Edinburgh disabled campaigner shows just how difficult it is to use blue-badge spaces outside Botanics

Disabled campaigner Hugh Munro staged a demonstration to show councillors how difficult it is to use the new blue-badge spaces near Edinburgh’s Royal Botanic Garden after the previous designated bays at the garden’s west gate were removed.

By Ian Swanson
Wednesday, 10th November 2021, 4:55 am
Updated Wednesday, 10th November 2021, 1:18 pm

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The new on-road parking spaces mean he has to struggle out of his car into the busy road and onto his crutches as traffic speeds past, then manoeuvre himself around the car and onto the pavement where he can transfer to a scooter brought out by a member of the Botanics staff.

Before the current Spaces for People scheme in Arboretum Place was installed, there were disabled spaces in the semi-circle right next to the Botanics entrance, but the council has now made that a pedestrianised area and relocated the spaces down the road.

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Mr Munro then has to manoeuvre himself and walk round the car Picture: Lisa Ferguson

Several councillors turned up along with the media to see Mr Munro’s demonstration. “The road was very busy and they all saw the problems,” he said.

But he was also dealt a new blow. “The Botanics dropped the bombshell that, because of insurance, in future they're not allowed to take a scooter past their own gates – although they might be ok to take it to the semi-circle where the spaces used to be – so they can't come and get me.”

Inverleith councillor and Tory group leader Iain Whyte, who attended the demonstration, said: “It was really obvious to anyone watching that Mr Munro had real difficulty. He can’t walk any distance and he needs to transfer to a scooter to access somewhere like the Botanics or if he goes shopping. It’s feasible to do that in the car park of a shop, but it’s not easy to achieve that in a safe manner outside the Botanics at present.”

Cllr Whyte said there was a long-standing request for a pedestrian crossing between the Botanics and Inverleith Park on the other side of Arboretum Place. “That shouldn’t stop us finding a way of allowing blue-badge holders and others with mobility issues to access the Botanics.”

And finally Mr Munro reaches the pavement and the scooter Picture: Lisa Ferguson

He said there had been two designs and two consultations but the project had then been forgotten about and the latest plan was to extend the existing Spaces for People lay-out for another 18 months.

The council has said it wants to minimise the scheme’s impact on disabled drivers.

Read more: Edinburgh council accused of 'not listening' to disabled drivers over parking at Botanic Garden

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Disabled campaigner Hugh Munro has to get out of his car onto the busy road Picture: Lisa Ferguson

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