Criticism of Edinburgh's Spaces for People programme highlighted in national consultation

Anger over Edinburgh's Spaces for People measures is so strong it has been singled out for comment by Transport Scotland in its report on a national consultation.

By Ian Swanson
Wednesday, 24th November 2021, 4:55 am

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Well over a third of all responses to a key question about reform of the Traffic Regulation Order (TRO) process were criticisms of the Capital's programme.

And today there were calls for lessons to be learned to avoid a repeat of the controversies surrounding the measures such as temporary cycle lanes, road closures and widened pavements designed to make it easier for people to walk and cycle while physically distancing.

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Spaces for People measures have caused much controversy Picture: Lisa Ferguson

After a series of detailed questions on how the process should work, the consultation invited people to make wider comments or raise additional topics.

The report said: "116 (37 per cent) of these comments concerned Edinburgh Council and Spaces For People scheme (SfP) in a negative manner.

"Whilst this consultation was not designed to comment on the publics’ perception of SfP schemes or the way in which councils have implemented these, officials felt it important to highlight and take on board."

Derryck Reid, a leading member of South West Edinburgh in Motion, which has campaigned against many of the Spaces for People measures, said the response showed Capital residents were opposed to councils having the scope to carry out similar schemes in the same way the future.

He said: “It’s remarkable that the Edinburgh Spaces for People schemes have attracted so much specific attention in this much wider national consultation, so much so that the report authors felt obliged to highlight this specifically.

“Clearly the public in Edinburgh, having experienced a city council which time and again is willing to disregard majority opinion expressed in consultations, are extremely unhappy about giving local authorities, and Edinburgh council in particular, further licence to make irreversible decisions without adequate consultation and accountability.”

And Jason Rust, Conservative councillor for Colinton/Fairmilehead said lessons should be learned from Edinburgh’s experience of the programme.

He said: "Despite this being a national consultation, it is clear that the implementation of Spaces for People in Edinburgh has been a key factor in responses with individuals keen that the council's approach is not replicated in future.

"The response clearly shows the negative views about the way the council has implemented Spaces for People to the extent that it is felt this needs specifically highlighted in the analysis.

"One would hope now that lessons are going to be learned and there won’t be any repeat of the situation we have experienced in Edinburgh where there are such concerns around consultation and the transparency of the process.”

Transport convener Lesley Macinnes said: “This consultation and any actions arising from it are extremely important to us as they aim to streamline the TRO process, helping us to make positive changes to improve safety and conditions on our roads and pavements more easily.

“As the Capital, our Spaces for People programme, now Travelling Safely, has been high profile, and we recognise some people have had concerns around these changes towards a more sustainable transport environment in Edinburgh. As we move forward with the retention of these schemes, our officers are working closely with communities and stakeholders to listen and respond to these concerns, where appropriate, so that measures can benefit as many people as possible.”

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