COUNCIL bosses have awarded a contract to draw up the detailed business case for the redesign of the city centre – just two days after launching the consultation over what it should include.
Engineering firm Jacobs, which helped build the Queensferry Crossing has been appointed in an “end to end” capacity for the council’s City of Edinburgh Transformation Programme, working on the project from design to delivery.
But the move prompted questions about how such a contract could be awarded when no decisions have yet been made on what the transformation will involve.
An eight-week public consultation opened on Monday, but even it does not offer specific proposals for comment.
Tory transport and environment spokesman Nick Cook said: “The council has a long history of carrying out costly public consultations, then quickly shelving the results when they fail to conform to their desired plans.
“Entering into agreement with an external contractor to help redesign the city centre after just launching a supposedly major public consultation on the issue again appears to highlight how little weight the council actually gives to the views of ordinary Edinburgh residents.”
“The plans outlined thus far have been large on vision and little on detail. If the council administration has concrete plans to ban traffic from the city – as some suspect – these should be shared without delay.”
Green City Centre councillor Claire Miller said Jacobs was a big player in transport planning with an office in Fountainbridge so the appointment could be seen as a statement of intent to make sure ideas actually happen.
“However, the consultation seeking people’s ideas has only just launched this week so, at this stage, it’s very much about listening to what people tell the council and making sure plans reflect that,” she said.
The council said Jacobs had been taken on for its professional and technical expertise to pull together the business plan, delivery plan, consultation materials and carry out transport modelling and impact assessments.
Transport convener Lesley Macinnes said: “This administration is spearheading a truly game-changing rethink of how the heart of Edinburgh looks, feels and functions, putting people right at the centre of everything we’re trying to achieve. We’re delighted to have engaged Jacobs’ excellent expertise and resources to help us deliver this major transformational project.”
Jacobs general manager Donald Morrison said: “Edinburgh is one of the world’s most archetypal cities and this programme enables Jacobs to play a role in helping the council make the city the best place to live, work and invest.”