John McLellan: Whitewash on more than the pitch

Despite a report to the city council planning committee and an apology, we are no nearer to understanding how a decision as significant as the new Edinburgh Rugby stadium went through the planning process without public discussion.

Thursday, 20th December 2018, 5:00 am
An artist's impression of the planned development

As I told last week’s meeting, even those involved in making the application fully expected it to go before councillors and were amazed it sailed through. The report into the affair essentially says it was all a big misunderstanding, it won’t happen again, nothing to see here now, move on please.

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Probe into approval of Edinburgh Rugby's '˜mini Murrayfield' stadium

But questions remain unanswered, such as why no-one looked into a deal which could involve Scottish Rugby giving the council £150,000 to spend on sports facilities. The official explanation is that the money would be spent by a third party, Murrayfield Wanderers, to upgrade Roseburn Park, but according to Wanderers that’s not the case. Further explanation, we were told, was impossible because it could risk a judicial review of the process. In other words, the council doesn’t want a judge examining how the affair was handled.

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Murrayfield Ice Rink lodged a four-page letter of objection with 12 paragraphs of problems which concluded that an objection would be maintained unless their concerns were addressed and requested a further discussion. Neither happened, yet the letter was interpreted as a general comment not an objection, which would have meant the application had received enough objections to trigger an automatic referral to councillors. No wonder the ice rink thinks the investigation was a whitewash.

Working right in the thick of it

Sometimes the deliberations at Edinburgh City Council are beyond parody, such as the debate last week in which the SNP-Labour coalition amended one of their own motions which asked for a report about monitoring and reporting of health and safety procedures, despite, as Cllr Ricky Henderson pointed out, there “wasn’t a fag paper” between the two positions.

The motion by Lezley Cameron wanted the report to “advise on how swiftly the reintroduction of formally constituted health & safety committees can happen” but the amendment by her Labour colleague Karen Doran instead instructed that it “should include formally constituted health & safety committees”.

The trade unions wanted the original motion, so Cllr Cameron was unable to vote for her own unchanged motion despite the support of the people she was trying to help. Where’s Armando Iannucci when you need him?

City Vision slogan seems...familiar

An interesting little bit of advice from Marketing Edinburgh’s party, where as well as chortling to Gordon Robertson’s presentation could write up slogans for what Edinburgh should be like in 2050. “A city where our council is held accountable for its actions,” said one. Ouch… that wasn’t quite what council chief executive Andrew Kerr wanted from the 2050 City Vision.

Who wrote it? The Scottish Tourism Alliance, Murrayfield Ice Rink, the airport, the Conference Centre, West Craigs Ltd, the new St James Centre, Save Meadowbank...? It could take time to narrow down the suspects ... Put your hands on the vehicle ...

Frank’s a wrap artist

Before health & safety put a stop to it, today’s news was described as tomorrow’s fish & chip wrappers. Some people still say so, despite newsprint not being used for fish suppers for as long as I can remember, so for yesterday’s news to become tomorrow’s fish & chip restaurant decoration must be the ultimate accolade.

So well done ex-Evening News cartoonist Frank Boyle whose work is to be displayed in the new Bertie’s place on Victoria Street in what was Khushi’s until the devastating 2008 blaze.