Here, the Lib Dem PPC for Worcester Federica Smith answers 5 key questions put to her by readers of the Worcester News:
How do we solve the city’s congestion problems?
I am surprised that, with the population of the city and with it being served by two motorway junctions and various main roads (including bus lanes) running through it, the city currently has no large-scale park and ride scheme in operation.
In order to change people’s habit and lifestyle, public transport needs to be accessible, including in financial terms, and operate seven days a week for long hours with commuters being able to park out of town.
Congestion is also apparent during the school run, so improved and subsidised transport to schools could also assist in alleviating the problem.
Reopening of the Perdiswell Park and Ride scheme would look to alleviate the commuter and visitor-caused congestion, though other initiatives need to be implemented, including better cycle routes and cycle storage facilities to allow a sustainable alternative.
What is your biggest concern for Worcester?
The biggest concern that I see for Worcester is the large- scale developments planned without the necessary infrastructure to support them.
By implementing mass housing development without holistically looking at the whole picture and the impact that this has on services (traffic, schools, healthcare services, etc), this development will have a detrimental impact on the current residents.
While housing will increase the population and look to grow the local economy, and while bearing in mind that there are areas for commercial development within the plan, one must be wary that the city does not become sedentary and just a commuter development for other cities, e.g. Bristol, Birmingham.
The city should be proud of its heritage and what its individual selling point is.
It should attract business to the area so that jobs are created in the city, and it should develop the high street so that it has a unique selling point with a mixture of national retail and independent shops.
All this would allow the city to thrive.
Is the answer to Worcestershire Royal Hospital’s challenges an upgrade of A&E?
The staff at A&E are doing the best job that they can do in a building that was never designed to see the number of patients that are currently using the facilities.
An upgrade of A&E is only part of the answer, but would help to alleviate the strains that are currently being faced.
However, this needs to go hand in hand with other healthcare initiatives around the city and surrounding region.
Investments in GP surgeries, so more unsocial hours are covered so that individuals can see their GP for minor ailments, and minor injuries facilities in locations throughout the city would both assist in helping to tackle the challenges.
Is it worth campaigning over Worcester’s Northern Link Road?
The development of the Northern Link Road is estimated to cost more than £100 million and it has to be considered whether the cost of implementing such a scheme would alleviate the problems of congestion and would it be the best use of such a large sum of money.
For this reason, I support the current emphasis on improving the southern bypass first.
A Northern Link Road would impact many people’s lives, cutting through large swathes of land, altering the countryside surrounding the city and having an impact on the environment.
All of this would, of course, need to be weighed up against what it is ultimately trying to achieve.
Is there – and should there be – an alternative to the South Worcestershire Development Plan (SWDP)?
Any development plan will have contentious issues in it for the residents directly affected.
However, a plan needs to be in place so developers are not completely left to their own control and not allowed to build just anywhere, and so that the growth of the city is managed from a bird’s eye view, with infrastructure put in place to support it.
Article taken from Worcester News
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