Labour vows to halt traffic works for 2 years

Tram works are currently causing disruption at Haymarket
Tram works are currently causing disruption at Haymarket
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LABOUR today promised to ban major traffic projects in the city for two years after the completion of the tram scheme, if it wins control at the council elections in May.

Councillor Lesley Hinds, the party’s transport spokeswoman in Edinburgh, said the move would give stability after the current widespread disruption.

Day-to-day repairs and maintenance would continue, but once the trams are up and running – due to be summer 2014 – all new projects would be put on hold, including the planned review of the one-way systems around Haymarket and the West End, revealed by the News earlier this month.

Motoring groups welcomed the plans, but transport campaigners said it could mean the city forgoing funding which was on offer to improve transport infrastructure.

Announcing the policy, Cllr Hinds said: “There will be a moratorium on new major traffic schemes and road alterations for two years, other than smartening up the city centre for pedestrians after the tram works.

“That two-year pause will give a chance for Edinburgh citizens and councillors to get back in the driving seat, setting policy for the way forward after a problematic few years.”

Cllr Hinds said the review of the one-way systems, part of a bid to make the city more friendly for cyclists and pedestrians, would be stalled.

She said Labour also wanted to give residents more say over utility companies digging up the roads in their area.

“I want a system where the council delegates powers to control roadworks to neighbourhood groups and local councillors. I want those groups to say ‘no’ to the utilities when they disregard local needs,” she said.

Labour also proposes a transport forum of experts and citizens to think through the city’s modern transport needs.

Cllr Hinds said: “Many people have said to me that transport policy seems to be run by out-of-touch consultants and officials, many of whom don’t live in Edinburgh, not by elected councillors. I agree and I want to bring back some common sense into transport policy.”

Transport convener Gordon Mackenzie said Labour’s plans had not been thought through.

He said: “Just on a practical level, quite a lot of work on major roads in the city has been held back because of the trams. Are they saying they are going to leave these without refurbishment? That just causes further problems for later on.”

FOR

A MORATORIUM on roadworks would certainly be welcomed.

People are fed up with street closures, diversions and disruption.

Having said that, roads wear out and things happen, so we might have to be a little flexible.

We would need to continue filling in potholes and doing the utilities repairs that have not been done properly.

But the principle that there should be no more full-scale road closures with long-term disruption to businesses, or new traffic management systems, is a good one. We need to let things settle down a bit.

AGAINST

Edinburgh needs investment in its transport infrastructure.

The Scottish Government is spending record amounts on transport, so is Labour saying that Edinburgh should miss out?

There’s no doubt that the tram dispute has been damaging, but any scheme this size was always going to be disruptive.

A moratorium would jeopardise plans for making the area around Haymarket more attractive. It would also threaten the prospects for delivering a high-quality cycle network.

A moratorium on investment would harm the city’s prospects.