At the last meeting of the Leith Links Community Council, the following motion was proposed and carried.
Due to excessive local traffic congestion, with concomitant air pollution and danger to pedestrians and cyclists, Leith Links Community Council proposes that a review is needed of the closure of Links Gardens and of the working of the redesigned junction at the foot of Easter Road. This should be carried out in the context of all the other nearby road closures, roadworks, and diversions affecting traffic across Leith, and should include full consultation with local residents and businesses.
The motion has been passed on to our three local Councillors, and to all members of the Transport and Environment Committee.
At the Community Council meeting (which was held online, but was open to members of the public to attend), the following points were raised in discussion:
LLCC is receiving many emails from local residents about severe traffic congestion problems, particularly relating to the redesigned Easter Road junction and to the Links Gardens closure. Residents are divided: many support the closure of Links Gardens for use by pedestrians and cyclists, while others are deeply upset by the traffic congestion, delays and blocked routes that beset our area currently. Recent online petitions have garnered hundreds of signatures. Currently some streets (eg. East Hermitage Place / Vanburgh Place) are actually worse for pedestrians and cyclists, rather than better, due to nose-to-tail queuing traffic and air pollution. Delays to public transport drives more people back to their cars.
LLCC is not anti-cyclist and is not demanding immediate reopening of the road, but just requesting a review. There was no consultation at the time of the closure.
A recent report from Police Scotland (Community Officer) states that “There are no highlighted concerns from Police Scotland in relation to public safety for this road [Links Gardens] re-opening. From a Police Scotland point of view we have no objections to this road re-opening and resuming normal traffic. This will hopefully alleviate a lot of traffic that is amounting along Vanburgh Place and Hermitage Place due to the new traffic light system on Duke Street.”
It is clear that the traffic problems are not ALL caused by the closure of Links Gardens, but by a ‘perfect storm’ of multiple road closures, roadworks and diversions all over Leith, and also by the new junction at the bottom of Easter road which has never worked well. Re-opening Links Gardens is the one thing that could be relatively easily achieved, and might help somewhat, even just temporarily while the Tramworks are at their most disruptive.
CEC policy is apparently to hope for “traffic evaporation” but it is not clear how this can be achieved.
Cllr McVey noted that the Links Gardens closure, along with early Covid 19 measures on other roads, is due to be reviewed at the next meeting of the Transport and Environment Committee.