Edinburgh council officials accused of 'anti-democratic spin' over controversial traffic scheme

Council officials have been accused of "anti-democratic spin" after failing to reveal the scale of opposition to a controversial Spaces for People scheme.

A briefing sent to councillors on the measures proposed for Lanark Road said over 300 emails had been received from the public "both in favour and against" - but it later emerged 300 were against, 19 in support and 10 neutral.

The plans – due for approval at full council on Thursday – include segregated cycle lanes, narrower carriageways and reduced parking provision. Concerns have been raised about increased congestion, access to driveways and the effect on local businesses from loss of parking, as well as claims that the steepness of the road in places makes it an unlikely cycle route for many when alternatives are available.

Some of these issues were listed in the briefing, but Conservative councillor Jason Rust said implying the public response was a balance of backing and opposition was “misrepresentative in the extreme”.

Proposals for Lanark Road will be considered at the full council meeting on Thursday

He said: “To suggest that there was mixed support for and against the scheme, when in fact 92 per cent of responses from the public were opposed to the project and only 5 per cent in favour beggars belief.

"The council needs to stop believing its own anti-democratic spin and listen to what the overwhelming majority of residents are saying, which is that they object to these Labour and SNP proposals and want this project ceased, for there to be proper consultation and assessment.”

He said it was lack of engagement with local residents that people found annoying. “Then they see the little bit of engagement there is seems to have been rather skewed.”

Transport convener Lesley Macinnes insisted the measures, like all those proposed as part of Spaces for People, was about making conditions better for residents and protecting public safety by tackling barriers to walking and cycling.

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She said: “It is true we’ve had comments both for and against the measures, though we are aware there are some real concerns, particularly around the loss of parking spaces. In response to this we’ll be liaising with the community to plan the introduction of these measures, if approved, including changes to loading and parking in relation to comments received.”

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