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Subject: A701 Culprits 'in hiding'
Date: Wed, 21 Apr 99 02:30:00 +0100
From: Big Fish Little Fish (

Thought this might interest anyone who didn't make the meeting...

for more details contact


Editorial Contact:
Joan Higginson 01968 675109  or  Noel Lythgoe 0131 448 2713


Midlothian, Scotland; April 21, 1999


Labour ran scared and failed to turn up to an angry Public Meeting last night (Tuesday 20/4/99) over its unpopular plans to drive a motorway through the heart of Midlothian, despite having accepted the invitation.

At the packed session all the other political parties united to condemn the local Councilıs plans to extend Edinburghıs urban sprawl over miles of Green Belt, against widespread opposition from local residents and lobby groups.

Exasperated members of the public condemned Labour for 'arrogance' and 'contempt for democracy', for evading public scrutiny. Spokeswoman for the meeting organisers, anti-road group NAAG, Joan Higginson, said "We are speechless at Labour's behaviour. We rearranged the date at their request so they could make it, and they respond by standing us up. They are clearly afraid to hear the message: local people donıt want this daft scheme."

Labour's main Midlothian rivals the Scottish Nationalists joined forces with the Scottish Lib Dems, Scottish Conservatives and Scottish Greens to denounce plans to build the controversial road. All the candidates urged residents to show their opposition to the plans by refusing to vote for Labour on May 6th. The united front threatens to damage Labour's traditionally loyal vote in what was thought to be a safe seat in the forthcoming elections.

The meeting was called by the No Alignment Action Group, a residents' body which believes the proposed new road is a trojan horse for extensive retail, industrial and residential development. It heralds a massive, unannounced southward expansion of the city of Edinburgh, contravening many national and local policies.

Earlier, Labour's Prospective MSP for Midlothian, Rhona Brankin, pulled out of the meeting amid accusations the Party feared the 'Midlothian Motorway' could be a vote-loser. Replacement Labour spokesman Councillor Russell Imrie then accepted the invitation, but failed to turn up and made no apology..

Notes for Editors

1.  The meeting took place on Tuesday 20th April at 7.30pm in Loanhead Town Hall, Midlothian. It was attended by representatives of all the major political parties except Labour, and independently chaired by Osbert Lancaster, an expert on business and sustainability from Edinburgh's Centre for Human Ecology.

2.  Over 125 members of the public attended the meeting, mostly locals but including people from Regions accross the country and representatives of numerous transport, business, environmental and other organisations.

3.  The A701, the major commuter route into Edinburgh from the south, joins Penicuik to the Edinburgh bypass. It is proposed that the new road will be financed under the government's controversial PFI programme.

4.  Public comments on the current planning application are running at 2 for the road and approximately 400 against. Those who object have included hundreds of residents, the University of Edinburgh, Friends of the Earth Scotland, RSPB, Transform Scotland, SPOKES, and the Cyclists Touring Club.

5.  The proposed road and associated developments slice through miles of Green Belt, protected by law. Other Government commitments and legislation it breaks include ones on Out of Town Developments, transport, environmental protection, health, international treaties on Global Warming, and Midlothian's own Environment Strategy. The road will encourage commuting, increase pollution and destroy hundreds of acres of woods and prime agricultural land including a Site of Special Scientific Interest.

6.  NAAG acknowledges that the existing A701 requires minor upgrading, including some road widening and a number of new roundabouts. It is currently preparing alternative plans and seeks help from professional planners and road engineers.


telephone numbers for the local political parties -

Conservative - 0131 555 2901
Green - 0131 478 7896
Labour - 0141 572 2566
LibDem - 0131 337 2314
SNP - 0131 226 3661


NAAG - No Alignment Action Group
We can Stop this Road

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