Accident fears spark crossing plea at Craigmillar community centre

Craigmillar Community Arts Centre. There is no pedestrian crossing and it is difficult for the centre users to cross at Newcraighall road.
Craigmillar Community Arts Centre. There is no pedestrian crossing and it is difficult for the centre users to cross at Newcraighall road.
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Disabled people who use a popular community centre in the Capital are at risk when they go out because there is no pedestrian crossing anywhere near, organisers have claimed.

Wheelchair users struggle to get across the busy street outside Craigmillar Community Arts Centre.

And Frank Wales, vice-chair of the centre on Newcraighall Road, said the situation was “an accident waiting to happen”.

Both Capability Scotland and Inclusion Alliance have groups which use the centre regularly.

Mr Wales said: “Most of these service users are wheelchair users and we find it practically impossible to get them across this very busy road.

“They have to get to the island in the middle of the road and then try to get to the other pavement.

“But the island is not broad enough if you’re standing with someone in a wheelchair.”

He said he had been arguing with the council for more than a year, trying to persuade them of the need for a crossing.

“They said there was a survey done four years ago and there wasn’t any need for traffic lights for this stretch of road,” he said.

But Mr Wales said there had been an increase in traffic over that period. “Since then we’ve got Burger King, KFC and five garages,” he said. “It’s an accident waiting to happen.”

Mr Wales said there used to be lights about 50 yards up the road, which were removed. He said new lights had been put in elsewhere to cater for new developments. “They seem to be more for retail outlets,” he said.

Mr Wales said there had also been an accident outside the centre, adding: “The railings were crumpled right over. Someone had ploughed into them, but there could have been someone standing there.”

Fiona McGurk, co-ordinator with Capability Scotland, said many of their service users were regulars at the arts centre.

“During the day they are crossing the road quite a lot, going to the shops and getting food,” she said. “It’s an absolute nightmare.

“The time they have to wait to get a break in the traffic is crazy and there are cars 
coming from all directions. We need a pedestrian crossing just to give them a chance to get across the road.”

Barbara Hogg, of Inclusion Alliance, which works with adults who have learning difficulties with many of them in wheelchairs, said trying to cross the road was intimidating.

“People pushing folk across in wheelchairs is definitely an issue,” she said.

“But it’s also difficult for people who are mobile, but a wee bit slow. There’s just no way they can go any faster. It puts people off going up there. It would really help to have a crossing.”

A council spokeswoman said: “We’ve been in discussions with the local 
community, who raised their concerns with us, and we will be undertaking a pedestrian crossing assessment outside the arts centre in the coming months as part of the next phase of assessments for potential new crossings.”