Angry city residents call on council to ditch Edinburgh permit zone plans

Angry residents in the east of Edinburgh have made a last-ditch plea to council chiefs to scrap plans to impose permits and pay and display parking in their neighbourhoods.

By Jolene Campbell
Thursday, 19th August 2021, 4:55 am
Josie Balfour and residents of Glenlee Gardens
Josie Balfour and residents of Glenlee Gardens

Let us know what you think and join the conversation at the bottom of this article.

Plans to charge residents to park in Willowbrae North are set to get the go-ahead at a meeting of Edinburgh City Council’s transport committee today, as part of wider efforts to alleviate congestion in the Capital.

But in a recent community consultation over the plans the majority of respondents blasted the proposals, claiming they had no or little experience of parking problems around their homes in the area which includes streets in Meadowbank, Lilyhill and Glenlee.

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Council-produced map showing phases of the parking zones plan.

Ash Denham MSP for Edinburgh Eastern has criticised the decision to implement the controlled zone and vowed to double down on efforts to make residents voices heard on the issue.

It is understood that Ms Denham will make a personal appeal to councillors on behalf of her constituents at today’s meeting.

Many locals are furious that the council is set to press ahead with the proposals – and told the Evening News it will result in them forking out for a permit to have less places to park their cars, as they claim the number of spaces will be reduced.

They have also accused the council of ignoring their views and of ‘confusing and inept’ communication over the changes.

Residents of Glenlee Gardens oppose the parking zone PIC: Lisa Ferguson

On an interactive map online during community consultation 298 pins were dropped for Willowbrae North and the vast majority – 269 of them – were negative.

However, the consultancy firm hired by the council will recommend to the transport committee that the controlled parking zone should be approved, under phase two of a four phase plan extending from Trinity to Portobello and from Roseburn and Gorgie to the edge of South Gyle.

Under the proposals, first mooted in 2018, the review was divided into five primary areas, with those larger areas subdivided into a total of 124 smaller, local neighbourhoods.

Edinburgh Eastern MSP Ash Denham will address councillors.

Site visits were carried out by surveyors who recorded details of how busy each street was, calculating the amount of space available and what percentage of that space was being used.

Many of these areas are being targeted with permit parking, pay and display bays and double yellow lines in a bid to put an end to commuters and tourists parking in residential areas along the 'A8 corridor' and then taking public transport or walking into town.

The plan is intended to run as follows:

Phase 1 - Leith / Abbeyhill and Gorgie / Shandon

Phase 2 - Lochend / Ryehill (called “West Leith” on the plans), Bonnington, Willowbrae and the A8 Corridor

Phase 3 - Priority Parking Areas including Fettes and Prestonfield

Phase 4 - Newhaven, Trinity and Portobello

But on the council’s website the it insists: “There is still opportunity to make minor changes at this stage, depending on their nature.”

While it’s recognised in the report to the transport committee that the majority of respondents don’t believe the move is “warranted at this time” officials have defended the plans saying it will protect the neighbourhood from commuter congestion.

Residents have launched a petition which has now topped 800 signatures. Organisers say there are many families and elderly people who need their cars to get to work or for shopping, due to very steep roads in the area.

Ronnie Hill, 66, who lives on Willowbrae Drive said: “I am disgusted at the recommendation that the proposals should go ahead. Most residents do not have parking problems in the area and that the vast majority don’t want the changes. This will see at least 40 spaces lost in just three streets near me. There will some visitor parking, does that mean my daughter visiting from London can only stay for 90 minutes? It’s an invasion of civil liberties. We have tried to be reasonable but now we are just sick and tired of the council and their so-called consultation. People know when they are being shafted. They are just riding roughshod over people to generate money from parking.”

"In area around Glenlee and Willowbrae Avenue where I stay it’s not a thoroughfare. People who park are residents. If they are worried about folk parking on kerbs because it’s narrow, they could make it one-way. Cars will simply be displaced further east. I’ve got a granddaughter and a big concern is that a safe route to school at the moment will become chocked with traffic. It’s bound to have that knock-on effect. The consultation has been deeply flawed and erroneous. The online map was different to the leaflet put through our doors which was very confusing. And it is totally inept that they can't even tell us how much it will cost.”

Residents of Glenlee Gardens and Glenlee Avenue put together a leaflet of their own with the full online map of proposed changes and distributed it throughout the neighbourhood.

Josie Balfour said: “It’s clear that nobody has come and stood on the grounds in the area. Instead they are imposing this plan that someone has come up with by looking at a map, without proper consideration of the practical effects. These two streets will lose 50 per cent of their parking space to double yellow lines as they're approximately 30 cm too narrow to warrant parking bays on both sides of the road.

"If people can’t park in Meadowbank and end up going up the hill that will be treacherous in winter. Most people don’t have vehicles equipped for those conditions. And the main road up to the school is a rat run, with lots of traffic, low level light and a blind corner. The big problem here is the lack of research. I understand it's a cheap way to implement decongestion but this is a plan that just doesn't work for the local community.”

Joan Griffiths, Labour councillor for Duddingston and Craigentinny said: “I’ve heard from some residents who are opposed to this but others welcome it. I’d say it’s mixed.

"I’ve lived in this area most of my life. There is definitely a problem that needs addressed with commuter parking around some of the streets.

"I know people who live in Meadowbank who have to park way up the hill on Willowbrae because there are no spaces. People come and park then bus to the city.”

She added: “How do we safeguard spaces so people can park near their homes?

"I do have concerns about how the plans will limit the number of spaces available and have sought reassurances over that. But we have to think about how to tackle congestion. I hope this will be beneficial to the area.”

A spokesperson for city council said: “We’ve carried out an open and transparent consultation on the introduction of measures to manage parking demand as residents from across the city have repeatedly expressed concerns about the impact of non-residential parking.

"Our officers have also carried out in-depth, citywide analysis which identified areas that may be most in need of restrictions due to parking pressures being displaced to those locations.

“We’ve listened to all views expressed to us and a decision on the way forward for Phase 2 will be taken at tomorrow’s Transport and Environment Committee."

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