1 Sederunt and Apologies
Susie Agnew noted apologies and welcomed attendees to the meeting. In particular she welcomed Susanna Lacey to her first meeting as MSCC secretary, and members of SPOKES who had made a special effort to attend this meeting for the Meadow Place presentation.
2 Minutes of Meeting held 9 January 2008
The minutes were accepted as a true record. (Proposed: Sarah Sandow; Seconded: Mr Malik.)
3 Matters Arising
3.1 Lunch Club
Susie Agnew reported that a preliminary meeting has been held between herself, Mr Malik, Rev Karen Watson and the Sessions Clerk at Marchmont St Giles to discuss the possibility of holding a weekly multicultural lunch club at Marchmont St Giles. The venue is in high demand, so it looks like the club will have a ‘late’ lunch, and the need for menus to cater to both European and Asian tastes was discussed. Someone will be required to run the lunch club, and this will be a paid position of roughly 6 hours per week. The MSCC will be kept updated of progress on this issue.
3.2 Cycle Racks
Susie reported that she had received a letter from Jim Grieve at Edinburgh City Council explaining that the current cycle racks outside James Gillespies are a temporary measure, and that the long-term plan is to provide a separate cycle entrance adjacent to the existing entrance which will lead directly to cycle parking areas within the school grounds.
Cherie Ledlie explained that there are still some concerns amongst parents and teachers, and they would like assurances that teachers will be able to use the racks inside the school grounds. There is also some confusion as to why new gates are required.
ACTION: Susie Agnew will discuss with Cherie Ledlie and Ken Dougall and agree how to pursue this issue further.
3.3 3Ms Youth Partnership
Susie Agnew reported that the 3Ms Youth Partnership has secured a further year of funding to enable Lucy Howie to continue to work with vulnerable young people in the local area. 50% of this funding was provided by the Community Safety Department and 50% from the Children and Families department at Edinburgh City Council. However, during the year the Children and Families Department will explore means for longer term funding.
3.4 Grange Cemetery
Susie Agnew has found out that the Scottish Geneology Society have been gradually working to transcribe the writing from the headstones in the Grange Cemetery. Susie has passed on to them a list of all the headstones that have recently been laid flat, and it may be that they can provide information which will save the MSCC time in its project to get support for reinstating some of these grave stones.
The meeting formally expressed its sincere appreciation for all the work Hugh Leather did during his time as secretary, especially all the time and effort he spent in setting up and sustaining the MSCC blog and other e-communications.
3.6 Neigbourhood Partnership Board
Alastair Philp reported that the Neighbourhood Partnership Board has formally approved the MSCC’s grant application for £1985. He also updated the group that he has received a letter explaining why the South Edinburgh Community Health Partnership Forum was suspended and that a process is underway to ensure the group starts again as soon as possible. Anyone wishing to see this letter should contact Alastair Philp: firstname.lastname@example.org
4 Police Report
PC Lindsey Thomson provided an up-to-date police report:
- Housebreaking figures have remained similar over the last four months, with six incidents in January, four of which have been solved. During January the police also distributed leaflets and offered crime prevention advice to residents.
- PC Thomson notified the group of some incidents in Polwarth where men in a white transit van had been using high pressure sales techniques to sell high quantities of low quality fish to residents.
- Cycle theft has fallen in the local area with only 3 incidents in the last month. However, cycle theft has risen in the university area and plain clothes officers have been making efforts to catch those responsible.
- A robbery took place in Threshers on Melville Terrace at 5pm on the 15th February. A well-built man in his late 20s/early 30s, using a kitchen knife as a weapon, stole £260 from the till. Anyone with any information should inform the police.
- Some more incidents of graffiti have taken place, including on the university library, the German church and the Astley Ainsley. The police have caught two graffiti taggers.
- In the last month, three cars have been broken into and four cars vandalised.
- There was a breach of the peace on Strathearn Road in early January.
- The police have been making efforts to monitor crowds of youths congregating on the Meadows. PC Thomson also asked the group to notify her of any known youth ‘hotspots’, and the suggestions of Moncrieff Terrace, the back gate to the Usher Institute and Marchmont Crescent were made.
- The police have been working to engage with local business, finding out about their experience of local crime and advising them on improving the security of their premises.
- There has been a recent spate of break-ins to hairdressers in the Southside area.
An opportunity for group discussion followed:
- There was some discussion of the Council policy on bikes being kept in stairwells and whether the police could work with the Council to reduce the number of bicycles being kept in stairwells. PC Thomson will give this some consideration.
- Marilyne Maclaren suggested that there has been a recent trend of people using scaffolding to spray graffiti on usually inaccessible areas of tenement blocks. The Council won’t remove graffitti from private property, and individuals can’t use existing scaffolding to remove graffiti themselves. This results in graffiti being left in tact on a long-term basis.
Anyone who wants to contact PC Thomson should e-mail: email@example.com
5 Meadow Place
Susie Agnew explained that the MSCC had previously written a letter objecting to the closure of Meadow Place on the basis that it was unwise to close this road without giving due consideration to the implications this would have for the junction as a whole (Marchmont Road, Melville Drive and Meadows Place) and other related safety issues in this area. The MSCC had previously requested accident statistics from the Council which it felt backed up these concerns, and suggested that the Council should add traffic lights to the Marchmont Road junction to improve safety.
Brian Butler, Interim Transport Services Manager at Edinburgh City Council gave a presentation on the planned closure of Meadows Place, frequently interrupted by questions and concerns from the group. Brian Butler explained that the City of Edinburgh Council local transport strategy for 2007 included as a priority the need to increase cycling in the city. The proposed closure of Meadows Place was intended to complete an unbroken, safe and easy cycle route from Bruntsfield Place to Forrest Road. The MSCC’s objection was the only one that had been raised to this proposal.
Brian Butler explained that a number of accidents had occurred at the Meadows Place junction, and the proposed closure was seen as a straightforward way of making it safer. He explained that although more accidents overall had occurred at the Marchmont Road junction than the Meadows Place Junction, over the last 10 years, three interventions have been made at the Marchmont Road junction which have brought the number of accidents down and changed the type of accident occurring. When making decisions about spending money on improvements, the Council takes into account the cost of the improvement and the benefit expected as a result. Therefore, the perceived reduction in accidents at this junction, combined with the expense of adding traffic lights, means that it would be against the Council’s current policies to signalise this junction.
In addition, he explained that the Council has used modelling tools to predict the effect of the proposed closure on traffic flow in the area, and come to the conclusion that the closure wouldn’t have a significant negative effect on traffic. In short, they have concluded that though closing Meadows Place won’t improve safety at the Marchmont Road junction, it won’t make it worse, and the primary aim of this proposal is to create a safe cycle route from Bruntsfield to Forrest Road.
Heated discussion took place during and after the presentation, and many concerns were raised, including the following:
- Graphs showing the number of accidents at both junctions in the last 10 year were displayed during the presentation. Several strong concerns were raised about the relevance of these figures to the issue in question, and their usefulness in backing up the points being made by the Council representatives.
- The presentation included slides showing details of the accidents at the Meadows Place/Melville Drive junction. These were criticised as being unclear, and it was pointed out that no corresponding details were given for accidents at the Marchmont Road junction.
- No data was provided about pedestrian accidents.
- Only 10% of accidents in this area in the last 10 years have occurred at Meadow Place.
- Many people expressed their personal experiences of using these two junctions, as pedestrians, cyclists, drivers and public transport users. It was felt that personal experience conflicted with the outcomes of the Councl’s modelling.
- Currently it is difficult to turn right at the Marchmont Road junction, causing frustration and impatience in drivers. Closure of Meadows Place would increase the traffic through this junction, making the situation worse, and adding time on to the journey times of buses using this as part of their route. Thus, improving this cycle route might be at the detriment of public transport.
- Historically the Council has made changes in this area without public consultation. The local community feels that expensive mistakes have been made in the past, and urges the Council to listen so that more mistakes aren’t made in the future.
The general view of the meeting was that closing Meadows Place would force more traffic through the Marchmont Road junction. This junction is perceived as being more dangerous than the Meadows Place junction, so to force more traffic that way was unwise and would cause it to become even more dangerous. It was generally felt that adding traffic lights at this junction would make it much safer and able to cope with the additional traffic if Meadows Place were to be closed. The group felt that only if the Council were to improve safety at this junction could it withdraw its objection to the current proposals.
Given that it is extremely unlikely under the present circumstances that the Council will signalise this junction, the group urged the Council to consider innovative solutions to improving the safety at this junction, for example the addition of a box junction. A vote was taken, and the overwhelming majority voted not to withdraw the objection to the closure of Meadows Place.
- Brian Butler will write a report for the Tramsport Committee on this issue which will take account of this discussion.
- Marilyne Maclaren advised that the MSCC take a deputation to the next Transport Committee meeting.
- Brian Butler will consider next steps, bearing in mind this discussion, and keep the MSCC updated on any progress.
6 Volunteers for Custody Visiting Scheme
Susanna Lacey informed the group that the police are currently looking for volunteers for this scheme whereby members of the public make spot checks to ensure that people being held in custody are being treated properly. Anyone interested in volunteering should phone 0131 529 4378, e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org or see the website: www.edinburgh.gov.uk/lbpb
7 Business Parking Permits
Susie Agnew and Monica Higgins informed the group that the Council is now allowing 2 parking permits per business. These can be granted to unliveried vehicles as long as the business can prove they are for essential use, at a cost of £300 if in the extended zone, or £400 in the periphery.
8 Meadows Festival
Susanna Lacey updated the group that the Meadows Festival now has a Management Committee, a constitution and a bank account, and there are plans to hold the event on 7th-8th June this year. The group has many plans for the event and has already worked through much bureaucracy to get this far. They are now looking for many more volunteers to help with various aspects of the event, and in particular require one more volunteer from the MSCC to stand on the committee. This person would need to apply (free of charge) for an enhanced disclosure from Disclosure Scotland.
ACTION: Anyone interested in helping out should contact Susanna Lacey: email@example.com
9 West End Bus Services
The group agreed to support Morningside and Merchiston Community Council in their lobbying of Lothian Regional Transport to put on a bus that turns left at the bottom of Lothian Road.
ACTION: Susie Agnew will write a letter.
10 Any Other Business
10.1 Environmental Forums
Information about environmental forums for wards 15 and 10 are on the blog: http://marchmontandsciennes.blogspot.com
10.2 National Planning Framework Consultation
The Scottish Government is currently running a consultation on the National Planning Framework, which looks at the spatial development of Scotland up to 2030. An open day is being held in Victoria Quay on the 7th March. More information is available on the MSCC blog (http://marchmontandsciennes.blogspot.com/) or by e-mailing Susanna Lacey: firstname.lastname@example.org
10.3 Edinburgh City Council Leader Annual Report
This is available on the MSCC blog: http://marchmontandsciennes.blogspot.com
10.4 1 Meadows Place
Some residents had noticed that development work has resulted in the grass in front of 1 Meadows Place being ruined. The GP responsible for this development work is very apologetic and this area will be re-turfed once this work is finished.
10.5 Meadows Notice Board
Friends of the Meadows and Bruntsfield Place have secured two notice boards for the Meadows, and are happy for Tollcross, Southside and Marchmont & Sciennes Community Councils to make use of these. The group expressed its appreciation.
10.6 Work on Thirlestane Road
There was brief discussion of why yet more work is taking place on Thirlestane Road, and it was explained that the first piece of work didn’t meet the required standards so it has had to be re-done.
10.7 Removal of car parking space
One car parking space is being removed in Spottiswood Street to make space for a refuse container.
10.8 Association of Community Councils
A meeting of the Association of Community Councils will take place in the City Chambers on 15th March. Further details are available on the blog: http://marchmontandsciennes.blogspot.com
11 Date of next meeting
The next meeting will take place on Wednesday 12th March, beginning at 7.30pm at St Catherine’s Argyle Community Hall, Grange Road, Edinburgh.