Edinburgh's Spaces for People scheme makes me think there's too much space between the council's ears – Hayley Matthews

I've had a moan about the council several times. However, their most recent efforts to enable spacial distancing throughout several busy streets in Edinburgh has left me wondering if there's too much space and fresh air between the ears of those at the council!

By Hayley Matthews
Saturday, 14th November 2020, 7:00 am
Updated Saturday, 14th November 2020, 10:35 am
A floating bus stop introduced as part of the Spaces for People initiative (Picture: Lisa Ferguson)
A floating bus stop introduced as part of the Spaces for People initiative (Picture: Lisa Ferguson)

I may sound incredibly harsh but, with all the recent hurdles and setbacks that businesses throughout the country have had to battle in order to comply with the Covid restrictions, I fear this may just push them all to their last legs.

The social distancing measures I'm taking about, where the pavements have been extended on to the road to enable people to walk at a distance of a few metres from each other, are what small business nightmares are made of. And all this whilst annihilating all parking spaces.

With the recent uproar in Morningside with many businesses expressing massive concerns at the Spaces for People scheme, it's no wonder trade for many of the cities busy urban areas is down – massively.

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I don't envy the challenges that Transport and Environment Convener Councillor Lesley Macinnes has to deal with. However, I think the Spaces for People measures are doing more harm than good.

I'm sure people have the common sense to walk in front or behind of each other where the pavement is narrow, just like you'd find in everyday common courtesy before we had the Covid. I just feel that this is all so detrimental to the local businesses, and it's too much. And it's not just one area, it seems to be happening all over the city, up and down the country and all over the world.

I don't think I'm alone in thinking that it all seems nonsensical to widen the pavement so much on to the road that it prevents people from parking up and perusing the local shops.

Yes, many people are on foot but with strict measures on public transport, people do take their cars and with little to nowhere to stop, it's no wonder they just aren't bothering.

But it's the locals who are taking the hit. Locals like Luca’s at Holy Corner which I often would park up outside on the way home from seeing my mum in the Royal Edinburgh. I'd treat myself to a hot chocolate to lift my spirits and sometimes be tempted to grab a tub of Irn Bru sorbet for the boys.

And this is how businesses survive – people stopping on a whim to spend a fiver or a tenner as well as footfall and regulars.

I really fear what lies ahead for our city in the future. With Leith Walk almost inaccessible, Morningside gridlocked with traffic piled up and nowhere to stop and many other streets with their pavements spewing on to the road, it's no wonder small businesses are up in arms at the council.

The council has just as much responsibility to support the livelihoods of local shops as they do our health and well-being during the pandemic. I fear a future with a few big chains, no local shops and a lack of choice, and it fills me with fear. So I urge you, shop local, support local and pay cash when you can.

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