Friday, 31 October 2014

Spooking the Trolleybus


Spooking the Trolleybus
Or
The Ghost Trolleybus of Headingley


The Trolleybus Enquiry has now ended, Mr Cameron has given his final closing, and all the papers and documents carted away in their voluminous box files. 

The controlled passion of six months of Enquiry and years of preparation has now been spent.

There was a feeling like the end of term and I was reminded of a ditty I probably haven’t thought of since I was a child.

No more going round the bend,
The term is coming to an end
No more pain and no more sorrow,
We will all be home tomorrow.

It felt strange also to be leaving behind something that had become so much a part of the objectors lives over this last half year.

Finishing and leaving it behind on Hallowe’en, the end of the old Celtic calendar year, the gateway to the dark of the year.  We have often made jokes about how it was likely to end on this day and the amusing connotations.  I had often speculated that it might extend to Bonfire Night, which would have provided a worthy end for a cardboard effigy of the despised trolleybus, but no, we were spared the extra few days, and Hallowe’en it was.

But this draws us into a dark realm of bizarre coincidence, strange connections and perhaps crazy conspiracy theory.

It was a year ago exactly that was the closing date for objections to the application for a Transport and Works Act Order which triggered the Public Enquiry.  So the entire process has been encompassed from Hallowe’en to Hallowe’en.

Mere coincidence of course.  But we now move into the imaginative world of numerology as we notice that the Enquiry has taken exactly 72 days.  72 is a number much beloved of mathematicians and numerologists alike, being as it is one fifth of 360, the number of degrees in a circle, as well as being the number of years it takes for one degree of the precession of the equinoxes.  Being one fifth of 360 means that it is also the external angle of a pentagon, and the internal angle of the points of a pentagram, the power symbol used by a variety of occult and mystical belief systems.

So by this one might imagine that the Enquiry has been encompassed like a pentagram within the circle of the year.  Spooky synchronicity, or just an imaginative interpretation?

So far, so Goth.

But there are deeper and more disturbing coincidences.

There is an old legend that crossroads were sometimes made on the graves of murdered people or the sites where murders had taken place, probably related to ancient customs were animals would be sacrificed into the foundations of major buildings or forts.  At the crossroads it is said that one could summon the Devil at special times, such as Hallowe’en.

The trolleybus, which one might be forgiven for holding to be at least the metaphorical work of the Devil, would actually pass over such a place along its route.

Now I have to say at this juncture that I speak as an Art Therapist of a Jungian inclination.  The collective unconscious and group soul of a community, or a place, is something which has been recognised throughout human history as being of importance.  Seemingly only our modern technical civilisation is in denial of the importance it holds, preferring to put all value in economic gain and leaving no space for  the inner world, the numinous world of dreams and the imagination where our collective memories lurk and linger.

It is at times such as Hallowe’en, the gap between the years, the wood between the worlds, when we need to acknowledge the existence of these ghosts, these phantoms that remind us of their existence, like Cathy at the window.

NGT would make a crossroads and a roundabout of the most tragic spot in Headingley, the spot on Alma Road where the Yorkshire Ripper took his 13th and final unfortunate victim Jacqueline Hill, on the evening of the 17th November 1981, thirty three years before the Enquiry was triggered.  Thirty three is another number which is favoured by those with a penchant for numerological interpretations, and there are groups who place immense importance on this number. 

I was given the opportunity to reference the matter of the Ripper murder, which I had thought too occult and recherch√© for the Enquiry, when Mr Thomas Walker crassly referred to treating Wood Lane ‘sensitively’ because of the Ripper murder, thus opening this subject as a matter which could be examined on.  Though in referring to the incorrect location, (where NGT wishes to put a stop and shelter) he was concerned for extreme sensitivity, when the correct location was pointed out to him, (Alma Road) and it was suggested that having a crossroad roundabout was not a sensitive treatment of that particular spot and memory, he sneered that he thought I was making too much of it.

As one who believes strongly in the genius loci and collective memory it disturbs me to think that hundreds or possibly thousands of people a day would pass over the unfortunate site on Alma Road.  Should they be shielded from knowing this?  Should it be denied as too difficult to face and written out of local history so as to protect commuters from the uncomfortable truths of our collective past?  Alma means Soul.

I certainly know that I would find it an unwelcome experience to know that I was travelling over this site of desecration on a daily basis.  Animistic cultures, and any religion or belief system which acknowledges these realities would say that this was a place of ill omen which should be left in peace and not disturbed.  The passage every few minutes of a mechanical leviathan would mean that this spot would forever be disturbed and in turmoil, never to rest as the spirits of the dead are meant to.

The truth has a way of getting itself found out, and try as they might, those like Mr Walker who wish to deny the human importance of such memories only seem to provoke them when they attempt to instead dismiss them as of no value.  There is no more vengeful spirit than the spirit who is disturbed and debased.  The grateful dead are those who are left in peace and honoured at the appropriate times.  Hallowe’en is one of those times when the spirits come out from the cracks between the worlds and seek to be honoured.

This is a deep Jungian process which we represent by ghouls and ghosts and monsters in popular culture, but they are also deep unconscious currents that connect us with the essential energies of the world about us, buried though they may seem to be, hidden from our daily lives.  But as an art therapist it seems to me that these things, if ignored, nonetheless find their way out in our actions, our body language, slips of the tongue or nervous twitches.  And sometimes they find their way out in more structured symbolic forms only interpretable from a long distance.

It may be that some dark force is guiding the trolleybus and showing itself through these numerological symbolisms and strange coincidences with ancient practices and legends.  Or it may be, that from a Jungian point of view, the collective mind somehow organises our perceptions so that the unforgettable is not forgotten.  Like a fractal forming around a point of chaos, or a pearl around a grain of sand, reality, rather than being deletable, overwritten like the land which the trolleybus track would be laid out on, is not infinitely malleable, but rather has a character and a meaning which will come back to us until it is accepted and integrated as part of who we are.

NGT takes no account of the people, no account of the Soul of Headingley, or anywhere else along the route for that matter, and that is why it has raised so much opposition.

Tonight is Hallowe’en, the gap between the worlds when we gaze into that dark space and open ourselves the weirdness hiding behind consensus reality.

The Inspector’s report knows little of such things (although I did manage to mention the importance of Social Anthropology in my Heritage cross examination), and will certainly not be decided on the spooks and speculations of a maverick art therapist such as myself.

But the world is a greater thing than mere reason can account for, and while economic forces grind on pressing for this or that, the deeper collective psychological forces of the collective mind continue to work their processes and are the invisible context to this all, whether acknowledged or not.

So kind reader, as Hallowe’en passes and the gap in reality closes, put away these idle speculations and remember only that there are more things in Heaven and Earth than can be dreamt of in any philosophy.

Leeds Trolleybus Enquiry Day 72


Leeds Trolleybus Public Enquiry

Day 72


Wednesday 31st October 2014


Audios of the two sessions of the final day at the enquiry now uploaded.
In the first morning session of Day 72 of the Leeds Trolleybus Public Enquiry, the final day, Wednesday 31st October 2014, after dealing with procedural matters and outstanding issues Neil Cameron QC commences the Closing Statement on behalf of the Applicant NGT for the trolleybus scheme proposals.


In the late morning of Day 72, and final session of the Leeds Trolleybus Public Enquiry, Wednesday 31st October 2014, Neil Cameron QC completes his Closing Statement on the NGT case for a trolleybus scheme.  There is then a short time given over to scheduling site visits including one to see First’s latest bus, some remaining questions are dealt with, and the Inspector draws the Enquiry to a close, thanking everyone for their good manners over the space of the six months in which it has sat. 


Leeds Trolleybus Enquiry Day 71


Leeds Trolleybus Public Enquiry

Day 71


Thursday 30th October 2014

In the first morning session of Day 71 of the Leeds Trolleybus Public Enquiry uncertainty still remains as to whether the Leeds College of Art will be presenting its case or whether a settlement has been reached.  In addition there is a somewhat fraught exchange between Gregory Jones QC, the Inspector Mr Whitehead and Neil Cameron QC about the timing of the Applicant’s presentation of their Closings.

In the short midday session of Day 71 of the Leeds Trolleybus Public Enquiry we hear about the agreement which has ostensibly ‘more than likely’ been completed between the Leeds College of Art and the Promoter, but not yet actually been signed.

Wednesday, 29 October 2014

Leeds Trolleybus Enquiry Day 70


Leeds Trolleybus Public Enquiry

Day 70


Wednesday 29th October 2014


After several of what seemed interminable delays, we at last got to hear the Closing Statement from Gregory Jones QC on behalf of his client, First West Yorkshire.

There wasn't anything new of course at this stage and we've all heard the arguments rehearsed a thousand times over the last six months, or so it seems, but here it is at last, the comprehensive overview, even if limitations with the time meant that a lot of the detail had to be left out.




In the short morning session of Day 70 of the Leeds Trolleybus Public Enquiry, Wednesday 29th October 2014, there is discussion about programming matters before adjournment until the afternoon.

 
In the afternoon session of Day 70 of the Leeds Trolleybus Public Enquiry, Wednesday 29th October 2014, Gregory Jones QC makes the Closing Statement from First West Yorkshire after some delays for the printing of documents.
There was a brief adjournment after the first sixteen minutes which I have represented by a two second gap before resumption for the remainder of the afternoon.


Tuesday, 28 October 2014

Leeds Trolleybus Enquiry Day 69


Leeds Trolleybus Public Enquiry

Day 69


Tuesday 28th October 2014

This was quite hard going today, and you will find the clearest material of the day in the final session, the closing statements from three of the most important objectors groups.  These are unequivocal in their rejection of the scheme.  

I'll leave you with the words of Emeritus Professor of Transport Studies at the University of Leeds, Peter Bonsall when commenting on the Business case as presented by the NGT team: he considered it 'Weak flawed and misleading'.  And there's plenty more where that came from.  I won't blame you if you skip over the fine toothed combing of details of conditions in the first three sessions and jump into the closing session to get the good stuff.

All the sessions are linked here


In the morning session of Day 69 of the Leeds Trolleybus Public Enquiry, Tuesday 28th October 2014, there is extensive and lengthy discussion of the Deemed Planning Permissions with respect to the proposed NGT trolleybus scheme.

 
In the early afternoon session of Day 69 of the Leeds Trolleybus Public Enquiry, Tuesday 28th October 2014, there is discussion of the Building Order with respect to the proposed NGT trolleybus scheme.

In the mid afternoon session o of Day 69 of the Leeds Trolleybus Public Enquiry, Tuesday 28th October 2014, Mr David Graham for First West Yorkshire raises some points with respect to the Building Order of the proposed NGT trolleybus scheme.

In the late afternoon session of Day 69 of the Leeds Trolleybus Public Enquiry, Tuesday 28th October 2014, Closing Statements are given on behalf of the Northwest Leeds Transport Forum, Weetwood Residents and West Park Residents Associations.

Leeds Trolleybus Enquiry Day 68


Leeds Trolleybus Public Enquiry

Day 68


Thursday 23rd October 2014

In morning session of Day 68 of the Leeds Trolleybus Public Enquiry, Thursday 23rd October 2014, representatives from Leeds City Council, NGT, First West Yorkshire and the North West Leeds Transport Forum as well as local residents discuss the proposed Deemed Planning Permissions around the trolleybus scheme.


In afternoon session of Day 68 of the Leeds Trolleybus Public Enquiry, Thursday 23rd October 2014, representatives from Leeds City Council, NGT, First West Yorkshire and the North West Leeds Transport Forum as well as local residents continue to discuss the proposed Deemed Planning Permissions around the trolleybus scheme


Leeds Trolleybus Enquiry Day 67


Leeds Trolleybus Public Enquiry

Day 67




Wednesday 22nd October 2014


In first morning session of Day 67 of the Leeds Trolleybus Public Enquiry, Wednesday 22nd October 2014, Mr Chris Foren, Chair of the A660 Joint Council completes his evidence and there is some cross examination.

In late morning session of Day 67 of the Leeds Trolleybus Public Enquiry, Wednesday 22nd October 2014, Mr John Buchan, Ian Liptrot from Belle Isle and Mr George Jennings give their evidence against the NGT scheme.  There is some examination, and then Claire Randall firstly gives the audio visual evidence which was postponed from her previous statement due to technical issues and then gives the case for Brenda MacIntosh, local private objector.

In early afternoon session of Day 67 of the Leeds Trolleybus Public Enquiry, Wednesday 22nd October 2014, there is discussion around the presentation of evidence by Mr Bill McKinnon, some of which is ostensibly new to the Enquiry.
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In late afternoon session of Day 67 of the Leeds Trolleybus Public Enquiry, Wednesday 22nd October 2014, Mr Bill McKinnon gives his slightly emended evidence on behalf of North Hyde Park Neighbourhood Association and there is some examination.