Consultants paid £280,000 for Edinburgh's Spaces for People projects

The Spaces For People project includes floating bus stops with a cycle lane between the pavement and the bus.  Picture: Lisa FergusonThe Spaces For People project includes floating bus stops with a cycle lane between the pavement and the bus.  Picture: Lisa Ferguson
The Spaces For People project includes floating bus stops with a cycle lane between the pavement and the bus. Picture: Lisa Ferguson
Nearly £280,000 is being paid to consultants to help with the controversial Spaces for People programme, according to a breakdown of how the £7m funding is being used.

But Lothian Tory MSP Miles Briggs said despite the large sum there had been “numerous flaws” with the project, which has seen traffic measures such as road closures, temporary cycle lanes and widened pavements in many areas of the city in a bid to make it easier for people to walk and cycle while maintaining physical distance.

The programme has been criticised over lack of consultation as well as specific measures like “floating” bus stops, where passengers have to cross a cycle lane between the pavement and the bus, and a disabled parking bay positioned in the middle of the road. Businesses have been angered by the removal of parking spaces outside shops.

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The Scottish Government gave Edinburgh £5 million for the measures in May and later added a further £2m.

A breakdown of how the cash is being spent shows £279,990 for “consultancy support” and a further £671,976 on internal management costs.

There is also £452,139 for Low Traffic Neighbourhoods such as the controversial proposals for East Craigs, which sparked furious protests and threats of legal action and saw up to 1,000 people attend an open-air public meeting in Gyle Park where transport convener Lesley Macinnes was booed and jeered.

Mr Briggs said: “The lack of public consultation from the start of the Space for People initiative has taken its toll on the project with many avoidable mistakes being made.

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“A significant sum of money has been spent on consultancy support, as well as internal management costs, but there have still been numerous flaws with project. It is clear the council had their own agenda when implementing the initiative with little public consultation.

“It is hard to see the benefit of many of the packages and important services, such as street cleaning have had relatively small sums spent on them.

“I support some of the steps taken. However, what is vital is that we see new focus on consultation with residents and businesses.”

The council said consultants were used for design and site management roles because most of the council’s design and technical staff were already committed to existing projects.

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Transport convener Lesley Macinnes said: “Spaces for People responds to a real need to provide safe routes for people to move around the city while physically distancing during the pandemic and is 100 per cent funded by the Scottish Government.

“As for any project of this scale we will utilise the expertise of external consultants to assist the programme, particularly in emergency circumstances such as these where projects need to be delivered at pace and existing resources may not be able to meet unforeseen demand. This support has been procured via appropriate council procedures so it is disingenuous to suggest anything untoward.”

How the £7m is being spent:

Consultancy Support £279,990.18

Internal Management Costs £671,976.43

Monitoring & Evaluation £195,993.12

Removal £503,982.32

City Centre £859,500.89

Shopping Streets £429,713.91

Travelling Safely - Arterial Routes £1,772,949.59

Travelling Safely - Low Traffic Neighbourhoods £452,139.10

Schools £223,992.14

Spaces for Exercise £282,775.88

Commonplace Interventions £331,66.29

Street Cleaning Over Winter Period £55,998.04

Future projects to be approved £559,980.35

Replacement Defenders £155,934.37

Contingency £179,248.50

Total £6,955,341.10

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