City leaders in danger of ‘losing the room’ on Corstorphine Low Traffic Neighbourhood scheme - Alex Cole-Hamilton

Local feelings about the LTN in East Craigs were voiced at a public meeting in August 2020 during lockdownLocal feelings about the LTN in East Craigs were voiced at a public meeting in August 2020 during lockdown
Local feelings about the LTN in East Craigs were voiced at a public meeting in August 2020 during lockdown
Grant Douglas lives in Corstorphine and has Cerebral Palsy. He was made an MBE by the late Queen for his inventions to make the lives of people with similar conditions easier.

He has spent his life fighting his way out of a box that society had inadvertently designed around him and I’m proud to call him my friend. So, when Grant recently intervened on the debate about the Low Traffic Neighbourhood (LTN) trial in Corstorphine – I sat up and took notice. We all should.

Grant isn’t a car enthusiast or a climate change denier. He recognises that parking and traffic in Corstorphine have always been an issue and that St John’s Road remains one of the polluted streets in Scotland. He just wants to have his particular needs considered by those in charge of designing schemes like this. As it is, it’s not at all clear that they have been.

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The Low Traffic Neighbourhood currently being trialled on the south side of St John’s Road in Corstorphine reduces the points of entry and exit to the Featherhalls where Grant Lives from four to one at certain times of day. The theory is that this will prevent the area being used as a cut-through by motorists, with the trade-off being a circuitous detour to get to and from their homes for local residents.

The trial is already causing Grant problems, with two of his four carers resigning last week. He fears the current closures will make it even harder for him to recruit new staff. He feels that the restrictions have had a limiting effect on the size of his social universe as well.

It says a lot about his character that Grant hasn’t taken up arms against the LTN in its entirety, he like many other residents with concerns have offered some practical solutions as to how things could be improved. He just doesn’t have a huge amount of faith that anyone is listening.

There have been discussions about traffic in the Featherhalls and Manse Road for years. So I can understand why it was earmarked as a potential site for an experimental Low Traffic Neighbourhood. The council have been looking for such a test site since the LTN in Waltham Forrest, London transformed that community.

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I like what they’ve done in Waltham Forrest. But I also like the fact that those measures were designed following a five stage consultation process and in co-production with those residents most affected. I’m not sure Corstorphine residents feel quite that involved in what’s happening around them.

I just want the council to listen to the people I represent. The “Try then Modify” approach only works if those in charge of the scheme are working to bring the hearts and minds of the people it most affects with them, to give them a sense of ownership of the proposals.

As with the East Craigs LTN – which saw 1,000 people attend a socially distanced meeting in Gyle Park during the pandemic before it was shelved – failure by city leaders to listen to residents, to act on their suggestions, will only turn people against a scheme that when done right could actually improve things and make lives like Grant’s easier.

Alex Cole-Hamilton is MSP for Edinburgh Western Constituency and Leader of the Scottish Liberal Democrats

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