City Guide to Edinburgh, Scotland

City Guide to Edinburgh, Scotland

Edinburgh Trams - Council Officials Conceal Figures for the Real Epidemic


By actionman - Posted on 27 June 2012

The recent Legionella outbreak in the SW of Edinburgh has so far claimed two deaths and has been made front page news in the national press, radio and TV.   What the public is not being told by Council officials is that during the same period, and excluding the two deaths mentioned, the recorded number of deaths, where the primary cause of death was registered as being from respiratory disease, totalled forty people.

This information was provided today by the Chief Registrar who is based at Lothian Chambers in  Edinburgh in response to a freedom of information request.

One has to wonder why this information is not being picked up by the national media who gave such emphasis to the Legionella outbreak? The tragic thing is that this level of deaths, attributable to increased pollution, has not been identified by the Scottish Government, who should be looking at this statistic with real concern - and they should be doing something about it, not simply ignoring the facts because it is convenient to do so.

It is also known that admissions within the catchment areas of the Stockbridge and West End Medical Centres, that statistics for hospital admissions for respiratory disease increased by some 50% between 2009 and 2010, which was at the same time as a Temporary Traffic Order directed general traffic through the west end and the New Town.

At the time the Temporary Traffic Order was passed it was claimed  that it would indeed be 'temporary', but again Council officials deceived the public and it has now been made permanent to the disgust of all those in these areas.

As the tram works creep forward, everyone on their route is finding that congestion increases and pollution increases.    The inevitable result will be that the health effects will get worse and there will be many more deaths.    One must ask again why is this being ignored?  The Lothian Health Board should be worried but they appear to be disinterested.

The lessons should be clear to the new Edinburgh City Council - the tram works are now killing more residents due to the diversions of heavy traffic away from the previously accepted main traffic arteries.   Somehow a solution must be found to allow the tram to share its road space with general traffic.   If the schedule for the tram takes longer then so be it - better this than for the Council to have even more deaths on their conscience.

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The reason that respiratory disease is not hitting the headlines is that it is not news. It's been going on for years. The newspapers have a steady stream of reports about the ill effects of air pollution (albeit far away from the front page). We know that traffic pollution exacerbates respiratory diseases, like asthma, and probably contributes to a myriad of other ailments.

The Scottish government website details some of the adverse effects of problem pollutants and has information about air quality events here:

www.scotland.gov.uk/Topics/Environment/waste-and-pollution/Pollution-1/1...

There's a certain level of acceptance of air pollution and, as you suggest, among the media a certain ennui over air pollution given that it's invisible and people don't suddenly drop.

But it stands to reason that more traffic is going cause more pollution and in turn will cause more illness.

Politicians understand that much. Question is whether they will use the tools at their disposal to meaningfully reduce this extra polluting traffic. Health - surprisingly even among Green politicians - is often relegated to other priorities such as economic or infrastructure development (such as the trams).

In future years, I think we may look back on this time where we allowed lines of congested bumper-to-bumper cars to sit on our doorsteps spewing fumes into the air we breath as stupid. It's much like smoking in public places. Would people go back to a time when smoking was allowed in public places?

Air pollution is certainly something which those who experience the problem recognise as being a major factor in their lives.    You have only to see what effects the tram is having on the streets of the Edinburgh World Heritage sector of the New Town, to underatand the anger and frustration felt by the residents.   The diverted traffic is destroying something which the Council should be striving to retain and enhance.  For those who want to have more information on the problem go to the web site at:-
http://www.edinburghtramfacts.com/blog/e2toe4/health-stats-pollution-legionaella-and-inertia-986

This will really put you in the picture!

It is also known that admissions within the catchment areas of the Stockbridge and West End Medical Centres, that statistics for hospital admissions for respiratory disease increased by some 50% between 2009 and 2010, which was at the same time as a Temporary Traffic Order directed general traffic through the west end and the New Town.   So there certainly is good reason for residents to be really concerned.