Edinburgh Council elections: Controlled parking zones, bin hubs, Spaces for People... the SNP's 'we know what's best' attitude is plain to see – John McLellan

It must be marvellous to be blessed with the wisdom to know what’s best for everyone else, to tower above your fellow citizens with your foresight and intellect. And to look down with pity on the hoi polloi who know not what they do or want.

Thursday, 28th April 2022, 4:55 am
Does Edinburgh want more controlled parking zones?
Does Edinburgh want more controlled parking zones?

At least that’s the implication of the view of Edinburgh Council’s SNP transport convener Lesley Macinnes that her Conservative opponents do not understand the “pressing need for progressive change” because they reflect public scepticism about a raft of policies aimed at turning the city into a freewheelin’, battery-powered bicycle paradise.

The spread of controlled parking zones (CPZ) is the most immediate threat to neighbourhoods ringing the city centre and this week the Evening News helpfully re-published the results of the council’s interactive map in each of the affected areas.

Negative comments were made by 269 people out of 298 in Willowbrae North, 367 from 396 in Bonnington, 74 from 108 on Easter Road, and 323 from 389 on West Leith. That’s 86 per cent in total, all in East Edinburgh which is supposed to be an SNP stronghold.

Elsewhere, there was opposition from 509 people out of 579 in Corstorphine, 185 from 238 in Murrayfield, and 216 from 259 in Saughtonhall. In battered Roseburn, only four out of 39 comments were positive.

So, if a policy of only introducing a CPZ where there is local support and proven demand is not understanding progressive change, that’s 86 per cent of the public who don’t either. Oh, to be part of the enlightened 14 per cent.

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But here’s a surprise for the good people of Leith. Just as they might be emerging from five years of gridlock when the Newhaven tram is completed, the penalty will be controlled parking, in case the port turns into a big park and ride.

That, I’m told, was council leader Adam McVey’s explanation to the Leith Links hustings this week, and there was me thinking the whole point of the tram was to get people out of cars, not act as a magnet for them.

But practicality has never been his administration’s strong suit, as the city learnt to its cost with the Spaces for People programme; hurried in, and most of it so badly planned, dangerous or useless (the stretch along Dalry Road next to the cemetery is particularly laughable) that Labour’s new candidates are doing their best to pretend their councillors weren’t entirely supportive of its imposition.

Low-traffic neighbourhoods? Hundreds of people who know their districts better than council officers put up sensible alternative suggestions and had to stage mass demonstrations to be heard. But officers are the experts, you see, you can’t possibly know better, even if it’s the street where you live.

It’s the same with the new bin hubs, with hardly a day passing without new complaints about the siting of the new collection points, and sensible alternatives are just as often dismissed because they don’t fit in with pre-determined rules which have been brought down from waste management’s Mount Sinai.

And they have not really begun with their “progressive change” to your lives. City centre transformation, congestion charges and workplace parking fees are all coming down the SNP pipeline with the full backing of the Labour group leader. Mind how you vote next week.

John McLellan is a Conservative councillor for Craigentinny/Duddingston