Now the Budget’s through – we have the calm before the cuts bite
An unusually Quiet week
For once, I was able to get to a cup match at City without it clashing with a meeting. The only busy day was Friday which I’ll come on to shortly.
On Thursday with Councillor Walsh, I attended the on site community liaison meeting at the Nash Road Composting Facility. The development is nearing completion and should be coming on stream soon. The facility is designed to take green waste and household slops.
Video of the In-Vessel Composting Process
The impression I get is that it will pong quite bit inside the plant but because they’re keen to keep the heat in, we have to be hopeful that the smells will not travel far. We’re certainly keen to keep the site under scrutiny.
Perhaps just as pertinently, residents might be interested in the affect this plant might have on the disposal of household waste. You’ll see from the video that the process takes in the scraps/slops that we’ve been putting up to now in the grey bins (to go to landfill). My understanding is that this will mean putting the slops from the plates and pans into degradeable plastic bags provided for the purpose. What are the issues associated with this? I think ideally you’d want a bin or caddy to collect a reasonable amount before going to the bin, so does that mean an extra bin in the kitchen? Interestingly, it was clear at a recent neighbourhood forum that residents are getting more confused as to what plastics are recycleable and were looking for more guidance. I think the same will apply to this slop collection. Will bones be included? I can forsee lots of confusion unless there’s clarity.
All day meeting of Greater Manchester Integrated Transport Authority (Capital Projects Committee followed by separate presentations on Victoria Station renewal and Local Transport Plans
Technically, I’m not yet a member of the successor authority but it made sense to attend the remaining meetings of GMITA before it’s replaced by the new TfGMC of which I’m to be member. Surprisingly Trafford doesn’t have any members on the Capital Projects Committee. We’ve a few capital projects under development in the borough – primarily the Metrolink extension to Manchester Airport which will link Trafford Bar to Chorlton and beyond. Hopefully we’ll one day see a tram to the Trafford Centre but overall the picture is depressing. Until central Government addresses the absolutely shocking imbalance between London and the rest of England for capital investment, we’re not providing the Northern Economy with the basic transport infrastucture that it needs to grow. And I’m not going to shy away from criticising my Labour Government in its failure to deliver the investment that the regions needed. Its ironic that as we approach the 2012 Olympics, we’ve still not got the Metrolink to serve the Commonwealth Games. Bluntly, it feels like the North is a different country compared to London. But let’s be honest, Manchester is not even holding its own against other regional centres as far as transport is concerned. Metrolink is a recognisable success but we’re never going to reach a position where most Mancunians are within convenient distance of a Metrolink station. We need to fully integrate our transport infrastructure as far as the passenger is concerned. We may have to make do with second hand trams with poor reliability for a bit longer, but its outrageous that we haven’t been able to provide a ticketing system to get from one side of Manchester to the other.
There’s nothing new in what I’m saying about transport here; Labour’s members of the transport authority have been pulling their hair out for years over this and it could be argued that the Congestion Charge was a sign of desparation.
A key component of any improvements to Trafford’s transport will be the Northern Hub improvements. These include building additional lines to allow express trains to overtake the slower commuter services. If these were ever built we’d at last have the opportunity to make optimum use of the railway linking all of Trafford’s northern neighbourhoods. At present Manchester is a problem for all the lines across the north and it would be great to see us progress this. At present we’re hearing positive noises from Government but we’ve had positive noises before. I hope they put as much energy into this as the high-speed rail link. I believe it to be far more important.
Final thought: you may notice that network rail are pointing to the fact that 70% of all rail journeys start or finish in London. There was a time when 100% of all rail journeys started or finished in Manchester. If feels like we need to pull our weight again.