Safety improvements at Edinburgh's Sheriffhall roundabout labelled 'a sticking plaster on a gaping wound'

A £100,000 package of safety improvements at the notorious Sheriffhall roundabout have been branded “a sticking plaster on a gaping wound”.

Monday, 15th March 2021, 4:45 pm
Updated Tuesday, 16th March 2021, 9:29 am

Transport Scotland announced last week the work, which includes replacement of defective road studs, would mean overnight lane closures for five nights from March 28.

But Midlothian Labour councillor Stephen Curran called for urgent progress on the bigger revamp of the roundabout, including a flyover to ease congestion.

He said: “This announcement of a £100,000 investment to improve road safety at Scotland’s most dangerous roundabout is nothing but a sticking plaster on a gaping wound.

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Stephen Curran (left) and fellow campaigners Raymond Diamond, Alex Bennett and Eric Bunyan - picture taken before Covid restrictions
Stephen Curran (left) and fellow campaigners Raymond Diamond, Alex Bennett and Eric Bunyan - picture taken before Covid restrictions

“Refurbishing the ‘Cat’s Eye’s’ may help a little, but not a lot. It does nothing to reduce journey times or pollution. It does nothing to accommodate cyclists. It does nothing to support access for pedestrians and non-motorised users.”

A review of the bigger revamp was ordered in February as part of the SNP’s Holyrood budget deal with the Greens.

Cllr Curran, who is Labour candidate for Midlothian North & Musselburgh at the Scottish Parliament elections in May, said Transport Secretary Michael Matheson had refused three times to meet him to discuss Sheriffhall.

"I can understand the first request being rejected last spring, and maybe even the second request in autumn. But to refuse a third request shows a complete disregard for accountability. Constituents are demanding answers.

“Mr Matheson says in his letter to me that the Scottish Government are ‘committed’ to Sheriffhall. Transport Scotland also reaffirmed that ‘commitment’ when I met with them in December. I’m sorry to say, but due to the passage of time and lack of action, that ‘commitment’ does not hold an ounce of credibility. The time for talking has passed.

“It’s now more than a decade since it was identified that Sheriffhall required a major overhaul. Progress was made and a design was agreed. Funding secured via the City Region Deal, so no pressures there. Finally, the project was gathering pace.

"Then out of nowhere the Scottish Government, supported by the Greens, halted progress and agreed to a further delay. Little headway has been made since. If the political will existed within the SNP Government, then construction would have already been underway.”

He said many major transport infrastructure projects beyond the south-east region had already been completed or were work in progress.

He said: "Sheriffhall, Midlothian and wider region seem to be the bargaining tool or the comprise position for this SNP Government.

“It really is a slap in the face when you consider Midlothian’s unwavering commitment to meet Scottish Government housebuilding targets. The Scottish Government are refusing to reciprocate that responsibility with investment for transport infrastructure to support the growth demands they place on us.”

Cllr Curran said the long-awaited major upgrade was not about increasing capacity for car travel, which would counter efforts to tackle climate change.

"It’s about improving safety and reducing accidents and injuries. It’s about resolving the severe congestion, reducing journey times and decreasing pollution. It’s about improving traffic flow and access for pedestrians, cyclists and non-motorised users.”

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