Public consultation launched to gather Edinburgh resident’s views regarding safety in public spaces

A three-month public consultation period has been launched this week to gather Edinburgh resident’s views regarding their safety in public spaces and help inform future planning decisions in the Capital.

Let us know what you think and join the conversation at the bottom of this article.

The initiative encourages all people in Edinburgh – with emphasis on women, girls and vulnerable members of society – to share what makes them feel unsafe in public spaces and requests suggestions for improvements to the city’s infrastructure.

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Instigated by the Women’s Safety in Public Places Community Improvement Partnership (WSPP CIP), a committee formed in January this year, the group will use feedback to influence planning decisions regarding public park layouts, road and pathway designs, bus stops and other public spaces including hospitality venues and workplaces.

A three-month public consultation period has been launched this week to gather Edinburgh resident’s views regarding their safety in public spaces to help inform future planning decisions in the capital.

The online portal was made available this week and will run for 12 weeks, ending on September 20.

This comes after a November 2021 council report, titled Women’s Safety In Public Places, highlighted the need for “attitudinal, behavioural and structural change across society while also calling the council to action to improve women’s safety in public places”.

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The WSPP CIP, made up of Council and Police Scotland representatives, will combine findings from the public consultation with Police data to inform a report to be submitted to the City Council later this year in order to help shape future place-making and development plans.

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Councillor Mandy Watt, Depute Leader of the City of Edinburgh Council, who described the consultation as “vital”, said: “We are working to identify what makes particular areas and places feel safe or unsafe and what city partners can do to improve this.

“Women consider personal safety constantly in their everyday lives, from meeting and socialising with friends, to travelling on public transport and walking home.

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"Recent murders of women in public spaces sparked a national conversation about how women feel unsafe and alter their behaviours to keep safe and the partnership is committed to addressing this in the Capital.”

Last November, the Council report urged committee members to consider “additional safety measures in public spaces of particular concern to women” by means of incorporating public consultation and to make decisions founded on existing council strategies, including the City Plan 2030 and the Local Development Plan 2016.

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The aforementioned Council policies include the roll out of 20-minute neighbourhoods, providing “natural surveillance over all footpaths and open areas” and dictate that future development layouts “should enhance community safety and urban vitality and provide direct and convenient connections on foot and by cycle”.

The council report also cited Office of National Statistics data from June last year that revealed 50 per cent of women in the UK felt unsafe walking alone after dark. Nick Stripe of the ONS added: “There are some clear findings: men and women both feel less safe after dark, but the extent to which women feel unsafe is significantly greater.”

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Cllr Watt said that Edinburgh prides itself on being “inclusive” and “welcoming” but added that “more can be done to make our residents feel safe”.

She said: “This consultation is vital with responses helping to inform the future of how we develop and improve public spaces across the whole of the Edinburgh area.

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“I would encourage everyone to take part in the consultation so that their feedback is at the heart of developing Edinburgh.”

You can contribute to the consultation on the Edinburgh council website.