Edinburgh's Botanic Garden: disappointment as new disabled parking won't be in place for Easter

Campaigners say they are disappointed after transport bosses admitted hopes of restoring some disabled parking at the entrance to the Royal Botanic Garden will not be met by Easter weekend.

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Disabled driver Hugh Munro has led calls for the return of blue-badge parking to the crescents on either side of Arboretum Place at the Botanics' west gate. A compromise plan appeared to have been agreed to establish four disabled bays in each crescent.

In an update to councillors and stakeholders, a senior transport official says: "I agreed that we would endeavour to change the crescent parking layout before the Easter weekend. Unfortunately, due to various factors I think it’s unlikely we will get the crescent parking revised before April 14."

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Mr Munro said many families' plans would be spoiled. "Easter is one of the busiest times of the year at the Botanics. Lots of grandparents will have been hoping to go and see their grandchildren enjoying the Easter activities, but if they have mobility problems that's not going to be possible for many of them now.”

He fears the council may be backtracking on the idea of four disabled bays on each side, reverting instead to their previous proposal of just two.

He said: "They have missed their deadline yet again and haven't said why. I can only think there's other people behind them not happy about the progress we have made."

And he says the plans do not address concerns about the disabled bays which have been relocated to the main road. He staged a demonstration last year to show how dangerous it was for disabled drivers to get out of their cars into the road with traffic passing.

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Hugh Munro says the on-street disabled parking spaces are dangerous, forcing drivers to get out into traffic. Photo: Lisa Ferguson.

"They have lengthened the bays to accommodate minibuses and ramps but they haven't increased the width to protect you from the road. Some of the roadside bays are more than the maximum 50 metres away from the entrance and they're totally unsafe."

The council plans to create a pedestrianised area outside the west gate with a new crossing. It proposes narrowing the road to slow cars down, but Mr Munro fears it will have the opposite effect. "They're just going to speed up to get through the gap. Some wide boy is going to come flying through there, not bothering about who's getting out of their vehicles and just swat them down. Unless you have a policeman standing there 24/7 to nab them it's not going to make the slightest difference to motorists.”

A council spokesperson said: “Our officers have worked hard to improve the layout on Arboretum Place, considering numerous designs and assessing these in a road safety context to find a solution which works for all who visit the area. It’s essential we provide a safe pedestrian crossing at this busy location, as well as access for those with mobility needs.

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“We’ve spent a great deal of time liaising with Mr Munro and other stakeholders to address concerns around blue-badge parking. The final option will increase the number of blue-badge spaces, as well as reducing the road width, to provide more space for people exiting cars and encourage slower speeds.

“We appreciate the desire to have the changes introduced by Easter and we apologise for any inconvenience caused by the delay, during an independent road safety audit process.”

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