Meadows mess highlights city centre concerns - Kevin Buckle

The thousands of people pictured partying on the Meadows recently, a scenario that was replicated throughout the UK, was a stark reminder that not everybody is concerned with cycle lanes.

Saturday, 3rd April 2021, 7:00 am
The Meadows- Litter left by the general public after the good weather at the weekend. Pic Neil Hanna

Whatever the rights and wrongs of the recent Spaces for People measures, what is certain is that the claim that there is widespread public support for the scheme is simply not true.

In fact, the only thing you can say about any consultation of any description is that the majority of people were apathetic.

Sometimes recently things have gone further, with support being claimed for measures that clearly have a good amount of opposition.

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Generally, though, what councillors and those they employ and consult should say is that they have identified a problem, they have come up with a solution and they intend to carry out whatever measures they feel necessary.

It is the obsession with consultations that never actually make any difference to initial plans that often annoys people as much as the plans themselves.

The focus has been very much on active travel and the associated theories such as the 20 minute neighbourhood.

But as hopefully we emerge from all the pandemic restrictions, councils will need to react to the inevitable changes there will be in public behaviour with an open mind.

While it is impossible to defend the people who gathered on the Meadows and the terrible mess they left behind, there are other contentious events during the year that some feel are on a par, and the Christmas market and the damage it causes to Princes Street Gardens would top most lists.

No matter how awful the market is judged to be by some, including myself, it has to be acknowledged that many do enjoy visiting.

And it is for that very reason that I have always said it needs to be replaced with something that even more people would enjoy, rather than something that some might simply consider as “better”.

Certainly for some time yet, outdoor socialising will be preferable, even if not mandatory and maybe that failed pedestrianisation of the Grassmarket can finally be put to some use.

Certainly what all the hospitality businesses won’t need are pop-ups moving in.

Two things I think we can be certain of in such uncertain times is that at least for the rest of the year, and probably for the foreseeable future, Edinburgh city centre will have fewer office workers, and that international visitors will not be visiting in numbers for most if not all of this year.

This alone is a massive hurdle for many businesses to get over if they are to survive to the end of the year and many other folk will have their own personal issues to deal with.

All that can be hoped for is that those with the power to make a difference approach all the challenges we will undoubtedly face in the year to come with an open mind and do not view every situation as a way to further their own particular agenda.