Spaces for People: Why are Tories questioning the costs of an important public consultation exercise? – Steve Cardownie

The controversy surrounding the current consultation exercise on whether or not some or all of the temporary “Spaces for People” traffic layout schemes should be made permanent continues to rage unabated in the corridors of the City Chambers.

Tuesday, 9th March 2021, 4:45 pm
Spaces for People has seen temporary changes to road layouts during the Covid lockdown but some measures could become permanent (Picture: Lisa Ferguson)

Conservative Councillor Jason Rust appears to have adopted the mantle of protagonist-in-chief and has laid down a question about the cost to the public purse incurred by this consultation.

He has gone into fine detail about what he wants to know from Councillor Macinnes, the transport and environment convener, such as the cost of: planning the consultation approach, designing and writing the consultation materials, producing the consultation materials, promoting the materials, analysing the response and preparing the report for committee.

He also wants confirmation of the amount of officer time/resource scheduled to be involved in making the projects permanent and, perhaps more crucially, what budget will the money come out of, the Spaces for People budget or from what council budget.

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War of words over Edinburgh's Spaces for People scheme

Hardly a supporter of many of the traffic layout projects that were rolled out, Councillor Rust has shown his hand and he will be well aware that public consultation comes with a price and expenditure is warranted if it is to be effective.

Given that this exercise is city-wide, it is to be expected that the costs incurred should be commensurate with the task in hand. For a major issue such as this, the council would not be readily forgiven if they embarked upon a half-hearted approach which ended up posing more questions than answers.

The action taken by the council on the results of the exercise is what is important.

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