Edinburgh's transport leaders will have 'failed city' if 10-year transport vision does not materialise

Councillors have approved a draft 10-year strategy that will tackle how people and goods will move around the city more sustainably – with a warning that transport leaders will have “failed the city” if a planned overhaul doesn’t come to anything.

Thursday, 16th January 2020, 5:09 pm
Updated Thursday, 16th January 2020, 5:31 pm

Edinburgh City Council will now launch a public consultation on the radical vision – which the authority stresses is essential to encourage more people to use public transport amid a commitment for the Capital to become carbon neutral by 2030 and an expected population surge.

The plans include potentially extending the tram network to Granton via the Western General Hospital and another line south to the Royal Infirmary of Edinburgh – while George Street could be pedestrianised if a citywide review of the bus network makes that ambition possible.

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Trams could be extended while the bus network could be redrawn in Edinburgh City Council's city mobility plan

The draft plan was moved forward despite calls from opposition councillors for the consultation to be put on hold while more information is provided.

Conservative transport spokesperson, Cllr Nick Cook, questioned why the city centre transformation, which was agreed last year, was presented as a strategic overview – when the city mobility plan is also seen as an over-arching policy. But Cllr Cook was reminded that the intention had always been to bring forward the draft city mobility plan alongside the low emission zone proposals and the city centre transformation strategy.

Cllr Cook also formally called for the consultation to be paused until costings for the proposals were included to allow the public to be able to make an “informed, whole decision” as to whether to support it.

He added: “There’s a real danger here that the public will be bitterly disappointed and lose faith that they may see projects being mooted but having no chance of being delivered.”

Liberal Democrat transport spokesperson, Cllr Kevin Lang, also called for a pause to the process in order for more detailed information to be included.

He said: “We should be putting our best work out for consultation but I don’t think we’re there just yet. I don’t see any harm in taking a few weeks more in getting a 10-year strategy right.”

But the council’s transport and environment convener, Cllr Lesley Macinnes, labelled the calls “a delaying tactic” and added that Cllr Cook’s contribution was “not helpful or particularly valid”.

Cllr Macinnes stressed that the city mobility plan isn’t a “whimsical vision” but is a “deep desire to keep this city moving”.

She added: “This is what our children and grandchildren will thank us for. If we don’t take the actions that are enshrined in this vision, we will have failed the city.

“I’m absolutely delighted that the final part of our three inter-linked projects has come to committee. We passed the city mobility plan today, which will act a a framework for significant public consultation – leading towards an autumn committee report which will reflect the public’s response about how we can make a better city for everyone.”