This is no day for a stroll. Heads down against wind and rain, people are not hanging about to enjoy the view. Even on the best of days it takes a bit of positive thinking to see passed wheelie bins and bollards cluttering the faded grandeur of Leith Walk. But on a bleak winter day it is cheering to look on the bright side. City of Edinburgh Council has promised to clear up the mess left by abandoned tram works and general neglect. The even cheerier thought is that Leith community groups are determined to get them to do much more than that.
A bright spot on a bleak day: I Love Leith hoardings.
Leith Open Space was delighted to add support to the very detailed 42 page proposal produced by Greener Leith in consultation with three local community councils and other Leith-based community organisations – along with the Cockburn Association and four ‘active travel’ associations (that’s walking and cycling to you and me).
Al Tibbit, of Greener Leith, calls it ‘an unprecedented joint submission’ to the council’s Leith Improvement Programme. Cycle lanes, 20mph speed limit, safer junctions, clearing up the clutter and returning the missing sculptures – these are among the demands to improve the public realm. In short, as Charlotte Encombe puts it: “We’re urging the council to raise their aspirations.”
We particularly like the emphasise on making Leith Walk a safe and welcoming public space for people to enjoy. And we haven’t given up our own wee fantasy of a covered food market celebrating the incredible cultural diversity of Edinburgh’s most interesting street. That was among the topics discussed at the Open Space ‘Vision for Leith Walk’ event we organised with Greener Leith last year – and we are glad to see the market is among the top wishes of local people in Greener Leith’s report of extensive consultations with local people since then. A market certainly gets lots of ‘likes’ every time we mention it on Facebook.
Edinburgh now has its first ‘co-operative council’ promising to listen to the views of the people. Today’s victory for the Splashback campaign is another encouraging sign that they mean it – but cash is scarce and the council will need plenty of persuasion to spend more on Leith Walk. That’s where we can all keep playing a part.