Secrecy of closed room briefings is adding to erosion of public trust - Steve Cardownie

Structural damage to Anchorfield flats on Lindsay Road led to residents being evacuated and the road closedStructural damage to Anchorfield flats on Lindsay Road led to residents being evacuated and the road closed
Structural damage to Anchorfield flats on Lindsay Road led to residents being evacuated and the road closed
​Councillor Adam Nols-McVey, leader of the SNP Group on the city council has every right to ask searching questions of council officials about the structural issues that have arisen in a tenement block at Anchorfield, Newhaven.

Tenants of the 12 flats in question were given an hour to collect whatever belongings they could before being instructed to vacate the building amid safety fears.

Lindsay Road finally reopened to traffic last week, two weeks after structural engineers closed the Newhaven road.

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It would seem that the integrity of the structure may have been compromised as a result of the discovery of a hairline crack which some observers have speculatively attributed to the recent tram works undertaken on the extension to Newhaven.

That may or may not be the case, but Cllr Nols-McVey would be failing in his duty if he did not demand that a detailed report on the circumstances of this matter be provided to councillors.

It would appear that he has an open mind, saying that the tram extension “may be a contributory cause” of the damage and that it “remains uncertain.” Bemoaning the fact that his motion calling for a detailed report was denied, he demonstrated his concern stating,” My motion was to try to get answers for the residents and businesses affected.

"It isn’t speculation to point out that we need to determine whether the damage caused was or wasn’t related to tram works.

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"But my ask for a full report to go before councillors detailing the potential causes of damage to the building was shut down.”

When this current administration in the City Chambers assumed power, it pledged to be more open and transparent, taking a sideswipe at the previous administration led by the SNP. But it looks, on this occasion, like that that was no more than hot air.

Council leader Cammy Day attempted to justify the decision by saying “It helps nobody to fuel speculation about a situation which has left residents without a bed to sleep in.”

Eh? Surely the best way to curb speculation would be to produce a detailed report on the issue and set the record straight.

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It does not bode well for the future if council officials are allowed to keep their cards close to their chests on important issues while elected members are striving to get the answers that the Edinburgh public deserves.

If council officials are to be made more accountable, it is important that the council leader sets down a marker that demonstrates his administration’s resolve to be more open.

Adam Nols-McVey hits the nail on the head when he says “I am not happy about this being reverted to the secrecy of closed room briefings.

"Councillors need to be able to keep an eye on the situation. The residents and businesses deserve to know the truth.” Quite so!

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The residents in this tenement need a “no-holds barred” assessment of the damage, what caused it and what the future holds for them, no more, no less.

If it is suspected that the council is withholding information that should be in the public domain then this would be yet another step in the erosion of trust between the public and the local authority that is supposed to promote and protect their interests.

A residents deputation to the next full council meeting might be required!

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