Councillors to decide on Silverknowes access

Posted on 15/07/2012 by

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It may not be up there with the Berlin Wall or Northern Ireland’s ‘peace barriers’, but North Edinburgh’s own long-running dispute over local access and antisocial behaviour could soon be over. Members of the city council’s Transport, Infrastructure and Environment (TIE) Committee will decide whether Silverknowes and Muirhouse are to be separated by closed-off barriers at their 13 September meeting. 

Following anti-social behaviour and disturbances in part of the Silverknowes area last autumn, representatives from community organisations in Almond and Forth wards met with local politicians, council and police officials to discuss the possibility of closing off accesses at Silverknowes Eastway.

It proved impossible to reach agreement, however, with community groups and residents in Almond (i.e. Silverknowes) overwhelmingly in favour of closing off the accesses, while Forth community groups and residents are equally vehement in their opposition to closure.  Council officials have also indicated that their policy recommendation must be to keep the accesses open.

Council officials are now compiling a report for the next meeting of the TIE committee, and local groups and individuals have been invited to make submissions for inclusion in the report by 27 July.

Among the options councillors will consider will be the possibility of closing off the pedestrian and cycleway access between Silverknowes and Muirhouse at Silverknowes Eastway/Muirhouse Gardens and Silverknowes Eastway/Muirhouse Drive in the evenings.

Davidsons Mains and Silverknowes Association is one of the Almond groups pressing for closure of the access. The group points to a survey they conducted earlier this year to gauge public opinion on the access issue. In a newsletter to residents DMSA point out:  ‘The DMSA has previously advised residents on the outcomes from the residents opinion survey but it is worth repeating that there were 235 responses from Silverknowes and only 44 from Muirhouse. The Silverknowes return represented a remarkable 40% response and, of those who replied, 65% were in favour of complete closure and 15% wanted some form of restricted access, for example, by closure in the evening and overnight.’

The group is expected to make both formal written submission and to send a deputation to the forthcoming transport committee meeting to argue the case for closure.

Opponents of the proposals, however, argue that closing off and separating communities is not the answer. Roy Douglas, chairman of Muirhouse Salvesen Community Council, confirmed: “We will be making a submission and plan to send a deputation to the TIE meeting. The access must remain open and we will be putting that case strongly to councillors”.