Council to celebrate new traffic lights

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IT will be one party when everyone will know when it's time to go.

The city council is set to hold a bash to celebrate the arrival of a new set of traffic lights.

Invitations have been sent out to more than 20 local representatives to attend the celebration of the lights built in the place of a former roundabout at Fountainbridge.

The event, which will take place outside on the street and will include "light refreshments", is being staged to mark the completion of the 230,000 project.

The plan has not put everyone in the party mood, though.

Councillor Gordon Buchan, who represents the Fountainbridge/Craiglockhart ward, said: "I'm never short of something to say but it left me a bit stumped for words when I heard that we will be having a party over a new set of traffic lights. It beggars belief and you have to ask what these people are on.

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"I have heard many things as a councillor but this has to be one of the most bizarre. Will we all gather round and sing happy birthday to these traffic lights, send a card and tell them we hope they get to university? It just shows how out of touch some people at the council are when they do this at a time when roads budgets are pressurised."

In an e-mail sent to local representatives, transport groups, canal users and cyclists, council officials say that the event is to "celebrate the improved junction layout at Fountainbridge/Gardner's Crescent".

The launch event, on March 30, will take place outside the Cargo bar and restaurant and is being led by transport leader Gordon Mackenzie.

Council officials say that the costs of the event will be "negligible".

But Cllr Buchan said: "I do not care how much it is. Whatever the cost is, that money would be much better used going into the crumbling infrastructure of this city.

"While it is very funny that people would think it is a good idea to have a party for a set of traffic lights, there is a really serious undercurrent to this and I think it is a real concern."

Among those expected to attend are children from Tollcross Primary, while invites have also gone out to members of Merchiston Community Council, cycling group Sustrans and the Waterways Trust, as well as council and government officials and councillors.

Councillor Mackenzie said: "It is important that we advertise the benefits that this successful project is bringing and will continue to bring to the local community, particularly to schoolchildren and cyclists.

"The more we can promote cycling, the fewer cars we'll have on our roads and the safer they'll be for us all."

He added: "I find it unbelievable that someone is so prejudiced against cycling that they think this is an issue."Promoting the fact that the junction is there makes it safer and is eminently sensible. It fully justifies the price - likely to be up to 50 - that this will cost."

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