External legal advice on controversial Edinburgh traffic scheme 'under consideration'

COUNCIL chiefs say they are “considering” external legal advice on controversial traffic plans before briefing councillors – even though one Tory councillor says they had the advice for at least eight days before the proposals were debated at Thursday’s full council meeting.

By Ian Swanson
Saturday, 17th October 2020, 7:00 am
David Hunter, chair of Get Edinburgh Moving, says "all options" will be considered   Picture: Lisa Ferguson





Councillor David Hunter on Craigs Road Corstorphine.



Craigs Road is one of the proposed roads to close for COVID measures
David Hunter, chair of Get Edinburgh Moving, says "all options" will be considered Picture: Lisa Ferguson Councillor David Hunter on Craigs Road Corstorphine. Craigs Road is one of the proposed roads to close for COVID measures

The Low Traffic Neighbourhood (LTN) scheme for East Craigs, which include road closures and junction alterations to combat rat-running, has provoked furious local protests about lack of consultation. Residents went as far as to raise thousands of pounds to pay for a legal opinion from an advocate which claimed it was unlawful to use emergency powers to introduce the scheme because it went further than the minimum needed to respond to Covid.

And Lord Provost Frank Ross interrupted Thursday’s debate to tell the council a formal legal challenge had been received.

In the face of the residents’ legal opinion, the SNP/Labour administration had already decided to postpone final approval of the scheme pending legal advice of its own.

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But Tory councillor Jim Campbell told the meeting external legal advice had already been received by the council.

He said the council’s legal services department had requested the advice on September 30, the day before the LTN was discussed at the transport committee, and the advice was received a few days later.

He said: “Any councillor could have found out what that legal advice was by contacting our legal services. The legal advice is clear: the contention of objectors is accurate, their counsel's opinion is valid, for us to proceed with these plans would subject the council to massive legal risk.

"The position is clear: you cannot introduce Low Traffic Neighbourhoods using the emergency arrangements. If you wish to pursue them they have to go through the normal statutory process.”

It is not yet clear who has lodged the formal legal challenge to the council. David Hunter, chair of the Get Edinburgh Moving campaign, which obtained the legal opinion, made it clear the formal challenge had not come from his group. But he said they would consider “all options” if the council tried to go ahead with the plans.

Transport convener Lesley Macinnes said: “Legal advice on this scheme remains under consideration and we will be briefing all councillors on a confidential basis as normal as early as possible.”

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