Letter re "Congestion charging"
- Letter prompted by a local MEP's letter to the Birmingham Post decrying
----- Original Message -----
From: Simon Baddeley <s.j.baddeley@...>
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@...
> 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
> 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
> 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
> 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
> bring clean water to Birmingham in the 19th century - until now the
> 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
> We must continue the trend towards the "compact" city with more and more
> professionals who abandoned the city centre in the late 19th century
> to live and work in the central square mile. At the same time we must not
> 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
> long term vision. One of these is linked to a quote in the manifesto of
> Road Traffic Reduction Campaign, supported by many MPs across the House.
> comes from Zechariah (8:4 & 5) "There shall yet old men and old women
> 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
> city recovered, but I shall strive to help others achieve it.
> Yours etc.
> Simon Baddeley
> 34 Beaudesert Road
> Birmingham B20 3TG
> 0121 554 9794
> 07775 655842