      > I am surprised at the fears expressed in your columns that congestion
      > charging will turn central Birmingham into a "ghost town" (Post 6/08/01).
      > What concerned many people 15 years ago was the way our city centre was
      > being abandoned because it was perceived by the public as a hazardous
      > concrete desert.
      >
      > Things have got a lot better but Birmingham still lacks the superlative
      > public transport system it needs to maintain prominence in competition
      with
      > other cities. A system that would give mobility on a level equivalent to
      > that offered by the private car would have stops no more than 9 minutes
      walk
      > from anyone's home; trains, trams or buses every 4 minutes throughout the
      > day (8 minutes late night and early morning); and no journey from any
      point
      > in the city lasting more than 30 minutes with most a lot swifter.
      >
      > If effective mobility is to be achieved other than by reliance on cars,
      > money is needed for alternatives on the same scale as the capital raised
      to
      > bring clean water to Birmingham in the 19th century - until now the
      greatest
      > public health project ever initiated. Whatever is decided is bound to be a
      > gamble with the future, but Mr.Prescott, while he bore the brunt of the
      > unpopularity that attached to trying to address this complex problem,
      > rightly said "Doing nothing is not an option."
      >
      > If congestion charging can lever in the investment needed to realise
      > solutions, all of us, including committed motorists, will come to regard
      > this tax as value for money. There are, after all, going to be more short
      > term car-parking spaces in the city after the present rebuilding than
      > before.
      >
      > We must continue the trend towards the "compact" city with more and more
      of
      > professionals who abandoned the city centre in the late 19th century
      wanting
      > to live and work in the central square mile. At the same time we must not
      so
      > gentrify the centre that anyone who isn't rich is excluded from living
      > there. We must also raise money to ensure that those whose employment has
      > revolved around the motor-trade do not suffer more than they have already.
      > Our local economy has been especially over-reliant on car making, but a
      > century of undoubted success in achieving access by mobility has led to
      > problems that afflict cities across the world. We need to move far further
      > towards employment based on e-commerce as well as local trading, local
      > manufacture and food retailing. Over the next 20 years we need to place
      > greater reliance on access by proximity - to homes, schools, shops,
      > entertainment as well as to safer streets and to beautiful public parks,
      > walkways and squares.
      >
      > Churchill said the sublime is so close to the ridiculous. A vision of this
      > kind is likely, at its inception, to run counter to popular opinion - even
      > among those suffering in grid-lock. Congestion charging is a measure that
      > requires great political courage. It is a measure designed to help achieve
      a
      > long term vision. One of these is linked to a quote in the manifesto of
      the
      > Road Traffic Reduction Campaign, supported by many MPs across the House.
      It
      > comes from Zechariah (8:4 & 5) "There shall yet old men and old women
      dwell
      > in the streets of Jerusalem, and every man with his staff in his hand for
      > very age. and the streets of the city shall be full of boys and girls
      > playing in the streets thereof." I doubt I shall live to see this dream of
      a
      > city recovered, but I shall strive to help others achieve it.
      >
      > Yours etc.
      >
      >
      > Simon Baddeley
      > 34 Beaudesert Road
      > Handsworth
      > Birmingham B20 3TG
      > 0121 554 9794
      > 07775 655842
      >
      >
      >
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