Edinburgh councillors in war of words over road works delay

A war of words has broken out between two councillors over delays to planned road works.

By Joseph Anderson, Local Democracy Reporter
Thursday, 26th November 2020, 5:54 pm
Updated Thursday, 26th November 2020, 5:54 pm
Transport and Environment Convener Councillor Lesley Macinnes
Transport and Environment Convener Councillor Lesley Macinnes

Almond councillor Keving Lang, Liberal Democrats, has accused Edinburgh City Council’s SNP-led administration of ‘stonewalling’ over a ‘secret list’ of delayed road safety projects across the city.

Liberton and Gilmerton councillor, Lesley Macinnes, SNP, has responded by saying “any attempt to portray this as a ‘secret list’ or bad news is frankly a bit silly.”

Councillor Lang, who acts as the Lib Dem transport spokesperson, tabled a formal question to councillor Macinnes, seeking details of all road safety projects which have been delayed because of officers being diverted to the council’s controversial Spaces for People programme.

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Delays: councillor Kevin Lang

The Almond councillor says he has identified five different road safety projects in his ward which have been delayed because officers have been working on Spaces for People projects.

These include speed calming measures in Queensferry, a new pedestrian crossing in Kirkliston and safety improvements at a roundabout in Davidson’s Mains, where 70-year-old Alena Faltyskova was tragically killed in 2017.

However, councillor Macinnes, who acts as the convener of the council’s transport committee, did not provide a complete city-wide list, instead saying information would be published in the New Year.

Councillor Macinnes’ written response reads: “The council has prioritised resources towards the delivery of the Spaces for People programme, to ensure that people can walk, wheel and cycle safely during the global Covid-19 pandemic.

“This includes improvements to road safety to the city’s 140 or so schools.

“A report is being prepared for the transport and environment committee on 28 January 2021 on the prioritisation and delivery of the road safety programme.

“This report will include further information on planned projects.”

Commenting, councillor Lang said: “This kind of stonewalling from the SNP administration is unacceptable. Whatever is hiding in the transport convener’s secret list, it is clearly bad news.

“At the beginning of the Spaces for People programme, we were promised there would be no impact on existing road safety projects. It is now clear those promises were worthless.

“There are at least five road safety projects in my own ward which have been delayed because officials have been diverted to the spaces for people programme.

“Many of these were already badly delayed, even before Covid hit. Who knows how many more projects are affected across the city?

“Rather than keeping this secret list under wraps until the new year, the administration should be open and honest with people.

“We need to know what projects are affected and when they will be delivered”.

In response, councillor Macinnes said: “I am very upset by councillor Lang’s blatant attempt to present normal council processes and our approach to accountability as somehow a ‘secret’ or as somehow ‘stonewalling’ him.

“He received a full, comprehensive answer to the councillor’s written question which indicated clearly that there was a requirement for a substantial review.

“This is coming to the transport committee in January, through normal processes, and that will allow full scrutiny.

“Any attempt to portray this as a ‘secret list’ or bad news is frankly a bit silly.”

Joseph Anderson, Local Democracy Reporting Service

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