Minutes of Marchmont & Sciennes Community Council
Meeting of Wed 28th November 2018 at St Catherine’s Argyle Church Hall
Present: Shane Voss (MSCC, chairing in Brian’s absence), Alison Service (Treasurer), Elinor O’Donovan (Minute secretary), Cllr Melanie Main, Anthony Holmes (Thirlestane Lane Assoc), Douglas Rogers (MSCC), Mike Shields (Edinburgh Council), Anne Laing (MSCC), Stephen Couley (resident), Alastair McInnes (resident), Nigel Ayton (Grange Assoc), Nick Hepworth (resident), PC David Cuthbert, Stewart Irvine (St. Catherine’s Argyle).
Apologies Brian Gilmore, Susie Agnew, Ian Murray MP
Minutes of the October meeting had been pre-circulated and were approved, having been proposed for adoption by Alison, seconded by Anthony.
Matters arising: None.
PC David Cuthbert:
Fireworks and bonfires: It has been a busy month in terms of fireworks and bonfires, though there has been less activity in this area than previous years. The police presence in the North and East areas of Edinburgh served its purpose and fireworks calls fell by 11%, in comparison with last year. Bonfires did not cause a lot of trouble, and the Council did a lot of work to dismantle them before any got too big. The fire brigade visited schools in the weeks building up to bonfire night to reinforce the safety message, as children accessing fireworks is a concern. There has been an overall improvement since last year.
Antisocial behaviour fell from last year by 26% in the city. The Meadows at night is often patrolled as there are ongoing youth-related issues, such as anti-social behaviour, violence etc. These youth-related issues peaked a few months ago but, since then, the perpetrators have been identified and are being dealt with.
A Meadows event held last month was well-attended. This was organised by the Police, Fire Brigade, Environmental Wardens, Edinburgh Council, the University of Edinburgh, and the Bike Station.
Christmas festival in City Centre: As SE Edinburgh encompasses city centre, police officers who are not tied to specific wards now patrol the city centre due to the increase in visitors. This means that ward officers are not as well supported compared with other times of year.
Drugs warrant: The police made a recovery from an address in the Tollcross area. This case had been a problem for the police for some time.
Graffiti: Discussion about graffiti around bins, bus shelters, etc. in this area. PC Cuthbert says that the police find it difficult to tackle and they do not have any positive lines of enquiry for those responsible for graffiti tags. Cllr Main mentions that the Council gives funding to clean graffiti from private property, with the owner’s permission. If there are specific sites that you would like to see cleaned, email Cllr Main ().
Speeding/Double-parking near James Gillespie’s school: Nick raised the issue of double-parking and speeding in 20mphs around the school, as a child was recently hospitalised (but thankfully, is now well). PC Cuthbert says that the police, resources permitting, can make an effort to be at the school with speed guns if the specific problem times are highlighted to them.
The school also sends out regular messages to parents about double-parking. Discussion about applying for a road closure during school-hours: if there has been an accident involving a child, there would be more grounds to close the road.
Meadows & BL:
Lovers Loan: In June’s walkabout with MSCC, the dead trees on Lovers Loan were highlighted. The issue was passed on to Forestry, who wish to replant the majority of Lovers Loan. The MSCC is in support of this plan. Mike doesn’t think that this will cause any antisocial behaviour, but believes it is important to raise the idea of replanting Lovers Loan with MSCC. If anyone has any feedback about this plan, to let Mike know ().
There was also a discussion about planting wildflowers which the Council have done in roundabouts in the city. It was agreed that this would be a nice addition.
Streetlights: Broken streetlights can be reported online and are usually fixed quickly. If the streetlights don’t show up on the online map, email Mike.
A draft of the management plan has been made. This will be readdressed following consultation with FOMBL, hoping to be approved by January.
Discussion about the community garden on the Meadows beside the tennis courts. This garden is looked after by community volunteers and schoolkids, who received a grant to set it up and the garden was approved by FOMBL. The garden is tended to on Saturday mornings. They recently had a harvest event, where they cooked food and shared produce.
Basketball court: Cllr Main mentions that, at the SE Localities meeting, there was a petition to put a basketball court on the Meadows. The petition, started by young people, had gathered over 100 signatures and was supported by local schools. It was agreed that a report would be made, to find out if the project could be done, where it could go, and if the main stakeholders would use it and think it’s a good idea. The report is expected in March or April 2019.
Leaf-clearing: Nigel expresses his thanks to the Council in their help with a community effort to clear leaves in the Grange area. In the last 3 weekends, volunteers have gone out with brooms, shovels and black bags provided by the Council. Altogether, they filled 600 bags which were cleared by the Council in a few days. A lot of the roads where drains often get clogged with leaves have been targeted before frost. Discussion about the issue of using black plastic bags, which have been sent to landfill: Nigel mentions that a number of volunteers were unhappy with this and agrees that there is room to improve in future. Overall, however, he believes this has been a great success.
Localities meeting: The main point of discussion is funding available to projects in the Meadows area. There are two funds, with £62,5000 already given away to local projects within Edinburgh, in small amounts. There is also a £20,000 SE Localities Local Events fund. Cllr Main noticed that there have not been many projects from this area and Morningside, as not many applications were put in. When it comes around to next year, she is hoping for more applications. £5000 can be awarded for Meadows events, in order to stop antisocial behaviour for example. Community councils are asked to nominate someone to sit on the panel that decides where the money goes. It is likely that this money will be available again. There is also £20,000 for arts projects which has to be spent by March next year.
Midmar Paddock rights of way: There is need for people to give evidence of using Midmar Paddock in order to secure rights of way. The community buy-out of the land which had previously been proposed is not going ahead as it is unlikely to succeed. FMP (Friends of Midmar Paddock) sent out an email asking for volunteers to run a right of way survey. They are looking to interview people who are familiar with the area.
The construction timeline for the South Edinburgh primary school on Canaan Lane has been delayed a year. The delay to the new completion date of August 2021 is to ensure it will be ready on time.
Sick Kids Hospital:
Douglas: There are now more updates on the online portal about the site. One significant change to the design is the car-parking in front of the main hospital block. This has been reduced from 20 to 16 cars which means the garden space has been able to grow a bit. We haven’t yet seen any reversal of the intent to build car-parking in front of hospital rather than the underground car park proposed by Downing during its community consultations.
Edinburgh Design Panel had a look at the design, which is disappointing as we were not able to give input.
There are also reports on the online Portal about heritage- tree information and bat surveys, as well as access routes through site. Douglas will summarise these and send out to MSCC mailing list.
There will be an open planning meeting late January which MSCC will be asked to make a presentation. Douglas has volunteered to do the presentation.
In some of the plans, there is included a “community space”- but this hasn’t been formally included. The Marchmont Sciennes Development Trust wanted a community facility, the issue was trying to persuade the school that it should be a combined school/community environment. The Marchmont Sciennes Development Trust wanted a more general community space- similar to Marchmont St Giles facilities or Summerhall. Douglas believes that a sports hall convertible to an assembly hall would be a better suggestion.
Discussion about closing part of the road: some people do not want the road to be closed, others think it could be a fenced-off area that is part of the school’s play space, or perhaps it could be a play street (an open space where people can play). The community and residents will be involved in the decision process.
Discussion about the surrounding terraces being given to school during their refurbishment. This is unlikely as they are being turned into (quite expensive) housing. The school was looking for a nursery in previous years but now, it would require some campaigning in order to achieve this.
Overall, the school is more concerned about day to day income rather than creating more spaces. Spaces cost money and primary schools are already short-staffed and cash-strapped.
Nigel: There will be a meeting on the 5th December with the Council, NHS Lothian and the Community Engagement Group. MSP Daniel Johnson will be at this meeting, which suggests that this project is gaining a higher profile.
What had previously been referred to as the ‘Master Plan’ is now being referred to as the ‘Place Brief’- the difficulty here being that there is no contents list for a Place Brief, as opposed to the Master Plan which had been well-defined. There is a push to get a contents list for the Place Brief produced, which might include, for example, surveys, ecology of site etc. The question at the moment, is what of the Master Plan will survive in becoming a Place Brief and what will its status be? What will the Place Brief mean for a developer putting in a planning application?
Overall though, things remain positive, with engagement happening with the right parties. The Council is now taking a more proactive role in meetings with the Community Engagement Group and NHS Lothian.
The Astley Ainslie Hospital Community Engagement group has a website, and updates will be included after December’s meeting.
List of roads with their grading
Discussion about the state of roads within Marchmont Sciennes area. Between Sylvan Place and Millerfield Row, the roads are particularly bad. Oswald Road towards Blackford pond is also in poor repair (although it is not in our area, our commenting is valuable to its grading).
Cllr Main will pass feedback to relevant councillors.
Nothing much to report. There is an application for the construction of a single storey extension to the side and back of the building at 19 Hope Terrace- comments due by 21 December. Alison circulated the application, but there has been no feedback from anyone and she didn’t think the plan seemed to affect anyone else.
Nigel: There have been a series of applications for 13 Lauder Road on which Grange Association members have commented, and Nigel believes applicants have been disingenuous in putting in a series of applications instead of one. They received permission for an extension to the north and then permission to fell a lime tree at the front of the building because they claimed it was putting the front wall at risk and hence a danger to pedestrians. Immediately after that application was agreed, they then put in an application for a double garage with access where the lime tree was. The Grange Association will object to this on the grounds of it occupying too much of the site and being contrary to the Conservation Area Character Appraisal in damaging the rhythm of the buildings on the street.
Xmas Tree Ceremony:
This was a great success and Alison thanks Cllr Main for being MC. Due to the weather, the event was held in the German-speaking church hall and this worked out well. There was feedback from some parents, saying that they prefer having the event outside, only having it inside when the weather is particularly bad. £143 was raised for Crisis at Christmas charity.
Has been circulated, balance is unchanged from last month, £976.71. There is one cheque not yet paid to FOMBL, to the amount of £10.
Alison went to a FOMBL meeting last night. They discussed a successful walkabout of the area and among other things to be done, have planned to get cages put around trees. Neil put in a costed list of projects to the Council for funding. They received £17,000 last year and hope for the same this year.
A lot of planting has been done and this spring wildflowers will be seen on John Muir walk, Muriel Spark walk and by the Meadows Pavilion. Over 1000 buttercups have been planted in the area. They had a work party of 34 people helping to plant, including 24 children and 10 parents. Heriot’s school has also started a FO-FOMBL (Friends of FOMBL) club!
Nick: James Gillespie’s school has set up an Eco Committee- with aims of improving environmental performance, links and collaboration between pupils/parents/community and educating kids. 120 pupils have signed up as “eco warriors”, with 34 parent volunteers. The pupils have planned an environmental review focusing on biodiversity, which has included planting flowers with FOMBL. The pupils have been doing litter pickups around the school and will also be looking at air quality- they will be able to get an air quality monitor from the University (Cllr Main will send Nick a contact for this). Cllr Main also suggests contacting Parks, as there is a lot within their Community Plan about environmental action.
Anne suggests that perhaps the Eco Committee could look after the planters in the area, such as those at the foot of Marchmont Crescent (outside the Scotmid Coop) and those outside Café Artista. Mike Shields did improve ones at Marchmont Crescent last year. Nick mentions that the school also has a Gardening Club which he is sure would be interested.
Jo Cox Get-Together: This is a street party held in locations around the UK following the death of MP Jo Cox. The aim is to build stronger communities. Last year, it was held around James Gillespie’s school and next year it is planned to be from 21-23 June. Damian Hayes emailed Alison asking if MSCC would be supportive of it and perhaps publicise it in our newsletters and allow their posters on our noticeboards. MSCC agrees to provide publicity for the Get-Together.
Responding to the 20mph bill. Discussion about whether or not anyone has responded to this on behalf of the MSCC. Shane believes Susie Agnew has responded but was not sure if she responded as an individual or on behalf of MSCC. After some discussion, it was agreed that the MSCC will not take a position on this, but individuals are encouraged to submit their own responses to the bill.
MSCC meetings: Stewart mentions briefly that on Wednesday evenings there is now another group which meet in the church hall which means we will no longer be the last ones out- there is, therefore, no need to lock up after meetings.
Date of next meeting: 23rd January 2019.