Edinburgh Council has announced that work on a safe and wheelchair-friendly path to the Wester Hailes Healthy Living Centre has begun. The path, being called the ‘Link’, is an example of the great work done by the Wester Hailes Community Council and a great success for community campaigning.
The new link will provide a direct route from the shopping centre to the Healthy Living Centre for people with limited mobility.
A total of £800,000 is being spent by the City of Edinburgh Council on the underpass, which is being built by Morrison Construction in three phases – the second phase is underway and involves work on power cables, so work is mainly hidden. The third and final phase will start in the Spring and will focus on the construction of the actual tunnel.
The Digital Sentinel spoke to John Aitchison, Chair of the Wester Hailes Community Council, about the campaigning done by the community to get work to start on the new link. He said:
The campaign started when we found out we were getting a new Healthy Living Centre. We felt that if we were getting that then we should re-open the old underpass, which was closed off when the old flats came down.
We fought for it for years and years, we went up to the City Chambers and had a lot of help from the Lord Provost Donald Wilson and Councillor Ricky Henderson. To start it was only going to cost maybe £100,000, but during drilling they realised they would have to move electric cables which would cost a lot more. Getting the funding to continue and move the cables was a real victory.
The link will let people come from the shopping centre with buggies and wheel chairs, and there will be a smooth run right to the Healthy Living Centre.
The link is not just going to be another tunnel, it’s going to be open, light and friendly, really improve the area and benefit the people. What was talked about for years and was just a pipe dream is happening, it’s worth campaigning for it will make a difference.
I’d like to thank all the people that helped us but especially Councillor Ricky Henderson: he was a huge help and none of this would have happened without his help.
Councillor Ricky Henderson, Health, Social Care and Housing Convener, said:
This fantastic facility is a real benefit to local residents as it’s a one-stop shop for their health needs. As well as being home to key Council social care teams, it is also a centre point for the local community and gives service providers the ability to deliver quality, integrated services to those who need them.
The new underpass will be well lit, have a clear line of sight from one end to the other and accessible by a sloping ramp. It will provide a safe, quick access for patients, particularly those with mobility issues, who face a longer detour at the moment.
There are currently hopes for the wall of the completed link to be a place for arts and may even be decorated by a mural about Wester Hailes. Here is a song and video produced in Wester Hailes showing the history of the underpass and the campaign for the ‘Link’.