Stay safe. Wear a mask. Keep 2 metres apart. Try to stay in your local area. Those are the messages we hear every day.
But how well are our public spaces equipped to help us cope with the pandemic? You know that many of our pavements are too narrow to allow safe distancing, or allow cafes to offer outdoor dining. Crowding around the entrances to parks or businesses has been a big concern, and parents waiting at school gates in the months to come will also need much more space.
The Scottish Government made £30million available to deal with these issues. For councils to widen pavements, introduce pop-up cycle lanes, close roads to through traffic, change traffic lights to favour pedestrians, and loads of other small things to make our streets safer.
Some councils have introduced big plans. But others have ignored the funding. So how did your council do?
Which areas missed out?
While all Councils and public bodies can apply for the funding, Dundee City Council has secured enough for a spend of £16-per-person, while Falkirk Council applied for just enough money for £1.18-per-person.
East Dunbartonshire, Shetland and Orkney were the only councils not to apply for funding, although ZetTrans (Shetland’s transport partnership) received £200,000.
These disparities in spending are really worrying. This is about laying the foundations for a green recovery. Better, safer public places are good for local businesses as well as protecting our health. If people dont feel safe, they might not return to shops, bars or restaurants. Some areas could be left behind due, in part, to Council inaction.
This isn’t an urban-rural divide either. We’ve seen a sense of ambition and scale from cities, semi-urban councils, and predominantly rural councils. The huge increase we’ve seen in cycling over the past few months has happened right across Scotland.
What happens now?
Well, for starters, there is more money available. The Scottish Government has awarded all of this £30m, but is aiming to ‘repurpose’ a further £8.6m from the Active Travel budget.
If you want your council to think bigger, contact your local councillors. Visit WriteToThem.com pop in your postcode and tell them what measures you’d like to see locally.
The full data can be viewed here
Watch a recent webinar on how the pandemic has shown up the inadequacies of our public space and our transport system: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=VJYNTO2gpFI: