Morningside community debates future of parking spaces amid safety and anti-social behaviour fears

Community leaders are divided on whether to remove parking and a taxi rank.
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Morningside locals are divided on the future of parking outside the area's popular M&S outlet - with fears getting rid of two spaces could leave the elderly and disabled behind.

The community council is seeking funding from the local authority to examine putting up bollards at the side-road between Morningside Road and Morningside Park, removing the bays and a taxi rank. With cars often making sharp turns to park next to the heavily-used bus stop adjacent to the shop, some residents have said they feel unsafe walking in the area.

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It is also argued that 're-imagining' the site could encourage more biking and cycling, boosting business and making the site greener. Among the ideas for the revamp is the installation of benches where the spaces currently lie.

The future of two parking spaces outside M&S on Morningside Road is being debatedThe future of two parking spaces outside M&S on Morningside Road is being debated
The future of two parking spaces outside M&S on Morningside Road is being debated

But despite nearly 70 per cent of respondents to a survey last year being in favour of change, a Conservative councillor who represents the neighbourhood has concerns.

Marie-Clair Munro told the Evening News: "Local businesses and residents are concerned that removing the roadway in front of the shops may reduce foot fall further. M&S Food, in particular, is a great draw to the area and particularly appreciated by our elderly and less abled residents who travel to Morningside from further afield and enjoy the parking opportunity outside."

She added: "This is a well used parking area that could potentially be taken away and subsequently have a knock on effect in side streets as those needing to park and use M&S and Superdrug will inevitably use these streets."

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Cllr Munro also suggested benches could worsen anti-social behaviour problems, recalling that benches outside the area's library were removed in 2012 after reports of people drinking, urinating and vomiting in the street.

However, community council secretary Carol Duncan insisted an overhaul was needed, citing the safety complaints from vulnerable locals. "Vehicles driving into the small road have to turn off Morningside Road and then do a sharp right-hand turn into the small road", she said.

"Meanwhile both old and young pedestrians are also crossing to M&S or the bus stop or just walking up the street. At this point both vehicles and pedestrians cross the others’ paths in a chaotic and dangerous way, even though pedestrians should have priority at crossings."

Ms Duncan added: "A lot of studies are now showing that by making shopping places more pedestrian and bike friendly, the footfall to the shops increases and the number of vacant shops reduces, so the bid would not only support pedestrians but also help the shops and businesses too."

Formal plans have yet to be submitted to the city council but would require a full consultation involving more than 30,000 residents.