Edinburgh council under fire over removal of disabled parking bays outside Royal Botanic Garden
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Hugh Munro said the eight disabled parking bays in a large semi-circle at the garden's west gate on Arboretum Place were ideal for disabled visitors, giving them time and space to get out of their vehicles and transfer to a scooter provided by the Botanics.
But now they have been blocked off with bollards and disabled parking has been relocated to the main road instead.
Mr Munro, 71, said he had enjoyed the Botanics for years but had not visited during the pandemic until recently.
"I got accustomed to being able to park my disability mobility car in the crescent exactly beside the west gate and that meant I could take my time getting out of the car, make sure I wasn't infringing on anybody else and if I needed a scooter they could bring one out to me.
“However, when I went the other week, I discovered I couldn’t get to the crescent. I had to park on the main road.
“Generally I try to avoid parking in the main road because I need time to get out, get my crutches under my arms and so on.
“That road is like a race track – there is a 20mph limit but they don’t adhere to it.
“The lady from the Botanics who had brought me a scooter and myself were nearly swiped.
“Why can't we get into the semi-circle when it's lying there empty?”
The council has plans to create pedestrian areas in the semi-circle outside the Botanics and in the equivalent semi-circle across the road at the entrance to Inverleith Park, as well as narrowing the road and providing a crossing between the two.
A survey claimed strong support for the proposals but also noted concern about the loss of disabled parking.
Mr Munro said: “The council in its wisdom decided to have the disabled spaces along the main road. It doesn’t seem to understand that for disabled people, getting out of a car on a main road is dangerous – we need time to get out, get onto our sticks or whatever and the girl has got to bring a scooter up the main road with traffic going past.
“They're kicking disabled people into the kerb when they could release these spaces so once again we could have peace of mind.”
Iain Whyte, Tory councillor for Inverleith, raised the issue at last week's meeting of the transport committee, asking for a review of the disabled parking provision.
Transport manager Dave Sinclair said the principle of proposed scheme was to create two pedestrian areas and a safer environment for visitors crossing.
He said there could be a review. But he added: “Whether in the short term we can find an alternative location that is not on-street I’m not sure but we're happy to look at that.”
Simon Milne, Regius Keeper at the Royal Botanic Garden, said: “We understand the availability of blue badge parking within the vicinity of the west gate is a matter of concern and we are continuing to liaise with the council to seek clarification and potential resolutions.”