WAVERLEY LINE FUNDING – WITH STRINGS
The Scottish Executive has agreed to provide £115 million of the £150 million needed to fund the re-opening of the Waverley line from Edinburgh to the Borders, it was announced on 14 March 2005 (see Nos 257, 418). It will run from Newcraighall through stations at Shawfair, Eskbank, Newtongrange, Gorebridge, Galashiels and Tweedbank. The funding is contingent, however, on assumptions in the business case for the line – about customer levels, containment of costs by way of a comprehensive strategy from the scheme’s backers, and housing growth projections – being made good (how is not clear). The Strategic Rail Authority has said that it is unlikely that the line will ever be profitable. And there is the £35 million plus shortfall to cover as well. There may continue to be a space where the line might be.
Searching for other stories with which to replace the Skye Bridge entertainment, Scots Law News has also come across a scheme to build a road tunnel from the mainland at John O’Groats to South Ronaldsay in Orkney. See further http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/scotland/4331889.stm. The scheme would cost at least £100 million. If this gets the go-ahead, one could imagine the story running and running in a way to make the Skye Bridge pale into insignificance – remember the Channel Tunnel. However, it appears that the Norwegians know how to do this sort of thing and would be brought in if the job got going.
THE GATHERING PLACE: WHERE ARE THE STARS?
The first episode of the Wark-Clements production, The Gathering Place, was broadcast by the BBC on 10 March. The programme began in medias res, in summer 1999, and did not touch at all upon the choice of site, the design competition, or the letting of the contract. It focused principally on the tensions within the design team and the Parliamentary debates about the continuation of the project, suggesting that MSPs were concerned primarily to score political points rather than with the completion of the project. There were some brief interviews with Enric Miralles but nothing at all with Donald Dewar. Alan Clements had indicated in the Sunday Herald the previous week that tapes of interviews with Dewar and Miralles would be handed over to the Fraser Inquiry (which is still technically open for the purpose) and given a media screening after the series is broadcast. It is rumoured, however, that there will be no Dewar material in episode 2 of the series, due to be broadcast on 17 March, or in later episodes either.
EDINBURGH CONGESTION CHARGE REFERENDUM RESULT: NO GO
The result of the referendum on congestion charges in Edinburgh (see No 419), announced on 22 February 2005, was approximately 75% against, on a turnout of about 62%. Their number included the Editor of Scots Law News. Edinburgh Council indicated that the proposal would be pursued no further.
A website based in Edinburgh reveals the prices being paid for houses and other heritable properties, not only in Scotland but also in England and Wales. Steve Dunnett apparently used the Freedom of Information legislation to gain access to the land registers in the two jurisdictions and publish the price information thus obtained. The site is accessible at http://www.nethouseprices.com, and provides its service free of charge. It currently claims half a million hits a day. Scots Law News now knows the results of all recent sales in its home and surrounding streets, and has dabbled around in several other areas as well – it’s fascinating stuff once you get started. There are maps as well to help you locate the properties in question.