Edinburgh Council's own safety audit warned Spaces for People barriers were not visible enough. Yet SNP continue to sneer at those who complain – John McLellan

Credit where credit is due, few can do high-handed quite like Edinburgh’s transport convener Lesley Macinnes, and her talent was on display as she dismissed concerns about the increase of personal injury claims arising from the council’s Spaces for People barriers.

Thursday, 27th January 2022, 4:55 am
Edinburgh Council was warned about the need to improve visibility of black lane dividers used in the Spaces for People scheme (Picture: Lisa Ferguson)
Edinburgh Council was warned about the need to improve visibility of black lane dividers used in the Spaces for People scheme (Picture: Lisa Ferguson)

For Conservative MSP Miles Briggs and Councillor Jason Rust to highlight the increase in claims was “embarrassing”, she said, but for whom?

As previously reported, the council’s insurance claim assessors rejected one by grandmother Dorothy Maitland, who has impaired vision, after she fell over temporary barriers on Corstorphine Road, one of 15 complaints about accidents involving Spaces for People measures.

Yet the problem is no surprise to the council because it was highlighted in its own road safety audit on the still-controversial Lanark Road scheme.

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Not all black lane dividers have white reflective strips, but although the barriers on Lanark Road have the reflectors, the audit recommended more needed to be done to improve visibility.

“The defender units utilised to delineate the edge of cycle lane do not have sufficient contrast on the base units and blend into the background shades of the carriageway,” it says. “It is recommended that more contrasting material is fitted to the base units to improve their visibility to pedestrians and drivers.” This has yet to happen across the city.

The SNP-Labour administration repeatedly fails to accept that residents feel they’re being patronised at best, and while Councillor Macinnes can attack her Conservative opponents, the people she’s really attacking are the non-political community groups who have continued to subject the council’s road programme to rigorous and justified scrutiny.

It’s ironic that Councillor Macinnes described the concerns raised by Councillor Rust and Mr Briggs as “specious”, which Chambers’ dictionary defines as “plausible, but wrong or inaccurate in reality” which sounds like her views.

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And “looking good at first sight” is almost certainly how the administration has viewed these schemes, the problem being that it appears not to have gone beyond first sight in pursuit of its goals.

So too it is the case with the low-emission zone proposal, which at first sight must have looked like a good plan until it was pointed out that one of the most polluted streets, through Corstorphine, where Mrs Maitland fell, wasn’t included.

Now it’s back before today’s transport committee after it was rejected a couple of months ago because Councillor Macinnes allowed her loathing of the Conservative group to get in the way of making sure her own policy passed.

She couldn’t bring herself to allow a Conservative amendment to be put to a vote, which would have lost, and so the opposition all backed a Green amendment, and her motion was defeated. It wasn’t just embarrassing for Councillor Macinnes, it cost time and public money and made little difference to the proposal.

Today the committee will also hear that a scheme to change the lay-out at the Portobello roundabout can’t go ahead because no tenders have been received, and in the meantime improvements to the cycle route along Fishwives Causeway will be developed, which Cllr Macinnes had previously rejected.

The common denominator in all of these issues is a lack of focus on deliverability and outcomes and the result is confusion and public dismay. The embarrassment should be all on Councillor Macinnes.

John McLellan is a Conservative councillor for Craigentinny/Duddingston

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