The Green Party has a vision of a clear-aired, flourishing city, complete with trees, benches, squares and cafes. Green transport policies will put disabled people and pedestrians at the top of the hierarchy, followed by cyclists, public transport, access for freight and finally cars. This approach will spread the benefits of the street network to all of its users. Thanks to high levels of traffic, pollution in Worcester city centre is much higher than is safe to breathe, affecting all who live, work, study and shop in Worcester.
Worcester is an old city, with much of it laid out centuries before the arrival of the internal combustion engine. Many of the streets are narrow, and many shops and properties front directly onto the road. As a result, many pavements are very narrow, blocked by parked cars, and damaged by the weight of vehicles continually driving over them or parking on them. Several pavements are further obstructed by cyclists using them, rather than risk their lives by cycling on the road.
Despite the obvious risks from speeding road traffic and atmospheric pollution, cycling remains popular in Worcester. An extensive network of cycle routes has been established in and around the City, largely as a result of the recent SusTrans demonstration project. Greens want to build upon the recent improvements made and to encourage more people in the City to cycle.
The Home Zone concept was pioneered in the 1970s in the Netherlands, since then many countries have successfully transferred the core concepts and created their own safe areas. Home Zones work through the physical alteration of streets and roads in an area. These alterations force motorists to drive with greater care and at lower speeds. Many countries support this with legislation allowing the Home Zones to enforce a reduced speed limit of 10 miles an hour. The benches, flower beds, play areas, lamp posts, fences and trees used to alter the streets and roads offer many additional community benefits to the Home Zones and are considered to enhance the beauty of an area and increase the housing prices.
Provision of public transport in and around Worcester has been allowed to decline in recent years. Competition between bus companies has done little to reduce prices or improve the level of service. There is little or no coordination between road and rail services.
The decision to complete a ring of tarmac should not be taken lightly. We believe this is a single element which could be incorporated within a much larger transport review that is urgently needed for Worcester, the West Midlands and the nation as a whole.
This strategic transport review should consider such things as future employment and housing areas, and the amount of goods being carried on road, rail and air. A regional plan should plan for people to have the option to live reasonably close to where they work rather than creating dormitory towns where people have to commute large distances to work. The plan would consider modernising and increasing the capacity on the existing rail network. A key measure would be to create a new station on the main line at Norton. Buses and trams would also need to be part of that review.
We need to reduce the amount of noise and pollution present within the centre of our city by improving cycling and walking facilities. We need to reduce the amount of traffic passing through our city. Less through traffic would enable more pedestrianisation of the city centre, making our city centre quieter, safer, with less air pollution and a better place to shop. Building another road without looking at the deeper causes of transport problems is not the answer.
Creating more road capacity often gives a short term improvement but after a few years the capacity is quickly filled. And of course, the new road would cost hundreds of millions of pounds. In the current financial climate our money is better spent on defending the NHS and extending education and training.
In brief - Worcester Green Party cannot support the proposed North West Ring Road as a stand-alone project. However, we would be sympathetic to a new road if it improved the quality of the environment for the people of Worcester and was part of an ambitious strategic plan to reduce the need for high levels of commuting and improved train, bus, tram, cycling and walking provision in the region.
Green Party Meetings
All Green Party members are welcome to come along to our monthly meeting to discuss our plans for Worcester and Worcestershire.
Our next meeting is our AGM and starts at 7:30pm on Wednesday 15th July. Our monthly business meetings will now be online via Zoom. Please contact Louis Stephen by email if you would like to attend. If you need any help setting up Zoom, please get in touch.
For more information, contact Louis via email or telephone 01905 359 509.