Wednesday, 3 June 2020

Leeds-Bradford International Airport: Time to halt the madness of airport expansion in the UK

I've just posted an objection to the latest set of proposals to expand capacity at Leeds Bradford international Airport (LBIA).

Many thanks to my fellow Green councillors (especially Martin Love and Andy Cooper) and other activists on whom I have based my comments!

I hope as many people as possible support this critical campaign!


I am writing to object in my capacity as an elected member of Bradford Council, representing the Shipley ward.

1) The Climate Emergency.

LBIA wants to increase passenger numbers from 4 million per year now to 7.1 million by 2030 – a near doubling of passengers if we take into account the increase in passenger numbers in recent years.

This will generate a huge increase in greenhouse gas emissions at a time when we should be drastically reducing them. The UK is legally bound by the Paris agreement, which mandates limiting the global temperature rise to well below 2C. The UK’s Climate Change Act mandates net zero emissions by 2050. Doubling emissions at LBA is clearly a breach of these legal requirements.

Leeds City Council declared a Climate Emergency in March 2019 and committed to achieving a carbon neutral city around 2030. The Leeds Climate Commission (a partnership of LCC, University of Leeds, local businesses, the local public sector and the third sector) has forecast that airport expansion would mean emissions from the airport become higher than emissions from the whole of the rest of Leeds by 2026. Expansion would render the target of 2030 impossible to meet, and LCC have admitted that 'continued growth in aviation nationally is incompatible with the climate emergency'. There is little point in committing to a carbon neutral target and then allowing an airport expansion that makes target impossible to meet.

Planning applications are guided by the National Planning Policy Framework (NPPF). Paragraph 7 of the NPPF states that 'the purpose of the planning system is to contribute to the achievement of sustainable development. At a very high level, the objective of sustainable development can be summarised as meeting the needs of the present without compromising the ability of future generations to meet their own needs'. Clearly this expansion does not meet the objectives set by the NPPF. Councils at Stansted and Bristol have been guided by this and turned down similar expansions.

The proposed expansion flies in the face of recommendations from the committee that advises the government on climate change. In September 2019, the UK Committee on Climate Change stated that we must limit aviation passenger growth to a maximum of 25% from 2018 to 2050. It said: "In the absence of a true zero-carbon plane, demand cannot continue to grow unfettered over the long-term. Our scenario reflects a 25% growth in demand by 2050 compared to 2018 levels." LBIA wants an increase of 72% in just 10 years, way beyond the recommended level.

The airport's owners talk a lot about how 'green' the proposed new terminal will be. They don't mention that the old building will still be used. And they don't mention that emissions would more or less DOUBLE from all the extra flights. The chair of Leeds Climate Commission has said the reduced emissions from the new terminal are like 'grains of sand' compared to the increased emissions from extra flights.

Claims of mitigating the climate impact are false. LBA likes to rely on claims relating to improved performance of aircraft and reductions in fuel consumption. These are marginal technological improvements that only apply to new aircraft. LBIA have no control over the age, maintenance regime or replacement schedule of the aircraft that use its facilities, whether based there or not.

2) Noise pollution

Aircraft noise is a serious problem. The World Health Organisation is recommending far lower thresholds for the avoidance of adverse health impacts from aircraft noise. Safeguarding the health of the community must be a priority consideration – more flights mean more noise. This increase will impact residents of areas other than Leeds, including those of the ward I represent in Bradford which is under the flight path of many flights.

LBIA can fly 24/7 but there are restrictions between the hours of 2300 - 0700. An important part of the application is a shrinking of this restricted time to 2330 - 0600. This means that peak activity at the airport will start at 6am (that is 'officially' - in reality flights are likely to ramp earlier, as happens now).

At night, the area surrounding the airport where people will experience LOAEL (the lowest noise dose at which there is an observed adverse effect) will increase after development by 8.6km2, to 56.2km2. This means that 123,000 people will fall into this category, and due to the increased incidence of noise the number of people being Highly Sleep Disturbed will be 42,000 and the number of people being Highly Annoyed will be 93,500. Many of these are people whom I represent on Bradford Council.

The airport's own application Noise and Vibration section admits that "... This confirms that that whilst the changes are forecast to be 'negligible' or 'low', the Development will result in an adverse effect on health due to increased noise."

3) Air pollution

Ultrafine particles (known as PM2.5) come from jet engines and are now one of the major health concerns relating to airport expansion. New research shows that they can have serious adverse health impacts even at levels well below current World Health Organisation guideline limits. They are produced not only at aircraft take-off and landing but have also been found up to 14 miles from an airport. The new research confirms previously known associations between PM2.5 and respiratory and cardiovascular disease. Safeguarding the health of the community must be a priority - double the flights means double the air pollution.

4) Traffic impacts

Doubling passenger numbers will greatly increase road congestion on routes to and from the airport. Moreover, the traffic will start to build up even earlier than at present thanks to the unrestricted flights starting at 0600 and more flights at night.

5) The adverse economic impacts

The economic benefits of airport expansion are routinely overstated. Generally, airports like LBIA, which are based on low-cost airlines, do not make a sustainable contribution to the local economy. They are geared towards outbound leisure travel and therefore take money out of the country. Worldwide, airports are shedding jobs to give way to automation leaving low skilled, typically zero-hour, retail and catering work. Profits from LBIA go to AMP, the Australian investment company that owns the airport. The health of the people in this region and the wellbeing of the planet are far more important than the claimed economic benefits and the profits of AMP.

Once we get over the Covid crisis, how do we rebuild the economy and deal with the climate emergency? We currently have a historic opportunity to address these questions together – investing in low carbon transport and infrastructure would reinvigorate the economy and address the climate emergency. We cannot afford to invest in dirty, polluting industries such as this.

LBIA makes big claims about how expansion would help the local economy and create jobs, but their case is out of date. LBIA's economic impact report is based on assumptions that pre-date the COVID crisis (see paragraph 1.5). Everyone knows that the pandemic has changed all previous economic forecasts. In particular, aviation industry experts forecast that demand for air travel will remain low for some years (a welcome development from an environmental perspective). Any assessment of the application based on out of date assumptions would clearly be invalid. LBIA should be required to produce a new economic assessment before the planning application is even considered.

Most passengers don't benefit the local economy - 93% of LBIA's passengers use the airport for leisure. LBIA's own report says "these passengers do not generate significant wider economic impact (and are in fact sometimes viewed as a negative in terms of economic impact)". 71.5% of all passengers take holidays abroad. How does spending money abroad help the economy in Leeds? LBIA itself says that only 7% of passengers create a significant, positive, local economic impact. Even using LBIA's out of date, pre-COVID figures, they only expect 340 full time jobs to be created in the whole region (well beyond Leeds) by 2024 and only 2,310 by 2030 (these forecasts are now, of course, invalid).

Do these paltry economic returns compensate for worsening the climate emergency and undermining the health of local communities? I think not.

Cllr Kevin Warnes (Green, Shipley)

Thursday, 21 February 2019

Action speaks louder than words. Bradford has declared a climate emergency - now is the time to put our money where our mouth is!

Bradford Council meets this afternoon to debate and vote on its budget.

The Green councillors - myself and Martin Love - have tabled a substantial amendment to Labour's proposed budget calling for multi-million pound green investment in energy efficiency measures and renewable energy projects.

This is our response to the ‘climate emergency’ declared by Bradford Council only last month (as a result of our motion to Council).

Our Green budget proposals have been assessed as “robust” by senior Council finance officials.

We are proposing a range of multi-million pound investments over the next three years to help ‘future-proof’ Bradford in relation to the challenges of climate change.

The far-reaching proposals include £4m of capital investment in solar power for the District’s schools and city centre and a range of other energy efficiency projects that will yield decades of revenue savings for the Council. Half of this investment will help create a 'Climate Fund' to kickstart low carbon investment.

We also want to set up a Council-run ‘Solar Together’ scheme, similar to the successful project recently launched in London, to bring together residents and businesses who wish to invest in clean energy for their properties at discount prices.

We also want the Council to invest £1.5m in Ultra-Low Emission Vehicles (ULEV) for the Council’s transport fleet over the next three years, as part of the Council’s annual £3m rolling fleet replacement programme. This will have the added benefit of reducing the Council’s annual fuel bill (last time I looked, this was around £5m annually). We also want the Council to invest £1m in 400+ electric vehicle charging points to encourage Bradford residents to switch to low carbon travel and help reduce air pollution in our urban areas.

We have proposed to invest an additional £1.4m in traffic calming measures to help communities blighted by speeding motorists, including investment in new traffic-calmed ‘Home Zones’ wherever they are practicable. We have called for an extra £1.5m for much-needed pavement repairs and other measures to encourage walking and cycling, as well as an additional £600k to provide replacement street trees and green barrier planting near schools to help mitigate the worst impacts of air pollution on local families.

We have also allocated additional resources (£150k) for the Council’s Street Cleaning and fly-tipping services.

These proposals are far-reaching and fully costed. Bradford Council has declared a climate emergency and now needs to put its money where its mouth is. Action always speaks louder than words, and it is time for us to act to future-proof our District in relation to the climate challenges ahead.

Bradford Council will be investing over £500m in capital schemes across the District over the next four years, and we want much more of that investment to go where it is needed most – the creation of a sustainable future for ourselves and our children. We need to radically change the way we invest in energy, housing and transport, and our proposals today are a first step on that long-term transition to a low-carbon society.

Friday, 8 February 2019

Time to block unsustainable, unaffordable, unwanted housing developments

A lot of us are fed up with the stream of 'infill' housing developments that blight our communities.

Of course, they can be a positive addition for communities, if well-designed, low carbon and the result of local consultation. We need more homes, and more affordable places to live.

But many of these applications are driven by profit, are high carbon and unsustainable, are unaffordable and not supported by residents, and are therefore not welcome.

A classic example has crossed my desk this week - a proposal for eight standard new apartments on Springhurst Road in Shipley. Another local green space lost in the midst of a close-knit residential area, just off a highly polluted, congested main road.

Here is my objection in full:

I am writing to object to this unwelcome planning application.

I entirely agree with the serious concerns raised by the local residents who have commented so far.

First, the proposed three storey block is completely out of character and scale for this site and is not in keeping with the surrounding area. It will dominate the space and overlook and encroach onto the existing terraced houses along Scarborough Road. This will result in an unacceptable loss of privacy and natural light and degrade the amenity of nearby residents.

Second, the proposed development is unimaginative, low quality and seeks to cram housing and car parking spaces into an area that is on a slope with limited access. It will place additional strain on already-stretched public services and schools and increase local road congestion along one of the busiest routes in our District. Its construction will lose yet another area of green open space that is highly valued by local residents and their children.

Indeed, I understand that the developer originally promised that he would leave this green space untouched when his earlier nearby development went ahead. I gather, moreover, that he has cut down three trees in advance of this application; which means, conveniently, that he has been able to claim in Section 15 of the Application Form that there are no trees on the development site or adjacent to the site that might be affected.

Third, environmentally, this development is as reckless and irresponsible as most of unsustainable, profit-driven, poorly-regulated housing developments that we see across the UK. The proposals are not remotely ‘zero carbon’, or low carbon, despite the fact that Bradford Council recently declared a ‘climate emergency’ and claims that it is committed to reducing greenhouse gas emissions in our District. The plans incorporate no renewable energy technologies or even electric vehicle charging points or secure cycle parking provision. The development is not car-free; in fact, the plans add fifteen more vehicles to local road traffic. This will further degrade air quality in an area where local families are already exposed to illegally high levels of air pollution. Waste water will be discharged directly into the main sewer because the developer has not bothered to invest in a sustainable drainage system for the site despite our recent history of flooding in Shipley and the growing likelihood of extreme weather events.

I very much hope that this application will be rejected outright by the planning department.

In the event that it is recommended by officers for approval, I ask that it be referred to the Keighley and Shipley Area Planning Panel so that residents can express their views in person to help the councillors on the committee make a final decision on behalf of the community.

Enough already!

I hope hundreds of residents pile in as well, and that this application is kicked into touch.

It would also help if we had a Green government to strengthen the planning policy framework, give communities more control over their futures and ensure that developers are REQUIRED BY LAW to build climate-friendly, sustainable homes for our children and their children to live in.

Sunday, 22 July 2018

The Green Group's position on the IHRA definition of antisemitism

A resident contacted me this week asking why the Green councillors refused to support Labour's motion on antisemitism that was passed by Bradford Council (with Tory support) at our July meeting.

Our full amendment (which did not, unfortunately, attract all-party support) is below and is self-explanatory. Our UK Green MEPs took a similar approach when the European Parliament recently adopted the IHRA definition of anti-Semitism.

Everyone is also welcome to watch my colleague, Cllr Martin Love, explaining our position to the meeting here on the Council webcast:


Proposed by Cllr Martin Love
Seconded by Cllr Kevin Warnes

Bradford Council is deeply concerned by the rise in hate crime and racism across the UK, including the rise in antisemitism in recent years.
Council notes that the International Holocaust Remembrance Alliance (IHRA) adopted the following definition of antisemitism in May 2016: “Antisemitism is a certain perception of Jews, which may be expressed as hatred toward Jews. Rhetorical and physical manifestations of antisemitism are directed toward Jewish or non-Jewish individuals and/or their property, towards Jewish Community institutions and religious facilities”.

Council notes that the House of Commons Home Affairs Select Committee published a report on antisemitism in the UK in October 2016 which: (a) emphasised the “importance of establishing an agreed definition of antisemitism”; (b) went on to “broadly accept” the IHRA definition; and (c) recommended that the adoption of the IHRA definition by the British government, law enforcement agencies and political parties needed to include “two additional clarifications to ensure that freedom of speech is maintained in the context of discourse about Israel and Palestine, without allowing antisemitism to permeate any debate”.
Council notes that the Home Affairs Select Committee’s two clarifications were: (a) “It is not antisemitic to criticise the Government of Israel, without additional evidence to suggest antisemitic intent”; and (b) It is not antisemitic to hold the Israeli government to the same standards as other liberal democracies, or to take a particular interest in the Israeli Government’s policies or actions, without additional evidence to suggest antisemitic intent”.

Council notes that the UK Government subsequently signed up to the IHRA definition of anti-Semitism, but without the two caveats recommended by the Home Affairs Select Committee.
Council notes that, in March 2017, Hugh Tomlinson QC (Matrix Chambers) provided a ‘Counsel’s Opinion’ on the government’s decision to adopt the IHRA definition of antisemitism in this way on behalf of four campaign organisations (Free Speech on Israel, Independent Jewish Voices, Jews for Justice for Palestinians and the Palestine Solidarity Campaign).

Council notes Tomlinson’s detailed six-point conclusion, which reads as follows:
1)   The IHRA “non-legally binding working definition” of antisemitism is unclear and confusing and should be used with caution. 

2)   The “examples” accompanying the IHRA Definition should be understood in the light of the definition and it should be understood that the conduct listed is only antisemitic if it manifests hatred towards Jews. 

3)   The Government’s “adoption” of the IHRA Definition has no legal status or effect and, in particular, does not require public authorities to adopt  this definition as part of their anti-racism policies. 

4)   Any public authority which does adopt the IHRA Definition must interpret it in a way which is consistent with its own statutory obligations, particularly its obligation not to act in a matter inconsistent with the Article 10 right to freedom of expression. Article 10 does not permit the prohibition or sanctioning of speech unless it can be seen as a direct or indirect call for or justification of violence, hatred or intolerance. The fact that speech is offensive to a particular group is not, of itself, a proper ground for prohibition or sanction. The IHRA Definition should not be adopted without careful additional guidance on these issues. 

5)   Public authorities are under a positive obligation to protect freedom of speech. In the case of universities and colleges this is an express statutory obligation but Article 10 requires other public authorities to take steps to ensure that everyone is permitted to participate in public debates, even if their opinions and ideas are offensive or irritating to the public or a section of it. 

6)   Properly understood in its own terms the IHRA Definition does not mean that activities such as describing Israel as a state enacting policies of apartheid, as practicing settler colonialism or calling for policies of boycott divestment or sanctions against Israel can properly be characterized as antisemitic. A public authority which sought to apply the IHRA Definition to prohibit or sanction such activities would be acting unlawfully.

 Council therefore:
1)    restates its total condemnation of all forms of racism in all its manifestations, including antisemitism;

2)    requests that the Corporate Overview and Scrutiny Committee conducts a detailed review of the options for adopting a clear, robust definition of antisemitism that will enable Bradford Council to ensure that (a) everything possible is done to end the scourge of antisemitism in our society, while (b) also ensuring that our fundamental right to freedom of expression is properly protected.

Saturday, 21 July 2018

New crematorium in Northcliffe Park? Over my dead body...

I've had the privilege of witnessing plenty of dodgy Council decisions during my fifteen years as a Green Party councillor for Shipley, but Labour's utterly daft proposal to build a new crematorium in Northcliffe Park is an absolute corker.

To be fair, our senior Labour councillors are considering the park as one of five possible locations for the two new crematoria that they have decided need to be built, but the fact that they are willing to contemplate the option of building on any part of the park in the first place for this reason - including the creation of a new access road - speaks volumes for their judgement.

Let's be clear. This is never going to happen. And the reason is simple.

The Indenture which handed trusteeship over the land to the Council in 1921 - open beside me on my desk - makes it refreshingly clear that it would be illegal to build a crematorium in Northcliffe Park. It states that "the lands and woodlands conveyed...shall be used at all times hereafter solely and entirely as an open space for the recreation and benefit of the public and for no other purpose whatever...".

It's an open and shut case, Watson. None of the land can be built on in this way, ever, and cremating the deceased does not fall into the category of recreation as far as I am concerned.

Martin Love and I (the two Shipley Green councillors) attended the meeting of the Regulatory and Appeals Committee last Thursday afternoon. The committee members were meeting in their capacity as trustees of the park to decide how to proceed in response to Labour's amazing proposals.

They had two main options: either (a) kick Labour's genius suggestion into touch; or (b) agree to seek permission from the Charities Commission to evaluate the proposal further - a step deemed essential by all concerned in order to avoid even the appearance of a conflict of interest (heaven forbid).

Martin and I each spoke to the committee (our thanks to the Chair, Cllr David Warburton) and emphasised our very strong objections to the idea. We highlighted the extent to which proceeding any further would simply be at odds with the charitable objectives entrusted to the trustees.

In the event, the committee managed to locate a third option! Never under-estimate the dexterity of politicians caught in the spotlight. Rather than either abandoning the idea completely or pursuing it further via the Charities Commission, the councillors hit the ball back over the net to the officers. Specifically, they asked the Bereavement Service to provide them with additional information about the possible benefits of the scheme and (I think, though I am not entirely sure) to consult with the public as well to gauge opinion in the local community.

One lone councillor - Cllr Mike Pollard from Baildon - voted against. Mike argued strenuously and repeatedly and correctly that the terms of the Indenture are as clear as night and day, there is no wiggle room, it is black and white, done and dusted, copper-bottomed, nailed on and lashed to the decking. He firmly stated his view that the Council should not entertain Labour's genius plans for one moment longer.

Now, it is fair to say that Mike Pollard  - a Conservative councillor - and I do not exactly see eye to eye on every issue that crosses our path! But, on this occasion, I wholeheartedly applaud his clarity, insight and wisdom.

So, as Martin and I did several weeks ago when Labour's bonkers idea first surfaced, we call on the Labour Exec to waste no further officer and public time and remove Northcliffe Park as an option for a new crematorium. Unless the Council intends to cremate people in the open air for free as a form of public recreation, I really don't see how a new crematorium is permissible under the strict terms of the Indenture.

And, in the meantime, we'll campaign to block any proposal for a crematorium in our park, no matter how slim the possibility is that this will actually happen in our lifetimes.

Monday, 11 June 2018

The Moment of Reckoning for the Branch Hotel in Shipley

In two days time, at 10am on Wednesday morning, the Keighley and Shipley Area Planning Panel convenes at Keighley Town Hall to consider the future of the Branch Hotel. The meeting is open to the public if anyone feels like attending.
Bradford's finest minds are proposing to demolish this landmark 170+ year old building in order to - wait for it - widen the road junction.
As if that was not a bad enough idea in principle, the Council does not know what the new junction will look like, or assessed its environmental, social or economic impacts, or consulted with local people.
I have therefore written to all the councillors on the panel urging them to call a halt to this madness, divert the bulldozers and send the planners back to their drawing boards before it is too late.
My email reads as follows:

I am writing to ask for your help in ensuring that the planning panel meeting on Wednesday rejects the Council’s premature application to demolish the Branch Hotel.

The report submitted by the Design and Conservation Officer is very clear. He states that demolishing the Branch without any immediate indication of what will take its place will neither enhance nor better reveal the significance of the World Heritage Site. This is a breach of Paragraph 137 of the Planning Practice Guidance of the NPPF, which states that local planning authorities like ours should look for opportunities for new developments that enhance or better reveal the significance of World Heritage Sites like Saltaire.

Leaving the site cleared and levelled, as is proposed, (a) will worsen the appearance of the site in the immediate future and possibly for several years; and (b) the Council has not clarified how any subsequent junction enlargement will make a positive difference as far as the World Heritage Site is concerned. The supporting arguments submitted as part of this application are no more than aspirational, are not evidenced, and are therefore not sufficiently robust to justify the loss of a building of this sort.

In addition, the demolition will breach a key priority of the NPPF, namely to ensure that planning for places protects and enhances the built and historic environment. If the Branch is not part of our historic built environment in Shipley, given the fact that it is one of the oldest buildings in the town located on one of the key junctions and important approaches to Shipley, I don’t know what is.

Yet we are proposing to demolish this historic landmark simply to create a larger road junction that has not yet been designed and whose economic and environmental impacts have neither been assessed nor publicly consulted on.

The Council already owns the site and the building. The Council therefore has the opportunity to properly assessed all the options for an improved junction and their impacts BEFORE seeking premature consent to destroy one of the oldest buildings in our community. There is no need to rush into this matter and I hope that you will press the pause button before it is too late by rejecting this specific application outright.

I agree with the officer report in so far as it correctly states that “a balanced judgement will be required having regard to any harm or loss and the significance of the heritage asset…harm should also be weighed against the potential public benefits of the proposal”. Fair enough.

But the problem is that the Council has NOT demonstrated in any detail or with any supporting evidence that a bigger junction will actually deliver the kind of public benefits (economic, environmental, social) that might outweigh the loss of this landmark building.

I urge you all, please, to resist promises of ‘jam tomorrow’ from the highways team and focus on where we are right now. We have a 170+ year old landmark building in the midst of our community that is a heritage asset which might be saved and regenerated in some form (perhaps as part of a housing development, for example). The weight of comments submitted shows overwhelming local public support to retain the building for some future use. But that opportunity will be lost forever if you give the green light to the Council’s bulldozers.

A few years ago, we lost the old post office building in central Shipley (now a private car park). The nearby Oddfellows Arms – dating back to 1840 - is also under threat of demolition. Historic Shipley is gradually being torn down bit by bit and I hope that Wednesday’s meeting will call a halt to this mayhem.

Many thanks,

Kevin Warnes

Cllr Kevin Warnes
Green Party Councillor for Shipley
Bradford Council

Friday, 25 May 2018

Casework's all about trains, buses and pedestrians...

A busy morning catching up on Council emails after my teaching week. The key theme today seemed to be transport.

Got in touch with the West Yorkshire Combined Authority about the new rail timetable between Saltaire and Bradford. A resident is worried about the longer gap between trains during the morning rush hour. It turns out that the number of Shipley-Bradford services remains the same, but that the gap between the peak trains has grown from 35 to 40 minutes. WYCA acknowledge that the gap should ideally be only 30 minutes, but that they are trying to accommodate additional Leeds services to meet rising demand. The good news is that they will ask Northern to reduce the Saltaire-Bradford gap when the timetable is refreshed in December.

Contacted the Area Managing Director of Yorkshire Tiger to find out more about their plans for services to the Higher Coach Road estate, where residents are concerned about their new bus timetable. Found out that the new service is secure for at least three years and that there are no plans to cancel it, which is great. But still trying to assess the extent to which the new bus service is less frequent than the old one. Will meet with residents in early June to chase this, and have contacted the transport authority for more info in the meantime.

Got hold of data from the wonderful Friends of the Earth that confirms illegally high levels of NO2 traffic pollution at the junction of Otley Road and Bradford Road, near the Branch Hotel. The pollution is also worryingly high in the playground at Shipley CE Primary School. The problem, of course, is high levels of traffic and diesel-powered vehicles, the result of decades of unsustainable transport policies from both Conservative and Labour governments. It's all about economic growth, with air quality and the health of our local communities very much sidelined in the list of priorities.

Have written to City Connect and the Canal and River Trust to ask them to upgrade the canal towpath in Saltaire for the benefit of walkers and cyclists - again, in response to concerns expressed by Shipley residents. There is a popular stretch near the mill that regularly becomes waterlogged and muddy, yet nothing has been done there for years. I've also asked City Connect if they are going to get around to dealing with the two unimproved parts of the towpath between Shipley and Apperley Bridge that were not upgraded as promised three years ago. I've asked before and they have done nothing about it, but thought I might as well pester them again. Tellingly, the money being wasted on demolishing the Branch Hotel would more or less pay for all these towpath improvements if our local decision-makers had the requisite vision and ambition.

Ultimately, of course, it all comes down to political priorities. We can continue to widen our road junctions, create more space for more traffic, pursue growth at all costs and allow vehicles to be sold in the UK that pump out pollution into our communities. Or we can invest more in better mass transit, clean, reliable train and bus services and attractive walking and cycle routes while quickly phasing out dangerous technologies like diesel engines (2040? Don't make me laugh).