Edinburgh council urged to look at previous designs to find solution to row over parking at Royal Botanic Garden

A solution to the row over disabled parking at Edinburgh’s Royal Botanic Garden could lie in the city council’s own files, it was claimed today.

By Ian Swanson
Thursday, 18th November 2021, 4:55 am

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Blue-badge parking spaces which were previously in a “crescent” right next to the garden’s west gate in Arboretum Place were relocated to the main road under a Spaces for People scheme to create more space for pedestrians.

But the arrangement forces disabled people to get out of their cars into traffic and leaves them with further to walk to the entrance.

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Hugh Munro shows how the new parking spaces means he has to get out of his car into the road Picture: Lisa Ferguson

Now Tory group leader Iain Whyte, whose Inverleith ward covers the Botanics, says previous proposals for a longer-term redesign of the area with a new pedestrian crossing included plans for a reduced number of disabled spaces in the crescent, making them side-on rather than nose-in.

And he called on the council to look again at the idea in the hope of coming up with an alternative everyone could agree to.

He said: "What has been taken away is end-on parking and what I remember the drawing showed was some parallel-parked disabled bays for blue-badge holders, so that would have allowed some access, though not as many vehicles as had previously been there. The area is certainly large enough to do that.

“That will be one of the discussions I will be having with officers when we meet again on Friday to look at the situation.

“There must be a way we can find to allow safe crossing for pedestrians and keep most vehicles out but allow blue-badge holders proper access. That's the balance we've got to find.”

Disabled campaigner Hugh Munro – who recently staged a demonstration of how difficult it was for him to get out of his car into the road – welcomed Councillor Whyte’s suggestion.

"It would be a compromise,” he said. “But it certainly would be a start.

"Side-on parking for me personally would mean I could get out the driver's door onto clear space. There would be more space for getting out with side-on parking than there would be with parking into the kerb.”

And he suggested the number of spaces could be increased by using the crescent on the opposite side of the road, outside Inverleith Park, as well.

“What they should do is have these spaces on both sides of the crescent in both crescents, then it wouldn't be much different from the number we had before,” he said.

Meanwhile Mr Munro says he has been invited to meet members of the transport committee, ward councillors and officials at the west gate on Friday – but may not be able to go because of the parking problems.

He said he had asked the council, but no-one had come back to him.

"If the bays are full I won’t get in and 20 yards is my maximum to walk,” he said.

"The Botanics aren’t allowed to bring me a scooter and if I’m not allowed to take my car into the crescent, what am I going to do?

“I have been invited to this to give my view and I will not be able to get there unless they come back and make allowances of some sort to accommodate me attending that meeting.”

The council has indicated it is willing to look at refinements of its proposals.

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