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release 88- A truth hidden is a truth denied- 29-11-2011

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(To see the images of redaction click here to link to the pdf copy of this on our site)

 

The Truth?

 

No truth - and anything but the truth!

 

  • As many of you know Edinburgh residents worried about pollution levels directly caused by the misconceived tram project have been battling for months to force the council to reveal the truth.

 

  • They were not surprised by the heavily redacted documents offered to MSP Kezia Dugdale recently in a travesty of a ‘Freedom’ of Information response concerning aspects of the governance of the Tram Project.

 

In July last year the Edinburgh residents group were themselves welcoming the chance to make a presentation to councillors responsible for the troubled City tram scheme. 

Their local councillors, Joanna Mowat and Charles Dundas worked to prepare a motion to be voted on by the committee, which was to follow a presentation to the committee which comprehensively outlined their concerns and the scientific bases for them.

These issues had been covered up and shunted off under a convenient heading of ‘wider issues’ to hide a whole range of ‘inconvenient’ truths about the tram project. This allowed them to be ignored completely both by the now discredited management companytie and also the City Council itself.

 

REDACTION—2011 Freedom of Information style (left)   and   2010 style in the Motion to the City of Edinburgh Council TI&E Committee (right)

                                  

This motion (below)was altered at the last minute, not  only redacted but also watered down, and with a completely foreign 3rdparagraph inserted by a Director of tie, and Convenor of the Council committee concerned with Tram oversight Councillor Gordon Mackenzie, replacing the original words.

(original removed paragraphs & words are shown in grey below ------- the paragraph inserted in place of the original 3rd paragraph,  by the Convenor of the TI&E committee is shown in bold black type).)

 

The changed motion removes any references to monitoring of air quality with/without increased levels of traffic and completely changes the meaning.

 

 

Spokesman for the group, Dr Ashley Lloyd, says: “I was surprised when the amended motion was sent back to us in an email over the weekend immediately before the meeting last July.”

 

“I was extremely disappointed personally, and as a group we did consider pulling out---but felt that it was important to try to put the case about pollution to the Committee in a meaningful way.”

 

“But all attempts to do this were stifled and effectively ruled out of order.”

“From addressing a potential city wide issue the motion was reduced to talking only about re-opening, temporarily, one single short stretch of road, and this at great trouble and expense for a temporary period only”

 

Allan Alstead, another concerned residentsaid: “I remember how disappointed and shocked we all were to find the motion changed at the very last moment.”

 “We were still trying to find out exactly why the changes had been made right up until the convenor called it to order; we hadn’t time to work out what it meant, or indeed what to do for the best.”

“It is quite clear that the council even then obviously feared the monitoring of pollution and so all references to it, and its associated effect of noise, were removed.  This cover up continues almost 18 months later.”

 

 

 “In short the debate was rigged and democracy short changed, just as it has been for Kezia Dugdale 18 months later.”

 “The chaos inside the council is shown by recent noises hinting they may now be about to consider permanent relaxation of the previous 100%  traffic prohibition on Shandwick Place— however it is typical that this is the first time they have ever officially admitted that there was to be a ban on all general traffic in the first place.”

 

“A city of the stature and history of Edinburgh simply cannot continue to conduct its democratic processes by means of half truths, untruths and leaks of information that ought to be in the Public Domain in the first place.”