Funding reduced for Edinburgh cycleways

Cycle campaigners in Edinburgh and throughout Scotland are calling on the Scottish Government to increase spending on active travel.

Campaign group SPOKES has been encouraging local cyclists to lobby their MSPs to demand that a greater proportion of Scottish Government money is allocated towards cycling infrastructure.

The Scottish Government has set an ambitious national target that 10% of all journeys should be made by bicycle by 2020. And despite a manifesto pledge to boost spending on active travel made just months ago, campaigners claim that the “budget reality” of proposals put forwards by the SNP shows that spending will fall from 1.1% of funding to a “near invisible” 0.8% of transport funding.

In previous years the Scottish Government has provided ring-fenced funds to encourage local authorities to invest in cycle infrastructure. It has also directly funded national charity, SUSTRANS, to build cycle routes.

In Edinburgh, this funding has seen around £1million spent on cycle infrastructure in the last year alone and recent surveys have shown that this investment is paying off, with significant increases in the numbers of people choosing to cycle in the city.

The SPOKES campaign has caught the attention of Government Ministers. In response to questions raised by a local MSP Jim Eadie in Holyrood, Transport Minister Keith Brown said: “I am aware of the rising number of cyclists in Edinburgh. I take this opportunity to praise City of Edinburgh Council members and officers for their commitment and leadership in making the city such an active travel success story.

“I recently had the chance to cycle into the city on an excellent cycle route. To my mind, the other local authorities should look closely at what Edinburgh has done and try to follow suit.”

However, Councillor Gordon MacKenzie, has made it clear that if that if the Scottish Government does cut active travel funds, such as the Cycle, Walking and Safer Streets fund, then it will have an impact on plans to improve conditions for cyclists in the city.

He said: “We’ve not got the final settlement details yet from the Scottish Government, but I would say that the Cycle, Walking and Safer Streets fund has been a very important catalyst in helping to drive forwards improvemen

Edinburgh Airport strike causes delays and disruption

Today’s strike at Edinburgh Airport by public sector staff , including the UK Border Agency , is causing delays and disruption. The airport has said there will be  some delays at peak times for international passengers arriving at Edinburgh Airport . Delays will also occur for departing passengers due to disruptions at other airports. The airport has worked closely with UKBA on their contingency plans and formulating its own measures to support passengers as they arrive at Edinburgh.

The impact at Edinburgh, Glasgow and Aberdeen airports is expected to be far less severe than in London, where Heathrow’s chief operating officer has warned of 12-hour queues for passport checks at peak times.

London is more vulnerable to delays because it handles a larger volume of long-haul flights carrying non-EU citizens, who have to undergo more stringent passport controls.





Glasgow has one long-haul flight coming in on Wednesday, an Emirates service from Dubai, while Edinburgh has one flight arriving from Orlando via New York. Aberdeen has no long-haul flights.

Flights to and from Scotland are also vulnerable if the delays at passport control cause a backlog on the runway, as domestic UK services are cancelled to clear space for planes from overseas.

Edinburgh Airport strike 30th November 2011

Passengers have been warned about significant delays on Wednesday 30th as immigration and passport staff join a 24-hour strike by up to two million public-sector workers over pension reforms.

Heathrow Airport could be facing gridlock with people forced to wait for up to 12 hours on planes.

Glasgow and Edinburgh airports also predicted problems due to the industrial action, with long-haul flights expected to face the worst delays. Delays may build up during the day for  travellers to Edinburgh



The UK Border Agency (UKBA) declined to speculate on the number of staff expected to turn up, but said the agency was doing all it could to minimise disruption, including asking other civil servants across Government departments to undertake training to operate border controls. Clearly this means a lower standard of service with inexperienced staff unlikely to be able to cope with a high volume of passengers. The strike is likely to enable visitors without proper documentation and visas to enter the country.

Airport sources said the disruption at Scottish airports was expected to be less severe because of the lower volume of long-haul flights.  Edinburgh travel resources are expected to be stretched to the limit as a backlog inevitable builds up during the day.

British Airways and Virgin Atlantic Airways said usual rebooking charges would not apply to those who cancelled travel on November 30. A spokeswoman for easyJet also warned of delays, but said it was planning to run a full schedule on Wednesday and had reluctantly concluded the UK Border Agency would be unable to provide a contingency plan to support normal operations.

Delays at immigration would mean passengers would have to be held on arriving aircraft. “This in turn would quickly create gridlock at the airport with no available aircraft parking stands, mass cancellations of departing aircraft and diversions outside the UK for arriving aircraft,BAA added.

A spokesman for Glasgow Airport said: “We are currently liaising with UKBA to ascertain what impact the planned strike action for November 30 may have on Glasgow Airport.

“Current indications suggest international arriving passengers can expect delays at passport control. However, this is a moving situation and we will continue to work closely with UKBA and our airline partners to ensure any disruption is kept to a minimum and appropriate contingency plans are in place.”

A spokeswoman for Edinburgh Airport said it was also waiting for updates from UKBA, which said in response: “We have full contingency plans in place – including asking civil servants across Government to seek the proper training to allow them to operate border controls effectively. We will aim to keep disruption at a minimum, but our priority remains the security of the border and inevitably there will be some queues for all travellers during the strike.”

Cabinet Office Minister Francis Maude said disruption at border controls was unavoidable, adding: “The responsibility for disruption caused to the public and the economic damage that follows from that and the jobs that will be lost because of this strike lies with the union leaders who balloted while discussions were still going on and those union leaders who, on the basis of very low turnouts in those ballots, called strikes.”

Unions have criticised the agency after it emerged volunteers are being sought from across the Civil Service to cover for striking immigration staff. Many people are questioning whether the normal immigration controls will break down , potentially allowing visitors into the UK who would normally be turned away on security grounds. The strike might create a huge opportunity for terrorists to enter the country undetected.

Gatwick Airport’s chief operating officer Scott Stanley warned the action was likely to affect arriving flights across the UK, adding: “We would warn passengers to be prepared for the potential for significant disruption at the border zones … airport staff cannot man desks at the border zone, but we will provide all necessary assistance to the Border Agency.”

First Edinburgh tram arrives late

The first tram to be delivered for Edinburgh has arrived in a way that symbolises the whole project – late. The trams were supposed to improve the Edinburgh travel system but have proved to be an almost complete let-down from start to finish for Edinburgh residents.

The vehicle was due to arrive in the capital after a 900-mile journey from northern Spain at 11am. But it was two hours late.

The delay for the seven parts of the tram was put down to bad weather causing the ferry to be late.

It is the first of a 27-strong fleet that is expected to be running along the streets of the capital by 2014.

Housed at the depot at Gogar, the rest of the fleet are expected to arrive over the coming months.

The City of Edinburgh Council said the depot is now electrified which means static testing can be carried out as soon as the vehicles arrive. Once the test track is finished in early December they will start “dynamic testing”.

The project has been delayed after a series of disputes between the council and contractors. Last week an Edinburgh councillor admitted that he did not have the knowledge or experience to manage the contarct for the council.