August 2016

East-West Central Edinburgh Cycle Route: yes and maybe

At the August 30 Edinburgh Council Transport Committee every political party supported the Council’s planned East-West City Centre cycleroute – but a decision between options A and B at the controversial Roseburn section was deferred and delegated…

Nearly 200 people cycled in support of the whole route and of option A at Roseburn. Photo: Anthony Robson

August 29: Nearly 200 people cycled in support of the whole route and of Roseburn Option A. [Photo: Anthony Robson, @urbancyclist on twitter]

We are gravely disappointed that the Council is not immediately to press ahead with option A at Roseburn.  Nevertheless, the overall decision has some quite positive aspects in view of the uncertainties of the Council elections next May, which may see a change of political control.

Had there been an A v. B vote, it would almost certainly have been on party lines, with the most likely outcome being Lab*/Green for A;  SNP*/Con/LibDem for B; meaning a victory for B by one vote, and detailed planning then commencing for option B.

However, had today’s Committee voted through option A against strong opposition from some parties, then a new Council next May, if there is a change of political control, might well have scrapped or drastically downgraded the entire project.   Scrapping it would be easy since work cannot begin by May, given the necessary detailed design and Traffic Regulation Orders (TROs).

Instead, every party publicly and firmly committed themselves to the importance for the city of the project as a whole, as can be seen in the speeches by party transport spokespeople on the Council webcast.  This must now be reflected in party election manifestos.

The one clear difference between the parties was that the Greens sought to go ahead with A immediately, whereas all other parties agreed that the A v. B decision should be deferred, as explained below.

Finally, as regards Roseburn, deferring the A v. B decision gives a possibility that the options can now be modified, or new ideas emerge, which will make the final decision more acceptable to a wider range of people – that is certainly the view of the Roseburn Support Group.  For example, whilst Spokes remains clear that a high quality direct main road cycleroute is vital, there may be significant modifications possible to loading, parking, pedestrian, traffic management and other arrangements.   One huge advantage of a more consensual decision is that it is less likely to be reversed if there is a change of Council control at the May elections.

*In general Labour appears to support A, and the SNP to support B – though some Labour councillors individually favour B and some SNP councillors individually favour A.

  • The Council appoints a consultancy to undertake detailed design and prepare tenders
  • The Council seeks match funding from Sustrans – who are very enthusiastic about the project and keen to see it go ahead [see ‘background’ below]
  • A ‘stakeholder group’ is set up with senior councillors, officers and relevant outside groups [we trust that Spokes and the Roseburn Support Group will be represented] to discuss the detailed designs as they progress – including options A and B and any further modifications to them.
  • Final decisions on detailed design (including A v. B, or modifications of them) will then be taken by the Council’s Future Transport Working Group, which comprises one senior councillor from each party (usually the Transport Spokesperson) and relevant officers.
  • This process is probably more or less what would have happened anyway, apart from the devolution of the controversial A v. B decision.  According to Cllr Hinds the timetable remains as before, with final design decisions by the end of the year and the TRO in April.
  • It is up to all of us, as groups and concerned individuals, to help ensure the best and speediest possible outcome – see What You Can Do below.
  • The official Committee paper.   The amendment by the Capital Coalition, supporting the route as a whole but delegating the A v.B decision [this was further amended to say that the final meeting of the Future Transport Working Group would be held in public].  The Green amendment to go ahead now with Option A.
  • See the full Transport Committee debate and the deputations on the Council webcast.
  • Spokes and the Roseburn Support Group had a combined deputation, comprising..
    • Richard Grant [Spokes Planning Group,  who prepared our detailed comments on the main consultation and the A v.B consultation]
    • Rosie Bell [Roseburn resident]
    • Henry Whaley [Roseburn Support Group].
    • See item 3.3 on the webcast for the deputation’s speeches and answers to questions.  Rough notes of the points in their speeches are here:  Richard, Rosie, Henry [this was for a previous talk but used as notes at the Committee].
  • Main speeches by party representatives – see webcast at the times shown below…
    • 03:12:03 Lesley Hinds [Lab, Convener] proposing the motion
    • 03:19:50 Adam McVey [SNP, Vice-Convener] seconding the motion
    • 03:23:30 Nigel Bagshaw [Green, Transport speaker] proposing the Green amendment
    • 03:25:50 Chas Booth [Green] seconding the Green amendment
    • 03:34:30 Nick Cook [Conservative, Transport representative] support for the motion
    • 03:41:40 Robert Aldridge [LibDem, Transport representative] support for the motion
    • 03:46:40 Lesley Hinds closing the debate, followed by vote

It is essential for all of us – groups and individuals – to keep pressing the Council, and our own councillors, to ensure…

  • that the above timetables are kept to
  • that the stakeholder group does not become an excuse for delay
  • that the option of a direct route through Roseburn, as favoured by Sustrans, by the Council’s own Active Travel Forum, by Spokes and by the Roseburn Support Group, receives full consideration.

Remember that the consultative Stakeholder Group and the decision-making Future Transport Working Group will include the various party transport representatives – and these can be influenced by your local councillors.

An equal priority now must be party manifestos for the May elections…

  • Parties committing to continuing the policy of 10% of the transport budget being allocated to cycling.  [A big bonus of this policy is that it now brings large sums of additional investment (£m’s) to the Council through Sustrans 50/50 match funding each year].
  • Parties committing to implement the east-west route as a priority (ideally with a direct route at Roseburn) and to progress further onroad segregated routes on main roads.
  • Of course, there are many other important issues, not least the future of Princes Street.
  • If you are involved in a political party – please press for these points to appear in your party’s manifesto.
  • If you are not a party member – email your councillors and ask them to consider your points for their party manifestos.

And one little thing you can do right now – retweet our tweet of this article!


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