COVID Update 10 from Cllr Neil Ross

Please note that all views expressed in this newsletter are the views of the Scottish Liberal Democrats and Neil Ross – Merchiston Community Council is not a party affiliated organisation. This is for resident information purposes only and MCC should not be held accountable for the views expressed in this bulletin. Thank you – MCC Communications and Media Coordinator (merchistonmedia@gmail.com). 

Cllr. Ross can be contacted at  neil@edinburghlibdems.org or on 07738 116055

Plans to improve access to local shopping in Bruntsfield & Morningside

With the re-opening of all local shops from 29 June, the Council has announced proposals to create temporary additional space on Morningside Road and Bruntsfield Place by widening footways and removing any guardrails and street clutter. To widen footways, the Council proposes to suspend all parking places, apart from loading bays and Disabled persons’ parking places. 

There are around 8 loading bays on Bruntsfield Place and no disabled parking spaces.  On Morningside Road there are around 17 loading bays and one disabled space outside the Library.  Assuming customers can park in loading bays to pick up their ‘click and collect’ purchases, will these bays be enough to encourage customers to shop in Morningside and Bruntsfield?  Only one disabled space will certainly not be sufficient to cater for blue badge customers and no general parking provision on these roads will mean additional pressure on limited ‘pay and display’ parking in adjacent streets from customers passing through and coming from further afield.

I would like to see:

  • More 30 minute and one-hour parking bays in side streets to allow elderly residents to get to the shops;
  • At least six bays on the main road for the exclusive use of disabled people;
  • Permanent widening of the pavement between the Merlin and Morningside Place;
  • Pedestrianisation of the area between M&S/Superdrug and the bus stop;

As a ward councillor, I have been asked for my feedback by 5.00pm on Friday 26 June.  Let me know what you think.

Council plans for the return to school in August

The Council has announced its plan for ‘blended learning’ for schools from August to the dismay of many parents.  I attended a meeting of the Bruntsfield Primary School Parent Council last week and it is clear to me, and my Liberal Democrat councillor colleagues, that these plans risk failing pupils and working parents.

To have as little as 33% in-school learning risks jeopardising the education of thousands of children across the city. It also undermines the ability of parents who need to work, particularly as furlough arrangements come to an end.

I appreciate the huge challenges being faced by council officers, especially given current two metre social distancing requirements. However, this is a moment which demands creative thinking and imaginative solutions. It’s why the Lib Dems have published our own plan to boost teaching capacity and better support parents with childcare. We need to think and act differently, for pupils and working parents.

Our five-point plan would;

  1. Open up community centres, church halls and other safe spaces for extra class room capacity.
  2. Ensure the Scottish Government fully funds a significant increase in teacher numbers across the city and extra classroom capacity.
  3. To support and facilitate, when health and scientific advice allows, families of children from the same class to share childcare and allow more parents to work.
  4. Partner up our schools to share capacity and stop a postcode lottery on the teaching of our children.
  5. To call on the Scottish Government to amend national movement guidelines to allow close family members to help with childcare and home learning just as soon as it is safe to do so.

Ultimately, we need to be driven by the science but to fix the schooling arrangements for mid-August based on the science of mid-June seems unnecessarily restrictive.  The Council should also be making arrangements for the likelihood that the scientific advice will change to allow further easing and therefore increased capacity in the schools.

Liberal Democrats support a cautious approach on tacking the virus. However, as we use the lockdown to protect lives from the virus, we need to consider the damage caused to people’s lives because of the lockdown including on the loss of education for children.

We have already had a number of discussions with education officials and we will make our proposals formally at a Council meeting later this week.

Further changes to Braid Road

Temporary adjustments are to be made to the restrictions on Braid Road.  The barriers are to be adjusted to allow blue badge holders access through the closure to the park and café and double yellow lines will be temporarily put down so that parking is available for their use. The yellow lines will start at the entrance to the Hermitage of Braid and will go in a North direction to the roundabout on both sides.  The barriers at the south end are to be moved to the entrance to the Hermitage.

The parking restrictions on Greenbank Place and Braidburn Terrace are to be reduced to allow more resident parking.

Flooding at Morningside Station

The temporary lights at Morningside station are to allow Scottish Water to investigate and, hopefully, resolve the regular leaks of sewage and drainage water from gullies at the junction with Cluny Gardens and Braid Road.  After several residents contacted me about leaks of sewage water, I contacted Scottish Water and the Council, no doubt along with many others, to request immediate action to deal with the problem.

Spaces for people in Edinburgh – final reminder

There is still an opportunity for residents to identify ‘pinch points’ or situations where emergency measures could help people maintain physical distancing safely on foot, bike or wheelchair via the Commonplace mapping tool  The suggestions made will help influence Council plans over the coming weeks and months and runs till 29 June.

Two proposals I would like to see implemented are

  1. A segregated cycle lane on Comiston Road from Greenbank Church to Fairmilehead and the reduction in the speed limit to 30 mph. Older cyclists like me prefer the slow gradual climb of Comiston Road compared to the steep sections of Braid Road!
  2. A segregated cycle lane on Braid Hills Drive and the reduction in the speed limit to 30 mph. This road is wide enough to accommodate a cycle lane if the hatchings are removed from the centre.

Filmhouse online consultation events on revised plans

The Filmhouse is holding live online public consultation events on Wednesday 24 & Thursday 25 June for their revised plans for the new film house in Festival Square. You can find out more, book your place and submit questions here https://www.filmhousecinema.com/future

The latest advice on Council services is available here.

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