|HEBDEN BRIDGE WEB||
From Simon Stewart|
5th September 1998
Last Wednesday, 3rd September, our elected representative Christine McCafferty MP, showed her total distain for not only for the hard fought and hard won civil liberties of this country by voting for Jack Straw's totally contemptuous Terrorism Bill but for the whole notion of Parliamentary scrutiny, and accountability. Has she read the Bill, or was she just being another backbench Blairite nodding donkey. Because I very much doubt that she has read it,as MPs - a very small few like the likes of Tony Benn and Alan Clark - were expressing quite justifiable outrage at the problems they were having in getting hold of a copy of the legislation in order to study it, ie srutinise it. Precisely the job for which MPs are elected for, or am I just being old fashioned - showing yet again too much sense of the historical past and what parliament shoud be about.
Whatever your feelings are abour how we should combat terrorism this week's events in the House of Commons should make one seriously question the competence and accountability of our local MP. Does she have no memory of rushed, ill thought out, and ill considered legislation pasted for purely gesture purposes, eg The Dangerous Dogs Act. Has she not heard of the Birmingham 6, the Mcguire 7 and the Guilford 4; does she really believe that the uncorrobrated word of a policeman is sufficient grounds to convict; does she have such a disdain for the notion of evidence, ie the rule of law. Did the electorate realise the other May what a Blairite sycophant they were getting, not an MP?
There's a quantifiable difference between having a few cyclists using a canal towpath... and promoting the towpath as part of an 'official' cycleway. I don't think that a canal towpath - usually narrow and always next to deep water - is really suitable for a lot of traffic. Yes, a cycleway is a good idea, and, yes, the canal towpath is a much-appreciated resource... but anglers, walkers and cyclists on the same towpath is a recipe for trouble.
I am rather concerned about the implications of your article on the Hebden Bridge Web.
Whilst I know little about some aspects of the project, as a cyclist I am very familiar with the proposed Calder Valley cycleway. As far as I am aware, this aspect of the project is progressing well: a feasibility study is in progress and nearing completion: a projected route has been drawn up. Negotiations are in progress with landowners along the proposed route with a view to securing the necessary access to the land. Obviously, this process must be completed before any start can be made on the construction of the route; hence the 'lion's share' of the funding cannot be spent until the latter stages of the project.
I am not aware of any general lack of support for the cycleway project within the local community. Concerns have been expressed by some (not all) local anglers in relation to the short sections of the proposed route which use the canal towpath. I believe that the Countryside Service is now working closely with the anglers to resolve these problems. I have heard no opposition to the cycleway project itself - only concerns about the use of the towpath, which affects only a relatively small part of its length.
The tone of your article (please correct me if I am wrong) suggests that you are canvassing opinion with a view to withdrawing some or all funding for the Rural Development Bid. As far as the cycleway project is concerned I would like to express my full support for the scheme. This cycleway is desperately needed in the Calder Valley as a safe alternative to the A646 which, with its heavy traffic flows, is enough to deter even keen seasoned cyclists from taking to two wheels. Only with facilities such as this cycle route do we stand a chance of persuading people to leave their cars at home and make their journeys by bike.
Perhaps you would be good enough to send me more details of your evidence, unofficial or otherwise, that there is no longer support for these projects amongst the local community, and why at this stage in the project you seem to be 'back-pedaling' (no pun intended).
Regards, John Stansfield
I saw your comments on the developments in the Hebden Bridge Area. I am writing about the cycle route. I am surprised that you do not appear to know about the progress on this issue. I went to a public meeting some time ago where a Calderdale Countryside oficer presented a very detailed map of the route, which we were asked to comment on.
As a cyclist I am very much in favour of this facility continuing to be funded. I often stop in Hebden Bridge on short leisure rides and walks for lunch or tea. I often cycle there on the canal towpath, or back if I have been on my favourite circular route from Sowerby Bridge to Littleborough to HB and then home. The roads in the Calder Valley are very congested, and when they are not, the cars travel at faster speeds. This can be very frightening and dangerous. I have had some very close calls.
As a cyclist I do find objections to cycling on the towpath irritating. Most of these objections involve merely the comfort of other users (anglers having to move their huge poles, or walkers having to move aside), whereas I am at far greater risk from cars.
I am 50 and I am healthy because I get my exercise from cycling, as I get older I wonder if I will still wish to cycle so much on the roads. Facilities like the cyclepath should keep me cycling and healthy. I hope this one will just be the first in Calderdale.
Hebden Bridge has its share of road safety and traffic problems, some (but by no means all) of them caused by parents ferrying their children by car to and from school, thus generating the very car traffic and pollution from which they understandably seek to protect their children, by stopping them from walking or cycling to school. The town sees a daily flow of commuting traffic, much of which consists of one person sitting in a car capable of comfortably accommodating four people or more, and so holding up buses that can seat very many times that number, but take up less per capita road space.
Over the last year or so, the town has witnessed a number of debates (parts of which have generated more heat than light) on subjects ranging from the pedestrianisation of St George's Square to the proposed Calderdale Cycleway, towards which the Rural Development Commission has offered substantial grant, subject to consultation with you - the local residents.
If you're involved in road safety issues in and around Hebden Bridge or elsewhere in Calderdale, or are involved in debates about the allocation of Calderdale's limited road space and taxpayer's money between cars, pedestrians, pedal cyclists, motor cyclists, buses and trains, this book will be of interest to you.
Chapters include: The Politics of Road Safety; Seat Belt Myths and Realities; The Engineer's Tale; The Educator's Tale; The Lawyer's and the Police Officer's Tale; The Doctor's Tale; "Sorry Mate, I didn't See You - The Conspicuity Con"; Problems for Pedestrians; Getting Out of Whose Way?; The View from the Driving Seat - Motorist Attitudes; Road Safety OR Danger Reduction?; The Astronomer from General Motors; Conclusion - Getting About in a Civilised Society.
Robert Davis, "Death on the Streets : Cars and the Mythology of Road Safety," published (with photographs and cartoons) in 1992/93 by Leading Edge Press & Publishing Ltd, Hawes, North Yorkshire, ISBN 0-948135-46-8