Community Councils Together on Trams/Trams Team meeting, 10 February 2022

Minutes of the Community Councils Together on Trams/Trams Team meeting (Construction Phase) on Thursday 10 February 2022 at 5:30pm

Actions and decisions are red italic. ‘TT’ means ‘Trams Team’. Names are sometimes abbreviated to initials.

0 Attendance

Robert Armstrong (in person) TT Andrew Mackenzie (in person) CCTT /LLCC
Mike Birch (in person) CCTT/NTBCC Jennifer Marlborough (in person) CCTT/LHNCC
Charlotte Encombe (in person) CCTT/LCCC Bruce Ryan (via MS Teams) CCTT minutes secretary
Angus Hardie (in person) CCTT/LLCC Harald Tobermann (in person) CCTT/LCCC
Steve Jackson (in person) TT Chris Wilson (in person) TT
Rob Leech (in person) TT

0.a Apologies

Carol Nimmo CCTT/NTBCC

1 Welcome to ‘refreshed’ CCTT/TT meeting

The new monthly schedule (below) was noted, as was that CCTT is generally for the trams so long as they are implemented well.

last THU/FRI Tram Project Board

2 Minutes of November 2021 meeting

Approved nem con

2.a Matters arising

  • HT: circulation of final design drawings was a painful process, given that the designs are apparently locked in, and that TT ran out of ink for making hard copies.
  • Action: HT to ascertain if Michael Motion’s actions have been completed.

3 CCTT letter to Tram Project Board re Elm Row

  • HT: this was sent to the TT project board on 26 January. Prior to this, here had been some indications that changes may be possible. However, the formal answer (received this afternoon) was basically ‘we are very far down the road, and hence the design is locked in, and changes would cause significant costs’.
    • RL: Also, there is a groundswell of public opinion that this area should be completely pedestrianised.
    • MB: a petition requesting this was submitted in summer 2021. The response was ‘we won’t consider this until after TT has determined what it will do’. Hence now TT has no option but to complete the current plans, but this impasse was could have been avoided if CCTT had been enabled to engage at appropriate points. Designs have changed from 2018 onwards, but detailed designs were never made available except as part of the TRO process. CEC Active Travel basically stated ‘we have considered pedestrians’ needs’, i.e. brushed off CCTT’s concerns.
    • MB: hence TT/CERC will be building things they know to be suboptimal, and hence will suffer reputational damage. This stems in part from CCTT holding back, to give TT time to fix issues.
    • RL: TT does not preclude future changes. I was unaware of the petition’s longevity. TT now needs to push on to deliver on time and on budget.
    • AM: CCTT had assumed it would be more involved in public realm designs, but the TRO process precluded this. At what point was engagement to be undertaken?
    • RL: there was engagement on fundamentals. One of these was changed at Elm Row: changing cycle lanes (in consultation with Active Travel and Spokes). But generally engagement was played out through the consultation process. The TRO process only allows certain legally specified objections.
    • HT: the designers used exception clauses in Edinburgh street design guidance to enable narrow pavements. Earlier provision of larger scale drawings would have enabled CCTT to speak out about this at more appropriate points.
    • RL: this issue has recurred several times: TT could have done some things better. The underlying issue is with the design process [for public works in general], and lack of satisfactory consultation steps in that process. At the end of the. Project, TT will undertake a ‘lessons learned’ process for CEC: this issue, and CCTT, could be included.
    • CCTT: Some decisions are needed, so lessons need to be learnt now, including availability of large-scale drawings.
    • CE: these drawings should also be available to the public.
    • RL: drawings go through many changes. It is easy to publicise high-level decisions, but at the level of details CCTT wishes, the design is very much fixed. This is a systemic problem with design and consultation.
    • AM: the charette process to gain public input/knowledge was flawed.
    • HT: that was a stage where detailed drawings would have been useful.
    • BR: where will ‘lessons learned’ go – just CEC, or available to other LAs and big construction projects.
    • RL: this is for CEC to decide, but the document will be FOIable. An external contractor may well help.

4 Mechanics for a protocol to register issues to be addressed by a ‘prioritised programme of post-project fixes’

  • HT: This is basically a way for CCTT to contribute to the ‘lessons learned’ process. CCTT should introduce a regular agenda item to discuss which items to add to the lists of issues to be fixed now and lessons to be learned. This would enable CCTT/CCs to fulfil their duties to citizens.
    • RL: the lists would need categorisation, e.g. defects to be fixed now, suboptimal design to be fixed later.
    • MB: this would also enable TT to stay focussed, avoiding discussion in detail things it cannot do now.
    • HT: please include costs for the changes on the lists
    • RL: TT will maintain such lists

*** TT reports on construction and temporary traffic management measures ***

5 Latest (dated) progress dashboard, key metrics and period lookahead table

These documents (circulated prior to the meeting) were noted.

6 Latest (dated) route map with completion dates for each section

See maps at



  • HT: These links should always lead to the latest versions. These maps should always show ‘latest update’ dates.
    • CE/HT: Better presentation of progress would be helpful, as would indication of when each area will be complete.
    • CW: there is a link to explanation of the latest changes.
      • Action: CW to include these links in all TT newsletters.

6.c Any more recent changes to dates to be flagged

  • CW: the linked maps are kept up to date, via a regular monthly reviews. Old versions are archived.
  • SJ: the current maps include minor updates, but these are in the order of weeks.
  • HT: the current maps show ‘autumn’, ‘spring’ etc, but this is understandable.
  • CW: as completion for any section is neared, the maps could show which month completion will be achieved.

6.d Impact of supply chain/labour issues, if any

  • SJ: these issues have neither improved nor worsened.
    • RL: the frustration is that these problems are not linear. For example, TT may have concrete but no-one to pour it.
6.d.i Progress update (S Jackson)
  • In this context, ‘completion’ means ‘civils’ work is finished. There will be later small, inobtrusive work-sites for cable-installation and tram-stop completion. Extra utilities ducts across the route have been included where possible.
    • CW: there will also be snagging work: CEC will not accept substandard work.
    • SJ: installation of poles will start at the end of February. The lighting contractor will then install street-lights on the poles, then cables will be strung. This work will mostly be done at night, moving traffic management as needed.
  • York Place to London Rd: handed over ahead of schedule to infrastructure and systems contractor (I&SC); over the next 7 weeks the existing York Place tram-stop will be demolished so the two lengths of track can be joined.
    • Noisy works (i.e. demolition) will occur in core daytime hours (7am to 7pm on weekdays, Saturday mornings). Set-up and strike will occur outwith these times. That is night-shift work will not be noisy, focussing on systems and avoiding service-disruption.
    • Technical equipment from the existing stop will be saved as spares for the existing line. This stop was temporary, so the shelter etc cannot be re-used.
  • Leith Walk (London Rd to Crown St): works have been flipped, for completion of this section in June
  • Crown St to Foot of the Walk: handed over to I&SC. Work on the junction will progress in March.
  • Foot of the Walk to Coatfield: public realm works due to be finished in March-April
    • Some information was missed by the minutes secretary here due to a disconnection.
  • Queen Charlotte St to Baltic St: nearly complete; delays were due to resourcing issues previously mentioned. The biggest piece here is construction of the tram stop, due to be completed in February. At the ‘Robert Burns corner’, installation of an attenuation pipe (and hence public realm work) has been slightly delayed by ground conditions, so overall completion of this section is expected in early March.

6.e GANNT chart of before and after on Leith Walk (S Jackson)

  • The chart shows planned work for the whole route as of June 2020. It is divided into sections. The vertical axis is time. Green areas show planned swept-path/utility works. Pink areas show public realm works.
  • SP/U work was due to finish from London Rd to the Foot of the Walk by January 2022.
  • The other version of the chart shows the current position: some sections of Leith Walk are taking longer than originally envisaged, due to material and resource issues.
  • RL: more time than anticipated has been spent on utility work due to the stop-start nature of this work.
    • SJ: covid has caused delays, as have the gas-main diversion at Jane St and the attenuation pipe at Croal Place.
    • Initial planning was based on dividing Leith Walk into two sections. Delays have now been mitigated by dividing it into more sections, to enable these to proceed asap. This division was anticipated, but could not have been implemented sooner, to enable necessary flexibility.
    • Float (contingency time) has not all been used; float is still in the current plans to allow for future issues.
      • Action: SJ to supply copies of the charts to CCTT

7 Latest (dated) H&S dashboard

  • See above

8 Latest (dated) comms dashboard and latest geographical breakdown of comms

  • Noted

9 Current map showing all temporary pedestrian crossing points along the route and distances, location of temporary bus stops, and diverted or narrowed (below 1.2m) footpaths

  • HT: some distances between crossings exceed 200 meters.
    • RA: this map is from 21 January. Bus stops will be added in the next two working days.
    • HT: up-to-date maps should be on work-sites so the public knows where crossings are.
    • MB: the map should show all of the site, i.e. include Albert St.
  • RL: concerning flags showing crossing points, the recent high winds caused a serious accident at Ocean Terminal. A member of the public was injured, and Heras fencing collapsed. Police are now investigating. TT now takes a zero-tolerance approach to wind-catchers.
    • CE: in other countries, signs have very heavy bases to prevent such incidents. Why is this not done here?
    • SJ: these would restrict footways even further.
    • HT: the flags were poorly installed, i.e. fixed to fencing rather than being free-standing.
  • MB: crossings are also needed between Picardy Place to Broughton St. it is not realistic to go all the round.
    • AM: also the junction between Queen Charlotte St and Constitution St,

10 Map showing any planned changes (one month ahead) to temporary pedestrian crossing points along the route and distances, location of temporary bus stops, and diverted or narrowed (below 1.2m) footpaths

  • Action: TT to supply a map of current status and planned changes over the next 4 weeks for each future meeting.

11 List of traffic management measures (locations and brief description, dates) agreed and coming into force in the coming 5 weeks (S Jackson)

  • The next big change is the starting the next phase at Ocean Terminal: traffic management will be installed this weekend. Bus-stops will move to the front of OT.
  • Picardy Place will be stable for the next 7 weeks.
    • RA: TT is installing traffic signals to reduce pressure of buses on Leith Walk. Albert St should have been open by now but a sewer collapsed.
    • HT: there are likely to be more collapse sewers in this area due to the age of this infrastructure.
    • RA: TT is also trying to reduce pressure on East London St.
    • MB: some traffic is ignoring diversions. Noise has been reduced due to fewer buses using this street.
  • SJ to advise when junction between Queen Charlotte St and Constitution St will be closed to traffic.

***Queries and issues identified by CCTT***

12 Picardy Place to London Road: traffic management changes/adaptations from 16 January to 8 February (trial and error?) leading to long delays, impacting bus punctuality and (long-term) public transport habits

Table supplied in agenda by CCTT:

Approximate number of buses that should be using York Place on a week day 0430 to 0600 0600 to 0800 0800 to 1900 1900 to 2200 2200 to 0100 Daily total
Scheduled on York Pl eastbound 11 51 410 91 66 629
Diverted via Princes St & Regent Rd heading to Abbeyhill 1 14 98 23 14 150
Diverted via Drummond Pl & E London St heading to London Rd 9 27 217 51 37 341
Diverted via Drummond PI & E London St heading to McDonald Rd 1 10 95 17 15 138
Total diverted via Drummond PI & E London St 10 37 312 68 52 479
  • HT: it took from 16 January to 8 February (3 weeks) to settle this in, due to trail-and-error methods. Each of the 479 diverted buses causes delays to travel. Changes need to be planned and minimised.
    • RA: a big change in traffic management was agreed with Lothian Buses, but LB decided to route this number of buses via East London St. This was not agreed with TT/traffic management review panel.
    • CE: could sequencing of traffic lights here be improved?
    • RA: traffic lights are now being added to the main system, so this is being tackled.

13 Ongoing H&S and noise issues at substation works to the rear of 165 Leith Walk

  • HT: it would be very easy for someone to access and fall into these works. There was no banksman.
    • SJ: TT is acting on this

14 Leith Walk @ Iona Street: pedestrian movement diverted more than necessary

  • Action: SJ to advise why digging is happening here.

15 TT’s initial assessment of success of Leith Walk flip and quality controls prior to handover

  • HT: the flip took longer than anticipated, and is not quite finished. Please add this to the ‘lessons learned’ list.

16 Leith Walk running lane: mid-day tailbacks, bus punctuality

See above

17 Leith Walk (north of Iona): heras fencing on wrong side of temporary bollards

  • Action: RA to look into this

18 Any other issues (as time allows)

  • AM: pedestrian access at the south side of the junction between Queen Charlotte St and Constitution St is absent. The signage here is terrible, and wheelchair users are having difficulties in this area.
    • RA: TT is investigating a solution; it is confident the issue will be fixed.
  • MB: will the Union St loading bay become a logistics hub?
    • RL: no. it will be extended, using the TRO process. Disabled peoples can still park here.
  • JM: how do traffic filters work on Commercial St for traffic turning right into Ocean Drive, or from Ocean Drive to Lindsay Rd? The filters seem to be non-functional. Also, Great Junction St is blocked each evening, and cars are using bus-lanes, hence blocking emergence of buses from Bonnington Rd.
    • RA: Lothian Buses has not informed TT of delays here, but I have experienced such difficulties. I will look into this. – has some experience of these difficulties.
    • HT: much of the traffic in Leith is from outwith Leith.
  • JM: The Melrose Drive area is very confusing: white lines to control traffic are not working.
    • RA: TT is working on this

***Final design/landscape and post-project traffic measures***

19 Outline of process of quality control at various stages (design/review, built quality, built to spec, defects), records kept by TT and any metrics

  • Action: CCTT and TT to discuss this offline

20 Role of variously sized ‘indents’ of kerb-line on west side of Leith Walk

  • SJ: these indents are for bins; non-signalised crossings; avoiding utility chambers (these cannot be moved); gullies
    • HT: this topic should be on the ‘lessons learned’ register

21 Latest Elm Row design

  • HT: are more changes planned here, i.e. changes to trees?
    • SJ: no more trees will be cut down here.
    • CE: the charette proposed big trees here, not the ‘lollipops’ now being planted.
    • Action: CCTT and TT to discuss this offline

22 Traffic Modelling (LinSig and VISSM) showing impact post-construction

  • Held over

***Businesses along the route***

23 Latest statistics of applications received/approved/rejected and average turnaround times (C Wilson)

  • 136 applications have been received. The limit is £3000, and most applications are for this amount.
    • 89 have been approved
    • 12 had missing information
    • 15 did not show sufficient hardship
    • 8 were declined at appeal
    • 7 are due to go to appeal
    • 5 have been recommended for approval.

24 Latest statistics for businesses closing since work started (relative to original survey) and a metric for monitoring variety/types of businesses (C Wilson)

  • Leith’s vacancy rate is currently 13·6% (Scotland 14·5%, Edinburgh 8·7%; Leith has historically had a higher vacancy-rate than Edinburgh.)
    • Leith’s rate has plateaued: in the last 6 months it was 13·7%, (Edinburgh rate was 8·2%) Comparison with other areas of Edinburgh shows Leith’s resilience.
    • The highest vacancy rates are in shopping centres (19·4%), high streets (14·5%), retail parks (11·5%). Independent shops (a Leith ‘speciality’) have performed very well during the pandemic.
    • The next 6-monthly report (July to September 2021) is due next week.
    • Action: C Wilson to supply to CCTT and B Ryan half-yearly updates as tables, showing changes since the previous report.
  • There have been 108,000 closures of retail and leisure businesses, but 70,000 openings.
  • Over the last 6 months, Leith gained 6 cafés and food outlets and 2 bakeries. Closures included 3 auto-services, 2 travel agents/tour operators, 2 restaurants, 2 hairdressers/health and beauty.

25 Copy of application form and guidance (including process)

No discussion

26 AOB

  • JM: are rising energy prices causing issues for TT?
    • RL: no

27 Next meeting

  • 10 March
  • Meetings will usually be on second Thursday of the month.

28 Meet Alejandro’s successor

  • RL: Alejandro has taken on a wider role in the trams project