Thursday, September 10, 2009

Flattery Doesn't Quite Get One Everywhere

You have to love James of the Two Doctors for trying yesterday he wrote a blogpost called 'In Praise of Liberal Bloggers' in which he praised me and Caron. He says:

"If you read Scotland's top two Liberal bloggers, Stephen and Caron, you find an awful lot more sense, and on most of the key issues of the day they take a far "greener" line than their party."

Before going on to say in conclusion:

"Even so, are you good people not barking up the wrong tree? Are you really in the right party? I'm tempted to send you both a Green membership form, even though I know tribal loyalties are hard to shift."

The even so issue is a matter over the road-building programme - including in his example the Aberdeen Western Peripheral an Extra Forth Bridge. Strangely he doesn't mention the M74 extension.

A lot of this issue stems from the 2003 election so I'll draw his attention to the party manifesto in 2003. The bullet points for transport were:
  • Start construction of new rail and light railway projects including the Borders railway, Edinburgh trams and the Aberdeen cross-rail
  • Build rail links to Glasgow and Edinburgh airports
  • Abolish tolls on the Skye Bridge
  • Create a new Highlands and Islands air network to cut air fares, promote tourism and support lifeline links
  • Extend concessions for older people to allow them to travel for free across Scotland using off-peak buses
  • More action to get freight off our roads
As he can see we fought that election without mentioning roads, especially particular projects in detail. There is a section on roads in the manifesto, it comes after sections on rail & light rail and supporting lifeline links. Here is what the road transport section says:

We seek to limit national road building to the levels already announced by the Executive. Future roads should only proceed when necessary for safety reasons, to connect isolated communities or for environmental reasons when it is better to re-route traffic in the interests of cutting pollution. We will ensure road transport is integrated into the public transport system:

• Ensure that bus timetable information is easily available and that bus services offer convenient links between communities and other types of public transport by using the powers in the Transport Act.
• Monitor whether the Quality Partnership powers included in the Transport Act 2001 are adequate to protect and enhance evening, weekend and rural bus services.
• Pilot new kick-start plans to create better value bus services, provided over a 18 month period to promote particular under-used routes through enhanced frequency and marketing. The aim is to generate growth in passenger numbers and reduce the public subsidy.
• Improve and upgrade rural roads affected by large volumes of timber traffic and reduce the amount of timber traffic on unsuitable roads by promoting internal routes within forestry areas.
• Continue to invest in road improvements that will reduce the number of casualties amongst drivers, passengers, pedestrians and cyclists.
• Promote co-operative sales outlets for fuel in isolated and island areas to drive down where possible the cost of fuel towards the Scottish average.
• Support Demand Responsive Transport initiatives to improve public transport services particularly in rural areas.
So there you have it. So what changed? I also have in my possession the draft copy of the Partnership Agreement numbered 49 and marked at the time I received it 'In Confidence'. This was the paper that every MSP and then a representative of every local party. I was one such representative. Included with it were my notes on the day.

There are two things I have written in bold and underlined at the top of the page of notes. One is ASBOs for Under 16s, the other is ROADS (Aberdeen/Motorway). Looking at the details of the agreement itself it outlines the 15 points of detailed action to ensure tat our transport system meets the needs of business, transport users and the environment. Seven of those pertain to particular rail projects, one to a tram network, one ferries to mainland Europe, two are concessionary public transport schemes for the old and the young, one improved public transport access for the disabled, one more direct air links rather than flying. The other two of course are the road projects, the Aberdeen Peripheral Road and completion of the Central Scotland Motorway system.

I had a few questions written down which I was prepared to ask in the question period, what I do have is a series of ticks through these as someone else asked them and the questions were forthcoming. The two road projects in question where in the Labour manifesto, they were concessions to get so much focus on public transportation and other issues through from our own.

There is also the way the agreement is to be worked through.

"The two Parliamentary parties will operate in support of the Partnership Executive on all issues covered by this agreement."

So while James may think that there is a lack of scepticism in the 4 years my blog has been in operation (bearing in mind the one year hiatus) it is because one of those issues was dealt with in my mind as far as I could back in 2003. Local colleagues were better placed to then sort out the details. As for the Bridge I do appear to for whatever reason not have commented. I can't recall whether this was because I was on a break, had restricted access, or was writing about other stuff.

Just one thing to say James safe that little bit of a carbon footprint you'd use by mailing me a membership form, it won't be used.

No comments:


Related Posts with Thumbnails