Our city must keep its busy, buzzing heart - John McLellan

The advantage of living in a compact city which has not been hollowed out is that so many amenities are very close at hand, and the council is launching it’s 20-minute-neighbourhood to establish the principle in the way it provides services.

Thursday, 10th June 2021, 4:55 am
Edinburgh city centre must be able to keep drawing people to its heart, says John McLellan. PIC: Daniel/CC

The closer you live to the middle of town the easier it is for most, but not all, people to reach amenities without needing a car and a high number of people already live in such a neighbourhood.

From where we live, the kids could walk to school, and I could be on Princes Street, at Murrayfield or the doctor’s surgery in ten minutes on the bike. What we can’t do is a big grocery shop or reach a hospital, but by and large we don’t need a car for day-to-day living.

But the logical extension of the strategy is that people are dissuaded from travelling in from the suburbs, and allied with changes to the roads the middle of town risks becoming one which more residents actively avoid.

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Marry that up with the impact of the pandemic, and no wonder city centre businesses feel besieged, with no tourists, far fewer office workers and a campaign which infers that coming into town should only be by necessity. It’s not just souvenir shops which are on a knife-edge.

Of course, the city administration would disagree but the danger of creating mixed messages should be obvious. The whole city benefits from a busy, buzzing heart and that can’t be lost.

-John McLennan is a Conservative councillor for Craigentinny / Duddingston ward

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