This blog is where you will find community council information, including meeting times, minutes and agenda. Do please comment on postings.

Monday, 25 August 2008

Write now to say why you'll be hugely disadvantaged




SAVE

WARRENDER PARK

POST OFFICE

FROM CLOSING

Write NOW to say why you will be disadvantaged by the closure. Sample letter below...

TO…….

FREEPOST CONSULTATION TEAM

(This is the complete address and no stamp is required.)

(e.mail: consultation@postoffice.co.uk)

Your address

FREEPOST CONSULTATION TEAM Date

(This is all you need to put on the envelope)

NB no stamp required

                (“in confidence” if required)

Dear Sir or Madam

Proposed closure of post office at 73 Warrender Park Road, Edinburgh EH9 1ES

I object to the proposed closure of the above mentioned post office. This will disadvantage me personally because

I cannot walk to the next nearest post office as it is too far and hilly.

or

Although the bus journey is estimated at 4 minutes to the next nearest post office at Tollcross, the bus service is half hourly and a visit to the post office could take over an hour.

There is no direct bus service to Bruntsfield Post Office.

or

I am unable to get to a post office during the week and rely on it being open all day Saturday.

or

I am elderly, do all my affairs locally as I am unable to go further. The closure of the post office will also jeopardise local shops, which form the backbone of the community on which I rely.

or

I do not want to take my car as parking at the nearest post office is very difficult and expensive and causes unnecessary pollution.

or

I bank with the Alliance and Leicester and the post office is its only outlet in this area. I do not want to carry cash for long distances.

or

I find the Warrender post office very convenient to the Sick Children’s Hospital.

or

I find this post office extremely convenient when doing the school run as it is so near the schools.

or

I work at home and need this post office for my business. To go further is a waste of my time.

or

I work in the area and this is the only post office I can reach in my lunch hour.

or

I am a parent of young children and returning parcels is a huge chore if not near by.

or

Any other reason ………………………………………………………………………………………

Yours faithfully


[for details of public meeting on Tu 9 Sep see following post]


Save Warrender Park Post Office



WARRENDER PARK

POST OFFICE CLOSURE


PUBLIC

MEETING


TUESDAY

9th SEPTEMBER

AT 7.30PM

MARCHMONT ST. GILES CHURCH

KILGRASTON ROAD

A representative of the Post Office will be present

Marchmont & Sciennes Community Council

Ordinary meeting on Wednesday 10 September at 7.30pm at St. Catherine Argyle church hall, Grange Road at 7.30pm

Saturday, 16 August 2008

INTRODUCTION TO SUBMISSION

SOUTH CENTRAL NEIGHBOURHOOD PARTNERSHIP
MSCC represent areas which contain predominantly tenement property and are constantly being asked to help in relation to problems with HMOs.
On figures provided by the Council:
Ward 10 Southside/Newington and Ward 15 Meadows/Morningside have between them almost 54% of the total HMOs licensed in Edinburgh.
96% of these HMOs are authorised by the licensing authority
The predominance of HMOs in a tenement or area results in:
wear and tear on the property,
increased noise and disruption where people with differing lifestyles live together and
the drift of a individuals and families to other areas.
reduces the diversity of the population needed to sustain the community as a whole.
The Licensing Authority consider that their only remit is to ensure the safety of tenants. Their policy takes no account of the impact too many HMOs make on individual tenements or areas. This is completely at odds with the way they deal with any other licence application. The community have no difficulty with supporting a policy which ensures the safety of tenants and assures the quality of the accommodation. They do however have a problem with a policy which does not support diversity and sustainability in the community and continues with a policy which denies the importance of these in any community. These areas have benefited from the extra diversity and type of population which occupy HMOs and are aware that they fulfil a need for rented accommodation. However the present policy pays no heed whatsoever to controlling the proportions of HMOs in any tenement or area despite the difficulties this causes to other residents. The Community Councils feel very strongly that this policy is harming the future of their communities. As a community council we are of the view that they are failing in their duty to the community as a whole (and here I included tenants landlords and proprietors) if they do not do change their policy to use the powers they have.
We ask them to review their policy use the powers under the Housing (Scotland) Act 2006 and the The Civic Government (Scotland) Act 1982 to consider the suitability of the property and the impact of the amenity on surrounding properties when granting a licence for an HMO. They will do this in relation to any other licence they grant – why will they not use these powers in relation to HMOs. We have researched the legal issues and are in no doubt that they have the authority to do so. We also want the licensing authority to enforce the conditions attached to an HMO and prosecute where these are breached. Lack of enforcement is a major problem.
The submission which we have prepared gives the details and I ask the Partnership to use their influence to ensure that the Licensing authority give serious consideration to the issues involved and the problems caused by their present policy. The full submission is attached.
Anne Laird
Marchmont and Sciennes Community Council

SUBMISSION TO NEIGHBOURHOOD PARTNERSHIP MEETING

FROM MARCHMONT SCIENNES, IN RELATION HMO LICENSING

The Community Councils represent areas which contain predominantly tenement property and are concerned that the Licensing Authority are not using the full power given to them in the Housing (Scotland) Act 2006 (2006 Act)to protect the amenity and sustainability of the communities in which they live. The Licensing Committee narrowly construe their remit and predominantly consider the safety and security of tenants. They have a much wider responsibility to the community as a whole and as a licensing authority have the power to exercise that responsibility.
The communities concerned are fully aware of the need for safe regulated affordable rented accommodation and, in particular, are aware of the concerns of the student population who require to rent shared accommodation. The communities welcome the diversity and vibrancy that such accommodation brings to their areas. However the need for rented accommodation should not affect the sustainability of any particular community and should not be focussed on a few areas of Edinburgh. It should be distributed throughout the city and a balance struck. Tenement living in particular is community living and where there is a predominance of HMO accommodation in one block or area this leads to overpopulation, tension among residents and a deterioration of the diversity in type of population which is needed to maintain a vibrant and lively popular and sustainable community. The predominance of HMOs in a tenement or area results in , wear and tear on the property, increased noise and disruption where people with differing lifestyles live together and the drift of a individuals and families to other areas. The housing stock requires the input of owner/occupiers to ensure that it is maintained. Individual owners put considerable effort into ensuring the tenement property in which they live is properly maintained and become isolated and disheartened if the effort is entirely theirs and they do not get support for their efforts from landlords or tenants. Properties which have a majority of HMO can be easily distinguished by the lack of care and maintenance. We therefore ask the licensing committee to review their policy and have due regard to the following when considering a licensing application.
1 Suitability of Accomodation
(a) Section131(2) of the 2006 Act empowers the authority to determine whether accommodation is suitable in relation inter alia to location and type and number of persons. Similar provision in The Civic Government (Scotland) Act 1982 Schedule 1 Paragraph 5(3) lists the reasons a licence may be refused “5(3)(c) - the premises are not ... suitable or convenient for the conduct of the activity having regard to ... (i) the location ... (ii) the nature and extent of the proposed use, (iii) kind of persons likely to be in the premises, (iv) the possibility of undue public nuisance. This provision has always been used to consider the effect on the amenity of neighbouring properties and to allow refusal if the amenity is affected. This interpretation has been supported by case law viz Leisure Inns (UK) Ltd v Perth & Kinross District Licensing Board 1991 SC 224. The Opinion in that case stated that the question of amenity can properly arise under s 17 (1) (b) where reference is made to "having regard to their location" and when considering "location" loss of amenity to surrounding properties would be a relevant consideration". Too many HMOs could lead to considerable loss of amenity in the neighbouring properties or other flats in the tenement.
These powers are at present ignored when deciding on the suitability of granting an HMO licence. The licensing authority should use the powers given to them in the legislation to look at the suitability of the property in relation to the area in which it is situated and not confine their remit to ensure it is safe secure living accommodation. Looking at the numbers of HMOs in any one tenement or area will result in a more sustainable community.
(b) In particular the Licensing Committee should have due regard to planning guidance which defines an area as sensitive when the number of HMOs exceeds 30% of the total number of households. Similar guidance requires to be adopted for tenement properties where an HMO licence is required. As explained above the effect of this density of population has a much greater impact in a tenement. The Licensing Committee should not undermine the stated policy of the Planning authority by ignoring these guidelines when they have the power to adopt and apply similar guidance. The Communities expect “joined up Government” from their representatives. They do not expect a different policy to be applied by the Planning authority and a contradictory policy by the licensing authority. The Licensing Committee should consider evidence of the density of HMO’s in the tenement block and in the immediate area when considering the suitability in relation to location and type and number of persons for which the license is to be granted. Where the density in a stair or in a block exceeds 30% then the Committee should invoke the powers given them to refuse a licence.
(c) When considering the number of people for whom a licence is to be granted the Licensing Committee should make it a condition that any occupation of a box room as either living space or a bedroom will be treated as a breach and enforcement action will be taken. A number of 2 bedroom properties are adapted to enable the accommodation of three people and this should be considered when the suitability of the property is assessed as a whole. Changing traditional layout to ensure more rooms and more tenants should also be taken into account when assessing suitability. The properties are often listed buildings which are being altered solely to ensure greater density of population. This does not protect the housing stock or the sustainability of the property in the area.
2 Granting of a new licence where one is already in existence
The 2006 Act makes specific provision for the existing licence lapsing when the property changes hands. The Licensing Committee should make it clear that where there is an application for a new licence the location and type and number of persons will be looked at afresh in accordance with the above policy. This should prevent existing licensed premises becoming a marketable commodity which might add to their value and add to the problem.
3 Enforcement
At Community Council meetings it has become apparent that one of the major concerns is lack of enforcement and meaningful prosecution where conditions are breached. For this reason the following policy should be adopted:
(a) Where there is any breach of conditions of licence and in particular where there is no licence and a licence is required the Committee should prosecute and demand the maximum fine. There is some concern that if the grant of licences is limited in some way that landlords will not make application. It should be sufficient deterrent to any law abiding landlord that there is a real risk of prosecution. With the publication of the Register required under the 2006 Act members of the public should be encouraged by way of a publicity campaign to help police the situation and report suspected breaches of licence conditions or lack of licence. .
(b) The 2006 Act allow some flexibility in the information to be contained in the HMO Register. This should be used to ensure that relevant information is included. The content of the Register should disclose the number of HMOs in a particular tenement with the number of occupants so that this can be used either to identify properties breaching the conditions of licence or as information to be used by the Licensing committee when ascertaining the suitability, density and location for licensing purposes. Residents will also be able to check on the information to decide whether an objection should be made to granting the licence give. The Register should be organised so that it is easy to extract information in relation to a particular street or tenement.
4 Consultation
We are of the view that if the Licensing Committee used their powers as outlined above it would make a considerable contribution to supporting sustainability in our community. However we are aware that no consultation process was carried out prior to the present policy being adopted. Therefore we also suggest that the Licensing Committee consult on their present policy and allow the views of the community to be heard. There are residents who have extreme difficulties where there are too many HMOs in the stair. They should be given the opportunity to put their experiences to the licensing committee so that the committee has a better understanding of the problems in the community. This submission does not deal with anti social behaviour which can also be a problem in some instances but even where there is no anti social behaviour difficulties occur if there are too many HMOs in a stair or area. These range from difficulty in maintaining the property to too much noise because of the number of people using the stairs to access HMO properties at unsocial hours. There is also a problem where the rooms in HMO accommodation have been altered from their original use. This leads to living accommodation being situated above bedrooms and disturbance with neighbours either above or below trying to sleep while others are playing music cooking etc. Once the balance tips one the community loses diversity. We are of the view that a consultation process would enable the committee to get a realistic grasp of the problems involved.
Anne Laird
Marchmont and Sciennes Community Council
11 August 2008

Edinburgh Partnership e-News

Issue 9, August 2008
Working together to improve services
Edinburgh Partnership e-News
I am delighted to advise that the Edinburgh Community Planning Partnership has been successful in securing European Structural Funding in support of key city initiatives, focussing on employability and the regeneration of our disadvantaged
communities.
With European Funds in excess of £5 million over the two year pilot period, the city will benefit from a wide range of new and additional activity. The key objective
is to balance opportunity and need by addressing entry requirements into the labour market and meeting skills shortages, resulting in increased employment and
sustainable employment.
Specific initiatives include Fire Service led training for 14 to 19 year olds, Job Brokerage programmes with city employers and clients from disadvantaged areas,
outreach work through GP surgeries and volunteering opportunities, and measures to help vulnerable groups join the workforce.
I look forward to reporting further on the impact of this Partnership effort as the 'Competitive Communities Programme' progresses.
Other major investment developments reported in this issue include the Partnership’s recent decisions on the Scottish Government’s new Fairer Scotland Fund. We find out how this will benefit the city’s most disadvantaged communities over the next three years.
These outcomes will contribute to the Single Outcome Agreement which requires a new way of working for national and local government and community planning
partners. This issue also contains:
�� Interview with Board member Professor Joan K Stringer
�� Local community planning’s East Neighbourhood Team
�� Neighbourhood Partnership website
�� Tackling crime with Neighbourhood Action Units
�� Cooling down anti-social behaviour
�� Post office closures update
�� Edinburgh Partnership in Conference
�� A City for All Ages progress
�� Engaging communities
�� Community planning in NHS Lothian
�� Edinburgh Inspiring Volunteering Awards 2008
Councillor Jenny Dawe, Chair of the Edinburgh Partnership
www.edinburgh.gov.uk/community planning