Thursday, 29 October 2009

Members' concerns #2 - Town centre traffic

A couple of different members have said to me, what can we do about Darlington town centre traffic, which can be horrendous, without affecting our ability to attract shoppers and, by extension, major retail chains to the town? It's a tricky one, which I hesitate to plunge into because I am sure that my colleagues on Darlington Council have looked at it in detail, and is ultimately within their jurisdiction.

Park and Ride, it seems, is dead, following the July 2008 report of the feasibility study, at least until there are major investments in Metro or buses. But in the meantime, I'm genuinely interested to know what the interim plan might be. And is there any way that an MP could help clear the way for this? Your thoughts please.


  1. This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.

  2. When I went for an unmoderated blog, I should also mention that I'd prefer not to have aggressive and rude posts from people who lack the spine to put their name to them.

    Thanks "anonymous", but your comments are not welcome here.

  3. Rob,
    It is good to have the prospective candidates blogging, as having followed Nicks blog for some time i have seen that it gives the opportunity for genuine engagement.

    Being a resident of Hurworth, and therefore in the Sedgefield constituency, I will have no say in the election in darlington, however our village is very much affected by decisions made in Darlington by both its council and MP. Sadly much of this has been very negative with the apparent view of dbc that the villages can look after themselves (other than when they try and close our schools that is!)

    I am therefore very concerned about your apparent willingness to leave issues such as transport and congestion to dbc alone. Whilst it may be under their authority, surely any MP should be prepared to speak out when wrong decisions are made, regardless of political affiliation.

    I would hope that any MP is first and foremost elected to work with and for their wider community. That, i believe, is where Mr Milburn has failed Darlington as he has been largely invisible in the town for some years now.

    That is equally a failure of Phil Wilson MP, who i doubt even knows that Hurworth lies within his own constituency, so intent is he on looking after his heartland wards.

    I am of the belief that a tory victory at the next general election would be disastrous for Britain and the north east in particular. Darlington must be seen as just the sort of seat that labour must retain to have any chance of avoiding this outcome and therefore this selection will play a critical part in the election process.

    With all due respect to you and fellow candidates for the labour position, i believe that the only chance labour have in darlington is in electing a candidate who knows darlington and its people "inside-out" (which you apparently do not)and who is also prepared to tackle poor management and bad decision making at whatever level and by whatever party.

    Good luck in the process nonetheless

  4. It seems you've already discovered the joy of being a Labour politician in Darlington with an unmoderated blog. Anyway, welcome to the Darlington political blogosphere, Rob - for the next three weeks anyway!

  5. Well, I never thought the blog would be so popular subject on the first day after launch! Anyway I'm delighted we've got some debate going here.

    Ianh, thanks for your robust and well-argued point. Let me come back on it.

    Firstly let me explain myself on one thing - it is by no means my intention to suggest that traffic and transport have nothing to do with an MP and that such things should be left to DBC alone. An MP should certainly speak out if he disagrees with a decision, and I have a track record of doing just that.

    That said, I am genuinely interested in what others think about this tricky area. I don't claim to have all the answers, and I think any candidate's primary duty is to listen rather than to speak. Also, as I'm sure you can imagine, as a candidate in this process I don't think it would be right for me to enter into a debate about the merits of the current MPs for the area.

    I agree with you entirely about the potential disaster for the North East which would result from a Tory government. As I was discussing with a Darlington member last night, the Tories in power have a nasty habit of punishing heartland Labour areas out of sheer spite, as we saw during the 1980s. I think we also agree that it's essential to retain Darlington at both a local and a national level.

    Where, as I'm sure you'll imagine, I beg to differ is on your suggestion that only a candidate who lives in Darlington can win the seat, or do a good job as an MP. That goes against historic experience, if you read the long history of our Party. Many, many excellent MPs of all colours - including, I think, all Labour prime ministers and much of their cabinets - did not originally "come from" their constituency areas. By dismissing such people, you dismiss most of Labour history, including many years of trade union-nominated candidates who often have travelled some way from their home to be selected.

    I should also point out that, having spent my entire youth living 20 miles away from Darlington in Leeming, I am hardly a Southern interloper with no experience of the town, and in fact know it rather well. But I'm quite upfront that I don't currently live there.

    Anyway Ian, to sign off, thanks for your best wishes, and a pleasure to get some good debate here.

  6. By the way, Mike, thanks for your welcome to the Darlington blogosphere. I shall have to return the compliment on your own.

    Yes, The Centre Left is currently camped here for the next few weeks, but you never know, it may just stay longer than you think...

  7. I totally agree with Ian H (shock horror) but must correct him on one thing Phil Wilson is fully aware of Hurworth's existence but blinkered to its aid, as I write to him regulary if only to recieve the standard letters of denial that I am used to off Alan Milburn.

    Labour if it is to win any seats this upcoming election must start to listen to those who elect it and not as DBC appear to do at present, just what they want, when they want.

    Consultation means just that not "here it is like it or lump it" and perhaps if they had done this several years ago prior to starting the PHart fiasco in the town centre there may not be the chaotic bus problems we are hearing about and indeed a lot more cash in the public coffers.

  8. Ianw, this site is all about consultation, so I'm glad to have comments from all quarters (as long as they're not libellous, and within the bounds of politeness).

    On the other hand, the feedback I have been getting - and not just from Labour members - is that on balance people are not unhappy with Pedestrian Heart, so I'm not sure if everyone shares the same opinion on that.

    Bus transport and congestion problems, however, are a different matter and this is clearly an area of frustration for a number of people I've spoken to.

    Anyway thanks for your comments on the debate.

  9. Bus transport in a pedestrian heart an old man was knocked down by a bus only last week, you cannot have a pedestrian heart with traffic.
    I can only assume those to whom you have spoken all work at DBC HQ as I have not heard many have a good thing to say about it. When I have time I will dig out my FoI on the number of accidents (to pedestrians) there have been since it was altered.
    Also while on the subject why was such a massive undertaking done without any thought for extra toilets?

  10. Rob

    I have just read your profile and should you be picked and indeed win as MP for Darlington where will you live as you list...

    London, Yorkshire, Barcelona in your profile!

    Would you become a reincarnation of Alan Milburn and honour us once in a while with your presence or would you commit and move here giving up all other jobs to be a full time MP or are you too just wanting a ticket onto the financial gravy train?

    Sorry to be so abrupt but my vote is precious to me and I want to be certain I know who I will be using it on and that person has Darlington as his/her best interest, not just as many of your predecessors have done used it as a stepping stone to riches and fortune?

  11. Ianw, first of all no, the members I have spoken to absolutely do not all work at DBC HQ, there are 216 members and only 28 are councillors.

    Secondly IF I were to be elected MP for Darlington, which is a long way off - I have a tough selection process and an even tougher general election to get through before we would ever reach that point, neither of which it is at all clear that I would win - I would of course live in Darlington. However bear in mind that all MPs are required to be in London 4 days a week during session, which is what Parliament itself obliges and is not negotiable.

    Thirdly, I am very open with the fact that I have a house in London, that my parents live in Leeming, 20 miles from Darlington, and that my wife's parents live near Barcelona (see other posts). I spend time in all 3 places, although at the moment I am spending most time with my parents in Leeming, as I would continue to do whether selected or not.

    Finally, no, I do not need the money.

    I hope that this answers your concerns on the matter.

    Please, let's stick to the issues from now on.

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