Shops along proposed Edinburgh tram extension route demand support

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Council chiefs have drawn up a hit list of hot topics raised by members of the public on the proposed extension of Edinburgh’s tram line down Leith Walk and on to Newhaven.

They will look at concerns over arrangements for businesses to continue operating during the construction work, financial help for traders and how the construction works will affect residents and commuters.

Councillors have agreed in principle to the three-mile extension to the tram route from York Place to Newhaven.

Councillors have agreed in principle to the three-mile extension to the tram route from York Place to Newhaven.

Other issues highlighted during the six-week consultation, which closed at the weekend, included the need for more pedestrian crossings and signal-controlled junctions on Leith Walk.

The location of the Balfour Street tram stop, and parking and loading on Constitution Street were other concerns.

The council said more than 3,000 people had taken part in the consultation, attending information events, sending in comments by email or completing the consultation online.

Councillors have agreed in principle to the three-mile extension from York Place to Newhaven.

A final decision on whether to go ahead with the expansion of the nine-mile route, which runs from Edinburgh Airport to York Place, is due to be taken in the autumn.

Opponents noted the consultation asked for views on managing traffic during the construction period, support for businesses and the road layout, but did not ask people whether they supported the extension.

Tory transport spokesman Nick Cook claimed the consultation appeared “little more than a superficial publicity exercise”.

He said: “It fails to actually ask residents if they are ‘for’ or ‘against’ the project itself.”

Councillor Cook said an independent consultation commissioned by the council had found 91 per cent of people in Leith were happy with existing public transport and only 42 per cent believed the tram extension would benefit local business. “It is little wonder they are reluctant to ask the question,” he said.

Independent Cllr Lewis Ritchie, who has come out against the extension, said the decision had effectively been made already. “There is a very strong will within the administration to force these plans through,” he said.

Green transport spokesman Chas Booth said extending the tram to Newhaven was “a fantastic opportunity” to create more people-friendly streets in the area “if we get the designs right”. “Greens want to see very significant improvements to the detailed designs for the extension, which put pedestrians first, cyclists second and tram and bus users third,” he said. “Many of the responses to the council’s consultation have made exactly this point, and we agree with them.”

The council said the consultation had highlighted a “misconception” the project would divert resources from other council services when the plan was for all borrowing costs to be met from an extraordinary dividend from Lothian Buses and future tram revenues.

Transport convener Lesley Macinnes said: “The comments will help us make changes to the plans before we consult again towards the end of the summer.” She said in the same survey quoted by Cllr Cook that 59 per cent agreed taking trams to Newhaven would benefit Leith.