East Craigs low-traffic scheme: 11 messages from outraged public that should be heeded – John McLellan

“I don’t usually get involved in politics but…” Councillors’ inboxes have been packed all week with emails starting off like that, and they come from scores of East Craigs people dismayed at the Council’s attempt to impose a “low-traffic neighbourhood” system which will be anything but.
Is Cllr Lesley Macinnes, Edinburgh Council's transport and environment convener, a 'hero of the pandemic'? (Picture: Ian Georgeson)Is Cllr Lesley Macinnes, Edinburgh Council's transport and environment convener, a 'hero of the pandemic'? (Picture: Ian Georgeson)
Is Cllr Lesley Macinnes, Edinburgh Council's transport and environment convener, a 'hero of the pandemic'? (Picture: Ian Georgeson)

It’s now over six weeks since hundreds of affected residents gathered to protest about the changes drawn up under the SNP-Labour coalition, but since then there has been little sign of a desire for compromise. If anything the coalition has dug in, claiming the road closures it entails will be a help, not a hindrance.

So the anger from that meeting has only intensified and it appears the only concession the coalition is prepared to make is to send it back to the very committee responsible for the scheme in the first place. Such is the messianic belief that it appears the main aim is to check the Council has the power to ram through these changes, not recognise well-informed and legally supported local opinion.

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Edinburgh Council will listen to East Craigs over Low Traffic Neighbourhood plan...
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Transport convener Lesley Macinnes has apparently been short-listed for a “Hero of the Pandemic” award, which appropriately sounds like something to be worn with pride in Red Square on May Day… “You were at Gyle Park too, comrade?”

The residents are better placed to express their feelings than I could ever do, so here is just a taste of what we’ve received, each from a different sender. It is far from unrepresentative:

“Your stance and approach is not only ethically and morally corrupt, but the legality of what you are doing is questionable…”

“I believe it will cause chaos, increase traffic emissions and tempers to fray…”

“The lack of consultation is disgraceful…”

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“The money would be better spent looking after folks who have fallen on hard times…”

“The measures being taken to solve made-up problems is quite honestly shameful…”

“It is shocking that something like this can be pushed through under the guise of Covid safety without even having a proper consultation…”

“I find it very difficult to stand back and allow these ridiculous plans to be rail-roaded in by people who do not know the area…”

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“As a council you seem hell-bent on this happening regardless…”

“Are you all being led blindly down a flawed route to some ideological nirvana leaving us to deal with the consequences?”

“This blatant misuse of councillors pushing through changes without proper consultation is a shameful abuse of their position…”

“It is frustrating, disappointing and deeply insulting to see how little regard has been shown to local residents’ views by the transport convenor and council leader in particular.”

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While these remarks illustrate residents’ frustration and fury, they do not reflect the many practical and detailed suggestions from people supportive of traffic reduction and active travel, but who recognise an impractical, ideological and politically inept approach when they see it. Yet the SNP-Labour coalition cannot bring itself to call a halt or guarantee significant changes.

Meanwhile, senior councillors behind this fiasco are jockeying for selection to contest Holyrood seats in May… you know, representing the people. If I was an SNP business manager, I’d take one look at East Craigs and make sure the involvement of its cheerleaders is limited to stuffing envelopes.

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