Friday May 22nd 2020
Written by Local Democracy Reporter, Marie Sharp
A bid for funding to support emergency changes to streets and pathways in East Lothian has been launched as the local authority looks at reducing traffic and introducing more cycle paths.
In a move East Lothian Council insists is for “temporary changes” to support social distancing, it is applying for £350,000 from the Scottish Government’s Spaces for People fund.
Councillor Norman Hampshire, the council’s environment spokesman, has said the changes would allow the local authority to look longer term at how it can change the streets.
The Spaces for People programme aims to enable measures focused on protecting public health, supporting social distancing and preventing a second wave of the outbreak.
However Councillor Hampshire said it will also provide an “invaluable opportunity” to try out changes which include extending pavements, creating extra cycle lanes and reducing traffic in some streets.
Mr Hampshire, said: “The new Spaces for People fund presents East Lothian with opportunities to create alternative travel options to and within our town centres supporting both local businesses and communities to bounce back from the impact of the coronavirus pandemic.
“Whilst the fund is for ‘temporary measures’ to enable people to return to our town centres to work, shop and visit it also provides an invaluable opportunity to see how small changes can have an immediate and meaningful impact on our local communities and environment.
“We have seen high levels of walking and cycling during lockdown and significant reductions in the usage of motor vehicles resulting in improved air quality.
“We would like to maintain these levels of sustainable travel by providing safer environments and are considering the introduction of traffic calming measures, extending pavements to allow space for social distancing, creating extra temporary cycle lanes and adding additional cycling parking.
“It’s vital to the local economy that our town centres can become vibrant again with businesses re-opening and customers returning but this must be achieved in a carefully managed process.”
Prior to lockdown the council was facing pressure from businesses in Haddington opposed to proposed changes to its town centre, including plans to create a park and ride car park outwith the town centre and remove onstreet parking in the high street as well as increase cycle lanes.
Posters can still be seen in the town centre, where the council headquarters are based, calling for support to “Save Haddington Town Centre”.
The council has launched a public consultation on what emergency measures could be introduced to support social distancing with the Space for People funding.
Ideas for areas which could be improved including cycle paths between places such as Musselburgh and Prestonpans and improving paths which have become popular with walkers during lockdown.
The window for comment is brief, however, with a submission to the Scottish Government due from the council by the end of this month.
To comment on the plans go to elothianspacesforpeople.commonplace.isTweet Share on Facebook