Thursday, 31 December 2015

Save Caerphilly Road Trees - Bus Lane OUT.

This is the 27 bus driving down the road taken today 31 December 2015.  To the left you will see a condemned tree.  Where the tree is will, in TEN or so days time be a lot of work vehicles and a tree cutting down team.  The tree will be gone and where it is will be a bus lane. THIS BUS LANE IS NOT NEEDED. Also there will be car parking bays (these ARE needed - and can be added without the bus lane).  The bus lane will achieve nothing other than saving a few buses about 3 minutes in the morning.  As for these beautiful trees - you surely know the ones - they make it look like it is snowing in April with blossom everywhere. Everyone comments how lovely they are at that time. But that's not all - no there's more.  Cardiff City Council plan to butcher ELEVEN trees in this photo = apparently 4 have a disease - how very convenient - however they will replace these with 15 new trees.  How big is a new tree? - they may as well plant daffodils.  Do you see the water in the grass verge? Imagine how much MORE there will be with no trees. Trees help with clean air as well.

Please help us save Caerphilly Road from mindless butchery. Read and share the posts, comment where possible and turn up if you can on Thursday.

In a misguided effort to improve the area where I live (North Cardiff), the local council has decided to carry out numerous amendments to the main roads into and out of Cardiff.  They call these 'improvements'. I beg to differ.

Cardiff is a wonderful city, constantly improving and evolving. It is often mentioned as a leading European Capital City and with the Cardiff Bay and all the other improvements I am proud to call it home. I also believe planners can become blinkered and lose sight of the the original character of parts of the city in theie quest to move forward. It is importnt to keep as much original character in some of the older streets as possible.

I am writing this at 5.23 in the morning, having had it rushing round my mind all night. It is New Year's Eve and my head is full of trees.  The weather is raging outside, the storm is in full swing and as I try to sleep in my attic room, all I can see is a big old cherry tree in the street outside. It is clearly windy as the tree is blowing wildly and I can see the tree is wet with the reflection of the street lights so I know it's raining. I see this tree last thing before I go to sleep at night.  I stare it when I can't sleep, I watch it synchronise with the seasons. I have watched it blossom in April into beautiful and copious white blossom and then for a few days when the blossom falls everyone comments how much it resembles snow falling. The tree, probably the largest in the road, was planted, I believe, when the houses were built in the late 1920s. It has been a major part of the landscape since I moved in in 1994 and it gives the street character. However, if Cardiff City Council have their way, the tree has only 11 days or so left to live.

Cardiff City Council have decided in their lack of wisdom that better access to Cardiff City Centre is required. They are probably right in that. Their remedy is to cut down all the trees on the street to make way for a BUS LANE.  However this is not a straight through bus lane, rather a few metres here and a little bit there, so the bus has to nip in and out. From listening to residents in Cardiff whose roads have sufffered similar butchery, this does not improve anything. In fact in many cases the busses do not use the lanes at all as it takes longer to get back in to the flow of traffic than they would gain by using the lane. The bus in question is the 27 which runs a few times an hour and the 86 which is once an hour or so. The 27 would benefit for only one hour a day - morning rush hour and the calculated benefit in time saving would be about three changes of lights.

When I first put this out on Facebook, I was interested and thrilled to see the first post had 681 shares in the first day and I had lots of messages of support from people I have never met but who know the road and know that removing the trees would be devastating.  It is not only the look of the road but the trees of course take water from the soil - and with all the floods in North Yorkshire this week, surely we should be doing all we can to prevent this happening here.

Caerphilly Road, also known as the A469, is a main route from Cardiff to Caerphilly and to the valleys. It heads out of Cardiff, straight up and over Caerphilly Mountain and off into the valleys and beyond.  The road itself is well above the level of Cardiff City Centre so if there were major floods here then Cardiff Centre would be totally submerged but we still need the trees for the run off from the road.

So now the sad bit.  (or the convenient bit - however you see it). Of the 11 or so mature cherry trees the council have decided they are going to butcher, they say three of them are diseased and have tree bleeding canker. I am no tree expert but this strikes me as convenient timing. The council say they will replace the 11 trees they butcher with 15 new ones.  I guess this makes it all OK then in their eyes.  NO! Little baby trees will take decades to mature and with busses whizzing past a few feet away I doubt they will thrive.  They haven't said what make of tree will be planted or when they will be planted. As far as I'm concerned they may as well be re-planting daffodils for the difference it wil make.

On to the car parking.  The council have attempted to make residents happier by telling us they will be putting in parking bays for residents.  Of course this will help greatly.  Currently the residents have temporary authority to park on the grass verges meaning they have to mount the grass verge/kerb and drive over the grass.  This has of course trashed the grass and made it into messy mudfields leaving huge mud slicks over the road when the cars drive off.  The parking bays are needed and welcomed but why the bus lane as well?

Picture this - the road, currently has 2 lanes of traffic, one each way. Lorries regularly use the stretch along with busses and it is very busy. Currently it is a normal road, pavement one side, 2 lanes of road, grass verge with trees the other side, then another pavement.  The new plans are - in the same space, pavement, the current 2 lanes of road, then a bus lane, then parking bays then - get this - a CYCLE LANE ON THE PAVEMENT - so if you are a cyclist there is nowhere to go when you encounter a pedestrian.  The street is a major pedestrian route to local schools so this is surely dangerous.

Cardiff council have been sneaky, they have done the planning and consultation but although they will tell you they have had the plans available for some time, they have been cagey with any questions, they have held meetings typically on a weekday afternoon when many people are working.  They are very tight with their answers - if you ask 5 questions, they will half reply to one of their choice.  They cannot justify this to the residents satisfaction. 

This is a last ditch attempt by myself and a few similarly concerned people to do something. THE WORK IS PLANNED TO START ON 11TH JANUARY 2016.  I am not experienced in this type of thing but I have to do something. I am just a Cardiff resident trying to do what is right and trying to fight Goliath here.  I will continue to send tweets and Facebook posts to get the word out there. 

I have sent emails to Craig Williams MP Cardiff North, and Councillors Fenella Bowden, Lyn Hudson, Graham Hinchey and Phil Bale.

The final meeting will be on Thursday 7th January 12-4 in the St Andrew's church. (The one opposite Co-op by the Birchgrove pub).  Please try and make it if you can to register your comments.  I am not at the stage where I am about to chain myself to a tree yet but it is a thought.

here is the link to the plans

I have set up a FACEBOOK page to follow updates so everything is in the same place.
'Caerphilly Road Trees v's Bus Lane'.
The whole thing has got a bit manic with Twitter and papers and Facebook and messages and posters, petitions and everything.  IU will keep it all on Facebook for now.  Thank you for caring.