Councillors trade blows in row over Edinburgh’s 20mph scheme

Once fully implemented the new speed limit will cover around 80 per cent of Edinburghs streets. Picture: Ian Georgeseon
Once fully implemented the new speed limit will cover around 80 per cent of Edinburghs streets. Picture: Ian Georgeseon
57
Have your say

A POLITICAL row has erupted over the Capital’s ongoing 20mph rollout after councillors hit out at their rivals’ approach to the controversial scheme.

City transport leader Lesley Hinds took a swipe at her Conservative counterparts, amid claims they have taken a muddled approach to the lower speed limit policy.

The outgoing Labour councillor accused the party of “hypocrisy”, saying they were supporting 20mph on roads in their own areas despite having publicly voiced opposition.

However, the Tories were quick to hit back, saying the council-led scheme – which is costing £2.2 million to implement – had been “divisive” and caused confusion.

Cllr Hinds said: “It seems everywhere I go the Conservatives are supporting 20mph in their own area but in the council or publications they are saying they aren’t.

“They were supportive all the way along of the criteria and then when it came to the meeting itself of making the final decision that’s when they opposed it.

Councillor Lesley Hinds during the introduction of the new 20mph scheme. Picture; Greg Macvean

Councillor Lesley Hinds during the introduction of the new 20mph scheme. Picture; Greg Macvean

“My frustration is they keep saying they oppose 20mph but they won’t say what their criteria is. It just seems to me that they haven’t come up with a coherent policy on this.”

Cllr Hinds added the council had always been committed to reviewing the policy’s progress and said she welcomed residents’ views on how the scheme was working.

The spat comes some six weeks after scheme’s second phase was rolled out across a vast new swathe of the city on February 28.

Nick Cook, the Tory transport spokesman on the council, said evidence suggested the rollout should be more targeted.

He said: “Edinburgh Conservatives fully support 20mph as an effective road safety measure, when targeted in response to specific local need.

“We remain concerned that the council’s blanket 20mph scheme will dilute effectiveness of targeted areas which genuinely need and benefit from 20mph zones, such as outside schools.

“The council’s policy has proved divisive and has caused confusion. It is neither environmentally friendly or efficient. Evidence suggests broad 20mph schemes produce a reduction in speed of just 1mph. Focus could be targeted intelligently on more effective road safety measures.”

Drivers caught flouting the new limit face the threat of £100 fines and three points on their licence.

Nigel Bagshaw, the Greens’ transport spokesman, said he was pleased with how phase two had gone so far.

He added: “As a cyclist I do feel safe, I feel less threatened by the fact cars are genuinely slowing down much more.

“Whatever the inconvenience there may be you really have to put safety first - that’s been my argument all along.”

florence.snead@jpress.co.uk