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An absent minded zombie destroying the city


I think I agree with some people on the Scotsman website who blogged that this was a bit of a weak story... in truth it is a case study that should sit inside in a larger story.

But in another way that is what it IS doing and the larger story is the well established saga of the Tram project, at the end of teh day the only thing that matters is the real effects on real people in the real world---something the tram project lost sight of years ago.

It exists in a different kind of world from teh real one and now seems to stumble forward like some sort of absent minded Zombie, plodding on without any governing mind, but slowly destroying the city it was meant to adorn.

The tram project is a powerful symbol of a deeper malaise within Edinburgh's political and governance structures, but it is only the most egregious among many.

The failures to regenerate Leith conveniently packed away and forgotten about, the straightforward state of the City with seagulls, squirrels and other vermin pecking away at rubbish,  until it spills across pavements,.and the state of the roads and pavements themselves, pockmarked, subsiding, a complete mess, and not least, the property repairs scandal  are all part of a larger picture. - certainly not disconnected examples of bad luck and hard lines.

The tram is not actually the sole and primary cause of the move to eliminate traffic from the City centre.

It is the most obvious  cause of the problems.  But what is going on at a level beneath the tram project is a larger plan to try to recast Edinburgh, not as the Athens of the North, but as the Barcelona, Bruges, Rheims or whatever---And there is nothing wrong in that per se.

Just as long as a) the full plan was ever debated PROPERLY, and b) the bad effects arising from it made clear.

One of which is the closure of what everyone in Edinburgh formerly knew as the main cross City routes for traffic and the displacement by stealth of that traffic into more densely inhabited residential streets.

The central failure of the tram project, and it's larger cousin the clearing of all traffic, is that unlike in dozens  of cities across Europe who planned what should happen to the traffic, Edinburgh (ironically probably simply to avoid spending money) tried to do it on the cheap and without telling anyone what they were doing.

The tram, in terms of it being a meaningful transport system able to impact on the city in a positive way, is effectively irrelevant.  Worse than that it is consuming tomorrow's money, the cash that will be needed to find some way of creating a relavent and meaningful system, and reducing the possibilities open to us.

In that sense the story of the woman in Broughton is a case study liable to be replicated tens and even hundreds of thousands of times over (STAG2003 report) in order to accomodate a transport project that is far beyond it's sell by date before a single tram has run, and which in it's insatiable need for cash is consuming the money needed to put things right.