1. Sederunt and Apologies
Anne Laird explained that, as Vice Chair of the group, she has temporarily taken over the responsibilities of Chair due to Cameron Rose’s resignation. She noted apologies and welcomed attendees to the meeting, especially the new Councillors, Steve Burgess and Cameron Rose.
2. Minutes of 21 March Meeting
The minutes of the previous meeting were approved. (Proposed: Melanie Main; Seconded: Mr Malik.)
3. Matters Arising
Anne Laird briefly updated the group on the actions undertaken since the March meeting:
A card has been sent to Donnie Henderson Shadlerz
Details of a city-wide gardens competition will be put on the MSCC blog.
4. Police Report
Acting Sergeant Norman Towler explained that as a result of a recent reorganisation, he is now Acting Sergeant based at St Leonard’s police station. PC Bruce Burt remains the local police officer for the Marchmont area, and Acting Sergeant Towler has line-management responsibilities covering all 12 beat officers in the Southside area.
Acting Sergeant Towler provided a police report:
There continue to be a high number of bicycle thefts in the area, and the police believe that many of the stolen bikes are being sold on e-bay. It is thought that the individuals responsible for bicycle thefts are progressing into motor-crime. Members of the community who see 16-17 year olds acting suspiciously in communal stairwells are therefore urged to call the police.
A small number of house-breakings continue to occur, and Acting Sergeant Towler re-emphasised the importance of using a mortice lock. The police are currently undertaking ‘Operation Apache’, visiting local residents in their homes to offer security advice.
The police are working in co-operation with the new local councillors to establish appropriate participation in the various police committees.
5. Neighbourhood Partnerships
As an extra agenda item, Mary Dunbar from Edinburgh City Council spoke to the group about the establishment of Neighbourhood Partnerships (NPs).
12 NPs are to be set up across Edinburgh. There will be two NPs set up in South Edinburgh. One of these will comprise the Meadows and Morningside Ward and the Southside Newington Ward. The aim of NPs is to provide a mechanism for local communities to engage with issues that affect local quality of life, including the quality of local services, longer-term policy and planning issues and community engagement and participation. The idea is to provide a means for effective, inclusive partnership working across the city, with the NP Board being an ‘advisory committee’ which will act in an advisory capacity to all partner organisations.
The role of NPs is likely to develop over time, but it is expected that key activities will include:
Producing a Community Plan and Annual Report
Informing the development of city strategies
Ensuring partners bring forward issues for local consultation and decision-making.
The membership of each NP Board will comprise:
The same number of community representatives as local councillors
A nominee from Lothian and Borders Police
A nominee from NHS Lothian
A representative of voluntary agencies in the area of the NP
The NP Board may also decide to invite representatives of other bodies to make specific contributions. However, only local councillors, community representatives, and the voluntary sector representative will be able to vote. The Convenor of each NP will be a Councillor.
The NP covering the Marchmont and Sciennes area will have on its Board all eight local Councillors for the two wards, and eight representatives from the local community. Five of these representatives will be drawn from the five community councils in the area (one from each). MSCC will at present have one board member and can nominate who this will be. The nomination can be changed at a later date if required. Once formed, the NP Board will decide on what basis to allocate the remaining 3 community representative places. For example, it may decide to co-opt as additional members a representative of a community of interest.
The NP Board will work at a strategic level, having discussions and making decisions. It is for each NP Board to decide whether to make its meetings open to the general public. At a more operational level, the NP Board will set up a number of groups or forums to do more day-to-day work, depending on the priorities it agrees.
The ethos of NPs is to work towards consensus and focus on issues. It has not been decided how Budgets will be allocated but each NP will have a Neighbourhood Manager. Susan Bruce has been appointed as manager on the NP on which the MSCC will be represented. Susan Bruce will be responsible for supporting the NP and dealing with all issues in the NP area. She will also be responsible for the ‘services for communities’ budget allocated to the area.
As well as a community councillor representative to attend the local NP, MSCC have been asked to indicate a standby to attend in the absence of the chosen representative. It is planned that NP board meetings will take place 4-5 times each year. All representatives will undergo an induction process to learn their role and responsibilities, and will have to publicly declare any interests that may affect their decisions as Board members. It is expected that the first meeting of the MSCC’s local NP board will take place on Monday 11th June. (UPDATE: this meeting has now been postponed to an as-yet-undefined later date)
Mary Dunbar was thanked for her explanation. It was agreed that our representative would play an important role in the initial decision making and volunteers were sought for the role of MSCC representative on the local NP Board. Alastair Philp volunteered to be the representative, and Hugh Leather volunteered to act as standby representative. The meeting thanked both for their interest and agreed that their names should be put forward to the NP.
Alastair Philp and Hugh Leather will take part in NP Board induction, and Alastair Philp will initially be nominated as the MSCC representative on the NP Board.
The group will ensure that the representatives are accountable to the MSCC for the opinions they express as part of this representative role.
Alastair Philp will express to the NP Board the MSCC’s opinion that all meetings should be open to members of the public.
SfC Neighbourhood Manager, Susan Bruce, will be invited to speak at a future meeting of the MSCC, when she can explain and clarify her role.
6 MSCC membership
6.1 MSCC elected representative vacancies
Hugh Leather nominated Sarah Sandow to fill one of the two current vacancies as an MSCC elected member. She was duly accepted by the meeting. One vacancy remains.
6.2 New Chairman
After Cameron Rose’s resignation, the role of MSCC Chairman remains vacant. The group agreed to defer this issue to the AGM in June, when all positions are scheduled to be re-elected.
Individuals should consider whether they wish to stand for election as a committee member or as one of the executive roles (secretary, chairman, vice-chairman, treasurer). Further information about these roles is available from the current office-bearers.
7 Proposed disposal of site of Sick Children’s hospital
Melanie Main updated the group that the Sciennes School Board will shortly be replaced by a new School Council. A sub-group of the School Council will be formed to look at the issues surrounding the future use of the grounds of the Sick Kids hospital. There has been a high level of interest in this issue from parents, many of whom are keen to campaign on this issue, and it is likely that there will be another public meeting on this issue in the future.
8 Reports of meetings by members
8.1 Controlled parking
Cllr Cameron Rose updated the group that he and Monica Higgins had comprised the MSCC’s deputation to a meeting of the Executive on 27 March, reiterating the group’s objections to the new retailers’ parking permits. The permits will be introduced at a rate reduced from the original proposals, but at a rate higher than that hoped for by the MSCC and local traders.
8.2 Quarter Mile good neighbours relations group
Alastair Philp and Dorothy Ryle attended a meeting to update local residents on developments at Quarter Mile:
-The 11-storey building is almost complete.
-Many of the flats have already been sold, and the first new residents are expected to move in by September 2007.
-Show-homes will be available by September 2007.
-The buildings by Middle Meadow Walk are expected to be finished by the end of 2007. There will be a retail area on the ground floor, accessible from Middle-Meadow Walk. This is expected to include a small supermarket. Alastair and Dorothy notified the Quarter Mile representatives of the MSCC’s wish to see small local shops rather than big brands like Tesco, but it is not yet known who will occupy this retail area.
-Three storeys of the office block on Lauriston Place have been let to a law firm
-Work is beginning on the roofs and windows of refurbished blocks.
-Much of the infrastructure work has still to be done.
-900 underground parking spaces have been planned.
9 Planning Matters
It was brought to the group’s attention that:
The Old Janitor’s House beside Sciennes Primary School is being developed, and this may include the creation of a new parking space. Concerns have been raised that the position of this space may pose a road-traffic hazard to children. An objection to the grant of planning permission for a drive in has been sent to the Planning Authority.
Plans are being made to sub-divide one of the houses on Dick Place The Grange Association are aware of and are considering this development.
10 Thank you to Cameron Rose
Anne Laird expressed the group’s thanks to Cameron Rose for his time as Chair of the MSCC, and congratulated him on his election to Councillor. She also congratulated the other Councillors attending and thanked them for attending. It was noted that this meeting the MSCC clashed with the meeting of a neighbouring Community Council and that other Councillors were attending that meeting.
11 Any other business
11.1 Friends of the Meadows and Bruntsfield Links constitution
Audrey Simon brought it to the attention of the group that Friends of the Meadows have recently proposed two amendments to their constitution. She expressed concern that one of these amendments would result in only one signature being required to validate a Friends of the Meadows cheque. This will be discussed decided at the AGM for FOM on 18 June 2007.
11.2 University of Edinburgh community relations
Hugh Leather notified the group the Rob Tomlinson, Head of Media and Communications at the University of Edinburgh would like to set up a two-hour focus group with MSCC members to discuss community relations.
Hugh Leather will invite Rob Tomlinson to attend the June meeting of the group, to give further information about this exercise.
12 Future meetings
The next meeting will take place on Wednesday 20 June 2007, at St Catherine’s Argyle Community Hall. The Annual General Meeting will be held at 7.30pm, followed by the general meeting at approximately 8pm.
Consideration will be given to trying to ensure future meeting dates don’t clash with the meetings of other local community councils.