Campaigner claims there is local support for controversial Edinburgh traffic scheme
Edinburgh City Council had been trying to use emergency coronavirus powers to introduce a low-traffic neighbourhood (LTN) scheme in East Craigs, which would enable the local authority to impose measures and then consult with the community, as opposed to the other way round.
However, at a meeting of the council’s transport committee two weeks ago, opposition councillors managed to gain verbal assurance from the transport committee’s convener, Liberton and Gilmerton councillor Lesley Macinnes, that full consultation would take place before any implementation.
Subsequently, the promise of a public consultation prior to an LTN being implemented was rubber stamped at a full meeting of the council on Thursday November 19, with an additional scheme on Craigs Road to be implemented immediately.
During that meeting, councillors opposing the LTN were accused of making ‘personal’ and ‘aggressive’ remarks about councillor Macinnes, which left her fighting back tears.
Now, the chair of Living Streets Edinburgh, David Hunter, whose organisation backs the council’s controversial Spaces for People scheme, as well as the East Craigs LTN, says he recognises there is opposition to the scheme and wants to find ‘a way forward that everyone can agree on’.
Mr Hunter said: “We support the principle of Spaces for People. We’d like to see more in place for what we call ‘everyday walking’ - we’re disappointed more hasn’t been given to walking improvements, but we support the programme.
“We like the idea of low traffic neighbourhoods, we think that most people don’t want traffic roaring through their residential routes, particularly if it’s through traffic.
“The whole East Craigs thing has shown there needs to be a degree of community support for any proposals.
“My personal view is that the compromise, particularly on Craigs Road, which will benefit children attending Craigmount High School, looks to me to be a good idea.
“We know there is support for the East Craigs LTN in the area, as we have a member from East Craigs who speaks to local residents, but the discussion around it has got heated.
“It’s a question of finding the right balance and a way forward that everyone can agree on.
“Clearly, there is opposition, and we recognise that, but I think everyone agrees that they don’t want to see through traffic thundering through their neighbourhood.”
Speaking about the aims of Living Street Edinburgh, Mr Hunter said: “Everyone is a pedestrian at some point during their day - we want to see a city that is more ‘walk-friendly’.
“Edinburgh is one of the few cities of its type that has no pedestrianised areas.
“Other major cities, like Leeds, or Birmingham, and other European cities, have pedestrianised zones.
“Spaces for People is supposed to be about temporary measures, we’d like to see longer term progress.
“Edinburgh is a fantastic place to walk around but there’s too many pavements that aren’t wide enough - it could be a lot better.
“We’re pro-pedestrian, not anti-car, we don’t want to ban all cars and traffic or anything like that, but we don’t think the balance is right and if you look at Edinburgh compared to any other historic European city - there isn’t a single street that is just for walking.”
The chair of Get Edinburgh Moving, a group which opposed the East Craigs LTN, is also called David Hunter - the two are not linked in any way.