Councillor Katrina Faccenda speaks up for Leith
Leith Ward Councillor Katrina Faccenda spoke up last week in the Council Transport and Environment Committee about the awfulness of life in Leith in recent years / months / weeks, due to the Tramworks. Her words were polite, but her message was frank and very clear. As a result, she has been invited to attend the Tram All Party Oversight Group (APOG) (a role usually not open to Ward Councillors).
Her words are below. If you want to be sure that she is aware of issues that affect you, when she attends the Tram APOG meetings, you should contact her at firstname.lastname@example.org
My statement to the Transport and Environment Committee on the Trams to Newhaven Update
Councillor Katrina Faccenda
I want to congratulate the team – lessons have been learned from Phase 1 and to see that the project remains on schedule and within budget is a remarkable achievement
However, I am concerned that we underestimate the impact that the ongoing works have on the residents of my Ward.
As a city we recognise the importance well-maintained public spaces, this committee spent the whole morning discussing one street in the new town where very few people live permanently.
and the importance of the lived environment for people’s well-being – yet residents in Leith have for years had to live in building site
Building sites which are not always kept as clean and tidy as they should be – which become litter traps and are used as yards for long-term storage
Many businesses have asked me why the street in front of their business a storage yard for materials is which will not be need for many months – surely there are alternatives to this.
I have also had many letters regarding the steepness of the dropped pavements at junctions like Constitution St/Bernard St and the mismatching/confusing nature of the tactile paving which are meant to help the visually impaired – I do hope that these as well as some of the poorly laid and cut paving will be made safer, but it would be better for this not to happen in the first place.
The now infamous new crossings like the one at Brunswick Street are out of my ward but due to bus issues more Leithers than ever are walking up Leith walk to get into town.
I appreciate that the Trams team are responsible for delivering a project and it falls on other parts of the council such as Lothian buses to deal with many of the other inconveniences.
I am not sure that anyone who does not regularly travel to and from Leith can appreciate the level of stress that people are enduring daily – and negotiating public transport has become almost impossible if you do not have access to a smartphone and the bus App but even that is of limited use as it doesn’t keep pace with diversions.
Buses are changing route on an hourly basis, changes in bus stops being serviced and we are now going into the winter without bus shelters at many bus stops and ironically lovely shelters at tram stops on Leith Walk
Leith lost the 22 service – a lifeline service for many and one of the reasons is reported to be reduced use – we know that many of those who are able to walk, or wheel have stopped using buses due to unreliability caused by traffic and diversion – and those who still need buses struggle to find one.
Lastly, the Support for Business package has been welcomed by many businesses but hasn’t been enough for others – well established businesses are closing and only last week another business, a bar on Bernard St announced its closure – cash flow is vital to small businesses and an evening of customers paying by voucher is not ideal.
I appreciate that the pandemic and lockdown make measuring business impact difficult, but I do hope this will be looked at in planning future large scale infrastructure interventions across the city.
Summing up – everyone appreciates that life in a city will involve road works and occasional disruption but for one part of the city to have to put up with so much for so long has become intolerable for many – and please do not forget that many of the future beneficiaries of the trams are not those putting up with this – they are still to move to Leith into new housing accessible by tram.
I think the council must acknowledge the level of disruption and stress the people of Leith have endured and to publicly thank them for persevering and recognising that our strategic plans for the city should be balanced with the wellbeing of our citizens