Wednesday, 23 July 2014

Leeds Trolleybus Enquiry Day 39

Leeds Trolleybus Public Enquiry
Day 39

Here are the links to the audio recordings of Day 39 of the Trolleybus Enquiry.  I think this may have been the longest day in the Enquiry so far, sitting from 9.30 to almost a quarter to six in the evening with only an hour for lunch and two quarter hour tea breaks.

There has been quite a lot of pressure on to get in all the witnesses  who have been timetabled and Day 40, Thursday 24th July 2014 is only scheduled to run until lunchtime so I hope it can all be squeezed in.

I will add a longer commentary later.

Remember that you can help to back up the archive if you download the audio recordings from

In the first morning session of Day 39 of the Leeds Trolleybus Public Enquiry Mr Cameron gives his verbal response to the letters that have been generated in reply to the submission of the additional 370 page Heritage document some weeks ago.  This is followed by the Inspector’s deliberations and Mr Jones for First.

In the late morning session of Day 39 of the Leeds Trolleybus Public Enquiry 23 July 2014 Mr Stuart Natkus cross examines Mr Speak on Planning issues for his clients who are statutory objectors and is followed by Mr Chris Foren for the A660 Joint Council.

In the early afternoon session of Day 39 of the Leeds Trolleybus Public Enquiry 23 July 2014 Mr Chris Foren for the A660 Joint Council completes his examination of Mr Speak on Planning issues and is followed by Ms Dawn Carey Jones for the South Headingley Community Association.

In the late afternoon session of Day 39 of the Leeds Trolleybus Public Enquiry 23 July 2014 Neil Cameron QC re-examines Mr Speak and is then followed by Gregory Jones QC who picks up his cross examination of Mr Neil Chadwick on the business case for the proposed NGT system.

Tuesday, 22 July 2014

Leeds Trolleybus Enquiry Day 38

Leeds Trolleybus Public Enquiry

Day 38

Today was what seemed to be another good day for the objectors, but I would urge all my readers to catch a bit of the real thing from these links below of the audio tapes of each session of the Enquiry and judge for themselves whether my blog is merely a rant or actually based on some kind of fact.

You decide!

(If you’re impatient, just skip forward to the last half hour of the final session of the day.)

Here’s the action for Day 38

In the first morning session of Day 38 of the Leeds Trolleybus Public Enquiry Emeritus Professor Peter Bonsall cross examines the recalled Mr Neil Chadwick on the business case focussing on the arguments around passenger preferences.

In the late morning session of Day 38 of the Leeds Trolleybus Public Enquiry, 22 July 2014, Professor Bonsall concludes his re-examination of Mr Neil Chadwick on the business case and justification for the NGT proposals, and is then followed by Gregory Jones QC who commences his own cross examination.

In the early afternoon session of Day 38 of the Leeds Trolleybus Public Enquiry, 22 July 2014, Gregory Jones QC continues his cross examination of Mr Neil Chadwick on the business case for the NGT trolleybus focussing on the methodology and research which is claimed to support the choice of pursuing this scheme.

In the late afternoon of Day 38 of the Leeds Trolleybus Enquiry, 22 July 2014, Gregory Jones QC continues to cross examine Mr Neil Chadwick on the business case underlying the NGT trolleybus scheme proposals.


Today was a day I had been looking forward to for some while, since Gregory Jones QC had not yet been set on Mr Neil Chadwick and the objectors mostly seemed to feel that this would be a examination worth witnessing.

First of all we had just over a session from Professor Peter Bonsall who attacked some new evidence which had been included in a note which had been given in response to a written question (so far as I understood the procedure but it may be some slight variation on that).  Anyway there was sufficient justification for the Professor to wear away at the unhappy Mr Chadwick for an hour and a half.

I have to confess, that as a layperson some of today’s questioning did seem a little repetitive, going as it was into immense detail on such matters as the transport consultation that this scheme has largely been based on, but I can assure you that while to the ears of you and I it may seem that the same point is covered again and again, that cannot be the case as the eagle eared Mr Whitehead would have swooped on either Professor Bonsall or Mr Jones the moment such a thing happened.  In fact he actually at one point commented on how exemplary the Professor’s cross examination was, which would hardly have occurred had he been raising the Inspector’s ire with time wasting repetition.

One aspect of Mr Chadwick’s case which came repeatedly under fire today from both interrogators was the consultation which had shown a very new bus to members of the public and compared it with an old bus.  Apparently the business and transport consultants who have worked up NGT over the last few years used the consensus preference for the new bus as a basis on which to ‘make a judgement’ as they would say, that this meant people would then prefer a trolleybus to a regular bus.

I kid you not.  This is one of the foundational pillars on which the case for the trolleybus rests, if dressed up in fancy ways.  They even appear to have disregarded a statistically significant survey which showed no preference for a trolleybus.  It’s hard work getting these things winkled out of Mr Chadwick as he does seem to spend a lot of time not really answering the questions and so we have to rely on the detailed persistence of our two foremost spearhead cross examiners the Professor and Mr Jones to excavate this terrain.

I will admit that listening to this can be a lengthy and somewhat exhausting process, but it is a fascinating battle of wills from which Mr Chadwick rarely seemed to come out well.

I would draw attention to the last twenty minutes or so of the day when the subject of economic viability is reached.  Mr Chadwick seems to have taken a view that the scheme is so likely to be granted full approval that he and his team have not worked up some parts of it which they hope to do at a later stage.  Mr Jones corners Neil Chadwick with the prospect of how the project would be underwritten and how Metro (and therefore Council Tax payers) would have to pay if it didn’t make a profit and allow for the required borrowing to be repaid. 

All simple stuff really, and you might have think that this kind of thing would have been sorted at an early stage, but apparently it hasn’t.  There was a powerful moment when the Inspector chimed in to say that he didn’t agree with what Mr Chadwick had said, and that he agreed with what Mr Jones had said.  He had to be responsible to the Secretary of State about making a determination of whether to recommend it to him or not in his report. 

This is where you see the reality of the position the Inspector is in. There was some speculation way back months ago before the Enquiry started as to what we should expect of the Inspector.  One view had it that he would be a puppet of the government and covertly instructed to go through the motions and then rubber stamp the approval.

As the Enquiry has proceeded I would suggest that most of us have, more and more, become confident of the Inspector on the basis of the questions we have heard him ask.

Taking a longer view, one can appreciate that if a massive budget project like this was a spectacular failure, it would reflect very poorly on the judgement of the Inspector should he have recommended it and would probably lead to a serious downturn in his career.

One can only speculate that the team behind NGT really never seriously thought that they would be challenged in so much detail on this scheme, otherwise there is no real explanation as to why their case has been so poorly researched and developed.

Before I close for the night I would just like to draw your attention to the site I have linked just below.  When I was seeking a host for the recordings of the Public Enquiry, at rather short notice, Mixcloud turned up as one which had unlimited free upload space with streaming, which fitted the absolute requirements. Downloading did not seem to be offered.

Rumours that some had actually been downloading the files from the Mixcloud pages had me baffled and I still don’t know how they do that, but I have found this page where you can download each audio file as you require them and here is the link.  So I hope many listeners of the trolleybus tapes will take the opportunity to download these files and help back up the archive.  It should also be some help for those whose devices have struggled with the levels on some of the earlier recordings while streaming.

Download these recordings and help to back up the archive

Monday, 21 July 2014

Leeds Trolleybus Enquiry Day 37

Leeds Trolleybus Public Enquiry

Day 37

Monday 21 July 2014

Day 37 Leeds Trolleybus Public Enquiry 21 July 2014: Only Session

In the only session of Day 37 of the Leeds Trolleybus Public Enquiry, 21 July 2014, Mr Bill McKinnon for Friends of Woodhouse Moor cross examines Mr Speak of Planning for Leeds City Council on planning issues around the trolleybus and green space provision which would be affected on Woodhouse Moor.

Today’s extra session was inserted in order to squeeze a little more out of the timetable and at the same time allow Mr Bill McKinnon to attend at a time which would be convenient for his work.

Mr Speak is one of the very few actual representatives of Leeds City Council at the Enquiry, most are subcontracted through various consultancies such as Mott MacDonald, Stear Davies Gleave (SDG) and others.

However, unfortunately the cross examination seemed to be something of a slippery eel which rarely managed to pin down a great deal because so much of what was being asked about was apparently outside of the remit of Planning Policy.  I myself found this abstruse in the extreme.

My own view of some years is that bureaucracy is one of the principle and most successful works of the devil.  Like some kind of scene from a Franz Kafka novel one is never quite able to pin down the exact person able to answer the exact question one has in mind.

One might have thought that policy documents which say certain green spaces should be protected would be sufficient to ensure that such green spaces remained unthreatened.  However, so far as I understood the dialogue this is not actually the case.  In their ongoing epidemic of newspeak which allows for such things all those features along the route which we thought were protected by being in Conservation Areas, or in policy documents would be swept away by a Transport Works Order should it be granted.

I’m afraid that as far as connecting with the field that a witness is focussed on goes, this one has left me somewhat hanging. Perhaps it is my own particular way of thinking which makes this subject opaque to me or perhaps there is an element of the planners creating their little elite universe with their elaborated language that those outside of their specialist club aren’t intended to understand.

But, as the saying goes, this is not brain surgery.  I hold a view strongly that things which can be put into everyday language which most people could understand should be.  It felt evasive to me as Mr Speak peered out from under his shaggy Dulux dog fringe hanging over his spectacles and I was inclined to wonder if he could possibly be more vague and obscure if he tried.

It may well be the case that many of the questions that Mr McKinnon put were outside of the specialist field of the witness, but as so often has been the case one is left wondering who one should be able to ask them to, and the answer is not always clear.

One of the reasons I have yet to write a blog on Friday’s proceedings is that it was in many ways like today for me at least, feeling that it was all a long way round for Mr Speak to say that the Planning Department had decided that it was essential to have a trolleybus on this route and so they supported it.  I can feel some questions about consultation brewing in the background as, if I can paraphrase Disraeli, there seem to be ‘views, damned views and judgements.’

But I regret you aren’t going to get the greatest of sense out of me on this witness because he seems to have taken opacity to the level of an art form.  I have to confess that I am all hyped up and expectant for the main event of the week, at least in my own opinion, of Gregory Jones QC having a day tomorrow in which to cross examine Mr Neil Chadwick, another gentleman who is fond of vaguing things up a bit when the scrutiny gets close.  I can hear the calls of ‘Answer the question, Mr Chadwick’ already!

Friday, 18 July 2014

Audio Archive Links Index for the Leeds Trolleybus Public Enquiry 2014

Audio Archive Links Index 
for the 
Leeds Trolleybus Public Enquiry 2014

I have recently had a request to reformat the titles of the audio uploads so as to make them more easily searchable for those who access them through devices with small screens that have not been able to see the day number in the title on the Mixcloud site.

Consequently I have from today, Day 36 :  18 July 2014 started to write the titles with the day number at the beginning and a letter to denote the session.  Hence, the title of today’s first session is Day 36a  Leeds Trolleybus Public Enquiry 18 July 2014

It would be too large a task to change all the existing titles, if I were to do that I would want to completely re-upload and match the URLs at the same time, so instead I have made up this index list of audio links with the blog posts at the head of them.  I will in time make a parallel index but with blurbs for each day, and will periodically update the list.

I hope this will make the archive more easily searchable.

Day 1 :  29 April 2014



Day 2 :  30 April  2014

Day 3 :  1 May 2014

Day 4 :  2 May 2014


Day 5 :  7 May 2014

Day 6 :  8 May 2014

Day 7 :  9 May 2014

Day 8 :  13 May 2014

Day 9 :  14 May 2014  

Day 10 :  15 May 2014

Day 11 :  16 May 2014

Leeds Trolleybus Enquiry:  What We Are Fighting For

Day 12 :  19 May 2014

Day 13 :  20 May 2014

Day 14 :  21 May 2014

Day 15 :  22 May 2014

Day 16 :  23 May 2014

Edinburgh Tram on R4  31 May 2014

Day 17 :  03 June 2014

Day 18 :  04 June 2014

Day 19 :  05 June 2014

Day 20 :  06 May 2014

Day 21 :  10 June 2014

Day 22 :  11 June 2014

Day 23 :  12 June 2014

Day 24 :  13 June 2014

Day 25 :  17 June 2014 

Day 26 :  18 June 2014

Day 27 :  19 June 2014

Day 28 :  20 June 2014

Day 29 :  24 June 2014

Day 30 :  25 June 2014

Day 31 :  26 June 2014

Day 32 :  27 June 2014

Day 33 :  15 July 2014

Day 34 :  16 July 2014

Day 35 :  17 July 2014

New title listings begin Day 36

Day 36 :  Leeds Trolleybus Public Enquiry 18 July 2014

In the first morning session of Day 36 of the Leeds Trolleybus Planning Enquiry 18 July 2014 the day begins with more discussion on the ongoing situation with letters being exchanged with respect to the submission of the 370 page Heritage technical document. Following this Neil Cameron QC takes Mr Speak of Planning through his evidence in Chief.

On the late morning session of Day 36 of the Leeds Trolleybus Public Enquiry 18 July 2014 Neil Cameron QC completes his examination on Mr Speak's evidence in chief for Planning and then is followed by Mr Tony Ray a retired Town Planner who cross examines Mr Speak for the North West Leeds Transport Forum.

In the afternoon session of Day 36 of the Leeds Trolleybus Enquiry, 18 July 2014, the cross examination of Mr Speak for the Planning Policy on which the Trolleybus scheme rests is cross examined by Dr John Dickinson for Weetwood Resident's Association.