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Kenneth Montgomery said the city council's decision to remove disabled parking from the Botanics' west gate in Arboretum Place had made it more difficult for him to visit the gardens. And he was aghast that VIPs were allowed to park their vehicles while people like him are left to struggle out of their cars from relocated spaces further down the road.
He spotted the limos during a visit by the Nepalese Prime Minister at the time of the COP26 climate summit in November. Lord Provost Frank Ross and the then International Development Minister Jenny Gilruth were also there.
Mr Montgomery said: "I was angry and disgusted. It has a massive impact on disabled people the way they have changed everything but they’ve decided they can just gloss over that and do what they like."
The disabled spaces were removed as part of a Spaces for People scheme to create a pedestrianised area at the gardens entrance, but the plan is to keep the pedestrianised area and install a crossing to Inverleith Park immediately opposite.
The kerbside spaces provided for disabled people as a replacement are “dreadful”, according to Mr Montgomery, because of the camber of the road and ramps onto the pavement. He has a mobility scooter and uses a hoist to get it out of his car. “I nearly tripped over backwards on one of the ramps while trying to remove my scooter from the car,” he said.
"The spaces we used to have were probably the best disabled parking in the city and possibly in Scotland – the spaces were wide, they were level, and there were no issues with kerbs, just brilliant. When I use my hoist, all these pieces of equipment are designed for the car sitting on level ground so if you have a camber the centre of gravity shifts and it becomes very difficult.”
And he believes a slight change to the council’s plans could restore the disabled parking to the crescent areas outside the Botanics. “They're proposing a crossing from Inverleith Park across to the gardens, but I'm not sure how many people would actually make that crossing on a day-to-day basis, so I would put the disabled spaces back and put two crossings in, just to the right and the left, so if people are crossing and going right or left they would take the crossing that's the shortest route. Crossings like that are common in Europe in places like the Costa Del Sol and have been shown to slow traffic and improve pedestrian and cycling safety.”
Campaigner Hugh Munro has been pressing for a return of disabled spaces to the crescent areas at the west gate. Officials had said they were aiming to have some spaces reinstated by Easter, but the deadline was missed and Mr Munro says he is still waiting to hear when it will happen.
A council spokeswoman said police had managed security for the visit since it involved a world leader attending COP26 and it was their advice that the vehicles should use the crescent.