Is city open for business?
Tram Power Ltd is a member of the UK Tram Group, through whose auspices we met the Transport Minister in December 2014. The minister is very interested in the Preston Guild Tram Project as a model for other affordable tramways in Britain.
We have been asked to prepare a report on the assistance given by officers of the local councils in enabling this project.
At the planning committee meeting on March 2, the city solicitor stated that only applications that satisfied the Local Plan can be approved, and a planning case officer said that applications “in accordance with the Development Plan should be approved without delay”.
So having submitted an application for the tram depot site in April 2014 and the matter being considered for the fourth time by the planning committee on March 30, we wonder how long things take if there are delays ?
Not only does the Guild Tram satisfy the Local Plan (2012 – 2026), Trampower is specifically mentioned as the means of delivering sustainable transport in the city, which is in serious breech of EU air standards.
The Guild Tramway also satisfies the National Planning Guidance as a sustainable project, with a presumption of approval. So we fail to understand why the application is recommended for rejection, especially as we have jumped through hoops to produce three ecology reports, three noise reports and three traffic reports.
Officers of the county council have not objected on any substantive grounds or matters of principle, although they may see the tramway as a threat to their cherished road building plans?
Instead they have hair-split on highway matters, for example the tramway crossing Deepdale Mill Street will cause “unacceptable impacts” to the strategic road network. There are many overseas parties watching this project, and one commented that if LCC had its way all tramways around the world would have to shut immediately. Officers of LCC have also introduced a new objection, namely technical issues not raised previously, and that there is no “Master Plan”. The whole of Preston knows the Guild Line is to run from the M6 to the railway station.
The railway inspector was disappointed that councillors were not able to meet him but he has said he could come again given enough notice and would have been willing to attend the planning committee as an expert on March 30 but is on an overseas assignment. We have been considering the options open to us in the event of permission being refused, including an appeal.
Many people around the world are watching this project and wonder if the city has the vision to approve a game changing investment in the city, raising the confidence of other investors and making the route a new artery for wealth creation? Is Preston open for business?
Lewis Lesley, technical director Trampower
PRI was a great place to work
I was interested in the picture of the old Preston Royal Infirmary (LEP March 11) as I used to work in the haematology department of the Path Lab 1964 to 1972. It was a great place to work.
There was virtually no technology in those days – most tests were done manually – no gloves or masks to protect you from the blood. Results were calculated with a slide rule, no calculators in those days.
We had to go on the wards to do finger prick tests, walking along the long corridor that joined the lab to the hospital. Once in the hospital you could get to the maternity department via an underground corridor which went past the kitchens.
Last week Pat Bacon, Barbara Wignall, Pat Mercer, Trudi Hesketh, Dot Procter and myself met up for lunch. Good food, a good natter and lots of memories of the days before health and safety!
Dot Eastham, via email
EU funding is from taxpayers
If there’s one thing the EU is good at, it is self promotion –
regardless of the facts.
You must all have seen their signs: ‘European Union, Investing in your future’ ; ‘EU regional development fund 2007 - 2013’, and ‘This development could not have happened without the EU.’
What everyone should be aware is that the funding is actually part of the rebate from what we pay in – currently £55m every day. We get around half back and then the EU dictate what we spend it on, regardless of if we need it. This is UK taxpayers’ money spent on whatever is in the EU’s five-year plan. David Cameron thinks that he can renegotiate our membership. No chance.
Philip Griffiths, UKIP North West president
Debt worries of uni students
As a first year student at Lancaster University, I know that many young people are worried about going to university because they will graduate with a huge amount of debt.
This Government’s decision to raise tuition fees to £9,000 means students are graduating with an average of £44,000 debt.
Nobody wants to begin their adult working life weighed down by that much debt, so I can understand why so many young people are worried.
Over the last few years young people are being badly let down, not only on tuition fees but even on the ability to vote, with thousands of students in our city falling off the electoral roll.
It’s clear to me that politics is run by grey men in grey suits in Westminster, and we need change here in Lancaster.
Lucy Atkinson, Lancaster University
Litter making canal a grotspot
I’ve noticed the canal towards Carnforth from Bolton-le-Sands is dirty and not well maintained. It seems to start from Crag Bank onwards and it only seems to be on the Carnforth side.
If the Government is so worried about fly-tipping, they should take a walk and look across the water. I feel sorry for the bird life, what’s left of it! It makes you wonder how many times the RSPCA has to be called out to an injured bird caught in a plastic bag. Do people nowadays not have any pride in the area any more?
Helen Jones, via email