Leith Links: Edinburgh campaigners call for improved public lighting to make green space more safe
Campaigners from the Leith branch of Living Rent are calling on the council to introduce additional lighting to Leith Links, citing safety concerns from local residents. The organisation has spoken with Leith residents and says testimonies collected made it clear locals would feel safer at night with more lighting and also believed it would reduce accidents for cyclists and pedestrians.
One Leith resident said: “I am a single mum, and it feels awful and unsafe to walk through Leith Links after dark, after picking my son up from nursery or classes in the evening. I often walk around Leith Links to avoid going through the dark park. I wish women and children could feel safe here.”
Another said: “It's a pity that the links are not fully used because of lack of light. As a woman runner I can't enjoy exercising there. Government bodies encourage us to have a healthy life, but don't provide the resources. Having light on the links would be extremely beneficial."
Following a public consultation regarding the council’s 10-year master plan for Leith Links, the majority of 789 respondents were in favour of plans to rejuvenate the green space with proposals including improved path surfaces, increased cycle parking, new benches and furniture and ‘potential enhanced lighting in some areas of the park.’
But Living Rent says locals want to see additional lighting within a shorter timescale of the council’s ten-year plan and have plans to make a deputation at the Culture and Communities Committee’s next meeting on March 7 to highlight community feedback.
Ninety LED lights have been installed across all central pathways at Leith Links that the council says distributes light effectively, allowing residents to cross the park safely. But arecent survey conducted by Living Rent showed 94.1 per cent of respondents felt unsafe in Leith Links after dark and all respondents agreed lighting provision in the park should be improved.
A Living Rent spokesperson said: “Insufficient lighting in Leith Links means that large parts of the park are practically inaccessible during much of the winter months for many people, particularly those with mobility issues.”
Adam McVey, SNP councillor for Leith, said as part of the joint budget proposal from the SNP and Green party, they propose “£100,000 across the city for additional lighting which can help improve safety in green spaces” and should their proposal be rejected, added that improving lighting is an issue they will “continue to work on and make sure there are resources for investment” following issues raised from constituents.
Chas Booth, Green councillor for Leith said: “I agree with Living Rent Leith that improving lighting across the Links should be a priority for the council. Many local residents have contacted me to raise concerns about safety across the Links, and feel that improved lighting would help address this.”
Councillor Val Walker, culture and communities convener, said: “I recognise the community’s concerns and the need for the park to be safe and accessible for all users – we’ve been working closely with residents and groups as part of the development of a masterplan for Leith Links.
“We’re creating new lighting guidance for use across all our parks and greenspaces and to highlight priorities for investment. Leith Links does have several lit routes but not every route is. We will see which routes are accessible and which ones are not, and identify which unlit routes are a priority to allow people to cross the park safely. It is important to address concerns around safety, consider biodiversity, and the history of the site.”