Edinburgh transport convener under fire for failing to attend meeting with business representatives

Transport convener Lesley Macinnes is under fire for failing to turn up at a meeting she called with business representatives to discuss the future of Spaces for People measures in the city.

Tuesday, 16th March 2021, 7:00 am
Morningside Road was an early site for Spaces for People measures

Vice-convener Karen Doran, who took her place at the event last Wednesday, told those present that Cllr Macinnes was busy peparing for the next day’s full council meeting, where most of the questions tabled were about Spaces for People.

Susanna Freedman of campaign group Keep Edinburgh Moving, who works with several businesses, said Cllr Maciness had issued the invitations some weeks before for the meeting with the Federation of Small Businesses, Edinburgh Chamber of Commerce, Edinburgh Hoteliers Association and Edinburgh Licensed Trade Association on whether some measures should be made permanent.

She said hospitality, tourism and retail businesses had been the ones most affected by Covid and now their street frontages meant they were also among those most affected by Spaces for People.Ms Freedman said: “When the head of the committee doesn’t turn up it doesn’t suggest there is a real serious focus on hearing from businesses. And there doesn’t seem to be other ways of consulting like a focus group where you’re hearing directly the voice of business. When you’re going through four council-selected stakeholders and the convener herself isn’t there to listen to them it makes it difficult to feel the voice of business is being listened to."

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Tory councillor Jason Rust said: “Because it’s such a controversial issue it would have been good if the convener herself had been able to attend.”

Cllr Macinnes said: “It’s very unfortunate some businesses have been left with the impression that we in the council are not interested in their views. Officers have made strenuous efforts to listen to individual businesses and residents groups and have subsequently changed many of the plans to accommodate specific needs.

"My absence from one of a series of stakeholder meetings was due to additional work ahead of the following day’s full council meeting combined with personal illness.

"At that meeting te vice-convener made a specific offer to the groups represented that we could have a follow-up meeting, if required, where I would be present. So far there has been no request for that meeting.”

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