• Portobello Community Council
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Maureen Child Update – Brunstane Road

Posted on: November 15th, 2021

Dear All


Some of you have contacted me about the imminent experimental closure of Brunstane Road and I wanted to give you my account of it. 


The Transport and Environment Committee on 28 January 2021 already agreed to trial the closure of Brunstane Road to motorised vehicles, together with complementary traffic management measures introduced within the Coillesdene area, through the introduction of an Experimental Traffic Regulation Order (ETRO). 


For me, last Thursday’s meeting was mainly the culmination of a very long, stressful and tortuous process and the anticipation has caused me many a sleepless night.


It has taken 30 years to get to this point, through deliberating on the issue, and helping shape proposals with local residents. I do wish the changes could have been wider than just the red line Joppa Triangle area, but this should help kick-start the formation of a low traffic neighbourhood for the whole of Portobello and Joppa.  And that better not take another 30 years!


A consultation is not a referendum, which is the worst possible way of making decisions. Truly appalling decisions have been made through a majority vote. Brexit is just one of those very bad decisions, as the increasing majority of UK citizens are realising at last. The referendum on Edinburgh’s congestion charging and investment proposals was another extremely bad outcome that has led us directly to the closure of Brunstane Road, for one thing.


In the last 30 years, Brunstane Road is where the impact of the relentless increase in road traffic is most acute, leading to often angry and sometimes violent stand-offs.  This has got very much worse since the invention of satellite navigation.  No sat nav 30 years ago when this proposal first arose.  Advice that the road and bridge are unsuitable for heavy vehicles has been studiously ignored.  No responsible Councillor could allow this to continue. All four of us local Councillors have been involved in bringing proposals to Committee in January and in helping people shape them.  It’s not a Party political issue, although some might make it so next May.


The status quo simply cannot be allowed continue. Heavy traffic should stay on major roads, like the Portobello bypass that Lothian Regional Council told us would solve all our through traffic problems in the 1980s. 


Brunstane Road will soon be closed at the bridge over the east coast main railway line.  There are alternative routes if you really do need to drive.  The road will remain open for you to walk and cycle safely.  The access to the northern and southern ends remain open for any vehicle. 


You and I really do need to tackle our own car dependency.  A previous survey in the 1990s showed that most car traffic was local to that ‘triangle’ in origin and destination  Are all those local car journeys really and truly necessary?  Brunstane Road is the sharp end of a continuing problem of our debilitating car dependency which will not go away without more radical action.  Remember that 40% of households have no access to a car.  For them,  in particular, these limited proposals are not nearly radical enough.


Contrary to local gossip, no Elected Member, nor any member of their family, lives on Brunstane Road. Some Councillors live in streets which will be adversely impacted by the Brunstane Road closure, that is according to our email correspondents and the outraged Porty People social media keyboard warriors.  I do appreciate the power of social media, but those echo chambers have their downsides in perpetuating myths and skewing our perspectives.


This is not about me or you, and our individual interests and special pleading.  This is about us as a Portobello community of friends, family and neighbours and how we care for each other.  Human beings are adaptable.  Let’s get to work and adapt.  Heart Talk Porty this coming weekend could help us re-think a few things, including the way we get around locally. More conversations possible here  https://hearttalkporty.land/programme/


The report to Transport and Environment Committee highlighted the response to the statutory consultation for the ETRO.  Those who live on Brunstane Road were supportive but those who don’t live on Brunstane Road (the vast majority of us) were opposed.  I note that, and I do sympathise with anyone personally inconvenienced, as I will be too. But my vote is with the severely oppressed minority on Brunstane Road.  Democracy is a great system, although the ‘tyranny of the majority’ too often prevails.   Thankfully, not in this case.


Modifications can be made during trial, if any serious issues arise. 


I rest my case – for now!


Kind regards





Councillor Maureen Child

Labour Councillor Portobello/Craigmillar Ward

Office: 0131 529 3268

Mobile: 07718 666 481

Facebook Page: Maureen Child Standing Up for Portobello/Craigmillar

Twitter: @MaureenMChild1

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