In that satirical masterpiece The Hitchhikers Guide to the Galaxy, author Douglas Adams highlights the unerring constancy of the relationship between authorities, plans and the public. In the book a fleet of alien spaceships hover over the Earth and announce, through speakers, its imminent demolition to allow the construction of a hyperspatial express route through our star system.
When the people of earth yell in outrage over the move, Prostetnic Vogon Jeltz of the Galactic Hyperspace Planning Council tells them: “There’s no point in acting surprised about it. All the planning charts and demolition orders have been on display at your local planning department in Alpha Centauri for 50 of your Earth years, it’s far too late to start making a fuss about it now.”
He continues: “What do you mean you’ve never been to Alpha Centauri? Oh, for heaven’s sake, mankind, it’s only four light years away, you know. I’m sorry, but if you can’t be bothered to take an interest in local affairs, that’s your own lookout. Energize the demolition beams. God I don’t know, apathetic bloody planet, I’ve no sympathy at all.”
So now Edinburgh council has decided to press ahead with its plans to impose a 20mph speed limit on 80 per cent of the Capital’s streets following its consultaiton exercise. When first announced the plans provoked an animated response, with more than 6000 people liking the Say No to 20mph page on Facebook and 2700 signing a petition calling for the decision to be reversed.
But in the only consultation that counted, just 86 people responded and 54 were objections.
So now Edinburgh will become the first city in Scotland to impose such restrictions, at a cost of over £2m, at a time when the city is having to make deep spending cuts. Following the consultation it it hard to argue that the city has not demonstrated its acceptance of the new regime.