Edinburgh road closure: Trial closure of Portobello's Brunstane Road set to become permanent

Edinburgh’s transport committee votes to begin legal process

Councillors have voted to continue the closure of a “nightmare” road in Portobello amid a clash of views between residents of the road and others nearby.

Brunstane Road, which links Milton Road East and Joppa Road, has been closed to through traffic on a trial basis since early this year under an experimental traffic order (ETRO) after long-running problems with traffic jams, damage to parked cars and anti-social behaviour.

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Residents from the street told the city’s transport committee the positive impact of the ban on through traffic had been “amazing”, but a council engagement exercise in the wider Portobello community found more than 65 per cent opposed to the closure being made permanent. A report to the committee said: “In general, the public feedback highlights that those who live on Brunstane Road are supportive of the changes made under the ETRO, while those who indicated that they do not live on Brunstane Road are opposed.”

Brunstane Road is a narrow residential street with parking on both sides yet was being used by 2,200 vehicles a day.

The committee agreed to begin the legal process to make the closure permanent under a Traffic Regulation Order (TRO) with Labour, SNP and Green councillors backing the move and the Lib Dems and Tories against.

Leading a deputation from residents’ group Calming Brunstane, Trevor McDonald said the closure had been welcomed in the street. “It's now a pleasant place to walk and live in, it's improved safety for all road users and there’s been an increase in walkers and cyclists.

"We were getting something over 2,000 vehicles a day using our street, including HGVs. We had to endure abuse, damage to cars, gridlock, stress. We were getting one vehicle every week being damaged by passing traffic, ranging from £200 to replace a wing mirror to thousands of pounds for a whole bumper ripped off a car because sometimes people can't pull into a parking space without hitting a parked vehicle.”

He said he had lived in the street for 25 years. “When I first moved in, it was used by local people and taxi drivers who had the knowledge, but now satnav is in every vehicle and satnav takes you down our street as a short cut. I'm begging you, please don't reopen Brusntane Road to through traffic – it's a nightmare.”

But Diana Cairns, of Brightons and Rosefield residents association, told the committee the closure of Brunstane Road had caused “a load of problems elsewhere” and in some cases these were even worse than had been predicted. She said: “Many more people have been disadvantaged than have benefited from this scheme. Traffic has been displaced to this area and Coillesdene. There has been an increase in rat-running around East Brighton Crescent and Lee Crescent, putting residents and children attending the nursery in the street at increased risk of accidents.”

She said proposed mitigation measures, such as chicanes and seed bumps, which were now proposed for the Coillesdene area, could easily have been implemented in Brunstane Road, avoiding complete closure. “A compromise would be fairer for all, but it seems the residents of Brunstane Road are to be given preferential treatment.” She said traffic in Brighton Place had increased by an “alarming” 30 per cent, but the council planned no mitigation measures. And she urged councillors to reopen Brunstane Road "for the sake of the many, not the few".

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Portobello Conservative councillor Tim Jones said the overwhelming majority of people in Portobello and Joppa did not want the trial closure of Brunstane Road to be made permanent. He said when he had campaigned for election in May he had found “real anger” that the council had ignored the wishes of the community in agreeing the closure and he said the anti-social behaviour complained of in Brunstane Road was now happening in other streets. He told the committee: "There is no rationale as to why the wishes of the minority override the wishes of the majority.”

Lib Dem Kevin Lang said he recalled when the trial was first agreed the committee was told that once the closure was introduced and people saw the benefits opinion would change. “Opinions have not changed. The feedback we’re getting is virtually unchanged from what we heard, but the decision is going to be to plough on regardless.”

Committee convener Scott Arthur said the report made clear there were winners and losers, but on balance there was a case for continuing the closure and it was right to test that via the statutory process.