Tuesday, 21 October 2014

Leeds Trolleybus Public Enquiry Day 66


Leeds Trolleybus Public Enquiry

Day 66




Tuesday 21st October 2014

Links to audio recordings will be added as they become available.

The first morning session of Day 66 of the Leeds Trolleybus Public Enquiry, Tuesday 21st October 2014, Carol Carey Campbell, Publisher of North Leeds Life, gives her case against the NGT scheme and is examined on her case.

Leeds Trolleybus Enquiry Day 65


Leeds Trolleybus Public Enquiry

Day 65


Friday 17th October 2014

Here are the links for the audio recordings of all sessions from Day 65 of the Enquiry.

Following these there is a short update on the process of making the blog, which regrettably has fallen behind a little at this late stage of the proceedings.

The first morning session of Day 65 of the Leeds Trolleybus Public Enquiry, 17th October 2014, Mr Anzir Boodoo, a former student of Transport Studies at Leeds University gives his case regarding the NGT proposals and is examined on it.

In the mid morning session of Day 64 of the Leeds Trolleybus Public Enquiry, Friday, 17th October 2014, Mr Anzir Boodoo, a former student of Transport Studies at Leeds University gives his case regarding the NGT proposals and is examined on

In the early afternoons session of Day 64 of the Leeds Trolleybus Public Enquiry, Friday, 17th October 2014, 17th October 2014, Doug Kemp gives the case against NGT for the West Park Residents and is followed by Michael Broadbent, former Traffic Police Inspector.
 

May I apologise to my readers for the absence of full commentary on my blogs of late.  The pace and load of material at the Public Enquiry has been intense as it draws towards a conclusion, which will be next week, and so I am primarily focussing on ensuring that the audio recordings of all sessions are properly made and uploaded, and listed here on my blog.

It is my intention to write commentary on those days which have been missed from blogging once the Enquiry is completed, as well as providing enhanced level normalised versions of the recordings from the early parts which did not benefit from the new software that I have been able to use since Week 9.

A major delay was unavoidable this last weekend when it became apparent that the recordings from Day 64 were problematic in that Mr Brooks spoke more quietly than any other witness or examiner at any day or sitting so far and was regrettably almost inaudible.  Clearly it was important that his evidence should be available, and to be available, it had to be audible.  This thus required an immense amount of revising of levels in an extremely selective manner.  I should emphasise that no editing has been done at any time to the recordings which would remove anything that was said, nor has the order of what was said at any time been changed.  On a small number of occasions the recordings have been initialised a few moments after the Inspector resumed the Enquiry, but nothing of any substance has been lost through this. 

On one occasion alone so far, a problem with the power supply led to about seven minutes being lost from the end of one session. This is the only loss of any substance in the recordings which has been suffered. I am somewhat relieved that it was I who was suffered this loss being the objector making the cross examination at the time, since no-one else will be put in the position of having their verbal evidence caused to be missing.  Also this is of less importance than it might have been since most of that lost section comprised of questions which the witness at the time was unable to answer and which were passed on to later witnesses, in this case Mr Ward and Mr Walker, and I was able to re-enter these questions at a later stage.

Sunday, 19 October 2014

Leeds Trolleybus Enquiry Day 64


Leeds Trolleybus Public Enquiry

Day 64


Thursday 16th October 2014


The first morning session of Day 64 of the Leeds Trolleybus Public Enquiry, Thursday 16th October 2014, Mr John Brooks gives his statement of case and is examined by Gregory Jones QC for First West Yorkshire. 
Due to the extreme quietness with which this witness spoke it has been necessary to make numerous level adjustments in order to improve audibility.


In the late morning session of Day 64 of the Leeds Trolleybus Public Enquiry, Thursday 16th October 2014, Gregory Jones QC  concludes his examination of Mr John Brooks for First West Yorkshire.
A short adjournment was taken a few minutes into this session which I have represented with a two second gap joining the two segments into one.
Due to the extreme quietness with which this witness spoke it has been necessary to make numerous level adjustments in order to improve audibility.

 

In the early afternoons session of Day 64 of the Leeds Trolleybus Public Enquiry, Thursday 16th October 2014, Neil Cameron QC commences his examination of Mr John Brooks.



Due to the extreme quietness with which this witness spoke it has been necessary to make numerous level adjustments in order to improve audibility.

In the late afternoon session of Day 64 of the Leeds Trolleybus Public Enquiry, Thursday 16th October 2014, Neil Cameron QC cross examines Mr John Brooks.
Due to the extreme quietness with which this witness spoke it has been necessary to make numerous level adjustments in order to improve audibility.


Leeds Trolleybus Enquiry Day 63


Leeds Trolleybus Public Enquiry

Day 63


Wednesday 15th October 2014

The first morning session of Day 63 of the Leeds Trolleybus Public Enquiry, Wednesday 15th October 2014, is taken up with programming matters and the matter of some late documents submitted by the Applicant.

In the mid morning session of Day 63 of the Leeds Trolleybus Public Enquiry, Wednesday 15th October 2014, Ms Katie Lightbody, expert conservation witness for First West Yorkshire, gives her evidence in chief and is examined on it by Gregory Jones QC


In the late morning session of Day 63 of the Leeds Trolleybus Public Enquiry, Wednesday 15th October 2014, Gregory Jones QC concludes his examination of Ms Katie Lightbody, expert conservation witness for First West Yorkshire, and is followed Mr Walton for the Applicant NGT.


In the early afternoon session of Day 63 of the Leeds Trolleybus Public Enquiry, Wednesday 15th October 2014, Gregory Jones QC re-examines Ms Katie Lightbody.

In the late afternoon session of Day 63 of the Leeds Trolleybus Public Enquiry, Wednesday 15th October 2014, the Inspector holds an open round discussion on planning conditions should the TWA Order for the Applicant be granted.

Leeds Trolleybus Enquiry Day 62


Leeds Trolleybus Public Enquiry

Day 62


Tuesday 14th October 2014


The first morning session of Day 62 of the Leeds Trolleybus Public Enquiry, Tuesday 14th October 2014, is taken up with programming matters for some forty minutes. 

In the mid morning session of Day 62 of the Leeds Trolleybus Public Enquiry, Tuesday 14th October 2014, Mr John Reid, local resident, retired planner and private objector gives his evidence against the NGT scheme.  Mrs Jenny Phelps, the operator of a hair and beauty salon on Headingley Lane.

In the late morning session of Day 62 of the Leeds Trolleybus Public Enquiry, Tuesday 14th October 2014, Mr Nabarro gives the case on behalf of Mrs S Baskind, owner of property on Shaw Lane corner and is followed by Cllr Barry Anderson (C) Adel and Wharfedale, who is cross examined on his case.

In the early afternoon session of Day 62 of the Leeds Trolleybus Public Enquiry, Tuesday 14th October 2014, Mr Geoff Steele gives the case on behalf of Dr Ruth Cunliffe for the Adel Association, and Cllr Jonathan Bentley (Cllr for Weetwood) speaks on his own objection and on behalf of his constituents.

In the late afternoon session of Day 62 of the Leeds Trolleybus Public Enquiry, Tuesday 14th October 2014, Mr Nigel Sleeman gives his case against the NGT scheme and is cross examined by both Mr Walton and the Inspector.

Monday, 13 October 2014

Leeds Trolleybus Enquiry Day 61



Leeds Trolleybus Public Enquiry

Day 61


Friday 9th October 2014

Links to the audio recordings for the day are included here and commentary follows below.

In the first morning session of Day 6 of the Leeds Trolleybus Public Enquiry, Friday 9th Oct 2014, Mr Stuart Natkus on behalf of Morley House Trust (LGHS) and other local Statutory Objectors, gives their cases against the NGT proposals.

In the late morning session of Day 6 of the Leeds Trolleybus Public Enquiry, Friday 9th Oct 2014, Mr Stuart Natkus on behalf of Morley House Trust (LGHS) and other local Statutory Objectors, completes their cases against the NGT proposals and Neil Cameron QC for the Applicant begins his cross examination.

In the afternoon session of Day 6 of the Leeds Trolleybus Public Enquiry, Friday 9th Oct 2014, Mr Stuart Natkus is cross examined by Neil Cameron QC for the Applicant NGT as well as by the Inspector.


As week 15 ground to a close, and the Enquiry has now extended to over twice the length originally anticipated (by NGT I should hasten to add), we saw Mr Stuart Natkus for the statutory objectors along Headingley Lane and on Headingley Hill present his case against the trolleybus scheme, or at least against a lot of details which are part of it.

I have a little joke I make about Mr Natkus, for which I hope he will forgive me.  Doubtless my readers will know the saying ‘The enemy of my enemy is my friend’.  And Mr Natkus, or at least the clients whom he is representing, are enemies of NGT.  So in this he is our friend.  However life is never simple.  While, of necessity, their case is made on as many technical heritage grounds as can be found, and they are essentially restricted to objections around the properties which they own, their prime objective must be to minimise the impact on those properties. 

And several of those properties have highly contentious developments pending in one way or another.  If the trolleybus doesn’t go ahead then there is still the application to build on the fields which are currently grazed by horses.

And clearly the old Leeds Girls’ High School site which is the principle property that is being defended has great development potential and has failed to realise this because of the planning blight which has hung over it for so long.  Desirable residences could be established in several of the old buildings, but the question of whether a slice of land would be taken from the northern edge of it along Headingley Lane has been the problem.

However, for a good many of the objectors, what was already a complicated local heritage and development issue is made a great deal more so because of the proposed building development on the Victoria Road playing fields site which is attached to this.  And Mr Natkus is involved with this highly controversial issue which has raised questions in the minds of local residents about the planning decision to build on a green field in such a heavily built up area.

And so, while the enemy of my enemy is my friend, in the particular context of the Trolleybus Enquiry, at the same time he is our enemy, as he is working for the interests who would cause this asset of green space to be lost forever as well as quite possibly the field on Headingley Hill.

The subjects of his evidence were fairly predictable if you have heard his cross examinations of some of the witnesses, focussing on the question of whether it would not be better and more practicable to leave out the proposed segregated cycle track on Headingley Lane, and leave any road widening to the northern, uphill side of the road.  He also concentrated on arguing that if widening were to take place on the southern side (his clients side) that the old Design Freeze 2 plans should be implemented, only taking a very narrow slice on this section, rather than the 3 to 5 meters of the more recent Design Freeze 7.  Interestingly, this is the same preference for DF2 as Mr Barraclough had for the grounds around Headingley Castle a few days, earlier, and when you take into account that both argue for the trolleybus track to go in the defile now occupied by St Columba’s church car park, and that that should be relocated to the adjacent part of the field now currently grazed by horses, (proposed for the ‘pocket park’) it seems not impossible that they might have co-ordinated their cases.  Which they are entitled to do.  Clearly First West Yorkshire and the Leeds College of Art have done the same thing in that they are employing the same counsel, and it cannot have been out of their ken that this would make a stronger and more comprehensive case.

And so quite possibly with the owners of these other pieces of land such as the Roman Catholic Diocese, Hinsley Hall and Headingley Properties and Headingley Castle.  They would almost be fools not to organise some pincer attack.

One thing I do wonder about though, is whether by offering the kinds of alternatives that they do, they are trying to impress on the Inspectors the severe limitations of the proposed trolleybus route, especially through this heritage rich zone on Headingley Hill.

I’m thinking here of the, in my own view at least, unworkable idea of widening Headingley Lane on the north side.  It would be one thing to build up the south side where the hill falls away in order to create a new carriageway, an ugly and destructive proposal, but one which would be possible in engineering terms.  However, to cut away several meters of land on the north side for this purpose creates a serious regrading problem from the very steep side roads such as Cumberland Road, Grosvenor Road and the listed Ashwood Villas, amongst others.

There are listed buildings, structures and walls on both sides of the road and it is so rich, despite the run down nature of some parts, that I am frankly staggered at the audacity of Metro in attempting to pull such a road widening off.  Perhaps we should remember Councillor Richard Lewis’s remark at the Headingley Public Meeting last summer that this is ‘far more of a Highways scheme than one of public transport’.

They want road widenings is what I read from this.  Cllr Lewis is disingenuous in the extreme in his zealous crusade to implement the NGT scheme, claiming that the need for it is driven by the fact that there is too much traffic on the A660, but he himself was instrumental in helping to seal the deal for the (ghastly) new Victoria Gate development (for which we have lost half of our heritage in Eastgate) which has an increase of some 375 car parking spaces for shoppers who wish to bring their cars into the city centre.

Mr Martin Farringdon, Chief Development Officer for Leeds City Council and the first witness at the Enquiry proudly stated at the beginning of his testimony that one of his recent achievements was his involvement with that very Victoria Gate development.  These two gentlemen work closely in Council, as befits their positions, but they apparently see no contradiction in on the one hand encouraging hundreds more cars into the city centre while at the same time complaining that there are too many cars coming into the city centre and arguing that that is sufficient reason to demand we are subjected to the trolleybus scheme. 

Which, would widen roads, that when the trolleybus had died a doubtless swift and tragic death, could be filled up by the cars of those they have encouraged to park in city centre car parks.

So by defending their own patches on strong technical heritage grounds, the statutory objectors around Headingley Hill represented by Mr Natkus and Mr Barraclough are obliging the Applicant and the Inspectors to look at the fact that if you want to widen roads, the alternatives to those you have designs on are equally fraught in various different ways.  One hopes that they are getting the message that our narrow Victorian streets are not suitable for such a project and would be irrevocably damaged. 

Before I wind up I will just mention something that appears to be good news, and which I will elaborate upon later, but it seems that a witness for Leeds College of Art may be coming to speak.  There has been some uncertainty about this and Mr Jones has suggested that their position was not clear, but we are keeping out fingers crossed that this does not fall through. In the words of the Inspector ‘It doesn’t look like they are going to come to an agreement’ so their witness has been tentatively scheduled for the Wednesday 29th and Thursday 30th of October, which if that remains the case must be seen as good news for the Objectors.

Leeds Trolleybus Enquiry Day 60

Leeds Trolleybus Public Enquiry

Day 60

 Thursday 9th October 2014

The links to recordings of all the sessions from the day are included here.

Again I have got a little more behind with things and am now considering that it may be the end of the enquiry before I will be able to 'back blog' the gaps that have crept into this day by day diary of the proceedings.  However, since we do not expect there to even be the Inspector's report by the time of the General Election, it will remain a live political issue for some time to come and so it will be worth the trouble of going back and filling in the gaps.  Apologies to my readers that I am presently unable to give you updates in as near to real time as I have done for the earlier parts of the enquiry, but the audio recordings are the prime concern at present and these blogs are really just tasters to get you to listen to them, so I hope you will, regardless of when I am able to post a considered commentary.

In the first  morning session of Day 60 of the Leeds Trolleybus Public Enquiry, Thursday 9th Oct 2014, retired town planner Mr Tony Ray gives the Heritage case against the NGT scheme on behalf of the North West Leeds Transport Forum.

In the late  morning session of Day 60 of the Leeds Trolleybus Public Enquiry, Thursday 9th Oct 2014, Mrs Helen Pickering gives the Heritage case against the NGT scheme on behalf of the Drummond and Churchwoods Residents’ Association.

In the afternoon session of Day 60 of the Leeds Trolleybus Public Enquiry, Thursday 9th Oct 2014, Mrs Helen Pickering completes the Heritage case of the Drummonds and Churchwoods Residents’ Association against the trolleybus scheme and is then cross examined by Mr Walton for the Applicant NGT and then by both Inspectors.