by Noa Hoffman Local Democracy Reporter

Calls to re-open key Edinburgh roads shut amid the coronavirus lockdown have been made by angry residents, claiming they are must open to get the capital moving again.

Several key routes were closed to traffic by The City of Edinburgh Council, using emergency powers under Covid-19 legislation, and funding from The Scottish Government.

Now, the council’s opposition Tory group is backing demands for the roads to be re-opened. 

Wide-ranging changes to streets across Edinburgh have been implemented under the council’s Spaces for People programme, a scheme aimed at increasing pedestrian and cycling provisions in the city.

In light of the coronavirus crisis and in order to facilitate social distancing, The Scottish Government awarded the council £5 million to fund the programme introducing measures including cycle segregation lanes, widened footpaths, parking bans on various high streets as well as road closures.

Braid Road, Silverknowes Road, Links Gardens, Cammo Walk and Stanley/Hope Street have all been closed to vehicular traffic to “create space for exercise”.

Conservative councillors are formally requesting they are immediately reopened.

Calls to reopen Braid Road in particular are being backed by Fairmilehead Community Council, who are frustrated by the impact the road closure is having on both local traffic and pollution.

In an email to the council, Norman Tinlin, Fairmilehead Community Council Secretary, said: “It is understood why (Braid Road was closed) initially, even if using dubious reasons.

“At the time of the initial closure there were not many vehicles on the road and everybody was in lockdown. However, things have progressed since then – traffic has returned to near normal levels and the schools have returned…

“The closure of Braid Road has served its purpose and the closure should be rescinded.”

Braidburn Terrace. Photo: Martin P. McAdam

A Morningside resident said: “I really hope that this closure ends soon for the health and stress levels of so many people who live in this area of the city.

“Morningside is chaotic at the moment and that is not what is needed after the lockdown.

“I really hope that the SNP and Labour come to Comiston Road every day at peak times and suffer what us citizens and tax payers suffer for their inability of think further ahead about the implications of this closure.”

At a meeting tomorrow, members of the council’s Policy and Sustainability Committee will vote either to accept Conservative calls to reopen closed roads, or to continue closures for at least another two months.

Council planners have officially recommended keeping roads closed and it is likely that SNP and Labour councillors will vote for that.

Alongside reopening various roads, Conservative councillors are also calling for planned changes to 19 streets across the city to be immediately terminated.

The budget allocation for these roads totals £924,000 and Conservative councillors are requesting this money is re-allocated to improve existing schemes.

Conservative Group Chair, Cllr Jason Rust, said: “This SNP-Labour run council needs to start listening and reopen Braid Road forthwith.

“The closure of Braid Road was a democratic outrage and is now a massive practical inconvenience, not least with schools now having returned. It is causing mayhem on Comiston Road, where the traffic at 8am this morning was backed up from Greenbank all the way up past Buckstone shops.

“I have been inundated with residents angry about the absence of proper consultation about closure and the detrimental impact this has had on their day-to-day lives.”

Noa Hoffman is The Local Democracy Reporter covering Edinburgh. The Local Democracy Reporting Service (LDRS) is a public service news agency : funded by the BBC, provided by the local news sector, and used by qualifying partners. Local Democracy Reporters cover top-tier local authorities and other public service organisations.