Edinburgh councillors clash on medics' support for Spaces for People measures

© Floating bus stops on George IV Bridge are among the Spaces for People schemes which have now been r…

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Earlier this month 144 doctors and other health professionals signed an open letter to the city council saying infrastructure changes to promote walking and cycling were “potentially life-saving” and warning that reversing them would be “a retrograde and harmful step for the health of the population of Edinburgh”.

Transport convener Lesley Macinnes has tabled motion at today’s full council meeting welcoming the medics’ intervention, noting “that this well-researched and evidenced call reflects the council’s approach” and asking officials to report on “the likely effect of not making significant progress towards improved sustainable transport”.

Green councillor Claire Miller has also tabled a motion welcoming the open letter and saying the transport and environment committee should take the points into account in future decisions.

But the Tories have hit back with an amendment noting “the letter signed by 144 of the 24,000 people involved in delivery of healthcare in Lothian” and acknowledging the importance of active travel, but claiming the letter makes “no direct analysis of the quality of the measures introduced thus far in Edinburgh”.

And Tory group chair Jason Rust pointed to a council report on the retention of Spaces for People measures which rated several of the schemes as having a “significantly negative” impact on disabled people.

He said: “It needs to be recognised that a number of the schemes the council has brought forward have a serious impact on equalities and severe negative impact on those with mobility issues. Unbelievably for instance the only parking on Lanark Road for a blue badge holder is now floating parking. People’s day to day lives just getting around are being made much harder.”

Sight-loss charity RNIB was among several disability groups which flagged up issues with some of the measures.

Robin Wickes, vice-chair of Edinburgh Access Panel, said: “Many people were dismayed by the apparent disregard shown by the medics for the safety and welfare of disabled people. It’s hard to believe that those who signed their open letter supporting the measures were aware that more than two thirds of the measures had been labelled by the Council themselves as having a negative impact on the disabled.”

Read more: Edinburgh medics sign open letter backing Spaces for People measures as ‘potentially life-saving’

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