Spaces for People: Council 'ignores' majority view in survey over future of one of most controversial schemes

Transport chiefs are being accused of ignoring a consultation with residents after they announced their latest plans for the future of one of the city’s most controversial Spaces for People schemes.
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The council’s transport committee is being recommended to open Braid Road in both directions as far as the junction with Braidburn Terrace, but close it north of there to all except cycles.

But in a survey of residents, the most popular option – by a huge majority – was to reopen the road fully in both directions.

Braid Road has been one of the most controversial Spaces for People schemes    Picture: Lisa FergusonBraid Road has been one of the most controversial Spaces for People schemes    Picture: Lisa Ferguson
Braid Road has been one of the most controversial Spaces for People schemes Picture: Lisa Ferguson
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The survey results were broken down into responses from the immediate area around Braid Road, which had been leafleted about it; from the EH10 postcode; and from the wider area. But among all three groups, fully reopening the road was the favoured option.

One resident, Paul Bailey, who lives on Braid Road, said: “In the EH10 postcode it was over 700 to just 40 – an absolutely astronomical difference. And among the leafleted people it was about 450 to 45.”

Making the recommendation, the report to the committee says: “This option was the second preference from the engagement survey. However, it is suggested as a balance between improving resident connectivity and protecting vulnerable road users at this historically busy junction.”

But Mr Bailey said: “Every time the council has a consultation they ignore what people say. The low traffic neighbourhood in Corstorphine? ‘We don’t want it’ – ‘You’re going to have it. Lanark Road? ‘We don't want it’ – ‘You're going to have it’. And now the same with us.”

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And he was backed by Colinton/Fairmilehead Conservative councillor Jason Rust.

He said: "It is astonishing the council conducts an engagement exercise and then simply disregards the outcome.

"Residents will be appalled at this undemocratic process and it will make it far less likely that citizens will bother responding in future to council surveys or consultations. Once again the council is simply not listening."

Meanwhile, cycling campaigners are unhappy about a recommendation to remove the northbound cycleway from the Spaces for People scheme on Comiston Road and replace it with a peak-time bus lane to improve northbound public transport journey times.

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Dave duFeu of cycle group Spokes said the change would make it a lot less safe to cycle in places and therefore reduce the road’s value as a through route to Morningside, Bruntsfield and the city centre.

"Spokes would go along with this, to ensure bus reliability, if it was a 24/7 bus lane; but peak-only means cars parked for most of the day, forcing bikes out into the traffic lane, and thus reducing the value of the route as a whole for all except the most confident cyclists who are happy to mix with traffic.”

Transport convener Lesley Macinnes defended the proposals. She said: “We’ve worked hard to bring forward proposals for both Braid Road and Comiston Road which strike a balance between protecting vulnerable road users, facilitating reliable and accessible travel by bus and serving the needs of the local community.

“Feedback received during recent engagement has been extremely useful in developing these recommendations, which are also based on our own analysis by officers, to provide safe, well-connected travel for everyone.”

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