LSE Annual Public Meeting 2017

Notes of Living Streets Edinburgh Group Annual Public Meeting, Friends Meeting House, Edinburgh, 7.00pm, 28 September 2017

  1. Convenor’s Welcome and report

David Hunter welcomed supporters to the meeting and summarised the Group’s activity over the past year which included:

  • Preparing a manifesto for the May Council elections with four main asks;
    • transform the way our streets are managed
    • more investment in walking
    • a traffic plan for the city centre
    • major pedestrianisation project (George St)
  • Welcoming some evidence of CEC movement on transforming street management, eg review of A-boards policy.
  • Regular liaison with a number of CEC councillors and officers including recent walkabout with Cllr Macinnes. Welcomed Paul Lawrence’s vision of doubling the width of all pavements – more radical than us!
  • Responded to more than a dozen cycle route proposals – with some welcome walking improvements, but in most cases incidental and inconsistent, and frequent failure to apply Street Design Standards to pavement widths etc.
  • Inputted to planning and traffic management plans, notably Picardy Place, proposed as a giant roundabout
  • Commented on or reported countless road works impeding walking, demonstrating an endemic failure within CEC systems of management / enforcement
  • Kept pressing the Festival Streets concept (closing streets to traffic) and hope to see support developing for an initiative in 2018
  • Finally, we’ve strengthened our Committee and got involved in an ever widening range of campaign activities: we would be pleased to hear from anyone who wants to help in any way – responding to consultations, social media, or simply reporting faults and following up on them.

David then introduced and welcomed Cllr Lesley Macinnes, the new Convenor of Transport and Environment Committee.


  1. Cllr Macinnes

Cllr Macinnes spoke about her background and, as a new councillor, her wish to understand the issues and agendas that her position required, to build relationships within and outwith the Council and to prioritise the work plan of the administration which the SNP leads, with Labour. She emphasised the commitment to empower communities and citizens and encourage participation. She considered the 20mph scheme to be an outstanding success.

At the same time there have been some major issues which need urgent attention, notably the business case for extending the tram. She was an advocate of more pedestrian zones (not only in the city centre), reducing congestion and car traffic generally, as the city is expected to grow to a population of 600,000 in the next 30 years. She was keen to tackle pavement parking and improve street cleansing and road/pavement maintenance. She is part of a ministerial working group to improve air quality and introduce Low Emission Zones in line with recent Scottish Government announcements.

She spoke of her recent decision to postpone decisions on the controversial Picardy Place plans and committed to a programme of intensive consultation before a final decision was made; however she also stressed the legal, financial and physical constraints. She pointed to Silverknowes as an example of her willingness to intervene (to halt a road scheme that was inappropriate for cyclists).

She welcomed the input of groups like Living Streets and would also appreciate their public support where possible, as there would also be vocal opposition to many proposals to improve active travel and curtail traffic.

Cllr Macinnes then took questions from the floor on issues including: the possibility of more, or better advertised Park and Ride, controlling or removing ‘A-boards’, improving fault reporting systems, the prospects for a joined-up approach to managing streets through ‘street marshals’ and the hazard caused by bollards and chains on the High Street.

The audience joined in thanks to Cllr Macinnes for her talk, insights and openness to ideas for improving walking in Edinburgh.


  1. Stuart Hay

Stuart Hay, Director of Living Streets Scotland, gave a presentation showing some possibilities of radical improvement to public space in Edinburgh and illustrating initiatives from around the world which other cities (some ‘competitors’ to Edinburgh for visitors) have introduced to make them more ‘places for people’.


  1. Workshop sessions

The meeting then broke into informal groups to look at maps and stimulate thoughts on specific locations and issues, in both the city centre and across the council area, where there were particular barriers to walking – or indeed, good practice.                (These have been collated and will be passed on to the Council).


The meeting closed at 9.00pm.


Workshop Notes

city centre (1)

Specific locations:

    • Nicolson/Clerk Street: narrow pavements, much traffic, bus stops disorganised also it is hard to change buses
    • South Bridge- Nicolson St: important north/south pedestrian route over-congested
    • Waverley Bridge pavements impassable during tourist season as people crowd around tour buses: cant there be designated queuing areas?
    • Morrison Street/Gardners Crescent: NO controlled crossing. Pavements far too narrow for traffic.
    • Broughton St/East London Road roundabout: opportunity for a new square/better junction?
    • Important walking routes: New Town west to east; Waverley to Parliament; Broughton Street
    • reduce the number of through routes in the city centre.

Workshop city centre (2)

Specific locations:

    •  Waverley Bridge junction with Princes Street: pedestrians have to wait a long time to cross
    • West Port: A-boards block the narrow pavement. Lothian Road from Bread St to castle Terrace dangerous because of A-boards
    • Grassmarket : overflowing bins
    • Princes St: floods die to uneven surface
    • Cowans Close: road surface – risable repairs. Heavy traffic from cleansing depot
    • Buccleuch Street: drains belong to Victorian period – road floods
    • Haymarket: horrible pedestrian experience; crossings require improvement
    • Bernard Crescent/St Leonards: pedestrian crossing required
    • Meadows: toilets
    • Queensferry St: A-boards, narrow pavement, too many bus stops
    • West End: 5 minutes to wait from green man; loss of public realm – and benches
    • Grassmarket: cafes/restaurants increasingly encroaching on public space
    • Victoria St: pedestrianise and remove all street clutter
    • St Andrew’s Square: more proper benches
    • Old Town: ban tour bus (or reduce their number)
    • South Bridge to Clerk St corridor: too narrow pavements; manage A-board clutter
    • West Port: remove steps on pavement outside Evolution House
    • Usher Hall: not enough ‘furniture’ in front for disabled people.



  • shitty bus stop protection
  • lack of public toilets all over the city
  • where will electric charging points go?
  • better car clubs: dog friendly
  • quality of new paving slabs – York stone is slippy
  • how to report complaints? What happened to CLARENCE and community wardens?
  • traffic lights crossing times too short for pedestrians, esp. if sight problems or wheelchair
  • widespread drainage problems, gutters need debris cleared; eg Cowgate.