As we reported yesterday, a council report described as a “plan” for Leith Walk on the council website caused a degree of local consternation, mainly because it was a bit detail light and omitted any mention of many of the issues that most of the people who responded to a consultation on the street wanted to see – including the most popular one, segregated cycle lanes.
Today the council has released a statement from Cllr Jim Orr, vice-convener of the Transport committee, who said:
“While many people have welcomed the proposals, I understand the concerns expressed about exactly what this will mean on the ground and how the works will be timed. We are absolutely determined to deliver these improvements in a way that gives the greatest benefit to the people of Leith while minimising any disruption.
“The report that councillors will consider next week is mainly about agreeing the overall funding. It also sets out the broad scope of the works and describes some of the views that have been aired in the community. The report isn’t intended to be a response to those views as we are still firmly committed to engaging with the community about exactly what improvements will take place and when.
“Several councillors are regular cyclists including myself and the Council Leader Andrew Burns. So, we are very aware of the views about the need to improve the facilities for cyclists in the city and have pledged to to exactly that. Much of the comment about the Leith works has touched on cycling and it is a high priority for us to do what we can to make Edinburgh a truly bike-friendly city.
“The businesses, residents and road users of all kinds in Leith can rest assured that there is still much to be decided in how we best use these valuable funds to create a better Leith for the benefit of everyone in the community.”
Or to summarise, he said yesterday’s plan wasn’t a plan. It’s an ask for £5.5million.
Apparently, the actual, final plan will be approved at a different council committee – The Transport, Infrastructure and Environment Committee – at some unspecified point in the future. But possibly after some of the work has started.
Anyway, it is understood from discussions with councillors on the Resources and Finance committee today that there is likley to be an ammendment to the plan current report proposed at the Finance and Resources Committee. With any luck there may even be cross party agreement next week on a final ammendment that will call on council officers to:
- Ensure that any work specified in the contract for resurfacing the road does not prohibit the subsequent addition of dedicated cycle lanes, pending detailed feasibility work on their design, cost and implementation.
- Undertake detailed feasibility, design and costing work on segregated cycle lanes on the street – together with other options for improving conditions for cyclists on the street.
- Approach other external funders such as SUSTRANS to identify whether there is scope to obtain further funds to support the cost of implementing improved active travel facilities.
- Investigate the scope for addressing the aspirations locals have identified for the street identified by both the community led ‘Vision for Leith Walk’ consultation process, as well as the council-led process.