20mph plan will make ‘playmobile joke’ of city

Campaigners on foot and in vehicles march through the Cowgate to the Grassmarket. Picture: Ian Georgeson
Campaigners on foot and in vehicles march through the Cowgate to the Grassmarket. Picture: Ian Georgeson
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A PLAN to slap a 20mph speed limit on most of the Capital’s roads will turn Edinburgh into Europe’s “playmobile joke”, according to one politician.

Around 80 per cent of city roads will be affected by the new limit under radical proposals given the go-ahead by councillors last month, and Saturday saw protestors opposed to the plans take to the streets to make their feelings known.

Following that protest, Conservative transport spokesman Alex Johnstone said the policy was evidence that the city council is not interested in protecting Edinburgh’s interests and warned it would make the Capital seem like a “poor man’s train set”.

Mr Johnstone said: “Edinburgh is supposed to be Scotland’s capital. Instead, the council would rather make it seem like a poor man’s train set, a pathetic capital.

“This 20mph ruling could turn Britain’s second economic powerhouse into Europe’s playmobile joke. Edinburgh deserves a council which actually supports it’s city’s powerhouse interests.”

Mr Johnstone’s comments come after a march against the proposals on Saturday attracted fewer protesters than expected.

Upwards of 100 people were set to join the rally, which saw the Pleasance and St Mary’s Street closed at Holyrood Road, with rolling road closures at Candlemaker Row and along Grassmarket. But it is estimated only a few dozen people and 11 taxis took part.

Online surveys have 
indicated thousands of residents across the Capital object to the 20mph roll-out. Since the plan was announced, more than 6000 have liked the Say No to 20mph page on Facebook, with more than 2700 signing a petition calling for the decision to be reversed.

Neil Greig, director of policy and research at the Institute of Advanced Motorists, said he was not surprised at the strong reaction but thought Mr Johnstone’s comments were “over-egged”.

“In reality, what will happen is that not much will change,” he said. “People will do twenty on the streets which already have that limit.

“Where people were doing up to 30, they will carry on doing that as well, because there’s no enforcement.”

And he said low turnout for Saturday’s event was a sign people in Edinburgh now believe the new speed limit will almost certainly be imposed.

“I think people are against it but probably resigned to it .”

Alison Johnstone, Green MSP for Lothian, branded Mr Johnstone’s comments “pathetic”.

She said: “This policy will benefit the huge numbers of people who move around our capital each day on foot or by bike, including many visitors who will have seen the benefits of calmer, safer roads in other European cities. What I find pathetic is any attempt to paint Edinburgh as a failing city when in reality this will enhance our reputation as a modern, attractive place to be.”

johnpaul.holden@edinburghnews.com