Last week the blog featured an article that examined the blocking off of an underpass during the building of the new multiplex cinema in 1996. You can read this article in full here at Struggle Not Over For Underpass. Without warning, regular users of the road and railway underpasses between the area now known as Harvesters Way and the shopping centre were suddenly confronted with a large concrete barrier. This made access for anyone in a wheelchair impossible and left others struggling on a set of steep steps. No prior warning had been given and no public consultation was carried out on what had been a well used route for hundreds of years, known to many as “Highwayman’s Road”.
The Sentinel investigated this ongoing issue in 1997, pointing out that the underpass had now been blocked off for over a year. Local residents were angry that the underpass had been blocked without warning and that no alternative route had been provided. In particular, parents with small children in a buggy were now forced to drag their buggies up poorly lit steep steps. One mother told the Sentinel that it was a terrible struggle and that she was frightened she might drop the buggy as she negotiated the steps. A council spokesperson at the time said that the council agreed this was unacceptable. You can read this article in full here at Action Wanted on Centre Steps.
In 1998 the Sentinel reported that the matter had still not been resolved, despite local campaigning. It pointed out that not only was the lighting poor but that the steps were often covered in rubbish. Cllr Brian Fallon promised a full investigation into the matter. You can read more about this report here at Calls For Action.
Sadly there was to be no Sentinel headline announcing that the underpass was to be re-opened. However, 15 years on, it is encouraging that with construction work beginning on the new Wester Hailes Healthy Living Centre this matter may well finally be addressed. For more information on what the new centre will look like, you can take a virtual walkthrough of it here at NHS Lothian.