It was with the feelings of foreboding and powerlessness that I read your article “Hunt to find tram experts for new firm running city transport system” (News, December 12), which revealed councillors are to be given seats on the board responsible for integrating and operating trams and buses.
Lothian Buses is the council’s most successful arms-length company by far and it is notable that it has achieved this success without the direct involvement of politicians on its board. It has delivered a comprehensive network of bus routes, at attractive frequencies and fares, which has resulted in the highest rate of bus usage per head of population outside London.
This has been possible because, firstly, maximising profit has not been the primary objective and, secondly, because its managerial and operational expertise has not been compromised by direct political interference or board members who have lacked appropriate skills.
Whilst I can understand why the board of the new transport company may require an expert in the operation of trams, I do not see why any more than one should be necessary and, in line with Audit Scotland’s conclusions on the management of the tram project, I would expect any councillors who sit on the board would be able to demonstrate relevant skills and expertise in the operation of public transport. If they cannot, then they should not be considered as appropriate or competent members of the board.
A J Bourne, Groathill Road South, Edinburgh
Park is not now available as a site
I WOULD like to correct the claim made by Geoff Lynn, who says that Portobello Park is the only site that is available now to build a new Portobello High School (News, December 10).
Portobello Park is not available now, since three senior judges of the Court of Session rule that it was illegal to build on the park. That is why the council is now trying to get round it by attempting to overturn the judgement via a private act of Parliament.
Kathleen Gillon, Park Avenue, Edinburgh
Happy to support athletes’ training
I WOULD like to respond to some of Lynsey Sharp’s concerns regarding her recent visit to Meadowbank (News, December 12).
Edinburgh Leisure is proud to host elite athletes such as Lynsey at our venues, and sympathises with the unique demands of her training schedule, but we have to take the health and safety of all of our customers extremely seriously.
For this reason, Lynsey was informed that the track was unusable due to severe frost and ice. Attempts had been made to salt the surface as usual, but due to the severity of the frost the track remained unsafe for use. To claim that these procedures were not followed due to any specific member of staff being on annual leave is completely untrue.
Our staff then offered Lynsey use of the indoor concourse, one of the main indoor halls or the gym and maintained ongoing dialogue with her throughout the day to inform her of any changes to conditions. Other athletes used the indoor concourse.
With regard to Lynsey’s concerns about community events taking place at Meadowbank, the venue has many competing priorities to contend with between sports, community activities and general events, all of which are seen as being important to the community.
This is one of the reasons that Meadowbank remains open and heavily used by such a wide and varied user base, in true essence; a community venue. Any impact on access is kept to a minimum and alternative facilities are always explored.
We welcome Councillor Norma Austin Hart’s suggested meeting with Lynsey to discuss her concerns, having already met with Lynsey over the past few months to seek ways to support her training schedule.
Graeme Gardiner, director of operations, Edinburgh Leisure
Take action or cyclists will die
Trying to negotiate Princes Street and the tramlines when you are a cyclist is hazardous enough at the best of times, but now at this time of the year, when road surfaces can be very greasy due to precipitation, the hazards are twice as great.
Unless appropriate action is taken to make Princes Street safer for cyclists, it may be just a matter of time before some unfortunate soul has a nasty accident or is killed.
Angus McGregor, Albion Road, Edinburgh