During the first lockdown in 2020, the UK Government created a fund for local authorities to take measures which would help during the lockdown. Under the Barnett formula, a proportionate amount was provided for the Scottish Government (SG) who in turn created a fund for Scottish councils to bid into, which it has used for Spaces for People. The SG conditions for use of the money were:
- to enable social distancing
- to encourage 'Active Travel'
- measures were to be temporary
Edinburgh Council thus obtained £5.25m to be spent by May '21.
In Southside/ Newington, the following schemes have been implemented:
Buccleuch Street; Causewayside; Mayfield Road; Minto Street - Craigmillar Park corridor; Old Dalkeith Road; Potterrow, Teviot Place; Whitehouse Loan. Schemes near primary schools include: James Gillespies; Sciennes; Prestonfield; Preston Street.
- Lack of local consultation. Most projects were implemented via Temporary Traffic Regulation Orders which allowed them to be implemented with little consultation with local people
- Traffic displacement. The Whitehouse Loan closure, for example, has led to complaints from residents in nearby side streets
- Confusion. The complicated layout in the Minto Street corridor has led to confusion for many roads users.
Comments from Cllr Cameron Rose
It is clear that many of the schemes have brought more problems than solutions. There are some key issues to consider:
- Apart from schools, the majority of measures do not help social distancing.
- The narrowing of many streets is already causing congestion and, if made permanent, will lengthen journey times for buses, cars and workmen and further increase congestion.
- As a keen cyclist myself I support improving cycling facilities where appropriate. But it is also true that cycle projects should not have dominated Spaces for People in the way they have. Businesses and local organisations (such as Suffolk Road Mosque) have been severely disadvantage without the opportunity to give their views.
- The Minto Street corridor (and other schemes) should have been subject to local notification and views. I believe that this scheme should never have been approved - especially without local consultation.
- Although the public funding for these schemes has come to the Council from Government, staff have been diverted from implementing other work and measures which have been properly approved. There is a considerable backlog of other schemes.
How can you express your views?
- Complete the Council survey at this link: https://consultationhub.edinburgh.gov.uk/bi/retainingspacesforpeopleconsultation/
- Share this article with friends to enable them to have their say. This consultation is not just for people's in the Southside/ Newington Ward but for anyone within the city or who uses our roads and pavements.
- There are petitions you can sign. Our Transport Spokesperson, Cllr Susan Webber has one here and a petition by Get Edinburgh Moving has had over 10,000 signatures. You can find this one here.