Lothian Buses Meeting Notes – Changes to 10 and 16 Services

Below are notes from a meeting myself and David Houston (Colinton Community Council) held with Lothian Buses to discuss the planned changes to the 10 & 16 Services to Colinton. I am not happy with the outcome, but I now have a better idea of what is driving matters.

(Image from Callum Colville)

Cllr Scott Arthur and David Houston, Transport Convener, Colinton Community Council

We met with Lothian Buses (Gaynor Marshall, Communications Director and Board Member and Keith Finlay, Business Development Manager) to discuss major changes to the 10 and 16 services which many people in Colinton rely on. These changes are planned to take place from Sunday 5 June.  Broadly, the No 10 route will become a Bonaly only service at a higher frequency of typically 4 per hour and the No 16 route will be extended to Torphin (like the N16) and provide a frequent service of about 5 per hour to Morningside but a longer journey to the City centre.

We started by outlining that many people in Colinton warmly welcomed aspects of the proposals, especially Bonaly passengers, but many residents living along the Woodhall Road/ Torphin Road area had concerns – particularly being deprived of a more direct service to town and regarding children travelling to school.

We expressed concern about the lack of local consultation with Colinton people by Lothian Buses over such a significant change but were told that, currently, they had insufficient resources to commit to consultation on all service changes across Edinburgh.  In the absence of this, Cllr Arthur had conducted his own local survey which had quickly gathered over 350 responses, mostly concerned about the impact of the proposals on west Colinton.

Lothian Buses outlined how devastating the effect of the Covid Pandemic had been on their services and profitability, and expressed their concern that financial aid from the Scottish Government was about to end despite their services being months (or perhaps years) away from returning to normal.  They noted that public transport recovery in terms of passenger numbers in Edinburgh had been slower than elsewhere, and that city redevelopment projects (e.g. tram works) were impacting on service reliability. It was also noted that Lothian Buses are not fully compensated by the Scottish Government for providing “free” travel for people under 22.  This context is important for Lothian Buses as they wanted to communicate that they were not changing the timetable from a position of strength. In particular, to return to the frequency in 2019 when both Bonaly and Torphin had a 20min service was just not possible right now.

They acknowledged that there had been non-trivial reliability issues with the 10 service, but argued that this was partly due to the bifurcation of the No 10 bus route to Bonaly and Torphin (it makes it harder to turn around a delayed bus).  It was explained that having a single terminus at the end of the 10 and 16 route would improve reliability.

Lothian Buses accepted that the 16 was a slightly slower route into the city, but argued that this was balanced by the fact that it was a more frequent service than the 10: 12min typically instead of 30min.

We explored introducing a peak time “Torphin 10”, or giving people free transfers from the 16 to the 10 at Rustic Cottages, but these were argued to be not commercially viable options. Nor were there any plans to introduce different ticketing, such as a 1 hour pass allowing use of multiple buses, but it was noted the Day Ticket remains an option and passengers under 22 and over 59 would have “free” travel anyway. They did say, however, that they will attempt to ensure the new timetable facilitates changes between the 10 and 16 in Colinton. We pointed out that if Rustic Cottages was to become a heavily used interchange point, the existing bus stop on the narrow pavement needed to be redesigned and expanded to minimise the risk of accidents, especially involving school children. This would actually be an Edinburgh Council responsibility through the Bus Stop Working Party. 

They also undertook to provide a free service from the foot of Bonaly Rd to the Bonaly terminus for passengers wishing to access the new No 10 service directly from Woodhall Rd. In the outward direction, Woodhall Rd customers would still have the choice of taking the Bonaly 10 to Bonaly Rd or the Torphin 16.

We asked why the 16 had not been extended to Bonaly and the Torphin 10 retained and they indicated that was mainly down to the physical difficulty of the 100-seater 16 buses negotiating the narrow Bonaly roads.

Lothian Buses concluded that they intended to proceed as planned, but agreed to keep the situation under review. Any early difficulties will be addressed in the next scheduled timetable change in September but they believe that any major change like this should be given a reasonable opportunity to bed in.

This is not the outcome we hoped for, and it is particularly disappointing given the length of time it has taken to arrange the meeting. Whilst we still have significant concerns about the proposals, we can see that Lothian Buses are in a very difficult position.

The meeting ended with agreement that local residents should have more opportunity to input into any suggested service changes, and we discussed ways of doing this in the future.

Edinburgh needs a progressive Council that puts our Capital first

I had to do a double-take when I read my Evening News today (15/05/22). SNP Councillor Adam McVey claimed to have “a mandate to lead the city” despite his group having just 19 of Edinburgh’s 63 Councillors and his party’s share of first preference votes fell to 25.9%.

This kind of outlook perhaps explains why the Greens, Labour, Lib-Dems and Tories all appear less than keen to work with Edinburgh’s nationalist Councillors.

In the article he rightly mentions the “cost of living crisis” as being one of the biggest challenges facing people in Edinburgh today, but he failed to mention his party’s role in making it worse. From driving up rents by allowing short term lets to run riot in Edinburgh for a decade to increasing our water bills to help fund Scottish Water’s boss taking a bonus of £227,000, the SNP have much to answer for.

Indeed, the SNP’s failure to stand up for ordinary people in Edinburgh is a key part of why Labour can’t support them in running our city. We will, however, work with progressive people in every party who put our city first to help tackle the combined challenges of the cost of living crisis, the climate emergency and the Covid recovery. 

Initial Poll Results – Changes to 10 & 16 Bus Service

Update (21-05-22) – Linked here are notes from a meeting myself and David Houston (Colinton Community Council) held with Lothian Buses. I am not happy with the outcome, but I now have a better idea if of what is driving matters.

Update (18-05-22) – 366 people have now responded to my survey, with just 12.9% supporting the change, 20.7% requesting further consultation and 66.d% saying they prefer the status quo.

Update (30-04-22) – 323 people have now responded, with just 12.7% supporting the change, 20.4% requesting further consultation and 66.9% saying they prefer the status quo.

Interim Results

Lothian Buses have announced changes to the 10 & 16 bus services used by many in Colinton. The key changes with be that:

  1. The 10 will serve Bonaly via Colinton; and,
  2. The 16 will serve Torphin via Colinton.

Details are here.

The increased service to Bonaly is to be welcomed, but it appears that some in west Colinton will pay the price for this via:

  1. A slightly slower service in to town.
  2. More difficult journeys to Tesco & Allermuir Health Centre.
  3. Losing the bus service to Firrhill High School, Meggetland, GWC, and Edinburgh Leisure’s Craiglockhart Leisure Centre & Tennis Centre.

The official response to these concerns I received from Lothian Buses on this was:

The network alteration is intended to improve the overall service provision for both Torphin and Bonaly. The current weekday daytime frequency is 2 buses each hour to Torphin and one bus per hour to Bonaly. From the change this will increase to 5 and 3 respectively. School children and elderly customers are entitled to free travel through the Scottish National Entitlement scheme and can change buses in Colinton at no additional cost. We appreciate that journey time is a factor in many peoples decision to use public transport, however service frequency is also a massive consideration and we believe that the significant increases in frequency will be a benefit to both areas.

Lothian Buses, 27-04-22

I found these comments to be disappointing, “free” travel should not be second rate travel! I know there are a range of views locally, so I set up a poll to better understand local opinion on this issue.

After just 24 hours, I have received 237 responses with just 12.2% supporting the change, 20.3% requesting further consultation and 67.5% saying they prefer the status quo.

When I read the comments from residents (listed below), however, it is clear that opinion is less divided that these statistics suggest. I could see that the consensus is:

  1. The bus service should be a viable alternative to using the car.
  2. The current service, and the changes proposed by Lothian Buses, don’t meet the needs of the local community.
  3. Residents would welcome an opportunity to provide feedback to Lothian Buses.

Separately, Colinton Community Council have contacted me raising concerns about what Lothian Buses are proposing. Based on this, emails I have received, and my poll results I have therefore taken the unusual step of contacting a member of Lothian Buses’ board to request that a representative attends the Colinton Community Council meeting scheduled for the 10th of May. A publicly owned bus service should be publicly accountable.

If you have not done so already, it is not too late to complete my poll.

Cllr Scott Arthur

Comments from those seeking consultation on the changes.

  1. If the council want us to be more environmentally conscious when travelling in the city, they should invest more in public transport to benefit all residents, not just those who live near the tramlines.
  2. The current route is better than the proposed route for reasons outlined in your post, but understandable that the bus company might need to make changes for economic reasons. A consultation would be a good middle ground to find out what the customers need. “
  3. I think the 10 should cover both Torphin and Bonaly as one bus route and the 16 should remain as is.
  4. Prior to lockdown I used the 10 Torphin daily to get into town or to Haymarket station via 10&4. But I also use the shops at Oxgangs Broadway & Morningside a lot so connect onto the 16. I now have to walk back most of the time from Westgarth on my return as the 10 timetable is reduced plus delayed by tram and road works so usually have to wait ages for a connection. So an alternating 10 and 16 with good frequency would be great. A major consideration I think is to ensure we keep a bus going up to Tipereth to allow service users access to independent travel and for the staff, many of whom I think are gap students on low income so not likely to have their own car. Also, don’t forget Braidburn pupils. In their senior years some undertake independent travel training so would rely on a 10 to get to or from school.
  5. The reduction in frequency in the 10 since lockdown is an issue now that office working is back in place for many. Access to the local services is a must, and the ‘slightly longer’ journey on the 16 is considerable when getting to work in the morning, with adjustments to childcare now a concern that many will have to consider.
  6. Our children travel to school on this service and will now find it harder to travel safely and increase the time to get to school. Hugely disappointing!
  7. I like the frequency of the 16 servicing Torphin and it makes sense to extend this service. But we also need the bus to go to Firhill and Watsons for school children. Some people living here may also have bought their house because they could use the bus to get to work thus reducing car use. So we also need the 10 to Torphin. If we HAD to choose I would keep the 10 as it is but would prefer a blended approach.
  8. I would like to know whether the no16 route is going to change beyond the extension to Torphin or continues it’s current route? Everyone is assuming the existing route.
  9. Could the Bonaly and Torphin service be amalgamated. Up Woodhall Road, terminate at Torphin and return to the village via Bonaly ?
  10. It is not about the “free” bustravel it’s about children having to now get two buses to school-the stop at Rustic cottages is busy as it is in the morning, has anyone from Lothian buses travelled the route at 8am when it’s full of school children? Has anyone from Lothian buses travelled the 16 route lately to understand the complaints about the ridiculous long journey time?
  11. Streamline the 10 service to service torphin too
  12. I would urge some peak time 10 torphin buses to accommodate school children travelling to Firrhill high school and commuters
  13. Proposed changes to the 10 service are dreadful for city workers and school children.
  14. “Surely the consideration of people in West Colinton’s needs should come into the equation not just service freqyency. There is no indication that the 16 and 10 services are going to synch and therefore there may be a considerable wait or repeated delays to get buses and connect to 10 if wanting to travel to town Craiglockhart GWC etc rather than use the slower route for the 16. Its the lack of consultation the impact on those with mobility issues or other difficulties and the older age group and impact on ability to shop or get to important venues that annoys the most.Its been a difficult time for many with the pandemic and if changes are brought in leading to further difficulties getting about when things are just starting to feel more normal and relaxed about using buses this could & probably will lead to furer isolation and social exclusion”
  15. If the connection between the new 10 and 16 services are well coordinated then i have no issue
  16. It is frustrating that there is a low frequency of buses, but the 16 route is very different to the 10 route. I realise it is being pointed out that people can either change buses or walk from Woodfield Avenue to Colinton village. These options all have issues, including additional cost, longer journey time, and a long walk along Woodhall Road alone in the dark will be considered a safety risk for vulnerable people. All these issues make it more likely that people will continue to choose cars as transport over buses.
  17. Why not increase the number of buses?
  18. Living in Bonaly I can sympathise with West Colinton residents at the proposed loss of No 10. Equally, I find current No 10 service to Bonaly quite restrictive.
  19. The number 10 to Torphin is a much appreciated service and we’d be really upset to lose it. Taking the 16, or attempting to co-ordinate a change of buses, would significantly lengthen the journey into town. Surely it could be possible to plan a 10 route so that the same bus could serve both Bonaly and Torphin? It would make the journey slightly longer but would be much more convenient than travelling via Oxgangs/Braids/Morningside!
  20. The removal of the number 10 will make travel into town longer via morningside (a congested route already) and will probably lead to more just using the car. The face that there has been no consultation is also very poor, likewise the fact that there is talk of proposed changes to the 16 route.
  21. “Whilst i understand the need to improve services this does not feel like an improvement for the residents who use the Torphon service. Would it not make more sense to edit/combine the Torphin and Bonaly to one route as we had previously? This means that both areas benefit from an increased number of services whilst still allowing the residents to benefit from a 20 minute link to town instead of the almost 1 hour it takes on the 16.
  22. I dont qualify for free travel and already have to take 2 buses to and from work. These changes would mean i needed to add another journey thus increasing my costs as well as the travel time by a a minimum of 30 mins each way as you can bet that the schedules wont match up nicely. As a key worker who has worked in healthcare throughout the pandemic the thought of adding extra time onto my already long shifts is disheartening and ultimately would presenta verydifficult decision to leave my current role or move away from Colinton.
  23. For many the 15/20 minute walk to the villiage is not a hardship however on dark, wet and winter nights that has a severe impact on my feeling of safety in my local area.
  24. The extension of the night bus when it began to include Torphin is invaluable so i fully respect the need for change. This simply is not the right change.
  25. A final point is that a single decker 45 service cannot possibly manage the volume of pupils who rely on the no 10 to take them to school (gwc and heriots) and the bus stop at rustic cottages is dangerous at the best of time and causes massive traffic issues as it is let alone when you add multiple extra passengers. Pedestrians struggle to get past queues safely end frequently end up using the road to pass.
  26. Thank you for taking the time to look into this.
  27. A consultation would be best so that there is a debate on the pros and cons of services to Torphin with an outcome being a better understanding for all parties
  28. Please clarify the new 16 route – imp to make a decision. Current route would add significantly to travell time
  29. Can’t get to firrhill from Torphin as 16 takes you down towards Redford
  30. I am not supportive of a more regular bus going down Woodhall Road which is a narrow road and has a narrow pavement (one side only at many points). This will be dangerous for young families. In addition, I do no support a change which means children will have to change bus to get to the local high school. I do not believe this is practical or in line with the council’s ‘safe routes to school’ obligation. It is impractical to take a number 16 into town as the journey time is much longer.
  31. It would matter less if Lothian Buses changed the pricing structure to accommodate that bus changes are required as a result of route changes. Not everyone gets free bus travel so whilst we all need to be flexible about changing buses to make a journey not served by a direct route, we should not be penalised financially for doing so. In London the travel system accommodates changes required but here you are penalised if your single journey for a day turns into two buses being taken, never mind the wait times to connect.
  32. At least some torphin 10s should be retained, especially during rushour when the 16 will be far too slow.

Comments from those in favour of the status quo

  1. Definitely makes it more difficult for our kids to get the bus directly to school.
  2. My son uses Craiglockhart gym regularly and will now need to get 2 buses there.
  3. Longer travel time to get to work.
  4. Feel that Lothian buses have made no attempt to consult with local residents.
  5. Have bus times been coordinated if we choose to get a 16 into the village then transfer to the 10 then?
  6. Cost implications!
  7. I have a teenage daughter that uses the 10 everyday from the west mill stop to get to school – this ‘straight past firrhill’ service is cut out with the proposed change
  8. The proposed changes will increase our commute to work in town. It will also impact our daughter when she moves to high school.
  9. The detour through Morningside on the number 16 is a step back. Has anyone thought of the school children?
  10. If the service has to be changed could we at least keep a more direct route into town at peak times. As the crow flies the 16 route isn’t much longer but the trawl through Morningside traffic takes much longer and doesn’t allow for quick transport to Napier, Craiglockhart, Meggetland and Polwarth.
  11. The present service works well. What is being proposed might increase the frequency but if it doesn’t serve what customers need it is totally pointless!
  12. Kids use no 10 to get to school, they can’t use a no 16
  13. The 16 is too long and indirect to be considered a realistic option for those who live in colinton and get the bus to work. Also not ideal for school children – yes they can get too buses but the the waiting time in between makes this very inconvenient
  14. This change means we have no direct access to our local high school, our commute to work will be 20+ minutes longer (both based in centre of town) and I see no benefits to the new system
  15. If it ain’t broke don’t fix it!
  16. Mental
  17. These proposed changes show little understanding of the needs of the community. Frequency of service has never been an issue for those in West Colinton – easier public transport to schools, GP services, supermarkets etc. is far more important. The proposed changes significantly impact on these, particularly for younger families and older people. These changes would make most journeys less convenient and are likely to discourage use of public transport, therefore (cynically) allowing LRT to argue for reduced services in future. The lack of any consultation over the changes is particularly galling – LRT should be responsible to the community that pays for them.
  18. The current service provides a direct and efficient route for commuters into the city centre, direct access to local secondary schools, sports facilities and supermarkets. The proposed changes are not an appropriate alternative. What evidence has been used to support these changes and what consultation and impact assessment has been undertaken with passengers or disability groups. I thought the policy was to improve bus services not make them worse. This will inevitably force people back into their private cars snd cause parking issues elsewhere in the network. Very very frustrated.
  19. We live at torphin terminal. This will leave the kids with no easy bus route to school at firrhill nor all their after school activities at meggetland or craiglockhart Edinburgh leisure – their two lnearest sports facilities. We will almost certainly use the car more as a result. If change must be made then the number 10 should be re routed and cover both bonaly and torphin. There is not enough space on the number 10 home from school as it is without reducing services. It’s not so bad in the summer but we have long cold dark winters and this is a real negative step . It also defeats the purpose of their new free bus pass !!
  20. Totally agree with all of the points made by the Councillor above. I would like to add that it would also affect those travelling to Colinton Medical Practice, St Thomas Aquinas , Heriots and other schools, places of work and destinations in the city .
  21. It’s not going to work for me having to get the 16 into town. I work in the west end and have to get my children to child care beforehand. I will now need to drive and park at Craiglockhart as I won’t have enough time to walk into the village. The number 16 takes too long and I won’t get to work on time. Why change something that works perfectly? What about the children who need to get to Firrhill/Watsons when it’s raining and they live up Torphin bank/Campbell park? What about the elderly who use the bus for tesco and the doctors?
  22. Please keep it as it is
  23. This change would have a huge impact on access to schools and local amenities for the most vulnerable people in this community – children getting to school, older people, and those with mobility issues. This change would create more cars on the road. It is also a much, much longer route via Morningside into town, not slightly longer – the traffic on Morningside Road can be incredibly busy and no one commuting into town would choose the number 16 route. The current number 10 is also the best bus route to serve staff, patients and visitors to the Royal Edinburgh Hospital.
  24. Either remain as it is or run no10 via Torphin and Bonaly. No access with proposed service to Craiglockhart or Meggatland,
  25. I need a direct service to get to GWC
  26. “I have 2 sons at Firrhill, one of whom is diagnosed with juvenile arthritis and one who is waiting a possible diagnosis. Both are fit and independent boy, however they have periods of time when they have difficulty walking. The no 10 is essential for them for independence and ease of access to school. Changing buses would be hard when you’re finding it difficult to walk.
  27. The No10 provides an essential direction connection to the city centre and is much used and loved in this community. “
  28. I travel to GWC for work. This new service means I would have a considerable walk at each end of my journey which I find completely unacceptable. The time involved is grossly unfair for work travel. The idea of getting two buses for such a short journey is ridiculous.
  29. Would prefer the current service to continue but would also be happy with consultation over any proposed changes.
  30. Will make the bus less appealing both for my kids travelling in to Heriot’s and my husband commuting into Central Edinburgh for work. Disappointed. Grateful if pressure can be applied on our behalf.
  31. Increased frequency only helps if it makes journeys more convenient, the proposed changes have the opposite impact.
  32. “We will use car and van transport much more.
  33. This change will make the trips to school and sports activities more dangerous. “
  34. I travel from Woodfield Avenue to Polwarth. I will now be unable to make this journey, and my kids will be unable to take the bus to Firrhill high school. It wouldn’t be so bad if we could board the Bonaly bus at Grant Avenue, however if I were to do this I’d be told to get off the bus at Bonaly store as well as paying 2 bus fares. This change is not helpful at all. Not everyone is travelling into the city.
  35. “I work in Leith Street. The length of journey on the number 16 bus route is ridiculous. I do not qualify for a free bus pass and should not have to take 2 buses to get into town nor pay for 2 extra buses per day. It can already take nearly an hour to get to Leith Street on a 10, any longer is just unacceptable.
  36. My son is at school at Firhill HS. No direct bus route to his school is again ridiculous. There’s absolutely no need to change the No 10 Torphin. Lothian Buses have not given any thought to how this change will affect so many people trying to get to work and school “
  37. “It is very disappointing that a perfectly good bus service is being changed without any consultation with the local residents.
  38. I have lived in Colinton for over 20 years and my children used the 10 bus service to reach their school at Tollcross. Local children going to the same school will now have to walk to Bonaly Avenue to catch this bus. I personally took the 10 bus through Bonaly this morning at 8.45am. It was horrendous due to the bus, moving cars, pedestrians and parked cars, especially coming down Dreghorn Loan. Basically it just all comes to a stop. Whereas the bus has much better, safer and quicker route coming down from Torphin along Woodhall Road.
  39. Has anyone actually examined the Number 10 driving round Bonaly at rush hours? “
  40. Definitely think it would be much worse if no number 10 coming to colinton as that is how our family travel to work and school just now and this would cause major disruption and delay on getting to our destination taking the 16.
  41. I use the number 10 to get to work (GWC) and my daughter’s nursery. The extra time to swap buses or walk to a further bus stop will be a big impact on our day to and from work/nursery.
  42. Cutting off part of a community. Will have to take the car to get my two children to nursery now in Craiglockhart. It is not free for me or feasible with working in town (to then get on THREE buses to work then THREE home) to take two children on two buses in the morning to nursery when there is a 10 bus stop outside my door that services is perfectly fine.
  43. No doubt Lothian Bus Co will disregard customer comments
  44. These changes remove frequency of provision to areas people actually need to go to. A service 16 from Torphin is a service of no use to man nor beast and actually makes the provision of a service much worse than we currently have.
  45. Removal of the 10 to Torphin means a direct route to town would require 2 buses, and therefore increased cost, or else walking all the way to the stop at the doctors surgery. The 16 is a circuitous route that takes much longer and is not desirable as an alternative
  46. My child gets the bus to and from Oxgangs Primary school every day from Woodfield Avenue and changes will result in a lot more added stress and worry for us as he will have to walk to Bonaly on his own or change buses.
  47. The proposed change would make it hard for my son to get to Firrhill High and for me to get into town for work. Getting two buses or walking twenty minutes to Bonaly is not ideal especially in the winter.
  48. Why would you create a bigger problem with traffic in our city as with these new change’s,more people will drive . This city is already behind our counterparts with its transport system, we are a joke
  49. I’m so disappointed with the proposed change it will have a massive impact on me and probably result in me having to drive to work rather than get public transport.
  50. 16 is a very long route and won’t help firhill
  51. I am very happy with both the frequency of the number 10 torphin bus, and the route – it is the quickest route to city west end that i use for work. I have no need at all to catch a 16 bus to morningside – it takes so long, and does not pass any places i use the bus to go to. I catch the bus to work, but i am part time and is not cost effective to get a bus pass. I am a busy working mother and i only just have time to run for the 10 torphin bus at woodfield ave stop in the mornings as it is – i literally could not get to work on time if i had to walk 20mins to westgarth ave stop, or faff about catching a 16 and waiting for the timetable to match and changing for a 10 (its ludicrous!). I am actually really worried what i am going to do, as my office are now asking all staff to come into the office, but i just cant squeeze that in around school hours and journey times if this goes ahead. As for an increased frequency along woodhall road, i dont want it, the paths are very narrow and the busses go too fast – it just increases dangers for primary children walking to bonaly primary and back (which are already a local concern). The 16 bus will be empty on the extended torphin section – i dont know of anyone who would use it (not regularly, like for work/school, which are the main journeys the number 10 is used for daily). It makes no sense at all! If lothian busses want to ‘streamline’ their services i can not understand at all why the 10 service can not simply go around bonaly, then up to torphin, turn around and go back around bonaly! – it would not miss any stops, and in my opinion it makes much more sense for the bus to wait, change drivers etc up at torphin, where there is a big turn around (it is much better than the current place the 10 bonaly bus waits outside the bonaly corner shop totally in the way of cars in a busy area by the primary school). The number 10 bus is the bus that serves colintons amenities, it goes past colinton dr surgery, allurmuir health centre, firhill and george watsons schools, both napier university campuses, sports facilities at craiglockhart tennis club, thistle tennis club, meggetland, the local supermarket at tescos, the parish churches, the scout hall…. all the places local residents want/need to go to. The 16, well that just goes around the houses over morningside via redford and just is not a useful route at all. I never catch the 16 from princes street, it takes double the journey time to colinton, over an hour – even as a night bus, its just so long, i rarely use it. I hope this decision is reversed, it makes NO SENSE. There is no neccesity to have more frequent buses up at torphin, it will be empty, 5 buses an hour to morningside! – what is the justification by passanger numbers for that!, but taking away the 10 torphin service, a really useful well used local service that serves the local community/amenities/area is the opposite of what the council say they want people to do (which is make more people choose local journeys on public transport!!!!!). I am very unhappy. I will add that there is a huge disbelief about this decision in my local street whatsapp group (woodfield avenue) – the woodfield avenue number 10 torphin bus stop is always busy at commuter times (every day at least 15 wait at that stop).
  52. There is absolutely no need to make changes to either service.
  53. This proposed change will cause our household to drive more to save time & get where we need without time delays
  54. This change is a massive detriment to the residents of Colinton/Woodfield. The children cannot get direct bus to school, many people will have huge changes to their work commute. The no 16 coming up to Torphin does not add anything to the service. The current number 10 is an extremely popular service that many residents rely on
  55. I believe the school kids should have access to get to school or the local fitness centre without having to get two buses. Elderly people struggle a lot to get one bus without added confusion to doctor surgeries or Tesco. I would think of moving from this part of Colinton if it does not change.
  56. This proposed change is very disappointing and would make the bus service much less useful to me and my family (I live on Torphin Road). The 16 route doesn’t go to the places we frequently visit and the significant added journey time would encourage me to drive rather than take the bus – which is really not what we should be aiming for either from a congestion or environmental point of view.
  57. the 10 is a far more direct route and with kids at high school this is the best option when they don’t walk. I don’t have an issue with the 16 going to Torphin as this would improve access to morningside etc but in addition to the 10 not instead of. Saying the school kids can swap bus in the village is ridiculous as they would have to wait twice as it is unlikely that the busses will align time wise.
  58. The proposed changes will have a seriously detrimental effect on my ability to continue with normal activities including staying healthy through use of the gym.
  59. Lack of transport for school children is a significant concern as this is a very family orientated area.
  60. If we do have to have the 16, could they send a 10 to Torphin once an hour?
  61. There will be no bus for those travelling to George Watson’s. For some this will mean driving, but for some parents who work early it will mean children having to walk 5 miles into school!
  62. The current number 10 route provides a direct practical route to key area such as firhill Craiglockhart Watson and can be in prince’s Street in 30 minutes. At rush hour the 16 takes 20 minutes longer into town. These changes will simply put people off using the bus. Is there any evidence for anyone asking for these proposed changes?
  63. The no 10 from Torphin is the preferred route by most who use it to go to Craiglockhart, various schools and the West End. The no 16‘s route is not a substitute for this, especially during week days
  64. “Most ridiculous decision ever by LBs.
  65. Those most impacted are our young & old – but that’s OK according to LB, they don’t pay. Utterly disgraceful response and badly thought out. The changes effectively cut of the west side of Colinton from the most efficient route to town and our core catchment schools (Firrhill & Watsons) and adding significant journey times for Heriotts.
  66. Was there a groundswell of objections to the Torphin 10, and demand for change from residents? No.
  67. There was/is no issue with frequency.
  68. “”If it ain’t broke……”””
  69. The number 10 needs to be kept as it is to provide high school children with a safe and effective service to their education
  70. I would like the present service with increased service provision. However if that’s not possible, then increased volume of buses is likely better in the long run, I do agree that the 16 route to town takes longer therefore it’s a less preferable option for many. However you can walk to the 10 in a short amount of time. Another option would be a “”combo”” ticket for Colinton allowing people to swap for the last section if they don’t feel they cant walk the last section with increased volume of buses this might work well. Finally your survey is rather frustrating as it doesn’t represent the options particularly well. It would be good to understand more details on the logic of the 10+ 16 swap.
  71. It seems to me a hotch potch approach. The 10 service as is from Colinton to town centre is largely excellent and a flagship for Lothian buses. Surely extending the 16 to incorporate the Bonaly loop is better if costs have to be cut?
  72. Half of Colinton will double commuting time or double costs and time if changing buses.
  73. The proposed change is not a way to get people back to work, back to shopping or eating out or away from cars. Please rethink.
  74. Local children use this service to get to and from school safely.
  75. Could alternate the No10. Between Colinton and Torphin and the same with the 16. Gives both options. Not increasing frequency but maybe compromise.
  76. The service is excellent at present. The 16 takes a much longer route into town so people will be less likely to use it.
  77. Thank you for trying to sort this out Scott
  78. Foe efficiency gains, I understand if you need to cancel no 10 Bonaly route, after all its a short walk to the no 16 bus.
  79. This change will seriously inconvenience people living in parts of Colinton. The impact on the elderly will be significant. Free travel should not mean a second rate service.
  80. These “improvemens” will almost double the journey time to the centre of Edinburgh !
  81. To encourage reduction in car travel, Lothian buses should be increasing service level not making it harder. Connections to schools, sports facilities, supermarkets are essential and should be serviced more than they currently are – not less. I’d rather remove the free travel to ensure the services are as efficient as possible.
  82. “This as a terrible move for commuters and school children. The No16 takes far to long to get into the city Center and many relying on this service will add an extra hour on there day traveling or two more bus journeys to try and cut the time slightly.
  83. I would like to see the No10 servicing as it always has.”
  84. The 10 service to Torphin is essential. The number of children that use that service everyday to access all the schools on route has is amazing. If you remove this service all the children at the Torphin end of the route will be stranded. The car congestion this will create will be huge making the junction at Woodhall road and Bridge road extremely congested as the 16 route does not serve the population in this area. This is totally illogical. Please do not do this.
  85. The loss of no 10 overall frequency in this area will increase car use . No 16 is not a useful route to serve the area
  86. As a regular user of the 10 from torphin bank into town for work this would materially impact my daily travel. Also my family regularly use the service for shopping at tesco and to go to and from craiglockhart. Our children are also not far off going to Firhill High and lack of servive there would be a problem. These changes have no real positives for us from what I can see.
  87. The change means school children cannot get to school…so the free bus pass is rather meaningless.
  88. In a time when we are being encouraged to use public transport, I feel this change will force local residents to use the car to make essential journeys!
  89. At present Lothian buses provide a great service, why alter a good service?
  90. For the distance involved, it seems ridiculous to suggest that using two buses to get from eg Torphin to Firrhill is convenient or constitutes an improvement…
  91. “Residents in the Torphin area including secondary school children will no longer have a direct journey to Firrhill High School, Tescos, Craiglochart Sports Centre and Meggetland. I know you can jump off a 16 and jump on a 10 but not all residents have free bus travel. Also the possibility of standing in the rain/snow waiting for your 10 connection
  92. The journey time for Torphin residents going into the city centre will also increase. The proposed new route takes you through the bottle necks of Commiston, Morningside and Bruntsfield adding a good 15 minutes onto your journey. “
  93. This change will lead to more car use and be detrimental to the connection of our neighborhood to the city
  94. “I have selected present service rather than consultation because I am not sure that consultation will lead to a better result. It doesn’t feel like LRT is listening to us yet.
  95. I feel very concerned that LRT is proposing completely cutting the 10 service to Torphin – my family have lived here for over 25 years and historically the 10 service didn’t even go to Bonaly. People have chosen houses, flats and job based on the fast service into town and to other local facilities (e.g. Craiglockart tennis centre) and it feels very unfair that they should cut it entirely.
  96. If LRT could arrange the timetable a bit more creatively so that the 16 sometimes came to Torphin, sometimes goes to Bonaly, and even sometimes just terminates in Colinton if that saves them money, that would be better, but not at the cost of the Torphin 10.
  97. It would be ideal if perhaps one 16 an hour (or more) came to Torphin, and that we still had at least two Torphin 10s per hour, as at present.
  98. The proposed changes mean that there will be no buses from Torphin or this area of Woodhall Road to Firrhill, Craiglockhart or Polwarth and that it will take a lot longer to get into town via the number 16 bus. The increased travel time will make it very difficult for commuters like me who only just have time to see off their kids in the morning before getting the bus to work. I choose not to own a car and use the buses very frequently to get to work and to meet friends in Polwarth or to go for appointments or to shop in town. My daughters live 35-40 minutes’ walk from Firrhill High School and this walk is difficult in the winter without a bus route. If they had to change in the village along with all the other many children who get the bus into school the pavement near the GP surgery will be dangerously overcrowded. The additional cost of changing buses for the short journey to Craiglockart or Polwarth will also put lots of current bus users off making sustainable choices and mean that they end up using their cars more, causing even more congestion in these areas. So please ensure that the number 10 continues to serve Torphin at least once or twice an hour. This would be particularly important at rush hour but I think that for everyone it is important that there is at least one bus each hour throughout the day. Before the pandemic there were at least 3 buses a day from Torphin along the 10 route.
  99. Whilst I welcome there being more frequent services from Torphin via the 16 route, for the many residents who rely on the number 10 to get to work or school this change is not acceptable because the 16 route is very slow and goes via Oxgangs and Morningside and does not serve a large part of the number 10 route. I understand that LRT may need to make some economies but this could be done without cutting the route.
  100. I am passionate about the great network Lothian Buses provides and about promoting active travel – if the council wishes to encourage people not to use their cars or buy new cars then it needs to ensure that we do not lose any routes. Thank you!
  101. It’s really important that local residents are consulted on this, especially young people as this could impact their ability to get to school. I’d recommend getting in touch w the MSYPS for Edinburgh Pentlands – they might be good to try to talk to Lothian buses about young peoples views.
  102. Please keep at least one no 10 service hourly! Our family (small children, teenagers, working-age people and pensioner) use this bus a lot and the 16 is a poor substitute
  103. I am an older resident in Woodfield Avenue. It is very difficult to take a car into the city of Edinburgh, and very difficult and expensive to drive or park almost anywhere in the central or peripheral parking zones. So far I have not mastered the Ring go system. I therefore use the buses to go to Into Edinburgh or Bruntsfield, etc.utilising my wonderful bus pass (thank you for that) I can walk a reasonable distance but have moderately severe osteoarthritis, and have had two total knee replacements. Taking the number10 bus to Torphin is a great relief compared with a Number 10 Bonaly bus. In addition, I would like to draw to your attention that any children and young people attending Firrhill High school, the catchment High School, can take the number 10 from Torphin/Woodhall area directly to school. If the weather is inclement ( wet) they should not be expected to walk a long way before attending school therefore sitting in wet clothes and shoes all day. There are no lockers or changing facilities for outdoor clothes at Firrhill Secondary.

Comments from those that support the changes

  1. Due to the previous infrequent service to Bonaly we drove to Westgarth Ave for a better choice of service, polluting the air for a short journey. Those in the Torphin area can use the 16 to the village and transfer to the no 10 which will still allow access to Firhill and other amenities.
  2. Happy with increased frequency of both
  3. I live in East Colinton/Bonaly so can only see a benefit of this change to me personally.
  4. I live in Bonaly so the increased frequency of the 10 is welcomed.
  5. Good for people in Bonaly, while not good for those in Woodhall / Torphin.
  6. Your commentary leaves me with the impression that you’re not really bothered by Bonaly residents or their needs, an impression you’ve given me on a number of occasions. The current bus service to Bonaly is woeful, especially given we live up a steep hill. Three services an hour for Bonaly might actually make the bus a viable alternative to driving. [Note from Scott – In my election address I give a specific commitment to “Protect and improve the number 10 bus service, particularly at peak times and in the evenings” and have been working with Bonaly residents for some time on the issue. ]
  7. You will never please everyone but a more frequent service must be a plus! The 16 route gives direct access to Morningside/Bruntsfield for banking, supermarket, cinema etc and would also give access to the No5 at oxgangs going to Newington for Queens Hall etc.
  8. You will never be able to please everyone but a more frequent service must be a plus.
  9. This will give a more frequent service and will enable easier travel to Morningside etc. for shops, banks, restaurants etc. No easy answers!
  10. At the moment, despite what Lothian Buses have assured me isn’t happening, Bonaly only has one bus per hour between morming and evening rush hour. All the rest go to Torphin. This isn’t acceptable. Going back to every second bus coming to Bonaly would seem to be the best option for everyone.

You can trust me to defend our Greenbelt

I read with interest John McLellan’s denial in the Evening news (21/04/22) that the Edinburgh Tories were “siding with developers” to allocate more greenbelt to development.

If he checks his own column from September 2021 he will see that he extensively cites Robin Holder who he describes as a man whose “advice is keenly sought by developers” and suggests that not enough land had been allocated to development.

Additionally, residents in my Ward will recognise Robin Holder’s “Holder Planning” as being behind a  proposal  in 2019/20 to develop a large greenfield site on Frogston Road East (my video on this here). Indeed, in November 2021 Mr Holder wrote in the Evening news that “Edinburgh must expand”!

As if the implication of that is not clear, John McLellan ends his article with the line “There is nothing wrong with defending the greenbelt, but the council must be honest about the implications.”

I am proud to have reached the end of my 5 year term as your Councillor without any greenbelt land in my Ward being lost to development. No “Polo Fields” have been lost on my watch.

It has taken a lot of arguing, but the Council now accepts that it can meet its housing supply targets without allocating any further greenbelt for development. This will be agreed by the incoming Councillors after the election. If re-elected I’ll ensure our greenbelt is protected.

Introducing a Congestion Charge in Edinburgh whilst raising rail prices is bonkers!

On Saturday The Herald reported that the SNP plan to introduce a Congestion Charge in Edinburgh, similar to the one in London where drivers pay £15 to enter the cordon at peak time. Formally announcing this on  Saturday means it comes  a day after tens of thousands of people in Edinburgh started voting by post.

There can be no doubt that we have to work to reduce congestion and cut climate emissions in Edinburgh, particularly where people are commuting into our Capital from surrounding Local Authorities. This can only really be done by improving public transport and cutting the number of cars entering the city. Extra parking, or improved traffic light sequencing are not the answer.

I’ve said that Edinburgh needs to work with surrounding Local Authorities to improve public transport links, and also invest in Park & Ride schemes. That will need collaborative working, and a regional strategy – I’m not convinced that the SNP plan to unilaterally introduce a Work Place Parking Levy and a Congestion Charge is the answer. Indeed, even they appear to be endorsing the view that it is simply part of a “War on Motorists” – unhelpful rhetoric given the challenges we face.

Keep in mind that the SNP plan to introduce a Work Place Parking Levy and a Congestion Charge at the same time as increasing rail fares. This is incoherent at best, and certainly not joined up policy making.  

This is how the SNP describe their policy: “We will introduce a commuter charging zone at the city boundary to discourage those living outwith the city from driving in, encouraging them to switch to bus, tram, train, foot or cycle. No Edinburgh resident – including those living in South Queensferry and the western villages – will ever have to pay the charge.”

Leave aside the notion of people commuting by “foot” from Livingston, let’s have a think about what that could mean:

  1. No charge for driving a SUV from South Queensferry into central Edinburgh, but somebody driving from Loanhead to visit a loved one at Marie Curie Hospice in my Ward would have to pay.
  2. Drivers taking a break on long trips to the north or south at the cafes just off the bypass in my Ward would have to pay.
  3. People enjoying Hillend Ski Slope would have to pay to access Craigdon Mountain Sports in my Ward.
  4. Frontline NHS staff starting early and finishing late would be exempt from the Workplace Parking Levy, but would have to pay the Congestion Charge if travelling from outside Edinburgh.
  5. Keyworkers with unsociable working hours would have to pay, despite often not having access to public transport.
  6. Tradesmen coming into Edinburgh would have to pay, and the charge would be transferred to customers.
  7. It would also essentially mean the reintroduction of a toll for driving from Fife to Edinburgh… from the party that removed it!
  8. Most important of all, my family in Fife would be charged for visiting me!

No doubt some of these issues could be resolved, and I would also expect exemptions for Blue Badge holders. Like the Workplace Parking Levy, however, there is a risk that a Congestion Charge would simply gentrify driving. Indeed, if a Congestion Charge is introduced alongside increased public transport costs the consequences could be worse than that.

So what is the solution to Edinburgh’s congestion problem? Firstly, I think a Congestion Charge could work, but only as part of a region wide transport strategy focussed on public transport improvements. This would mean working collaboratively with surrounding Local Authorities to make public transport a cheaper and more efficient alternative to driving. The current SNP “plan” to introduce a Congestion Charge whilst raising rail prices is bonkers!

Back in 2005 I was one of the 25.6% of Edinburgh residents that voted for a Congestion Charge. It was a bit of a muddle, but I thought it could be made to work. Almost 20 years later, things have changed. Congestion has got worse, the Climate Emergency is now a reality and Fuel Duty is on the way out.

The last point is important, around half of what is paid for petrol and diesel goes straight to the Government via Fuel Duty and VAT. Fuel Duty income in 2021/22 is estimated to be £26B – around £950 per household. The switch to electric vehicles, however, means this income will dwindle. Of course it is possible that a way could be devised to tax electric vehicle charging, but it is more likely that we will switch to “Road Pricing”. Road Pricing is similar to Fuel Duty in that if you drive more you will pay more, but it also offers other opportunities. It could mean people pay more to drive in congested areas/times and Blue Badge Holders could be exempt. People taking journeys served by public transport could even be targeted.  The possibilities are endless, and it enjoys modest levels of public support.

The House of Commons Transport Committee has published a paper on the subject, and the Scottish Government are also looking at it. Of course the Congestion Charge is a form of Road Pricing, but it is clumsy and indiscriminate.

I feel that the UK and Scottish Government should be working together on national Road Pricing now so that we can move away from Fuel Duty smoothly. They could make it cost neutral, but I think it could be used to manage congestion and pollution across  the UK. If that happens in Edinburgh, the Council working with surrounding Local Authorities will still be key.

Ward 8 Spaces For People Update

It has been a wee while since I provided an update on the Spaces for People project  – basically because the whole thing appears to have stalled. In this vacuum, a bit of misinformation has been circulating. Within that context it is important to note four things:  

  1. No party has ever asked for all Spaces for People schemes to be removed.
  2. All parties have supported the installation of at least some schemes.
  3. All parties have supported at least some schemes at least some of the time.
  4. Covid-19 is no longer the justification for the schemes.

The November 2021 Transport & Environment Committee meeting set the direction of travel for the schemes impacting on my Ward – Lanark Road (the Oct 2021 decision was confirmed), Buckstone Terrace (A702), Braid Road (not actually in my Ward) and the two primary schools (Bonaly & Buckstone).

Lanark Road
It was agreed to progress this scheme to an ETRO. The process provides a statutory framework and public engagement process (not a homemade consultation) to consider any future changes to the scheme.

Comiston Road
It was agreed to also progress this scheme to an ETRO. It was agreed at the Transport Committee that changes to Braid Road and Comiston Road are impacting on delays to public transport on Comiston road (my video evidence here). The agreed solution to this was to remove a large section of the cycle lane and replace it with a bus lane.

Braid Road
This will progress to an ETRO, and be reopened to two-way traffic. This will only happen, however, after a pedestrian crossing (agreed pre-covid) is installed at The Hermitage.

A School Travel Plan Review is underway for all schools. This piece of work will be carried out over the next 24 months. The aim of the review is to develop a 5 year action plan with parents, children and the schools to make the routes and streets surrounding the schools safer and to encourage more active travel. Schools with temporary Spaces for People measures are being prioritised and the survey for Buckstone and Bonaly has started. Residents will be involved once the initial plan is developed.

Clearly, November 2021 was 5 months ago so it is only right that people should wonder what is happening. On the 3rd of February I was told that the ETRO consultations would start by the end of that month, and later I was told mid-March.  To date, I have seen no visible progress.

The latest update I have for the schools was from mid-March, at that point I was told for Buckstone that “We are currently in dialogue with the school about the future of the Spaces for People measures at Buckstone as well as road safety issues on the wider routes to school”. I understand, however, that there has been no contact with the school since November. I expect the same applies to Bonaly.

So what’s causing the delay? Clearly, the Transport Committee should be doing more to scrutinise these projects. The underlying issue is, however, that the workload exceeds the staff resources available.   

Why it is time to revisit Park & Ride in Edinburgh.

I was delighted to see Edinburgh Labour’s manifesto launched yesterday. The next ten years or so will see 55,000 new homes built in Edinburgh, and many more will be constructed in the surrounding local authority areas. 

These homes, and the people that live in them, will put huge pressure on our capital. In Edinburgh we will have to ensure that they come with, for example, GPs and school capacity, and good transport links. Labour’s manifesto tackles this head on.

Giving people in these new developments in and around Edinburgh access to viable alternatives to using the car is essential if our city is to thrive. Our Capital is already one of the most congested cities in the UK, and this impacts on the economy and our wellbeing.

I hope that the next 10 years will see a significant increase in active travel in our Capital, but I feel that public transport has the potential to deliver a real step change on the path to making Edinburgh a more liveable city.

Our first aim must be to ensure that all developments are on good quality public transport routes, and residents can meet their day-to-day needs within a 20 minute walk of their home. This is how things used to be!

Perhaps more importantly, however, is to work collaboratively with surrounding local authorities to reduce commuter traffic coming into Edinburgh. Pre-covid, 63,300 people were commuting into Edinburgh every day by car. We have to reduce this number, and I feel providing reliable and efficient public transport links into Edinburgh is key. Where possible, I would hope that the aim is people completing their whole journey via public transport, but I am also open to more investment in Park & Ride schemes.

Whilst some may question the manifesto, I hope we can all agree that we can’t drive our way out of the challenge these new homes will bring. 

Edinburgh Labour’s Manifesto Launched

The Edinburgh Labour Manifesto was launched today. It comprises a range of practical and radical policies which are focussed on the problems our city and its residents are facing. With these policies enacted we will be in a good place to tackle the cost of living crises, rebuild the economy after the pandemic and respond to the Climate Emergency.

Our key priorities are:

  1. Investing in our services and in our communities.
  2. Getting basic services back on track – everything from filling potholes to getting litter bins emptied.
  3. Campaigning for Fair Funding for Edinburgh and fighting cuts in services.
  4. Working to eradicate child poverty by 2030.
  5. Tackling the Climate Emergency to reach the target of net zero emissions by 2030.

The manifesto is packed full of policies and ideas, but the key ones for me are:

  1. Putting additional resources into increasing the frequency of street bin emptying and street cleaning services.
  2. Stopping charging for bulk uplifts, and enforcing the toughest penalties for fly tipping and dog fouling.
  3. Making provision of safe travel home for staff a condition of licensing in the night time economy.
  4. Prioritising women’s safety on public transport and in public spaces.
  5. Retaining and improving our network of public libraries and community centres.
  6. Upgrading existing public toilets and increasing the number across the city, including in parks, all to meet accessible and changing room standards.
  7. Delivering a programme to upgrade public parks and play facilities.
  8. Providing additional funding for home adaptations in council homes, and lobbying the Scottish Government to provide more grants for private renters and home owners.
  9. Increasing the number of qualified pupil support assistants to guarantee support for all nursery, primary and first and second year high school classes, and improve their pay and terms and conditions.
  10. Working with the voluntary sector to ensure availability of good quality informal youth work provision that meets the needs and aspirations young people in their communities.
  11. Establishing a new tourism body for the city that includes local community representatives as well as the tourist industry and councillors.
  12. Introducing a presumption against using public spaces and parks for commercial purposes where there is not clear community support.
  13. Making payment of the Real Living Wage a condition of any council contracts.
  14. Starting a programme to build at least 25,000 council owned homes within 10 years, including enough accessible and larger family homes to meet need. We call on the Scottish Government to match fund the investment coming from tenants’ rents.
  15. Requiring 35% of housing on development sites to be for council or housing association homes, with a target of 70% of these being for social rent.
  16. Upgrade council homes to keep them warm and help reduce fuel bills, using organisations like the Edinburgh Solar Co-op and supply from renewable sources where possible. We will press the Scottish Government to match fund the investment being put in from rents.
  17. Committing to making no more green belt land being allocated to development.
  18. Press the Scottish Parliament to reform the planning system to give communities rights of appeal.
  19. Increasing the pavement maintenance budget by 20%, increasing the active transport budget to 15% of the total transport budget.
  20. Establishing a fast track repair service for dangerous pot holes.
  21. Increasing the pedestrian crossing budget by 20%, and review timings to cut waiting time and ensure the less mobile have time to cross.
  22. Reviewing winter gritting plans to ensure key walking routes to bus stops, schools, GP surgeries etc are prioritised.
  23. Protecting and improving Edinburgh’s bus network. We will review all routes, oppose plans to remove bus stops and will invest in bus shelters. We will also ensure that all new buses provide space for both wheelchairs and buggies.
  24. Committing to work in partnership with business and our neighbouring local authorities to find a solution to commuter parking, including improved public transport, park and ride schemes, restrictions on commuter street parking in residential areas, restricting parking spaces in new office developments and other measures to help meet our net zero carbon target.
  25. Monitoring the introduction of low emission zones to ensure neighbouring areas are not affected by increased traffic and pollution.

I hope that these commitments, and the others in the manifesto, will be at the heart of everything the city does over the next five years.

Oxgangs House Investment

It is long overdue, but the Council has now published plans to invest almost £4m in Oxgangs House. This will transfer the block into modern looking efficient Council homes. Privately owned homes will not have to take part in parts of the upgrade, but the owners will have to contribute to the costs of the improvements to the shared elements. Grants will be available to help owners with costs.

A survey has confirmed that the building is structurally sound but requires significant planned investment of up to £3.5m with the cost of essential and medium-term repairs estimated at £1.6m. This estimated budget cost would be confirmed by tendering the proposed works.

The report recommends common works which include repairs to substructure walls, roofs structure and covering, render replacement to external walls, repairs to walkway ceilings, balustrades and handrails in common areas, external drainage, external window and doors and common area lighting. Additionally, the survey report recommends significant works to upgrade the mechanical and electrical installations within the properties.

The Council will be delivering a newsletter to all doors at Oxgangs House this week, and will follow up with the first direct letters to owners in the next two weeks.

If you live in Oxgangs House, please get in touch if you have any questions.

Edinburgh’s response to the crisis in Ukraine.  

(Images from the Edinburgh Evening News)

Quite a few people have been in touch asking what the Council’s response to Putin’s brutal invasion of Ukraine is. I can now confirm that next Thursday in Full Council the Council Leader will propose we confer the Freedom of the City of Edinburgh on Kyiv Mayor Vitaliy Klitschko and Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy in recognition of their Leadership and heroism.

Throughout the crisis I have recognised the value of symbolic demonstrations of solidarity, but I have also been urging that the Council takes real action to support Ukraine. On Thursday my group will table a motion condemning the horrific and illegal attacks on the independence of Ukraine and its people. We will also commend the Ukrainian people for their “heroic defence of their land in fighting the illegal invasion”, and we will also ask that the Council agrees:

  1. to withdraw all support and cooperation and will withdraw and decline any future invitations to and from the Russian Consulate in Edinburgh with immediate effect.
  2. to write to the Russian Ambassador, advising that the Russian Consul is no longer welcome in our Capital and write to the UK Foreign Office to request the expulsion of Russian diplomatic staff from the City of Edinburgh until Russian troops vacate Ukraine.
  3. to ban all Russian Government-supported arts and cultural events and performances in Edinburgh Council-owned venues and encourage other venues in the City to do the same.
  4. write to the UK Home Office encouraging unrestricted refugee visas and agrees to work locally to source host families to house refugees, with a focus on those with cultural and language understanding to best support unaccompanied children, families and individuals. Following emails to me from a Buckstone resident, will be proposed that this should utilise Positive Action on Housing’s “room for refugees” programme and other organisations.
  5. to publicise the DEC appeal through Council communication channels and encourage financial donations as the best way the people of Edinburgh can help.
  6. to allocate up to £100,000 to help coordinate local efforts of humanitarian aid with the Edinburgh Partnership to maximise supplies to Ukraine and support local infrastructure within Edinburgh to facilitate donations and transport supplies to distribution centres in Poland and other locations.
  7. to write to the MOD to request access to any unused temporary accommodation for those travelling to Edinburgh from Kyiv and wider Ukraine in the knowledge that those people will overwhelmingly want to return to their Country when the war is over.
  8. to make preparations to ensure that schools are prepared to continue Ukrainian children’s education who are coming to Edinburgh and work to prepare other support services to support those fleeing the conflict.

Following a conversation I had with a Russian mother in Edinburgh this week, we will also ask that the Council acknowledges the protests in Russia of brave citizens opposing this war and those Russians within Edinburgh who have stood with Ukraine in making clear this is not in their name.

These proposals will be debated by Edinburgh’s 62 Councillors on Thursday – all will have a chance to speak and amend them. As part of the debate I hope to pay tribute to the work Ukraine’s neighbours have done to deal with Europe’s largest refugee crisis since World War II – particularly Poland, Hungary, Moldova, Romania and Slovakia.