Local residents asked to provide their ideas for safer physical distancing in towns

East Lothian Council is preparing a bid for funding under the new temporary infrastructure programme Spaces for People which offers funding and support to councils in Scotland to make it safer for people to walk, cycle or wheel for essential trips and exercise during covid-19 restrictions.

It's vital to the local economy that our town centres can become vibrant againCouncillor Norman Hampshire

The Spaces for People programme is funded by the Scottish Government and delivered by Sustrans Scotland and aims to enable measures focused on protecting public health, supporting social distancing and preventing a second wave of the outbreak.

Environment spokesperson, Cllr Norman Hampshire, said: “The new Spaces for People fund presents East Lothian with opportunities to create alternative travel options to and within our town centres supporting both local businesses and communities to bounce back from the impact of the coronavirus pandemic.

“Whilst the fund is for ‘temporary measures’ to enable people to return to our town centres to work, shop and visit it also provides an invaluable opportunity to see how small changes can have an immediate and meaningful impact on our local communities and environment.

“We have seen high levels of walking and cycling during lockdown and significant reductions in the usage of motor vehicles resulting in improved air quality. We would like to maintain these levels of sustainable travel by providing safer environments and are considering the introduction of traffic calming measures, extending pavements to allow space for social distancing, creating extra temporary cycle lanes and adding additional cycling parking.

“It’s vital to the local economy that our town centres can become vibrant again with businesses re-opening and customers returning but this must be achieved in a carefully managed process. We are consulting with the business community and are also seeking ideas and views from local residents at https://elothianspacesforpeople.commonplace.is/. However, due to the immediacy of this programme we have very limited time to consult and discuss and as such will be seeking views in a very tight time frame.

“We aim to provide a suite of measures that will enable people to feel comfortable returning to our town centres. Safe physical distancing will be possible for both essential journeys and exercise and local residents will be able to access their favourite shops and businesses without coming into contact with too many people.”

East Lothian Council’s submission to the Spaces for People fund will be submitted by the end of May 2020.

Published: Friday, 22nd May 2020