Edinburgh council and campaigners could reach compromise on disabled parking at Botanics
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Council chiefs have agreed to look at doubling the number of blue-badge spaces planned for the garden’s west gate and campaigners say that could offer a way forward.
There has been controversy ever since the two crescent areas on either side of the road on Arboretum Place were blocked off by bollards as part of a Spaces for People scheme last year. It meant the loss of many parking spaces, including disabled ones, close to the west gate.
And plans for a permanent pedestrian area with a new crossing looked set to mean that parking at the gate would never return.
The replacement blue badge spaces were on-street and further down the road. Disabled campaigner Hugh Munro said it left him having to get out of his car with his crutches into busy traffic and he staged a demonstration to illustrate the problem.
Council officials came up with amended proposals which made space for some disabled parking within the crescents, but just two cars on each side of the road.
Now a meeting between the campaigners and transport convener Lesley Macinnes and her officials appears to have produced a potential compromise which would see a total of eight disabled spaces near the west gate.
Mr Munro said: “What we’re talking about is getting four cars on each side of the road. They also talked about improving the road and making the other disabled spaces bigger. If they go for that compromise I think we might all agree we can progress on that.
“It was a good encouraging meeting and it was good to seeing everyone talking to each other and not through screens.
“The council has listened and they are considering the views of the people who were at the meeting, especially about enlarging the spaces to take in four cars rather than two on each side.”
He said the scheme was being introduced through a temporary order for 18 months so if it wasn’t working, aspects of it could be looked at again.
Inverleith Tory councillor Iain Whyte agreed it had been a positive meeting.
"It's now possible that we can get a reasonable compromise that gives more access for blue badges. I would like to have seen even more spaces than they're suggesting but I understand the safety concerns the officers have about vehicles moving about the area.”
Councillor Macinnes said: “I’m pleased we’ve been able to reach an effective solution, following detailed and careful work by council officers. Making sure people with mobility issues can access venues across the city is of utmost importance to us, which is why we’ve been working hard, in liaison with stakeholders, to improve the road layout for blue badge holders on Arboretum Place.
“The changes introduced at the west gate as part of Spaces for People, now Travelling Safely, provide a safe crossing for the many people who visit the Botanic Gardens on foot, particularly those who require longer to cross the road or parents and carers with young children. By increasing the number and size of blue badge spaces, amongst other improvements, we’ve been able to strike a balance so everyone can enjoy safe access to the gardens.”