Edinburgh Spaces for People: Tories make election pledge to scrap 'unpopular' measures

Scrapping controversial Spaces for People schemes will be a key Tory pledge as the party goes into Edinburgh’s council elections in May.

By Ian Swanson
Monday, 21st March 2022, 4:55 am

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A leaflet to be distributed to thousands of homes in the city this week promises: “Scottish Conservatives will only keep schemes where there is clear evidence of local community support, such as near schools.”

Tory group leader Iain Whyte said when speaking to residents it was clear that the removal of Spaces for People was a top priority for a lot of people.

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SNP and Labour councillors have ploughed on with this scheme, despite massive opposition from members of the public and local businesses. They even ignored the overwhelming feedback from the council’s own consultation where the public demanded the scrapping of the schemes.”

Other Tory election pledges include focusing on getting roads fixed, cleaning up the city, stopping the Workplace Parking Levy which they label a “car park tax” and opposing the extension of residents’ parking zones.

The Capital’s Spaces for People programme, funded by the Scottish Government to make physical distancing easier when walking and cycling during the pandemic, saw temporary cycle lanes, widened pavements and road closures across the city. Some have now been removed, but others are to be kept.

Councillor Whyte said key targets where Spaces for People measures would be removed included Braid Road, Lanark Road, Duddingston Road and Duddingston Road West, Buckstone Terrace (Comiston Road), Cockburn Street and Waverley Bridge.

The closure of Braid Road is one of the first schemes the Tories say they would remove. Picture: Lisa Ferguson

And he said the results of the council’s consultation would be the party’s starting point for identifying any schemes which did have strong community support.

He said: “The scheme was supposed to make pedestrians and cyclists safer, but it has failed.

“Because of the SNP in Edinburgh council, it’s more difficult than ever to get around Edinburgh by car or bus.

"Labour say they’ll stand up to the SNP but always end up helping them in return for cushy jobs.

This Spaces for People scheme on Queensferry Road was likened to an assault course.

"And they want these senseless schemes to stay, using complex laws to keep them for another 18 months against local wishes.

"Worse, the SNP-Labour coalition wants more parking restrictions in residential streets where they are not wanted or needed, costing tax-payers more money as the cost of living soars.

“Scottish Conservatives will only keep schemes where there is clear evidence of local community support, such as near schools. We will ensure there is quality infrastructure with robust safety checks, end restrictions that discriminate against disabled people and put more emphasis on helping pedestrians and not just cyclists.”

Scottish Conservative local government spokesman and Lothian MSP Miles Briggs said Spaces for People had been a top issue for many people even at last year’s Scottish Parliament elections.

He said: “Scottish Conservatives have made a clear election pledge to review Spaces for People and remove road restrictions from areas where they are clearly not wanted.

“The council elections are not far away. The current SNP-Labour council just won’t listen. This is the opportunity for the public to make their voices heard over how Edinburgh should be run.”

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