Merseytram, the debate continues to roll on
Merseytram continues to divide opinion since it was "virtually killed off" earlier this week.
I've found two very different blog posts that cast the debate about the future of the scheme following this LETTER in very different terms.
For the sake of transparency I am reproducing each in full here, to visit their sites please click on the links above.
Birkdale Focus states:
Liverpool was never going to get a tram without a grant from central government. Today the Labour Government has made clear what has been obvious for a while-namely that they are not going to back the Tram. Let us be clear this is the Labour Government which has done this-to date the Lab and Tory coalition has spent what is estimated to be ÃÂ£70m on this project without the comfort of firm government backing for the project. I think the Tories rather hoped we wouldn't notice, or maybe plan B was to blame us but it is now clear the Labour Government has pulled the plug.
Why is it that the the transport exec -or whatever grandiose name it rejoices under now-couldn't hear what most other folks cottoned on to a while back?
Lets hope that they now turn their attention to solving some of other transport needs of residents. How about putting equal energy into coming to an agreement with our neighbours to the east of Southport so that we can have a decent rail service to Ormskirk and Preston. This project is n Norman Baker's plans for rail links and is achievable by upgrading the Burcough curves.
As John Pugh said in Parliament:
8 Jan 2008 : Column 205
In Lancashire, for example, the rail utilisation strategy revealed desperately poor connectivity between the Preston city region and Merseyside, yet lines from both conurbations arrive in the modest town of Burscough, which has separate stations, unlinked by rail, half a mile apart, severed by Beeching and simply missing a curve. Were this in London, such connectivity would have been delivered decades ago, but because it is in the north-west, it is a struggle to get it done.
Frank McKenna has a quite different take on it though:
A letter from Government Minister Sadiq Khan that was released earlier this week seemed to suggest that the potential for the building of a tram system across the Liverpool City Region was, in the foreseeable future, dead in the water.
The Ministers correspondence indicated that the absence of the scheme from a list of regional transport priorities, compiled earlier this year, meant that Mersey Travel and its partners had missed a crucial window of opportunity to present its case for the tram.
However, following a series of conversations with leading players from across the region, and in Westminster this week, I have to say that the announcement of the trams 'death' has been greatly exaggerated.
What motivated the Minister to write such a letter at this time seems a little baffling to say the least.
The timetable that Mersey Travel is working to includes two crucial meetings during the next month. Firstly, the business case for the project will be presented to the Transport Authority next week; and the support of the City Region cabinet will then be sought in November.
Assuming these obstacles are cleared, and from the information I have seen, I fail to see how Merseyside's political leadership cannot get behind this much needed initiative, then it is inconceivable that a strong case will not be made to the Department of Transport to provide the necessary funding that will give our city the modern, twenty first century transport system it deserves.