Blue-badge parking row: Disabled campaigner turns down invitation to Botanics' Christmas event on principle

A disabled man who is campaigning for the reinstatement of blue-badge parking at the entrance to the Royal Botanic Garden says he has turned down an invitation to its Christmas lights show on principle.

Wednesday, 15th December 2021, 4:45 pm

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Marketing bosses at the garden offered to welcome Hugh Munro as a guest to "Christmas at the Botanics” and said he could be dropped off at the west gate by taxi.

But he replied, saying he had difficulty using taxis and insisting disabled drivers should be allowed to park their vehicles in the crescent next to the entrance as they were until the area was blocked off as part of the Spaces for People programme.

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Christmas at the Botanics is a spectacular illuminated trail through the garden

Mr Munro said: "I got a very kind invitation from the Botanics, but I felt obliged to turn it down because on a point of principle it would be very unfair to accept while other people like me cannot access the garden."

Meanwhile, Mr Munro says he is disappointed at the latest plans drawn up by the council for the longer-term future of the area next to the west gate, where permanent pedestrian areas are proposed either side of the street with a crossing in between.

He previously put on a demonstration to show how difficult it was for a disabled driver to use the relocated blue-badge spaces because they have to get out of their car onto the road with speeding traffic going past.

He had argued for some disabled parking to be returned to the crescent where it used to be sited, but the new plans show spaces still on the road, only slightly indented into the crescent areas.

Hugh Munro shows how disabled drivers have to get out into a busy road.

He said: "They're still not recognising the fact these vehicles should be able to get back into the crescent. This plan does not address the basic problem about getting out into the main road.

“They say they want to protect the area next to the Botanics entrance for all visitors and keep the area clear of parked, moving or reversing vehicles.

"But the type of design they are trying to implement is going to lead to more problems. You still open have to open your door onto the main road."

The plans show the road slightly narrowed at the crossing and the disabled spaces close by.

Latest plans show parking bays still on the main road rather than inside the crescent.

Mr Munro said: "They have narrowed the road for the crossing, but somebody in a hurry will still try and nip through at speed and you've got this road narrowed and maybe a disabled person trying to get their door open.

“The only way to make it safe is to take them back into the crescents."

Transport convener Lesley Macinnes said: “We’ve been liaising closely with Mr Munro and other stakeholders, including the Edinburgh Access Panel, about issues with blue badge parking at the John Hope Gateway entrance to the Royal Botanic Gardens Edinburgh.

“We’ve met with those concerned and have shared initial potential designs for feedback, however, we’re still assessing options to improve access for blue badge visitors and maintain a safe pedestrian crossing. These will be shared with Mr Munro and others soon.”

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