Motion by Councillor Neil Ross – Quiet Route from Greenbank to the Meadows

There is a bit of confusion regarding the motion to “Reopen Braid Road” at Full-Council on Thursday (17th September). Firstly, there was no such motion. Councillor Neil Ross (Lib Dem) tabled a motion on the “Quiet Route from Greenbank to the Meadows”. This asked for a consultation to be undertaken on a proposed quiet route for cyclists, and for consideration to be given to prioritising “future road re-surfacing of Braidburn Terrace, the Braid Avenue/Cluny Gardens crossroads” as well as “sections of Canaan Lane and Cluny Drive”. It also suggested that the Council should consider introducing “traffic calming measures along the length of Hermitage Drive and Midmar Drive”.

To be clear, nobody has ever contacted me suggesting these changes were needed. The people that do contact me tend to want roads in my Ward prioritised for investment, rather than those elsewhere.

The Lib-Dem motion also asked for the reopening Braid Road to be consulted upon. The Tories amended that section to call for a temporary reopening of the road whilst a three month(!) consultation got underway. I want a permanent decision reached on Braid Road ASAP. I don’t see the point in prolonging the uncertainty for months and then waiting on a report.

Behind the scenes, I was lobbying for the October 1st Transport Committee to be used to:1. Provide an update on the future of Braid Road, including the option to reopen it; and,2. That local people get a greater say on the future of Braid Road.

I was given written assurances that if I raised these points in the debate, I would be given a “constructive response” from the Transport Convener. Sadly that did not happen.

I therefore did not support the Council Admistration’s position (essentially a report in November with no guarantee reopening Braid Road would even be an option), but could not support the Tory suggestion of a “temporary reopening” and taking money (perhaps over £1m) from elsewhere in the city to resurface roads and introduce traffic calming measures that nobody has made the case to me for.

The issue here is not really Braid Road, it’s the failure of the Council to listen to people. A complicating factor is the polarised debate, with too many Councillors unwilling to admit there is any problem with their approach. We received an update on the scheme yesterday (a draft report for the Oct Transport Committee) – Tories raised no concerns about Braid Rd. Lib-Dems did not show up. I am sure to would have been different if the meeting was webcast!

Unlike most of the seven Cllrs representing Fairmilehead / Comiston / Morningside, I actually live in my Ward (in Buckstone to be specific) so I understand the local situation. I have been working with Ian Murray MP & Daniel Johnson MSP on this, and I feel I have done more than any local Councillor to stand up for local people every single day (not just in Council meetings). This is evidenced on my blog and my Facebook pages which have been reaching thousands of people on this issue. The motion text is below

The video of the debate can be seen here and my contribution is here.

The Motion

Council:

Notes the proposal for a Quiet Route from Greenbank to the Meadows involving six road closures in Morningside.

Notes the proposal has been made without notifying any residents living on or near the proposed route or permitting residents the opportunity to express their views on the proposals, either positive or negative, by way of public consultation. 

Notes the proposal claims to tackle rat-running traffic but does not address speeding traffic on Hermitage Drive or Midmar Drive.

Notes the proposal includes two options for Braid Road, either to remain closed or to re-open for southbound traffic only.

Notes that the Council is proposing to implement the scheme by means of a Temporary Traffic Regulation Order despite the fact that there is no evidence that local residents and users of the route have any difficulties meeting the social distancing rules on this route.

Notes that the Council’s Commonplace online ideas tool collected twice as much support for protected cycle lanes on Whitehouse Loan than for closing that road to motor vehicles.

Notes the condition of the road surface on the proposed route, apart from Whitehouse Loan, is generally poor, especially on Canaan Lane, Cluny Drive, Braidburn Terrace and at the Braid Avenue/Cluny Gardens crossroads.

Believes that the level of danger of the transmission of Covid-19 infection between cyclists and other road users on the proposed route is so low that it does not justify using the Council’s emergency powers to implement this scheme.

Believes that local residents should be allowed to express their views on traffic management and road use proposals in their communities and that their views should be taken into account before a decision is made on whether to implement such proposals.

Therefore proposes that the implementation of the Greenbank to Meadows Quiet Route using a temporary traffic regulation order should be paused and

instructs officers to hold an informal public consultation in the next three months with residents living on or near the proposed route and the school communities of James Gillespie’s High School and Primary School and NHS Lothian to identify levels of local support for:

The Tories changed the above paragraph to: Instructs officers to hold an informal public consultation in the next three months with residents living on or near the proposed route, relevant school communities in Wards 8 & Ward 10 including James Gillespie’s High School and Primary School and NHS Lothian to identify levels of local support for:

  1. the existing proposals for a Greenbank to Meadows Quiet Route; and
  2. an alternative proposal for the same route, not involving road closures, to:
    • to gather any other practical suggestions from local residents with regard to this route that can be managed within existing budgets; and
    • prioritise future road re-surfacing of Braidburn Terrace, the Braid Avenue/Cluny Gardens crossroads and the relevant sections of Canaan Lane and Cluny Drive that are part of the route; and
    • introduce traffic calming measures along the length of Hermitage Drive and Midmar Drive;and
    • re-open Braid Road and use the time available before re-opening to re-surface the sections that are in poor condition and to install appropriate traffic calming measures, such as raising the road surface at road intersections and installing a pedestrian and cycle crossing near the entrance to the Hermitage and a chicane at the corner below the hotel.
    • The Tories changed the above to: Permanent re-opening of Braid Road including resurfacing, installation of appropriate traffic calming measures such as virtual speed humps, raising the road surface at road intersections, installing a pedestrian and cycle crossing near the entrance to the Hermitage and a chicane at the corner below the hotel, with Braid Road to be temporarily re-opened in both directions pending commencement and evaluation of the consultation in order to alleviate immediate concerns around traffic displacement and pollution.
  3. to gather any other practical suggestions from local residents with regard to this route that can be managed within existing budgets; and
  4. to draw up a report to the Transport and Environment Committee to present the results of the informal public consultation for consideration and further action.”

Council Administration Amendment

Deletes all (of the Lib-Dem Motion and replaces it with):
Notes that a proposal for a Quiet Route between Greenbank Crossroads and the Meadows, designed to establish a network of safe quiet streets using modal filters and to provide a safe cycleway from Fairmilehead to the city centre, will come forward to the Transport and Environment Committee on Nov 12th.

Notes that some of this proposal builds on suggestions from local community group ‘Blackford Safer Streets’.
Notes that stakeholder engagement has not yet begun ahead of the report on November 12th.

Recognises that there is considerable concern circulating in communities about the consultation process for Spaces for People projects already agreed to by this Council.

Notes that the agreed process includes a feedback mechanism for each project on issues raised by stakeholders, including community councils and elected ward members, as well as the stated intention to amend schemes post-implementation if appropriate (‘try and modify’ method).

Requests a meeting among all relevant ward councillors and transport spokespersons, convened by the Transport Convener, before Oct 3 to allow questions to be raised and for a comprehensive briefing on these proposals to be provided, including clarification on community consultation.

              

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