Covid-19 (Transport)

Part of the debate – in the Scottish Parliament on 26th May 2020.

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Photo of Michael Matheson Michael Matheson Scottish National Party

Unfortunately, Mr Simpson is a bit behind the curve. In fact, less than a week after the fund was announced, Edinburgh had already put in place road closures in a number of routes in response to the guidance that we issued and the creation of the fund. In the past fortnight, Glasgow has, I believe, opened up the Clydeside expressway cycle route, which I think has introduced about 1.5km of cycleway.

The City of Edinburgh Council has announced today the further measures that it intends to take forward as part of the spaces for people fund. There are therefore already schemes in place, and there are plans for further schemes not only in the big cities but across areas such as Lanarkshire and the Highlands. We are seeing schemes being rolled out, and I encourage Graham Simpson to continue to engage with councils as they take that forward.

On the question of the funding being recycled, Graham Simpson is correct that the spaces for everyone funding is for permanent structures. The challenge is that, because of the lockdown arrangements and the restrictions that we have at present, local authorities are not able to develop and take forward schemes in the way that they normally would. Rather than that money remaining locked and not being used, we are freeing it up to allow it to be used for a different purpose—that is, for temporary infrastructure. Although some of that temporary infrastructure might become permanent infrastructure, it is about making sure that we free up the money so that it can be used to benefit people now, rather than it lying there and not being used in a way that could benefit people in supporting physical distancing and active travel in the weeks and ahead.