'Deeply flawed’ and ‘highly questionable' - New Town Community Council blast Edinburgh traffic scheme
New Town Community Council has hit out at Edinburgh City Council’s Spaces for People consultation - describing it as ‘deeply flawed’ and ‘highly questionable’.
The community council has taken issue with the consultation on retaining the schemes permanently, not Spaces for People itself, as the neighbourhood council is in favour of retaining the schemes on The Mound and Princes Street East, which include segregated cycle lanes and bus gates.
Edinburgh City Council has just concluded a citywide consultation on which Spaces for People measures residents may wish to keep post-pandemic.
This will be followed by a legal process, whereby traffic measures which have been identified for retention in the consultation may become permanent, and residents will be able to formally object to, or support individual schemes.
The community council’s response to the consultation reads: “The New Town and Broughton Community Council considers the consultation to be deeply flawed.
“The inclusion of questions about measures not yet implemented is highly questionable.
“Until there has been an opportunity to evaluate the success or otherwise of any particular measures, it is impossible to make any valid judgment on whether they should be retained or removed.
“Many of the questions group cycling and walking together but the needs of these two groups are quite different making it impossible to properly judge the merits of specific measures for each of these groups.
“The survey is designed to encourage simple yes/no answers to questions about whether measures should be retained and does too little to obtain any insight into the consequences both favourable and otherwise from the implementation of the measures.
“The Commonplace Mapping tool would have been a far more effective means of obtaining genuine and considered feedback on the various measures that have been introduced.
“This lack of qualitative feedback will hamper any decision making by council officials and councillors.
“Edinburgh Council and its citizens deserve better than this hastily prepared and poorly designed survey.”
Although the community council is in favour of retaining the measures on The Mound and Princes Street East, it is opposed to the schemes on Waverley Bridge and London Road being retained.
The community council is further opposed to any new Spaces for People measures being retained without further consultation.
The consultation response continues: “We do not agree that any of the measures yet to be introduced in our area including those to Broughton Street, Broughton Roundabout, Bellevue, Rodney Street or Canonmills should be considered for retention until there has been an opportunity to better assess their effectiveness.
“We are also very concerned about the impact on traffic in our area of the planned changes to South Bridge and would urge that implementation is delayed until the consequences of the planned restrictions to vehicular traffic can be better understood.”
City Centre councillor, and Labour vice convener of the transport committee, Karen Doran, said: “We welcome New Town and Broughton Community Council’s participation in the Spaces for People consultation - their comments on specific schemes, along with those of all participants, will be extremely useful as we consider any future plans for measures in place.
“The purpose of the current consultation is to allow the transport and environment committee to consider, on a timely basis, whether it is appropriate to retain or adapt these measures beyond the period of the pandemic using the council’s normal legal powers, rather than the Temporary Traffic Regulation Orders that have been utilised over the past year.
“While it is not yet possible to forecast an end to the pandemic, with a vaccine rollout underway it makes sense to begin considering the potential retention of some of these changes sooner rather than later.
“This means we need to consult on some measures before they are on the ground.
“Of course, this consultation was only the first opportunity to input into whether Spaces for People schemes should be kept in place.
“For any measures we decide we want to retain, people will be able to formally object to (or support) the legal orders needed to back-up these measures.”