Time to put the brake on city road closures

Time to put the brake on city road closuresOnly pedestrians and cyclists can use Braid Road

From the outset, the Conservative group raised concerns about the levels of democratic scrutiny, the poor levels of genuine consultation and finally how the schemes would be approved for implementation. Our fears have proven prescient. Little did we know at that committee back in May the extent of the schemes that would come forward.

The SNP-led council, using their emergency powers, have looked through their folder of projects which were previously ditched due to lack of public support, stuck Covid emergency labels on, and brought them forward for implementation.

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Time to put the brake on city road closuresTime to put the brake on city road closuresPentland Hills ward Cllr Susan Webber is transport spokesperson for the Conservative group on the City of Edinburgh Council

Nowhere is this more blatant than in the case of the Low Traffic Neighbourhood (LTN) that they have planned for East Craigs. But the SNP, and their Labour sidekicks, had forgotten one thing, the strength of community, their fortitude, intelligence and ability to put their case forward. One other thing that had been “forgotten” was the legality of imposing such unreasonable and disproportionate measures to solve a problem that, as those living there clearly state, is not a problem!

Is it legal to use emergency powers to inflict a scheme upon a community that “might otherwise have faced considerable opposition and possibly not have been made.” Given the case is now subject to legal dispute it seems not. And as the council is yet to share its legal counsel’s opinion publicly, the elected members have seen it and we have been asked to keep this confidential. In the meantime, it seems the administration is now out and about, grovelling to the same local residents that they continue to disrespect on a daily basis, seeking any way possible to save face.

As the November meeting of Transport and Environment Committee approaches, where the East Craigs LTN report will yet again be presented, after bouncing back and forth from full council to TEC to ironically give the council time to confirm the legality, there are other schemes that will also be up for review. Many of these have proven to be just as controversial, with Braid Road being chief among them. The consequences of this road closure, compounded by the impact of the temporary measures now installed along Comiston Road, are numerous.

It has created gridlock, displaced traffic builds-up in neighbouring Greenbank streets, and pupils are regularly late for school as public transport is delayed. The various Council schemes and installations designed to support the local businesses in the area have done the complete opposite. Surely the time has now come to re-open Braid Road?

This would clearly be the right decision, but I have lost all faith in this reckless council administration which has proven time and time again that they are unfit for public office. The whole point of local government is that politicians are closer to the people that they represent. Accountability and responsibility should naturally follow, but not so in Edinburgh, where the SNP and Labour have rejected any calls for a change of course.

They continue to bring shame on Edinburgh and plough on regardless with projects that heap more reputational damage on our city. The latest controversial scheme is for Lanark Road. Floating bus stops aplenty, segregated cycle ways, removal of on-street parking.

Main roads are communities too and the council seem to have forgotten this. Their plans will make lives difficult for all those living on the route, using it to access leisure facilities and for customers to access businesses. It will, I am certain be welcomed by all the cyclists that can make it up that hill!

I cycle and that is not a route I would ever choose, segregated or not. The Conservatives continue to be the only party in Edinburgh which truly represent the wishes of residents. I, along with my colleagues in the Conservative group, will continue to fight on behalf of the people of Edinburgh and we will continue to push for greater accountability from the administration.

Pentland Hills ward Cllr Susan Webber is transport spokesperson for the Conservative group on the City of Edinburgh Council