City of Edinburgh Council plans to re-organise street management have been given a cautious welcome by the pedestrian campaigning group, Living Streets Edinburgh . The Council’s Transport & Environment Committee meets on 10 August to consider a report which brands current street management arrangements as ‘unfit for purpose’ and proposes a new streamlined arrangement to look after roads and pavements. David Spaven, the Convenor of Living Streets Edinburgh, commented:
‘We’ve been monitoring the state of Edinburgh’s streets for years, and it’s fair to say that many are currently a shambles, with broken pavements  full of all kinds of clutter. In the run-up to the Council elections earlier this year, we called on all the parties to back a big shake-up in street management  with joined-up and accountable responsibility for looking after our streets, spotting faults and ensuring that they are fixed quickly. Much better conditions for walking – including wide, well-maintained and clutter-free pavements – are the key to making the city’s public realm much more civilised, and safer.
‘We welcome the Council’s recognition that the inspection and fixing of street faults is currently not working properly and that plans to improve efficiency and co-ordination are being brought forward. However, it’s not yet clear how far this new set-up will help to transform conditions for pedestrians – the new Roads Services Improvement Plan mentions ‘roads’ over 50 times, but ‘pavements’ on just five occasions.’
Photos below by Living Streets Edinburgh illustrate pavement problems across the city:
Living Streets Edinburgh is delighted that the City Council’s Transport and Environment Committee is being recommended to back undertaking a strategic review of the growing problem of A-board clutter across the city. As the Committee paper – http://www.edinburgh.gov.uk/download/meetings/id/53632/item_76_-_a_boards – acknowledges:
Concerns have been raised by organisations including community councils, Living Streets and the Council’s Access Panel that street clutter is impeding the ability for pedestrians to move through the city safely, and that the situation is worsening.’
Feedback from our supporters shows that A-boards:
- are widely disliked by the public
- narrow the walking space on pavements, often contravening the Council’s own Street Design Guidance
- cause obstructions and sometimes hazards, for example for visually impaired people, which is potentially unlawful under the Equality Act 2010.
Since organising – in conjunction with Tollcross Community Council and the Edinburgh Access Panel members – a representative street audit at Tollcross in late 2015, we have been pressing the City Council to undertake just such a strategic review of policy – and its enforcement. http://www.livingstreetsedinburgh.org.uk/consultation-responses/street-audit-tollcross-edinburgh/street-audit-tollcross-edinburgh-summary-of-recommendations/
If Councillors back the recommendation, we will be fully consulted by officers. Other UK cities have undertaken such reviews, with the result that A-boards are licensed, better controlled or simply banned. Edinburgh’s review should cover what should be allowed on which streets and how the rules are enforced. The issue has wider implications of course – on the quality of public space in the city, the vitality of its businesses and the potential for better Council management of our streets – the latter being one of the four proposals in our ‘Manifesto for Walking’ in the run-up to the Council Elections in May. at http://www.livingstreetsedinburgh.org.uk/2016/12/21/living-streets-edinburgh-manifesto-for-walking/ ‘
An Edinburgh campaign group has called for City of Edinburgh Council to undertake a ‘blitz’ on advertising ‘A-boards’ and other street clutter. The call was made by Living Streets Edinburgh  which campaigns for pedestrians’ interests, at its annual public meeting last night .
“Many of Edinburgh’s pavements resemble an obstacle course”  said the Convenor of Living Streets Edinburgh, David Spaven. “It is often impossible for people to walk two abreast even in busy shopping streets such as South Bridge, Home Street and Raeburn Place. The number of A-boards appears to be increasing every year and they are getting bigger too; this is making our streets more and more unpleasant and difficult to use, at a time when we are supposed to be promoting walking for the economic, health and environmental benefits it brings. A-boards also represent a specific hazard for blind people.”
“We don’t want to see bare streets stripped of their local character, but there must be a fundamental review of Council policy in this area, together with a blitz of effective enforcement, as this type of street clutter is getting out of hand” he added.
NOTES FOR EDITORS:
- Living Streets Edinburgh Group (LSEG) is the local voluntary branch of Living Streets, the national charity promoting everyday walking.
- The LSEG meeting at the Quaker Meeting House in Victoria Street was attended by 60 members and supporters of Living Streets.
- Selected photos of street clutter attached.
David Spaven on 0131-447-7764 or 07917-877399.
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