THE RELIEF WORKS ON THE LEITH.
TO THE EDITOB. Sir,—The report of tho last meeting of the Employment and Relief Committee of the Patriotic Association contained some reference to tho Leith wall, and more than one of the speakers appear to have blamed the city engineer and myself becauso an additional number of men had not been employed on the work in question. I must therefore ask you to allow me to make the following explanation. With a view to finding suitable work at the present juncture, the City Council decided to extend the protective wall on the banks of the Leith as far as the Forth street bridge, from the point where the wall, proposed to bo built by the University authorities, was to terminate This work was estimated by the city engineer to cost £6,000, and it Was proposed that the City Council should contribute £4,000, and that the balance should be subscribed by the Patriotic Association. However, at a subsequent period influence wa* brought to bear with a view to still further extending the walling down stream to Harbor terrace, and thus junction with the work recently done by the Harbor Board. This section of the work was not in. the City Council's scheme, but was forced upon us by the action of the Patriotic Association. It was estimated to cost something like £2,000, and the Employment Committee offered to find £I,OOO of this amount, or a total of £3,000 for the whole scheme; that is, tho extension of the walls from the University section to Harbor terrace, leaving the City Council to find the additional £I,OOO for a work they did not propose undertaking, or a total of £5,000 for the whole job, which was expected to cost £B,OOO. Those interested were so insistent for the full scheme that the suggestion was made, that unless the council undertook to extend the walls from the termination of the University work to the junction with the Harbor Board's work at Harbor terrace, no grant for any portion of the walling snould be made. Now, the section of the walling from Forth street (at which point the council intended to stop) to Harbor terrace (to which point the Employment Committee insisted on extending it) is along Harbor Board property for its whole length on one side of the stream. This property will be considerably increased in value bv the expenditure of the £2,000—£1,000 by the City ratepayers, and £I,OOO by the grant from the Patriotic Association. There is a further reason for the Harbor Board's anxiety to see the walling done to Harbor terrace, and that is to remove, if possible, the menace to flooding that exists at that point, and which has already cost the board considerable sums in claims for damages. _ That is the brief history of the position as it stood when the City Council finally resolved to fall in with the major oroposition, a condition that was arrived it conditionally upon the Harbor Board agreeing to indemnify the council against any damage that may result as the outome of the extension from Forth street o Harbor terrace. The Harbor Board ormally agreed to enter into such an 'greement, but stipulated that the section >f the work in question should be done a the satisfaction of their engineer, and hat the deed should be in the tftrms inally agreed between the legal advisers o the two authorities. Apparently it s now contended that more men should is employed on the work, and instead of he city engineer (who is responsible to he City Council, not only for the whole 'ib being done without mishap, but also or the estimate not being exceeded) beng allowed to continue the walling down tream from the point of termination of he University work, as he holds to be ho safe course, we are being abused beause additional labor is not being put on 't the Harbor terrace end also. The nain answers to the agitation for such i course are : In the first place, the risk of flooding, in tho opinion of the city engineer, would be greatly increased, and in view of that opinion, we do not feel called upon to incur the risk, even if we could otherwise go on with that section of the work ; but there is another reason even more weighty, ind that is that we have no data to indi- j •ate the requirements of the Harbor | board's engineer, and cannot therefore j mssibly start a work which is to be car- j ied out to the satisfaction of that offiial (vide conditions imposed by the larbor Board) without a complete plan •rid specification of the work to be perrormed. When this data is forthcoming, and rhen the Harbor Board have given the Jity Council the indemnity, in terms of he letters that have passed between us, /ho_ work will be done in due course, but t is evident that it would be inadvisable o commence at tho Harbor terrace end ! tnd work up stream to meet the down- j tream walling unless and until the Har- | bor Board assume responsibility for all ! lamage that may arise while the work ; s ! in progress, in addition to the responsibility the Board are understood to lie willing to assume In the proposed deed of indemnity. Tho following extracts from letters are self-explanatory, and should indicate clearly thatif any delay has taken place the blame "does not rest with the City Council or anyone actine on their be- ' half: Secretary of Harbor Board to Town Clerk (11th November) : I have to acknowledge receipt of your communication of the 9th inst., in replv to mine of the 6th idem, and, as indicated at tho conference which tha committee held with your good self and Mr M'Curdie this morning, the committee propose to recommend to the board that the board should indemnify your corporation against all actions which may be brought against the corporation for damage caused by flooding, due to the construction of the channel from Forth street to the harbor, on condition that the work is completed to Harbor terrace, to link up with the board's works, and that that part of the channel between Forth street and Harbor terrace is constructed by your corporation to tho approval of our engineer. The final form of the indemnity will, of course, be left to the adjustment of the solicitors of the two bodies. Town Clerk to secretary of Harbor Board (13th November) : I havo yours dated the 11th inst., and, in reply, have to say t'hat the terms tnerein contained are acceptable to us as a basis on which the deed of indemnity by your board to the City Council may be made The actual terms of the indemnity to be finally settled by the solicitors representing each body. We are anxious to proceed with the work with as little delay as possible, and it is hoped that the matter is now advanced to a stage when the actual terms of the deed can be finally fixed. Town Clerk to secretary of Harbor Board (21st November): I have to forward herewith draft of deed of indemnity prepared by our solicitors in connection with this subject. Town Clerk to secretary of Harbor Board (30th November) : 1 have so far heard nothing further regarding the draft agreement relative to this matter, but meanwhile I would be glad to have a. plan and complete specification prepared by your engineer for a section of the work betwean Forth street' and Harbor terrace. The city engineer reports that the only plan he has indicates the longitudinal section and the gradients of the canal. What he "requires to comply with the. conditions agreed upon—i.e., that this section of the work must be completed to_ the satisfaction of the board's engineer—is a plan showing cross sections of the wall and a detaded specification. If the draft agreement as drawn by our solicitors is to be modified, as was suggested at the conference held in the Mayor's room on the 23rd November, then the plan and specification now requested by our engineer will no doubt have to be embodied in the agreement..
Secretary of Harbor Board to Town Clerk (Ist December): I havo your memo, of yesterday's date, and in reply have to say that your solicitors and ours havo been in conference with respect to the agreement, and, as result, Mr Stephens is now drafting an agreement. I note your remarks with respect to tho plans, and shall bring tho same under notice of the engineer directly he returns from his holidays, which will be in the next day or two. —I ani, etc., ' James Small.
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THE RELIEF WORKS ON THE LEITH., Evening Star, Issue 15671, 9 December 1914