Thursday, December 11, 2008

Sterio Typing: Transport PRO Neil Posts NO Garbage at 2 AM

Manchester City Centre resident Neil Sterio is a mess of contradictions. He's an avowed socialist but publically backs the Tory-lite Lib Dems at local government election time.

He even sent a side or two of typed monologueing into the Labour Freepost address a couple of years ago. Explaining that he liked our candidate and our ideas but would be voting Tory-lite. He didn't like the managerial success of the regime in the Town Hall. He didn't sign it. But we knew, we just knew. That NCTJ and PGCE training shone through every double-spaced line and every sentence-as-paragraph.

Neil is currently a PRO for the Department of Transport in the North West, specifically the Highways Agency. He hasn't been there that long really but Google's up a storm on both "congestion" and "Greater Manchester".

Today he's made the lead story in Hugh Muir's Guardian diary, though not in his professional role as a congestion explainer. Rather in his unprofessional role as a 2 AM (Pacific Standard Time as it goes, in other words in work, on a DFT computer) head emptier. Explaining to 380 bemused city centre residents why he of all people was promoting a NO vote.

Because of such principled considerations as:

* Litter, much of it comprising METRO freesheet debris
* Lack of trams with double carriages
* Passengers fearing or being attacked, and paradoxically ...
* Staffing of services with ticket checkers

All of which were within the improvement headings we are voting YES for. And despite his presumably forgotten socialist solidarity with the old, the poor, the young, the sick, the students, the car-less, the disabled and all those folk.

And what's more despite his well-remembered solidarity with city centre lease and freeholders like himself who stood to benefit in spades from better services, less traffic, easier parking, more pedestrian remodelling, more cycling including bike shares, more car clubs, and not to forget increased value in their property.

What a complete mix up! And lest we forget it is the Department For Transport, from which Neil's email was dispatched, and which required Manchester to include peak-time, peak-flow, weekday charging - once the hard won improvements were in place.

Remember though:

Nothing in this E-mail message amounts to a contractual
or other legal commitment on the part of the Government
unless confirmed by a communication signed on behalf of
Secretary of State for the DFT

Here's the muddled one's email in full:

To: Manchester City centre Residents Forum

Subject: Congestion Charge - Why I Voted No

Posted by: "Sterio, Neil"


Thu Dec 4, 2008 2:11 am (PST)

I guess I might well have voted 'yes' as I am passionate about public

transport and, thinking selfishly living within the inner ring, it might

even give added value to my apartment.

But I voted 'no' as soon as I got my ballot paper last week.

Half an hour later I knew I had done the right thing getting on a tram

at GMEX at noon and finding the whole of the carriage floor strewn with

rubbish including a half eaten sandwich and a coffee cup - and those god

forsaken Metros.

There is no contradiction for me in voting 'No' to the huge investment

in public transport promised by the 'Yes' camapigners. I simply do not

trust the present lot to deliver.

Our local politicians have no control over the rubbishy deregulated bus

companies but they do run GMPTE and the trams and frankly what a mess

they have made of that - attacks on customers at night, cannabis and

smoking, rubbish in carriages and all passengers treated like fare

dodgers. Then there are the kooky information boards, multi-tram

changes to get anywhere beyond Piccadilly Gardens or Victoria after 6pm

and the incredible lack of double units at peak times.

GMPTE has consistently refused to listen to customers and bring in

conductors - a la Sheffield and Nottingham - so how can we trust these

people to deliver on their promises for the congestion charge? The

answer must be 'we can't'. We could already have an Oyster style

system in Manchester but with no control over buses and train companies

as LT does in Greater London (and what a contrast that is!) it isn't

going to happen now and probably never will without the local bus

companies - already with the highest fares in the western world! -

earning a mint from it all.

Neil Sterio


Safe roads, Reliable journeys, Informed travellers

Department for Transport

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