Edinburgh council accused of 'double standards' over Spaces for People lamppost ads
Council chiefs have been accused of double standards for refusing to put up official notices advertising controversial Spaces for People proposals in local areas but then festooning lampposts with adverts for the consultation on making the measures permanent.
Tory councillor Jason Rust said councillors were told in August last year that bills which would normally be posted to give notice of proposed measures, including temporary road closures and cycle lanes, would no longer be used because of Covid concerns.
But in the past few days cardboard signs have appeared around lampposts urging people to take part in the consultation on whether measures introduced as temporary changes during the pandemic should be retained on a permanent basis.
An update to the council’s policy and sustainability committee on August 20 said all Temporary Traffic Regulation Orders (TTROs) were advertised on the council’s website, but due to the risk of transmitting the Covid-19 infection it was not using street bills on lampposts or elsewhere.
The physical posting of planning application notices at the site involved has also been halted.
But the council has gone ahead with the cardboard signs promoting the Spaces for People consultation.
Cllr Rust said: “There seems to be double standards at play. If the legal position has changed I assume all planning notices and TTRO notifications shall now be properly physically advertised.
"It seems very odd that recent intimation of ‘temporary’ Spaces for People schemes could not be advertised, and yet a council consultation can be advertised in this way.
"The council needs to be consistent in the way it is approaching notifications and I assume full use of street bill notices is going to be used immediately or there will be a detailed explanation of the council’s contradictory position.”
Professor Derryck Reid, chair of South West Edinburgh in Motion, established to push for proper consultation on Spaces for People schemes, the council did not notify residents either.
He said: “While we support the attempt to widen engagement with this survey, we find ourselves asking why similar energy was not put into informing and consulting residents and businesses before Spaces for People schemes were installed.
“In August – in the middle of Eat Out to Help Out, when retail and hospitality were open – the council maintained that due to the Covid-19 infection transmission risk street bills were not used. Now, still in a national lockdown, advertising has appeared across the city on lampposts and bus shelters.”
A council spokesperson said: “We stopped erecting street notices for all traffic orders and planning notices last year, including TTROs used for Spaces for People changes, in line with temporary legislation.
“This removed the requirement to use such notices on-street, and encouraged councils to use other methods to promote changes, to minimise the need for people to stop and read the detailed document, which increases the likelihood of people interacting and obstructing pavements, and the associated Covid transmission risks.
“Lamppost wraps and advertising for the current consultation is an entirely different matter from the use of street bills, as it is far less detailed and visible from a distance. In this case, the use of on-street advertising aims to encourage participation in the consultation by as many people as possible from all backgrounds, including those who don’t have access to the internet.”