Edinburgh's Royal Botanic Garden: Council's new parking plans 'just a sop' says disabled campaigner
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But campaigners say the new scheme still does not meet the needs of the many disabled people who love to visit the Botanics.
A temporary Spaces for People measure during the pandemic scrapped all parking in the crescent at the garden's west gate and the matching crescent on the other side of the road, outside Inverleith Park. Both areas were blocked off with bollards and disabled parking was relocated to on-street spaces on Arboretum Place.
The council now aims to create a permanent pedestrian area and crossing. And under the original proposals all disabled parking was going to remain on-street despite calls for some spaces to be restored to the crescents.
Disabled campaigner Hugh Munro even staged a demonstration to show how difficult it was for him to use the on-street spaces, getting out with his crutches into busy traffic and having to walk round to the pavement to get onto a scooter.
The new plans do bring disabled parking back to the crescents – but only two spaces in each.
"It's just a sop,” said Mr Munro. "If you have 5,000 people coming in on a busy Sunday afternoon in summer a fair percentage of that will have blue badges where are they all going to go?
"This is a top-flight visitor attraction but it's going to suffer because a lot of people with blue badges, of which there are 6,500 in Edinburgh alone, are not going to be able to come and park because there's going to be nowhere for them.
"They could be coming from Dundee or the Borders and they get here and there are no spaces."
And he wondered if there would have to be a booking system.
Mr Munro said if they used nose-in spaces it might be possible to get about 30 disabled parking slots in the crescents.
“They need a civil engineer to maximise the disabled spaces for the expected numbers of people that could be there on a busy afternoon.
“The Botanics is one of Scotland's top visitor attractions. The council should be making it easier for people to access, not more difficult.”