Planners chew a pencil end and create. Managers look at the budget and frown. Planners go back and modify. Politicians call for a tent, people queue and some are beckoned. Hushed tones. Death by Powerpoint. Anti Climax. Shuffle on.
A cheerful alternative?
Why is planning our place so tediously joyless? We’ve not always done it this way. Man would never have built cities if this is the way we’d done it.
I don’t necessarily have an answer. What I will say is that I came across the image below on the Skyscraper City forum. You’ll probably recognise the place as our own White City. It’s just a few scribbles on a map, it won’t have taken more than a couple of minutes. What I will say is that the drafter got more into these scribbles than I’ve ever seen in any official consultation document. Maybe he or she has got town planning qualifications, maybe not; either way the scribbles tackle both current problems and current potentials and then solutions. There is no personalisation, no slandering of motivations. It is pure and free of bull. I love it. You can do similar.
Pick up your pens and start scribbling. Oh and don’t wait for that tent!
It hardly made the news. Relegated to sixth item on Thursday’s 6am BBC news, not even mentioned on the preceding ‘Farming Today’. If it wasn’t for the Guardian putting it onto their frontpage, maybe the BBC wouldn’t have mentioned it at all.
The news that German Scientists had revealed a 75% reduction in flying insects since the 80s was greeted essentially with a shrug.
I’m no scientist but I do know we need insects, that a 75% reduction is beyond serious; and that the most likely culprit is man. It therefore follows that we need to do something about it, …but probably won’t.
The EU has been struggling to comprehensively ban neonicotinoids, against an alliance of Tory MEPs, German industrial giants – Bayer (largest manufacturers of neonicotinoids) and the industrial farming lobby.
I’m proud that the Labour Party manifesto committed a future Labour Government to ban these filthy neonicotinoids. We need to go further though.
Buglife, the conservation organisation committed to invertebrates, put together its own manifesto in 2014 and it still looks credible today.
We do need a comprehensive strategy though and quick. I think the direction will have to come from the EU. The UK’s Tory Government is in a state of collective psychosis and the US has Donald Trump. Insects really matter.
I asked a question regarding wheelie bin thefts by ward.
Since April 2013
630 bins have been reported lost/stolen in Gorse Hill Ward
620 bins in Clifford (Old Trafford)
286 bins in Bucklow/St Martins (Partington/Ashton upon Mersey)
The grand total for the 21 wards of Trafford is 2395 So Gorse Hill and Old Trafford accounts for 52% of all Trafford’s bin thefts.
The council knows of no recovered bins.
Clearly if these bins are still in circulation here, our bin men are emptying 1250 more bins in Old Trafford and Gorse Hill than there are households and the council is doing nothing about it.
In reality they’re not in circulation and if the council gets enough £25 fees for replacing they’re not too worried.
But the regularity with which these bins are stolen and the sheer inconvenience faced by residents when it happens makes this a very pressing issue for me. I don’t want to see a slight reduction in bin thefts, I want it reducing in Gorse Hill so that it becomes a very rare thing.
It seems hardly any work has been done to understand why Gorse Hill is suffering to such an extent. Given that the other blight we’re suffering is the dumping of mattresses, my inclination is to put the letting agencies and their contractors under the initial spotlight. Both Clifford and Gorse Hill have the high numbers of such lettings so lets begin there. I’ve written the email below to council officers to look at correlation and means of engagement.
A third of Manchester's roads have become twenty mile an hour zones. Over 1,100 streets, covering 111 miles, are included in the scheme aimed at making streets safer.
The 20mph limit could eventually be extended to all residential streets if this initial stage proves successful and more funding can be found.
Some of the roads affected are already signposted as 20mph zones – but these are not legally enforcable. The changes the council has got permission for are under traffic regulation orders, which change the legal speed limit for the road permanently.
The huge project, over two years in the making, has been paid for using £500,000 of public health funding.
Alongside improving street safety, it is hoped the new 20mph limit will encourage more children to walk to school, make streets more pleasant to live on and cut air pollution.
It'll be interesting to see how this scheme performs. It'll certainly be the largest 20mph scheme in the near vicinity. Personally, I'm very much a supporter of reduced speeds but they're so dependent on driver consent (regardless of penalties). If drivers accept the reduced speeds, it'll make a real difference to the environment and more importantly on health. It's very much a development I welcome and will be watching with a great deal of good will.
Get Growing! – Barton Alleys Get Fresh Look for the New Year
Could it be done here?
Over 200 households backing onto 9 alleyways in Barton, Salford are receiving an exciting green makeover thanks to a project supported by the Big Lottery Fund that has been running in the area over recent months.
Groundwork MSSTT (Manchester, Salford, Stockport, Trafford and Tameside) Based at Trafford Ecology Park in our very own Gorse Hill Ward. Project lead for the scheme.
Very disappointed that the High Court has confirmed the decision of the Planning Inspectorate allowing the incinerator to go ahead at Barton. I'm disappointed but not totally surprised. The legal grounds presented in argument always seemed shaky at best and centred around the sustainability of a wood waste supply.
There is a finite supply of wood waste but had the appeal been won, it would be difficult to see any future plant being developed no matter what the technology.
My main argument against this plant is that we live in an overly polluted area. The site of the Barton Plant is adjacent to the M60, one of our busiest motorways. We've allowed a shopping mall to be built there that's almost impenetrable to any mode of transport except the car; certainly pedestrians and cyclists are deterred. The Environment Agency accepts that as a consequence, primarily of road transport, the pollution levels exceed the allowable levels all the way along the M60 here. Yet we're not allowed to challenge the ludicrous decision of the Environment Agency to still permit the plant to operate at Barton.
And now we're being subjected to a rogue's gallery of Conservative candidates protesting how disappointed they are with the decision. This is the same Conservative Party that destroyed the buses, privatised the railways and built places like the Trafford Centre. Is it surprising the system is so rigged that we must not try to tackle air quality? We can tiptoe round the edges and ask how much wood-waste they can get their hands on. But don't whatever you do suggest that the Tory way of travel is affecting our health. Because it is.
So has the process of opposing been worthwhile? Absolutely – in my view it's been a coming of age. There's been an exponential growth in awareness of environmental consequences and far more readiness to fight the next battle.