Spaces for People: A new name, but it’s still the same old story - Kevin Buckle

When businesses rebrand it is nearly always because people have started to perceive the business in a negative way. The exception is when two businesses merge without one swallowing up the other but generally a name change means things have not been going well.

Saturday, 4th September 2021, 8:00 am
Spaces for People has got a new name - Travelling Safely

As a fan of Twitter’s many parody accounts I therefore wasn’t sure when I read the council were rebranding their controversial Spaces For People plans whether it was true or not.

When I told a rather cynical friend about the plans he asked if it was being changed to Spaces For Cyclists which it turns out wasn’t as daft as it seemed as it appears it was acknowledged that Spaces For People had up to now very much focused on cyclists to the detriment of pedestrians.

I have to say as somebody who has walked around Edinburgh city centre for decades I have never noticed any issues but then these plans don’t appear to be for the majority of able-bodied walkers.

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Anyway it turns out that Edinburgh Council will no longer be making Spaces For People but instead will be making sure we are all Travelling Safely.

The immediate problem some people may have with this wording is that one group of people have a problem travelling safely far more than any other and that is cyclists.

The council’s mantra in these situations is to say they have listened and are only doing what the public wants when often this flies in the face of all the evidence. Many of the temporary measures that were only meant to last 18 months are now to carry on for another 18 months while it is decided if the public wants these measures permanently and of course that sort of consultation is only going to end one way.

It is one thing changing the name of your plans because they are unpopular but if Edinburgh Council themselves continue to be as unpopular as they are currently they may need to rebrand as well and I suspect there would be no shortage of people offering alternative names.

In more optimistic news, at least for those of us who don’t see the August Festivals as the cash cow they are often portrayed, Avalanche and indeed the Waverley Mall shops and food court had a very busy month with visitors and locals alike without actually noticing the Festival was on.

Visitors were mainly from England or further afield in Scotland with a nice mix of families and young couples all glad to be out of the house.

Sadly those I know with retail businesses in the Old Town have not been so fortunate as increased Festival footfall has not been followed by matching increased sales and it definitely does strengthen the argunent for encouraging visitors to explore the city centre more fully before we get onto the harder task of getting them to Portobello.

When I mentioned this to councillors several years ago I was told this idea of getting folk to walk around the city more, and indeed safely given some of the bottlenecks, was called wayfaring and there would be maps and consultations and consultations about the maps.

I’ve yet to see any evidence and suspect that wayfaring may need to rebrand too.