MSP calls for air quality checks at South Morningside Primary School amid concerns over traffic pollution

Covid-inspired road changes blamed for cars at standstill

Daniel Johnson says traffic is often at a standstill outside South Morningside  Primary School
Daniel Johnson says traffic is often at a standstill outside South Morningside Primary School

AN MSP has called for air quality tests to be carried out in the playground of a city primary school amid concerns over increased pollution from standing traffic resulting from Covid-related road changes.

Edinburgh Southern Labour MSP Daniel Johnson said the closure of Braid Road had led to persistent traffic jams and cars queued with their engines idling outside South Morningside Primary School in Comiston Road. And he said there were concerns about the effect on pupils’ health.

He spoke out as it emerged Braid Road, which runs parallel to Comiston Road, is set to remain closed under the city council’s Spaces for People measures brought in to aid social distancing during the pandemic.

A briefing to councillors outlined three options - continuing the closure, reopening southbound only or a full reopening. But it said: “A full re-opening of Braid Road is not proposed at this stage.”

Mr Johnson claimed the road closure was not serving the intended purpose. “People are not using Braid Road to exercise and they’re not using the parking spaces which have been reclaimed to walk on.

“I think we do need to make provision because of Covid and more broadly we do need to recalibrate the balance between cars and walking, but if people are not using the space then we need to go back and look at what should be adjusted.”

And he claimed the congestion problem on Comiston Road was now “far worse” than before Covid.

“Of particular concern, there is now quite persistent traffic jamming on Comiston Road and a lot of idling traffic. I would say for a big chunk of the morning and afternoon at the busier times there’s traffic more or less at a standstill all the way along Comiston Road and backing up Morningside Road.

“Given the location of the school, the potential for pollution and the consequential impact on the children at the school is a real concern. I think quite urgently they need to do air quality tests in the playground.”

The briefing said traffic on Comiston Road had returned to pre-Covid levels, but claimed the Braid Road closure was not the only factor.

Scott Arthur, Labour councillor for Colinton/Fairmilehead, said: “If the council wants Braid Road to remain closed it must bring forward a coherent argument that weighs up the benefits and consequences. If it is unable to do so, the road needs to reopen ASAP.”

And Colinton/Fairmilehead Tory councillor Jason Rust said the overwhelming majority of local residents wanted a complete reopening of Braid Road.

“Any credible appraisal should have properly included the option of complete re-opening and the fact this is not on the table suggests a hidden agenda.”

Transport and environment vice-convener Karen Doran said: “The temporary nature of Spaces for People schemes means that we can tweak and enhance them where possible. We have been engaging with local stakeholders throughout the process.”

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