Edinburgh's Spaces for People programme: Consultation for next stage gets off to bad start

Council efforts to carry out a consultation on the continuation of controversial traffic schemes have got off to a bad start after key groups were missed off the mailing list.

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The Spaces for People programme, which saw temporary cycle lanes, road closures and other measures introduced early in the pandemic, was heavily criticised over the lack of consultation with local people.

Now the council plans to extend some of the schemes for a further 18 months using “experimental traffic regulation orders” (ETROs), which do involve consultation.

Braid Road has been one of the most controversial Spaces for People schemes. Picture: Lisa Ferguson.

As the first step in the process, emailed letters were sent out on November 16 asking for general comments by December 7, ahead of the second stage which will allow formal objections to be lodged on the proposals.

But Jason Rust, Tory councillor for Colinton/Fairmilehead, who should have been on the mailing list, did not receive the letter. He said Colinton and Fairmilehead community councils did not get it either and other community councils, including Drum Brae and Currie, were also missed out.

And Aonghas Mcintosh, chair of Juniper Green and Baberton Mains Community Council, said he had not received the letter.

Councillor Rust said: "While mistakes can happen, it's concerning that initial notification of these ETROs was not received, especially given the strength of feeling locally and with Lanark, Comiston and Braid Road areas being impacted.

"All along there have been concerns about the council's processes and given the hugely contentious nature of these schemes it's vital that procedures are followed and the legal framework complied with."

Norman Tinlin, secretary of Fairmilehead community council, said it was not a good start for the council’s latest traffic plans and added he did not think the council had learned any lessons from the problems with the Spaces for People scheme.

David Hunter, chair of campaign group Get Edinburgh Moving, accused the council of repeatedly ignoring feedback from local residents on traffic schemes.

He said: “The ETRO process should be launched again properly, so that stakeholders can consider their views and provide feedback. Once again I would call on the council to drop those schemes that were imposed on local residents against their will, and subsequently overwhelmingly rejected in consultations, and take a community and evidence-led approach to future street schemes.”

The council said its records showed Colinton, Fairmilehead and Drumbrae community councils were all sent the email, though Currie had been missed out.

A council spokesperson said: “We have made every effort to promote this initial stage of consultation for the ETROs with the appropriate bodies, including emergency services and public transport providers.

"We’ve also extended this to community councils and ward councillors – while we’re not legally obliged to consult them, we’ve given these groups the opportunity to note any high-level comments before we publicly advertise the detailed ETROs next year.

“Unfortunately, a small number of these non-statutory consultees were missed from the email mailing list and as a result we’ll be extending this initial stage until December 12. All stakeholders and members of the public will also be able to comment on the detailed schemes during the public advertisement stage, which will begin in January.”

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