'Sabina Nessa did not survive walk through local park' - Edinburgh City Council accused of endangering women by removing Inverleith park lights

A local politician has demanded that the council returns lights to a ‘pitch black’ walkway at Inverleith Park as a community group says lack of lighting is putting vulnerable people at risk.

By Shona Elliott
Tuesday, 23rd November 2021, 4:45 pm
Updated Tuesday, 23rd November 2021, 5:46 pm

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Strut Safe, the community group helping vulnerable people walk home safely, said that it was a trip through a park that proved fatal for Sabina Nessa and the council must do more to prevent similar tragedies.

Councillor Hal Osler is keen to point out that the park is safe but it does not feel safe which prevents locals, mainly women, from using the area in winter, as daylight ends at around 4pm.

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Some areas of Inverleith Park are well lit whereas some are without any lighting at all.

The local politician has demanded that the council reinstate LED lights in the Northern area of Inverleith Park so that local people can feel safe using the park after nightfall.

Traditional sodium lights were removed from most of Edinburgh’s parks, including Inverleith Park, many years ago as part of a push to make Edinburgh a more environmental city.

While some were replaced by what were thought to be more environmentally friendly LED lights, the Northern part of Inverleith Park has been without any lighting for more than two years.

Ms Osler said: “Inverleith Park is a safe place and is used by many but as it gets dark at around 4pm in the winter this really restricts the usage of the park to travel through if one section of the path is pitch dark.

Inverleith Park - North after nightfall at 4pm.

“Over the years many residents, mainly women, have written to me about this. I do believe it is past time for this omission to be rectified.”

People are more likely to be attacked

Edinburgh community group Strut Safe has backed Ms Osler’s call saying poorly lit parks in the Capital creates an environment where people are more likely to be attacked or abducted.

Co-founder of Strut Safe Alice Jackson said: “Many people feel incredibly vulnerable walking through parks especially when they are poorly lit because they know the risks and when there is no proper lighting, it is much easier for people to attack and abduct people without the risk of being seen or stopped. Sabina Nessa did not survive the five minute walk through her local park.”

Councillor Hal Osler has made repeated calls for increased protection for women.

Ms Jackson went on to say that the council must show their commitment towards protecting women by installing these lights.

She said: “By installing proper and environmentally friendly lighting, the council would be making an active commitment showing it supports and cares about women, marginalised groups and all those affected by violence. Without that action, the council only confirms that the safety of its community is not a priority.”

Making sure women feel safe is of utmost importance

The council’s culture and communities vice convener, councillor Amy McNeese-Mechan, said making sure women feel safe is of the utmost importance.

Councillor Hal Osler raises concerns about pitch black walkways.

However, when questioned about if and when the lights would be reinstalled Ms McNeese-Mechan made no comment.

The councillor said: “Making sure women are safe and feel secure in Edinburgh, at any time of the day and year, is of utmost importance to us. As such, commitments to create welcoming, secure spaces to spend time in or travel through are embedded in strategies and policies across the council, including our Business Plan, which, amongst other commitments, pledges improved safety and wellbeing for vulnerable citizens.”

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