Nicola Sturgeon boosts Edinburgh campaigners' call for rethink on travel scheme

Up to 1,000 people are said to have attended an open-air public meeting on the issueUp to 1,000 people are said to have attended an open-air public meeting on the issue
Up to 1,000 people are said to have attended an open-air public meeting on the issue
First Minister boosts campaigners calling for rethink on travel scheme

CAMPAIGNERS pressing for a rethink on controversial plans for Scotland’s first “low traffic neighbourhood” in East Craigs and Craigmount say their cause has been boosted after Nicola Sturgeon called on the council to listen to local people.

The plans, which include street closures, junction changes and cycle lanes, have caused an outcry, with up to 1,000 people attending an outdoor public meeting recently.

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Edinburgh Western Lib Dem MSP Alex Cole-Hamilton raised the issue at First Minister’s Questions, accusing the council of a lack of consultation over the scheme, which is financed by the Scottish Government’s Spaces for People funding to the council.

Ms Sturgeon said she was happy to look into the details of the situation. But she added: “I absolutely believe that local people should be properly consulted and listened to about local schemes.”

She said Mr Cole-Hamilton often spoke about the need for decentralisation and action to tackle climate change. “He is right, however, to voice the interests of his constituents, and I am sure and I hope the council will listen and take them seriously.”

Mr Cole-Hamilton said Ms Sturgeon’s comments had put wind in the campaign’s sails.

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“I was pleasantly surprised the First Minister was so willing to put her weight behind the idea of community consultation on a scheme this big.

“I think she realises there are examples of the misuse of Spaces for People funding which could end up setting the active travel agenda back.“I hope the city leadership were listening to the First Minister and will now listen to the residents.”

He said he the campaign had not called for the plan just to be scrapped but wanted people to be given a say.

“There are lots of local ideas about how they can be improved. It’s about halting and conducting a meaningful consultation and acting on the wishes of the local residents.”

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And he said there was no doubting what the First Minister was saying.

“Nicola Sturgeon is not somebody who mis-speaks. She is a very precise politician and I think it’s quite telling she didn’t deflect on this and say it’s up to the council, She said she hopes the council will listen and take the views of the residents seriously - that’s a signal as clear as day.”

Transport and environment convener Lesley Macinnes said there were “a great many differing opinions” about the Low Traffic Neighbourhood proposals in East Craigs, both for and against.

“I want to reassure residents again that we are listening. We are currently working hard to finalise revised designs and to make adjustments taking into consideration the issues and concerns raised by the public over recent weeks.

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“As we’ve already said, this is a temporary scheme, meaning we can also monitor and amend it once it’s in place to make sure it’s working for everyone.

“Having said that, we still believe that these measures offer a healthier, safer and more welcoming environment for the area. As the First Minister stated,

Alex Cole-Hamilton himself has advocated for a greater focus on local communities, as well as efforts to tackle climate change, and this is exactly what we’re trying to achieve here, and elsewhere across Edinburgh.”

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