The Latest TIE -Bilfinger Secret Agreement

bilfinger-agreement

Minimum price of 50p per unit of alcohol

If they agree on nothing else it would appear that at least David Cameron and Gordon Brown agree that a minimum 50p per unit price for alcohol would impact on moderate drinkers to too great an extent to be considered reasonable.  However Chief medical Officer Sir Liam Donaldson believes that the imposition of this 50p minimum would lead to 3393 fewer deaths every year (I wonder how they worked that one out) and nearly 100,000 fewer hospital admissions.  Perhaps both Mr Brown and Mr Cameron are more concerned about the health of the exchequer’s income from alcohol duty than they are admitting.

Maybe the best way to deal with the damage done by binge drinking is to invoke the same laws as the government did for smokers, simply ban drinking inside building frequented by the public.  We would of course have to divide up the pavements between those who only smoke, only drink and those that do both but how many people would stand outside downing 15 pints in the cold and wet even in the best of company.  The other advantage would be an alliance with the large supermarkets who of course would benefit as drinkers were obliged to stay at home for a pint of an evening, I am sure they would lobby for this law change with glee.

drinkers-in-the-rain

TIE finally admit that there is a problem.

Edinburgh’s council owned TIE (the tram developers) have finally admitted publicly that they believe there is a problem.  Something I think most Edinburgh residents have been aware of for the last few weeks.  You would have thought that zero activity on Princes Street would have been a good indicator, that even TIE could have picked up, that things were not all rosy in the garden.  Mike Connolly of TIE is quoted in the Scotsman today as saying” we are not in a very good place at the moment because of the contract dispute with the consortium” oh yes really!  The citizens of Edinburgh will be very glad to finally have some communication from TIE albeit weeks after we already knew that there was a wee bitty of a problem.

As it becomes more and more likely that this dispute will go to arbitration, which will no doubt lead to even more delays we still have no information on exactly what the dispute is about.  Is it about a few thousand pounds and a couple of days or is it about £80 million and months of delay, both have been suggested as reasons for this secretive dispute about spending public money.  It would be nice to know just exactly how much cash is involved and how many months of hold-ups we are looking at, perhaps then both the Scottish taxpayer and the Edinburgh rate payers would have an opportunity to gauge just how serious this particular Princes Street hurdle is.

Maybe it is time to start a public debate about putting a stop to the trams, if only to exert some leverage on the the Bilfinger Berger Consortium. At the moment they seem to hold all the cards, and we as the financial backers of the scheme and most especially the secretive TIE seem unable to pressure the consortium in any meaningful way.

Mr Mike Connolly also added that there was a “huge success story to be told” of the positive impact trams would have.  I would suggest Mr Connolly holds off on telling his huge success story until we at least see a tram actually running on rails on one of our streets (the mock up at Jenner’s doesn’t count MR Connolly).  I would imagine that street will be Princes Street as it’s becoming more and more unlikely in my opinion that we will ever see the new trams on Leith walk.

Shirley-Anne Somerville MSP Interveiw

A fifteen minute chat to Shirley- Anne Somerville on Leith FM after First Ministers Question time. Interveiw can be heard by clicking here.

Shirley Anne Summervillee Interveiw 12-3-09 Shirley-Anne Somerville

 Member of the Transport, Infrastructure and Climate Change Committee
 Substitute Member of the Equal Opportunities Committee

Leith FM gets a mention in The Scotsman

Well well, Leith FM actually exists, got a wee mention in the Scotsman today.

Here’s the Link Scotsman.

Independence Referendum Unsupported

It is looking very likely that the SNP’s manifesto pledge to hold a referendum on independence will be rejected today by a coalition of the Labour Party, Conservatives and Liberals. The Labour Party have a debate today entitled Scottish government failure, scheduled to take place sometime shortly after 9.15 am. I have no doubt that even though the Labour Party have criticised the SNP’s failure to fight (waste time on) for manifesto pledges ie, the local income tax, they will not put the independence referendum into this category.

This morning’s debate should be quite amusing watching the Labour spokesperson attempt to spin an argument in direct opposition to the arguments they have recently been making on the SNP government’s inability to enact legislation they have in the past promised to bring about.

The conservative stance on an independence referendum has not changed in any way and as expected they will vote the legislation down. The Lib Dems have tabled an amendment calling on the Nationalists to forgo calls for an Independent poll and instead to concentrate on economic recovery. As any Scottish government’s hands are tied in as much as they cannot borrow I am not entirely sure what more moves can be made that have not already been made through the recent budget fiasco to try to solidify recovery in Scotland.

I will watch the debate with relish there is nothing quite as amusing as watching elected politicians trying to make a reasonable case in favour of denying the voters a democratic say in their own future. Perhaps they believe we are just not quite smart enough to make decisions on independence for Scotland but certainly stupid enough to continue to vote to keep them in positions of power and decision-making.

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