Spaces for People is the way forward, Alex - your views

" Driving a car is not a right, it is a privilege - and it comes with a steep cost”

Thursday, 29th April 2021, 7:00 am
The comments come as Edinburgh City Council announced it is set to launch a city-wide consultation on which Spaces for People schemes residents may wish to keep permanently.

Spaces for People is way forward, Alex

Alex Cole-Hamilton says the implementation of the Spaces for People initiative in Edinburgh ‘made him want to cry’ (News, April 21).

For me, the past year has also been disquieting - as modest attempts to make our city safer and cleaner have been regularly attacked.

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In the face of opposition from councillors and residents, insufficient funding and serious time constraints, the council has installed temporary infrastructure which - while often unattractive and far from perfect - has made streets safer for people.

Spaces for People involves taking road space away from cars and reallocating it for pedestrians, cyclists and other road users.

Driving a car is not a right, it is a privilege - and it comes with a steep cost. Half the UK’s schoolchildren are worried about air pollution near their school. Toxic air is contributing to preventable deaths. Car drivers regularly kill and injure people with their vehicles. Elected politicians like MSPs and councillors have a duty to address this.

We have nine years to avoid the worst consequences of climate change. At the same time, Edinburgh’s population is rising and we have neither the money nor time to build mass transit quickly enough to accommodate them.

We have to end unnecessary car journeys so key workers and those who need to use cars can do so without getting caught in time wasting, polluting traffic jams. Getting people out of the car habit is essential - and it must happen quickly.

The Spaces for People programme, with its fast, agile improvements, has felt like a breath of fresh air for many. Instead of endless workshops, consultations, public displays, social media posts and surveys, what if we could just try out infrastructure and see what works? Our streets belong to everyone - not just cars.

Charlotte Maddix, Newington, Edinburgh.

IFS misses the point on Scotland deficit

The argument from the Institute for Fiscal Studies and others that Scotland’s fiscal deficit would prevent it from joining the EU is patently untrue.

It cites Brussels’ Stability and Growth Pact, which states members and applicants should reduce budget deficits to three per cent of GDP or less.

However, new members can also negotiate transition periods allowing them more time to meet specific EU rules. There are also no formal timescale that countries must work to as part of this process

There is precedent for countries with higher deficits being allowed into the EU. Croatia, for example, joined in 2013 when their deficit was at 5.3 per cent of GDP.

The EU’s deficit rules have also been suspended until 2022 due to the economic impact of the pandemic and recent reports state European leaders will not be “overly rigid” when the rules come back into force.

Scotland is not an independent state so it is hard to determine what any deficit would be, but what is clear is that a deficit exceeding three per cent of GDP would not prevent an independent Scotland joining the EU.

Alex Orr, Marchmont Road, Edinburgh.

Dogged persistence

For more than six years, Dogs Trust has been working to expose the cruel puppy smuggling trade.

As members of Dogs Trust’s parliamentary Puppy Smuggling Taskforce, we have written to the government calling for urgent action to stop the illegal importation of dogs into the UK. Almost 50 MPs have signed this letter, including Tommy Sheppard, MP for Edinburgh East.

Dr Neil Hudson MP FRCVS