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Hebden Bridge as UK's 2nd city

From Alisdair Calder McGregor

Wednesday, 12 March 2014

The declaration that Hebden Bridge is the UKs 'second city' - lying at the heart of the suburbs of Bradford, Leeds & Manchester - has come as something of a shock to most people living there, including myself. However, underneath the hyperbole lies a serious point; that the Calder Valley lies in a sweet spot for ease of commute to the major employment centres.

But what the Calder Valley lacks - and what holds back prosperity and employment opportunities within it - is a modern, efficient transport system.

We are cursed on the Caldervale line which runs along the Calder Valley with the oldest, least efficient, slowest, and most dangerous trains in the UK; and with a Tory MP in Calder Valley who has not done anything to secure better transport links for his constituents.

Nor has the Labour Party - despite running the council and having an MP in Halifax - effectively lobbied for improvements to our rail link.

Without faster, more frequent services for every station along the valley - and the rebuilding of the station at Elland - Calderdale will be unable to live up to its promise at the core of the powerhouse industrial cities of the north.

Calderdale needs a radical, forward looking rail strategy that only the Liberal Democrats will provide, in order to achieve stronger economic links and job opportunities that will enable everyone here to get on in life.

From Graham Barker

Wednesday, 12 March 2014

I think Alisdair easily takes the prize for the most blatant and naive piece of political crowbarring on Hebweb this year. Does he really want to turn Hebden Bridge into a dormitory for affluent commuters, driving house prices even higher and excluding anyone on less than a six-figure income? Because that's what will happen if we get the five-star transport links he proposes.

As a fairly regular train traveller - though not a commuter, thankfully - I'm perfectly happy with what we've got. Leeds-Manchester trains are so abundant that I don't even need to check the timetable. And if less than perfect rolling stock is the price we must pay to stop Hebden becoming a ghetto for the rich, that's fine by me.

I would respectfully suggest that if the LibDems want to win friends and influence people before the next election, this isn't the way to do it.

From Paul Clarke

Thursday, 13 March 2014

I agree with Graham that it shows very poor judgement.

Even with this ill judged electioneering it is going to be an interesting battle for fourth at the GE next year . . . Ukip or Lib Dems.

From John Smithson

Thursday, 13 March 2014

Graham might be satisfied with the train service on the Caldervale line because it suits his needs, but spare a thought for those of us who commute at peak times to either Leeds, Manchester or Preston.  Dirty, uncomfortable, overcrowded rolling stock is the order of the day.  The timetable is OK; we just need new /better rolling stock with more carriages at peak times. Not much to ask for a 21st century rail line.

From Janet Balmforth

Thursday, 13 March 2014

It's interesting to note that John Smithson thinks that the timetable is okay - he should try commuting from Mytholmroyd to Bradford in the peak time. One train an hour, frequently late or cancelled, usually overcrowded and dirty, full of coughers and sniffers who don't seem to know what a handkerchief is for. Oh, the joys of travelling with Northern Rail.

From Anne H

Thursday, 13 March 2014

Evan Davis argued for a single northern 'hub' connecting the existing cities of Manchester, Liverpool and Leeds. Fine if there are good transport links between the spokes of the hub (and at the moment there aren't). Perhaps HS2 money should be used to increase north-north connectivity.
In this context, he portrayed Hebden Bridge as a dormitory town within easy commuting distance of both Manchester and Leeds. This is just geography, and true even though it's not the whole picture. But he also showed Hebden Bridge to be a modern town that had adopted many of the features of a city - creative people sparking off each other, a cafe culture, and a high proportion of lesbians (?!) – although it might be partially true, it didn't seem to have anything to do with the main argument for a second city.

I think a lot of people will laugh at the idea of Hebden Bridge being the second city and think we are just trying to elevate the town to something it clearly is not. Including, I suspect, Boris Johnson in his letter to the Mayor!

Previously, on the HebWeb

Hebden Bridge, the UK's second city, BBC article by Evan Davis.

Guardian Northerner: What the UK can learn from Hebden Bridge.