Readers' letters: Will Edinburgh tram track injuries stop?

Despite the news that £1.2 million has been paid out over cycle accidents on Edinburgh tram tracks (News, September 22), this figure will continue to rise as accidents continue to happen unless changes are made.

Where Art I? Edinburgh Sketcher - 26 September 2022
Where Art I? Edinburgh Sketcher - 26 September 2022

There have been 422 accidents involving cyclists on tram tracks, the majority at Haymarket and Princes Street. The first claims for compensation against City of Edinburgh Council were heard in the Court of Session in 2019.

Elizabeth Fairley and Ian Lowdean sued CEC after falling from their bicycles and sustaining injury. CEC denied liability stating that both cyclists should have taken greater care when crossing the tracks. In her judgement, Lady Wolffe stated that both cyclists “bore no responsibility” for the incidents and awarded damages against CEC.

Both of these cases were run as ‘test’ cases. The idea was that it would reduce the cost of raising multiple actions for the hundreds of cyclists injured and whatever the judgement, other cases would follow the same principle. Astonishingly, this has not been the case.

The council continue to contest cases by denying liability despite a previous finding against them. There is no doubt each case must be decided on its own merit, but in our experience, there seems to be no logic in CEC’s approach.

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We have acted for numerous injured cyclists following tram incidents and yet the approach taken by CEC is so predictable. Liability is denied forcing the injured into time-consuming litigation. Invariably, cases are settled, but only often after a contested and expensive litigation process. As a result, CEC incur the court costs as well. So, while the figure paid out in compensation is staggering, the reality of what is actually being paid by CEC, will be far higher. A different approach is urgently required as, at present, we would argue there is a complete mismanagement of taxpayers’ money.

Jodi Gordon – Partner at Cycle Law Scotland

Devolution tax rules are not working

Limited devolution fiscal arrangements are no longer fit for purpose.

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There is no evidence that lowering income tax would increase the tax take in Scotland or boost the economy, whereas if a Scottish government raises income tax, then our Block Grant decreases, so it is a no-win situation.

As the main fiscal power under devolution, income tax is not much use without also having all the other taxation powers.

Without the full taxation and borrowing powers of a normal country no Scottish government can resolve the problems of poverty when the UK’s tax policies overwhelmingly favour the richest in society or fully tackle an under-pressure NHS, which is in a poor state throughout the UK due to decades of underfunding by Westminster governments and this affects Scotland’s allocation through the Barnett formula, which is decreasing due to increased NHS privatisation in England.

Staff recruitment problems are exacerbated by remaining outside the EU, which no UK party wants to change for fear of losing Middle England votes and Scotland needs far more young people to come here to work in order to pay for our ageing population.

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The gap between the rich and poor is widening in the UK and the standard of living for the average household is much lower than in Norway, Denmark, Finland, Slovenia and Ireland.

Without independence, energy rich Scotland, which exports six times the amount of gas than we use, cannot prosper like our near neighbours in Scandinavia and Ireland.

Mary Thomas, Edinburgh.

Write to the Edinburgh Evening News

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