Met with TIE reps today accompanied by like-minded neighbours. Much as we expected, told there was no chance that our suggestions would be listened to. TIE revealed that that they had received the objection to the siting of the stop, after affecting not to.
I was ticked off for flippancy, I had murmured that I had thought that Stalin was dead. I was referring to the systematic and deliberate wrong-footing of the public by the project managers. TIE are of the opinion that they are entitled to speak to citizens of Edinburgh thus, so I have written to my MP and MSP as follows.
Dear Mr Chisholm
Dealings with TIE, Edinburgh
I am writing to you concerning a meeting I had today, with some neighbours, in the offices of TIE, Edinburgh, regarding a complaint we have about the position of a stop, in the new street- train system which is currently under construction here in Edinburgh.
We were left dissatisfied, which, to be frank we were expecting, but a few issues came to light which I would like your opinion about. They concern the consultation process for the project, and also the involvement of the Scottish Parliament in the process, and the management of the project.
We were told that our objection was too late, but there was an air of mystery about this, one of us had formally written months ago, when something could have been done, and her objections and suggestions seemed to have gone missing. We were also told that the time to object was when the project had been presented to parliament, and that now a Bill had been passed, nothing could be changed.
However, during the course of the meeting it became clear that the plans had been changed at various points over the past few months, and it seems that the plans which were presented to Parliament were not the current ones. It left me wondering how much of the plans are known to Parliament; obviously the work has been devolved to TIE to develop as they see fit, but of course they are not an elected body, and it appears that they are answerable to nobody.
More surprising still was the assertion by TIE that although it may just be possible to object to some part of the plans, they would much rather nobody did, because if they were to make any changes, it would leave the project open to legal challenges, which they were avoiding at all costs, as any delay would make the cost ( to the public) mount up. This seems a highly questionable and improper attitude to take. This means the project is now untouchable, no matter what errors may be pointed out.
In short, although in many respects laudable, the project is in disrepute, and hence vicariously yourselves in the Scottish Parliament. I would like you to reply to these points:
1) Do you agree with TIE that the project must be protected from changes in case this leads to legal challenges?
2) Is it true that there can be no changes made on the basis of public consultation now that a Bill has been passed? If this is not the case, to what extent does the Parliament monitor the changes to plans, independently of TIE, as TIE apparently can and do make changes.
2) Are you aware that written objections and suggestions to TIE are going missing, or being ignored due to possible inconvenience.
I am not expecting you to wave a wand and move a stop 50 yards North East up Leith walk( although this would earn you a lot of respect), but I would like you to deal with the greater issues that this meeting has revealed. I look forward to your reply.
Dear Mr Lazarowicz
A couple of years ago I was canvassed on the doorstep by an agent sent on your behalf, and one of the questions asked was whether or not I felt represented by my MP/MSP and did I have any examples of good or bad practice, to feed back.
Today I had a run-in with TIE in Edinburgh, the body overseeing the construction of the long-awaited new street-train in Edinburgh, and it disappointed me so much I felt moved to write to Malcolm Chisholm, my MSP for the first time ever. I enclose a copy.
It raises the issues among others of how far -removed the public can be from the processes of parliament, through no fault of their own, and how much the reputations of MSPs and MPs are at the mercy of those that they rely on . I had hoped the Scottish Government would fare better than this. What is your opinion of matters like this?
If anyone does read this blog, take away this important point. TIE candidly made the point that they are adamantinely resisting any changes to the plans, no matter how imperfect, for by making a change it would be a public admission of fallibility, and it may open the door to legal challenges which they fear would delay the project.