'A huge victory' - Edinburgh residents win battle over Low Traffic Neighbourhood scheme
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The council has put the scheme “on hold” and will continue to work with residents who rallied together to oppose the LTN in its first format as part of the Spaces for People project.
The LTN was set to be introduced under a Temporary Traffic Regulation Order (TTRO) but residents paid for legal advice from a QC who said that the use of a TTRO would have been unlawful.
The council said throughout the process that a TTRO was required to make the area safe for pedestrians during the pandemic.
It proposed using an Experimental Traffic Regulation Order (ETRO) however this was also challenged by residents who felt the process had been misleading and biased.
Between February 8 and March 5, the council sought the views of residents in Corstorphine, Leith and East Craigs on their travel choices and use of their community spaces for movement and relaxation to help them to develop proposals for each area in partnership with the local communities themselves – and received around 2200 responses.
David Hunter, Chair, Get Edinburgh Moving (the East Craigs Residents’ campaign), said: “We are delighted and relieved that the council has finally listened to the people of East Craigs – we just wish they’d done so a year ago, since which time the will of local residents has been completely clear.
“The council has only been forced to listen after our small community had to crowdfund thousands of pounds - in the middle of an economic crisis - for legal opinion, traffic research and a truly independent market research survey to find out what residents really think. Those residents overwhelmingly rejected the East Craigs LTN. For every one household in support, eleven households opposed – and local cyclists opposed by a ratio of seven to every one in support. The council’s belated recognition of this reality is of course very welcome.”
Of the 800 responses received for the LTN proposal in East Craigs the speed and volume of traffic on Craigs Road was felt to be too high and conditions could be improved for people walking and cycling. However there was also general feedback that most streets in the area did not have high traffic volumes or speeds.
But school drop off/pick up times were highlighted as a particular issue on some streets, resulting in higher volumes of traffic and parking.
Edinburgh Western Lib Dem MSP Alex Cole Hamilton, said the council U-turn was “a huge victory for local residents”.
“While we absolutely need to reduce car journeys in the city, this LTN would have actually compounded congestion issues at Maybury, Barnton and Drumbrae. Had the council leadership asked residents about this from the outset they would have learned that most of the streets they were looking at did not have a high flow of traffic to begin with.
“That said, I’m glad the council have recognised that in some parts of North Gyle in particular there are still issues with rat-running and will look at traffic calming measures there, in consultation with local residents.
“Our public meeting in Gyle Park last summer was attended by over 1000 local people on a socially distanced basis. This was the first time anyone from the council had engaged with the community and I’m certain it plaid a part in triggering the full consultation that has led to this development.
“Ultimately this is a victory for the community campaign organised by local residents. They aren’t car enthusiasts, they are normal people looking for a chance to have a say on something that would materially affect their lives.
“This whole fiasco has set many people against the active travel agenda in the most unfortunate way, because we need to change the way we move around the city. This is symptomatic of a council leadership that believes it knows best and isn’t interested in listening to local people from the outset.”
Transport and environment convener, councillor Lesley Macinnes said: “In East Craigs, there was a clear view that for most people there weren’t significant traffic problems on most residential streets, although some residents did report too much traffic on certain streets.
“That’s why we’re currently putting the LTN plans on hold in East Craigs. We’d like to come back to discuss ideas on targeted traffic reduction with the community sometime in the future, but for now, we look forward to working with communities in Corstorphine and Leith to take forward designs there.”