Wednesday, 25 June 2014

Leeds Trolleybus Enquiry Day 30

Leeds Trolleybus Enquiry Day 30


June 25  2014

Day 30 of the Enquiry saw the completion of the cross examination of Mr Neil Chadwick on his business case for the NGT scheme, and in the afternoon Professor Jeremy Purseglove was examined on the potential ecological impacts of its implementation.

The links to the audio recordings of each session are given below.

[Due to having gotten a little behind as well as having to prepare questions for today’s Enquiry, I shall post tonight’s blog in a temporary form and add commentary shortly, it being that one of the core aims of this blog is to log an accessible archive of links to the Mixcloud site where all the Enquiry audios are hosted.]

Now updated below the links.

I should also say that I am indebted to all those who have been so helpful in pressing the necessary buttons on the recording device when I am not there and without whom the collection would be far from complete.  I would name them, but I feel that they would probably be embarrassed at the spotlight, so I shall just say that they know who they are and their reliability is greatly appreciated.  Should it have been left to me alone it would be a patchy and sporadic record which would fail to give a complete picture of the proceedings.  We have lost one or two minor fragments through technical issues but nothing amounting to any consequence.  I see the success of this informal project so far as being indicative of the unified and co-operative nature of the objectors and their determination to stop this attempted hijacking of well loved parts of Leeds by parties who see them as no more than development opportunities.

In the first morning session of  day 30 the Leeds Trolleybus Public Enquiry: June 25  2014 Mr Bill McKinnon cross examines Mr Neil Chadwick on his business case model for the NGT trolleybus scheme.

In the late morning session of  day 30 the Leeds Trolleybus Public Enquiry: June 25  2014 Neil Cameron QC  re-examines Mr Neil Chadwick on his business case model for the NGT trolleybus scheme.

In the early afternoon session of  day 30 the Leeds Trolleybus Public Enquiry: June 25  2014 Mr David Graham for First West Yorkshire cross examines Professor Jeremy Purseglove on the potential impact of the NGT trolleybus scheme on the local ecology along the proposed route.

In the late afternoon session of  day 30 the Leeds Trolleybus Public Enquiry: June 25  2014 Mr Chris Foren for the A660 Joint Council cross examines Professor Jeremy Purseglove on the potential impact of the NGT trolleybus scheme on the local ecology along the proposed route and is followed by Ms Claire Randall, an independent private objector on the subject of mature and old trees.


Having become rather behind in my commentaries as a result of the gruelling schedule in this second month of the enquiry, I shall take advantage once more of Professor Christopher Todd's excellent comments which were circulated amongst objectors.  Many thanks for his research and incisive observations.


First, some news updates on the fate of trolleybuses elsewhere (the only trolleybuses in Australasia. [And I believe the only right hand driver t-busses in the world. CC]
There has now been final confirmation – despite union protests – of the closing of the Wellington trolleybus system.
The latest on hydrogen fuel
And, particularly interesting, I think, a press release of two days ago from Volvo on their electric hybrid bus, which through the use of flash charging reduces the use of the onboard diesel charger to almost nil. This is more than a halfway house to the fully electric battery bus.
Now, to Day 30 of the Enquiry.
It was interesting to hear Neil Chadwick continue to quote expected advances in the use of renewal energy in the production of ‘green’ electricity in order to justify the trolleybus, while still refusing to consider advances in bus technology for better alternatives to NGT. It makes one feel that all these expert ‘witnesses’ put up by NGT should have their work checked by someone who is truly independent, without any vested interest in the success of the scheme.
On the subject of electricity, it was also interesting to see how Neil Chadwick’s inability to give a straight yes or no to a question does not always serve him well. When, in the context of the price of electricity Bill McKinnon asked him about hydroelectricity, he just had to mention other factors (such as avoiding fossil fuel or having to import energy) which in fact reinforce the idea that trolleybuses might be a good choice where hydroelectricity is available but not elsewhere.

At the very end of his session, when being questioned by the inspector, Neil Chadwick repeated that he could say ‘with confidence’ that the A660 ‘is the busiest public transport corridor in Leeds’, but seemed to reflect the ambiguity that has long hung over much of the discussion of the A660, by also saying that the corridor ‘is made up of a number of individual routes’, i.e., all roads between Kirkstall and Meanwood? (see my Statement Case, p.10). I do hope First Bus quizzes him on this and also about the claim made in January 2014 by Steer Davies Gleave that The most congested routes in Leeds are the A61(N) Scott Hall Road and the A660 Otley Road. Both show that congestion adds more than 100% to journey times in the morning and evening peak periods.’ (NGT Strategic Fit, p.59).(See my Proof of Evidence, pp.10-11, 26-7), which is contradicted – certainly as far as the morning is concerned – by over a fortnight’s recording of TomTom reports last January and February, and makes no allowance for the demographic changes since 2008.

Perhaps rather too sanguine about new trees, Jeremy Purseglove seemed on the whole fairly civilised, as Christopher Foren proved yesterday when quoting from his book on rivers and wetlands, but as Bill McKinnon showed this morning, the ecology reports are just as full of errors and omissions as those provided by other NGT witnesses.
On the question of schedule 1 birds I have seen peregrines attacking pigeons in Cumberland Road and the Ridge (though not recently). They were seen at the Civic Hall and the City Centre in 2010
and also near Headingley station

For a picture of a peregrine falcon on the roof of a house in Headingley, see
Sightings of them seem quite common in Leeds , though, admittedly, we don’t know where they breed. Ditto for migrating bird such as bramblings seen on Woodhouse Moor (

Mr Graham was accused of wanting to ‘ambush’ Professor Purseglove over his methodology, but certainly NGT has nothing to say when we hear that they intend to introduce new evidence on heritage impact. I now understand why I have seen so many theodolites out around Headingley Lane and Hyde Park Corner lately. Is NGT only prepared to do its work properly after having had a rough time at the inquiry? Or are they trying to produce something out of a hat?


Many thanks to Professor Todd for the use of his comments and the links which he has researched. 

One short comment from myself about my cross examination of Professor Purseglove.  He said right at the end that although the ecology might show signs of recovery as soon as two to three years, it would be 'not as good as if it wasn't cut'.  His claim that the ecology would in the main recover by fifteen years from the replanting may superficially be true, but from the landscape and amenity points of view, on which Mr Walker will be examined, clearly the recovery would not be complete until the new plantings had been there for over a century, as that is the age (or more) of many of the fine trees  which NGT propose to take down.

As I write (in early July 2014) the revised Heritage document which Chris mentions (over three hundred pages in length) has just been delivered.  Besides my curiosity about the cost of this document, I am of the understanding that there may well be formal complaints about its submission.  Mr Whitehead has become increasingly stringent in his willingness to accept late entered documents in recent weeks.  Most of these have amounted to short pieces no more than a few pages long which have often been simply supporting documents.  The submission of a document of the length of this new one must surely be brought into question as it is a major piece of work which clearly should have been completed and entered into the enquiry process by the 30th January this year.

One imagines this could be another black mark against NGT, following the exposure of the false allegations of non-co-operation made against First West Yorkshire, the failure of Mr Hanson to show when he was not following WebTAG guidance or Mr Chadwick's statement that significant parts of their case were judgements that had been made without recourse to formal supporting evidence, such as the belief that people's general preference for a shiny new bus over an old one demonstrated that they would therefore prefer trolleybuses.

If NGT have not done the work prior to submitting their case, they should not be allowed to revise that case during the process of the enquiry.  If this is accepted then I can see that the whole process of submitting documents could be in need of review.

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