The railway cycle paths are a brilliant asset of living in Leith. But despite recent improvements – new benches – the Restalrig path is still in a bit of a state. So a much needed clean-up of that path will take place on May 11, organised by Councillor Adam McVey and Councillor Tymkewyc. Are you free? Fancy volunteering? If you do, head along to the Hawkhill Avenue end of the path at 11am. The usual kit will be provided: gloves, bags, litter pickers. The hope is that the whole path can be cleared so everyone is welcome.
More exciting news about the neighbourhood. Leith councillor Adam McVey (@adamrmcvey) revealed on Twitter last week that the Scottish Government had made an £80,000 contribution to the reinstatement of tennis courts on Leith Links. Building is to start in July. Nice one!
The new courts will be built on the site on the public lawn bowls area. According to Greener Leith, one of the four bowls areas is likely to be retained as well. It’s great news for the park and great news for Leithers.
You’ll have probably seen these yellow signs appearing all along Constitution Street in recent days. They signal that the long overdue repair work is about to commence. Alan Dean, the Leith Programme coordinator, sent out an email recently stating that work will start a week today:
“We are pleased to advise you that work will commence on site in Constitution Street on 29th April 2013. The works will comprise the resurfacing of the existing footways and carriageway and environmental enhancements identified during consultation. These enhancements will include the introduction of new tree pits and the reinstatement of old ones, pavement widening, and cycle storage provision at specific locations in the street.
“The initial contract period will be 8 weeks and the Contractor for the works is Lafarge Tarmac Limited. Location plans and a project programme can be found on our webpages. ‘Tarmac’ will carry out work to sections 11 (Foot of the Walk to Coatfield Lane) and 13 (Old Dock Gates to Bernard Street) and this part of the programme is scheduled to end around mid-June. Section 12 which is the middle section between Coatfield Lane and Bernard Street, will follow this. All being well, should archaeological issues not impact during the work, the aim is for the work on Constitution Street to be complete by mid-August.”
“Update information will be put onto our webpages regularly along with our stakeholder emails. We will of course be actively engaging with traders and residents in Constitution Street as much as possible before and during work on site. While recognising that some disruption will be inevitable giving the type of work involved in the programme, it is the intention to try to minimise this as much as possible and it is our hope that any short term disruption is made up for by the improved environment that will be created for residents, businesses and visitors to the street.”
In response to our recent Tweet we were delighted to receive the text of a letter sent by one Constitution Street resident as part of the council’s online consultation on the Leith Improvement programme. I’ve posted it below because I think you’ll agree it gets to the heart of what needs to be done by the Council in order to both ensure that the planned improvements really do impact positively on the the street and also that the concerns of residents are acted upon. (The final paragraph is crucially important.)As far as we’re aware, the Council have not as yet responded to the questions raised, perhaps they will when given this second opportunity?As a home-owning resident of Constitution Street, near the junction of Queen Charlotte St, on the eastern side of the street, opposite the St Mary’s Star of the Sea church, my primary concern is for a satisfactory reinstatement of the road surface and the pavements alongside it.Since being dug up, filled in, dug up and filled in again repeatedly (for utilities work) during the period when the council still intended to run the tram down here, the street’s surface has been a widely acknowledged disgrace. Also, at times during this period, increased use of the street by HGVs and buses (when neighbouring streets used by certain buses were closed and the buses were rerouted down Constitution Street) the impact on residential properties along the street was frankly hellish. There were times when our house rumbled and shook more or less constantly day and night.Matters have improved since a big yellow sign was put up on Bernard Street stating that Constitution St was “unsuitable for HGVs”, and since further signs were put up restricting speed to 20mph – and I would sincerely urge the powers that be to retain the 20mph restriction once the reinstatement works are completed. If possible, making the speed restriction signage clearer and then enforcing it would be a big help locally as it is frequently ignored, particularly by the HGVs that still use the street and by buses. Incidentally, the speed-sensor unit fixed to a lamp-post directly opposite the Port of Leith Housing Association building has ceased to work.I’d be very happy for a council official to visit our property and witness for themselves the physical disruption and noise nuisance in a building abutting this narrow section of Constitution Street. We have been here for nearly six years, we now have two small children aged 5 and 3, and there are many other families with young children in and around this area for whom the neglect and mismanagement of Constitution Street has been and remains a more or less constant thorn in our side.Finally, re the reinstatement works, I would urge the council to insist that the contractors look below the surface of the street, carrying out a proper structural survey and addressing any problems that may lie beneath the surface. I say this because on more than one occasion, in the aftermath of the successive waves of utility work carried out some three to four years ago, workmen had to return to fix holes that opened up in the street, discovering that the previous workmen had failed to properly fill in the holes they’d dug – and there were found to be “voids” left beneath the surface of the street, which exacerbated the percussive effects of traffic on the road. It would be a serious oversight – with likely unnecessary future cost implications – if the contractors (McNicholas Construction?) failed to deal properly with the underpinning of the street and simply addressed the cosmetic aspect of the street’s surface.Andy Mackenzie, Constitution Street resident
So, we’re all cock a hoop with the improvement plan, aren’t we? Yes, the pavement outside my flat has been left cracked and broken (as has a tile at the entrance to my stair) by the recent work but surely when the new pavements are laid and the road surface replaced we’re all going to see – and feel – a huge and long-overdue improvement in how things have been over recent years since… no, I’m not going into it again.
But here’s a thing – how do we KNOW that the new work is going to be an improvement? Who is going to monitor that the problems many of us have complained to the council about in recent months and years (the fact that our homes rumble and shake as heavy vehicles and buses pass) are addressed by the work that is done?
According to some, the work on Constitution Street will be done by the time the Fringe begins in the summer so really we need to get thinking about this now. I know I should probably just trust that the council will do right by us but let’s face it that’s not exactly what’s happened up until now. For most of us, our homes are our biggest assets, they’re what we spend most of our monthly income on, they’re where we most want to feel safe and secure – shouldn’t we do our best to make sure that the works the council undertakes really ARE improvements?
Despite the fact that every time I’m in a taxi the only topic of conversation is the tram debacle – often because we’re sitting in stationary traffic as a result of the state of the city’s roads due to the project – I sometimes forget just how badly this whole scheme has been run. I suppose it’s like really bad news that you just can’t quite keep facing so you allow yourself to forget. But reading Allan Alstead’s guest blog on the Guardian Scotland blog, I’ve been reminded in glorious technicolour just how shockingly bad it is. And it’s not even open yet.
If you want to read the worst of it, click here.
And do let us know if you agree with Allstead – have you lost faith in Edinburgh Council and its officials as a result of the trams?