The pace of change

The path of change is neither straight nor swift.  How true that is over car-parking in the Shandon area of Edinburgh.

Car-parking is one of those bread and butter issues that comes up on the doorstep, especially in those areas where parking is uncontrolled but where the density of homes means that there are lots of vehicles competing for space.

The Shandon area in Edinburgh is one such area.  Controlled parking currently ends at Harrison Road on the eastern edge of the area.  For the rest of the area, parking is an increasing problem, particularly after tea-time.  For some of the time this is merely inconvenient.  However, the emergency services have made clear that there are risks to access
in the way that a minority of owners park their vehicles.  And there are occasional tensions between neighbours over parking patterns.

Put bluntly, there are too many vehicles competing for too little space.

At this morning’s Transport and Environment Committee meeting, councillors heard the results of a consultation to introduce a controlled parking zone (CPZ) in the southern part of Shandon.  The Committee agreed that it should not go ahead in light of that consultation.  As a
supporter of active management of traffic pressures, I share the frustration of many residents who feel that respite seems as far away as ever.  But I also thought that a CPZ in only part of the area carried the seeds of its own demise.  Parking pressures are felt across the whole of the area and to regulate just one part of it risked simply concentrating the pressures even more in the other part.

That is why I am pleased that councillors at least agreed to back a much stronger recommendation for further action.  The Council is now committed to consulting with residents on a broader plan of action and one which is tailored to the circumstances of the Shandon area.  This feels to me like a firmer basis for developing consensus and, crucially, it recognises that the status quo is simply not sustainable.

What does this tell us more generally?  First of all that lasting change is rarely secured in a single sweep.  When change is made it is the result of painstaking assembling of evidence, gradual building of consensus, reaching over lines of difference.  It also shows that top-down, pre-formed solutions are unpopular.  Where change can be shown to impact on a set of circumstances in that time, in that place, it has more chance of success.

For Greens, with a sense of urgency about the scale and pace of progress, it means understanding where people are coming from and showing that the ideas that we have can meet their needs here and now.

It might be bread and butter stuff but who can live  off champagne and caviar every day anyway?