Wednesday 28 April 2010

The resentment lingers

In among the election chatter and froth, with transport more or less excluded from discussion by the three main parties, there’s the occasional flash of revelation. I was struck by this passing reference in a report from Stourbridge.

At a time when Britain could have embraced mass cycling like the Dutch, a sophisticated railway network was cynically destroyed by a Conservative government with vested interests in cars and tarmac, and car dependency was enthusiastically promoted, smashing through local communities. Naturally the Labour government that followed was every bit as enthusiastic about the car as its Tory predecessors.

The Stourbridge seat is half an hour west of Birmingham. As Bramall tells me, a long-lost Liberal tradition is frozen in local streets named after Gladstone, Richard Cobden and John Bright, but all that seems as lost as the genteel ambience that, according to locals, was killed by the hulking ring road that cuts central Stourbridge in two (it arrived in the 1960s, but the resentment lingers).