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Friday, 31 August 2007

MSCC Minutes

Wednesday 15 August 2007 at St Catherine’s Argyle Community Hall, Grange Road, Edinburgh

1 Sederunt and Apologies
Susie Agnew welcomed attendees to the meeting and noted apologies.

2 Minutes of meeting held 20 June 2007
The minutes of the last meeting were accepted as a true record, pending the following amendments:
- Anne Laing’s name to be moved to sit under ‘Local Interest Group Representatives’
- The first sentence under item 8.1 to be changed to read ‘Concerns were expressed at the reduction of the number of non-residential parking spaces on Warrender Park Terrace.’
(Proposed: Linda Smith; Seconded: Anne Laird)

3 Matters Arising
3.1 Parking (item 8.1)
Hugh Leather reported that he had received an email from John Richmond at the Council:
A number of public parking bays on the Meadows side of Warrender Park Terrace are being converted to resident bays. This scheme was first advertised in September 2005 but due to objections in other parts of the peripheral area was not completed until the beginning of this year. Work is presently in progress to undertake the changes.
ACTION Councillor McInnes will speak to Council Transport officials, highlighting the need for quick action on the issue of visitor’s permits.
3.2 Blog (AGM item 5.3)
Paper copies of information recently posted on the MSCC blog will be made available at each meeting for those without internet access.
3.3 Facilities for people with hearing difficulties (item 8.6)
A hearing loop will be available at all future MSCC meetings.

4 Neighbourhood Partnership and Neighbourhood Management

4.1 Presentation by Susan Bruce
Susan Bruce, Neighbourhood Manager at the City of Edinburgh Council gave a presentation about Neighbourhood Partnerships and neighbourhood management.

There are twelve Neighbourhood Partnerships (NPs) in Edinburgh. Marchmont and Sciennes are part of the ‘South Central’ NP, the largest in the city. NPs are advisory groups and the expectation is that their recommendations should be followed through by the Council and Neighbourhood Managers. The role of NPs will be to:
- Identify and inform local priorities
- Produce a local community plan
- Ensure wide community engagement through community councils, NP sub-structure and consultation exercises

There will be further development and review of the NP system as time goes on. The membership of each NP Board will comprise:
- Local councillors
- 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
- Services for Communities Neighbourhood Manager (City of Edinburgh Council)
- Children and families Neighbourhood Manager (City of Edinburgh Council)
- Health and social care Neighbourhood Manager (City of Edinburgh Council)

The NP Board may also decide to invite representatives of other bodies able to make a specific contribution. However, only local councillors, community representatives and the voluntary sector representative will be able to vote. At an operational level, the NP Board will set up a number of groups or forums to do more day-to-day work. These might include, for example, a transport forum, a housing and environment group or an older persons service forum.

The South Central NP will hold 4-5 meetings each year and be convened by Councillor McInnes. Robert Aitken will be the NHS representative, Chief Inspector Donnie McKinnen will be the police representative, and a voluntary sector representative is being sought through Edinburgh Voluntary Organisations Council (EVOC). A preliminary business meeting of the neighbourhood partnership has been held, and the first formal meeting will take place in the Eric Liddell Centre on 10 September 2007 beginning at 7pm, and be open to the public. ‘Service surgeries’ will be held before the NP meeting, at 6pm, where council officials from roads, parks, housing, street cleaning, etc. will be available for questions and discussion.

Susan briefly explained that her role as Neighbourhood Manager was to direct services for communities in the area, ensure the local community plan is implemented, work with other services and partners in the area, and support NPs. There are six Neighbourhood Teams in Edinburgh, and most key services are managed locally. Neighbourhood Managers and Neighbourhood Teams have been set up to provide more joined up, flexible services that will be responsive to local needs.

4.2 Special uplift
Several individuals expressed concern at the new system for special uplift that was introduced on 1st August 2007. Prior to this, residents could request free special uplift of rubbish as often as they liked. However, now residents are entitled to only one free special uplift each year, with further uplifts being charged at £17.20 for a maximum of six items. Concerns were expressed that this would lead to an increase in fly tipping which was unlikely to be addressed and that £17.20 was too expensive for the service. It was also suggested that an increase in the number of environmental wardens would be required.

Susan Bruce explained that the previous special uplift system had been very expensive. The £17.20 charge is being introduced after benchmarking against other local councils and reflects the cost of the service. There will be a small increase in the number of environmental wardens, and existing wardens will take on more responsibilities. The Council encourages residents to report fly-tipping.
Alastair Philp will request for fly-tipping to be put on the agenda for a future NP meeting.

4.3 First meeting of Neighbourhood Partnership
Alastair Philp briefly introduced himself as the MSCC’s nominated representative on the NP. The minutes of the first, informal, meeting of the NP are on the MSCC blog. Alastair hopes to put a short article in the Meadows Directory explaining the NP, and individuals should feel free to contact him with any questions or suggestions relating to the NP.

5 Police Report
Sergeant Norman Towler informed the group the PC Bruce Burt, the local police officer for the Marchmont area, is currently on sick leave. He then provided an updated police report for the Marchmont area. There have been five house-breakings reported in the last month and Sergeant Towler re-emphasised the importance of using mortice locks. Six vehicles have been broken into. The police have charged two youths with several motorbike thefts and apprehended two potential house-breakers. Some large, heavy garden ornaments have been stolen, and Sergeant Towler asked anyone witnessing anything suspicious to contact the police.

Sergeant Towler emphasised his support for Neighbourhood Partnerships, with which the police works closely to problem-solve in the local area. This co-operation has resulted in mobile CCTV being placed on the Meadows, and police on high visibility beat on the Meadows from 6pm – midnight until the end of August.

There was brief discussion, and concerns were expressed about the crime on the Meadows. Sergeant Towler answered that there have been a few incidents recently, but no increase in crime.

6 Streetscape: Landscape Plans for Argyle Place and Roseneath Street
Sian Lovell, Project Manager with Edinburgh City Council, explained that the Council has funded this project to be undertaken within this financial year. She introduced Selby Richardson of Urban Design Futures, who have been commissioned to design the streetscape improvements.

Selby Richardson presented to the group. The project is looking at making improvements to the streetscape of Argyle Place and Roseneath Street. Due to budget limitations it is not currently possible to go further than this, although it is hoped that improvements to Warrender Park Road and Marchmont Road junction will follow at a later date.

The project began by auditing what is on the ground at present, and the following problems were identified:
-Narrow pavements in front of shops on Argyle Place and Roseneath Street
-Poor quality pavement surfaces
-Lack of short-stay parking
-Poor quality/unco-ordinated street furniture/street clutter
-Lack of unifying character/area focus

The following solutions were initially proposed by Urban Design Futures:
-Widen pavement on north side of Roseneath street by approximately 2m, and create ‘pavement build-outs’ at junction to create safer crossing points
-Extension and improvement of existing tree planting on Roseneath Street
-Creation of a focal point and ‘pausing place’ for pedestrians at the Roseneath Street/Marchmont Crescent junction, including an allocated spot for the Christmas tree
-Co-ordinated range of better quality bollards, bins, benches and cycle racks
-Centrally placed notice board
-Rationalisation of litter bins/ reduction of street clutter

The designers were also aware of MSCC’s ongoing dialogue with the Council regarding improved parking, and ensured that their designs were in-keeping with this.

The consultation process comprised:
-An initial walk around the site with MSCC, Traders’ Association and Residents’ Association representatives.
-A presentation of preliminary proposals to the MSCC.
-An exhibition of draft proposals at Fountainhall Road library for comment.
-A drop-in session
-This evening’s presentation to the MSCC

There was a good level of response to the consultation, with many supportive and constructive comments, including:
-The need to maintain cyclist crossing provision at pavement divider between Roseneath Street and Warrender Park Road.
-Concerns regarding vehicle turning movements and pedestrian safety at Roseneath Street/Argyle Place.
-Concerns that pavement widening on Roseneath Street might lead to further congestion.
-The need to resolve road drainage/ponding problems.
-The need to improve short stay parking for shoppers.
-The need for less visually intrusive recycling and waste bins.
-Concerns about type of seating to be introduced, with conflicting opinions on whether new benches should be metal or wood.
-Conflicting opinions on whether the notice board should be by the police box as suggested, or elsewhere.
-The need for flower tubs.

Urban Design Futures has already started to make changes to the proposals in response to some of these comments, including:
-Introducing some traffic-calming measures in the hope of slowing down traffic on Roseneath Place.
-Ensuring provision for cyclists is maintained or improved.
-Reducing pavement build-out at the Roseneath Street / Argyle Place junction from the original plan, so as to allow enough space for cars.

Next steps in the process will include:
-Producing a report of the consultation and reviewing all comments
-Amending proposals as necessary to take account of consultation comments and other findings, including the results of a road safety audit currently being carried out.
-Preparing detailed design drawings.
-Producing contract documentation and undertaking a tendering process.
-Starting work on site. It is expected that the work will take approximately 12 weeks, beginning before Christmas and finishing within the current financial year.

There was general group discussion:
-The view was expressed that the current pavement build-outs for buses are of little use. Selby explained that these are part of transport policy and therefore outwith the control of the current project.
-There was discussion of how to remove the ‘pinch-points’ on Roseneath Street. Options identified included moving trees into the parking area (which would result in the loss of one or two parking spaces), removing two trees, or leaving the proposals as they are.
-The new trees will be bigger than the current trees, and hopefully more resilient. It is hoped that they will be replaced if damaged.
-The consultants will consider whether it might be possible to introduce more bike racks for cyclists on Argyle Place.
-Ideally new pavements will be introduced over the whole of Argyle Place, though this will depend on how far the budget can stretch. If money is short, only certain sections will be replaced.
-There was disagreement on whether circular benches at the ‘pausing point’ were the most sociable type of bench to introduce, and concerns were expressed that they might prove a magnet for bird dirt.
-Concerns were expressed that there was an innate conflict in the idea of having a pedestrianised area with tracks for cyclists, though the group had mixed opinions on this. Selby Richardson explained that they are trying to strike a balance and the route for cyclists will not be intrusive.
-The group wished to know how soon the budget was likely to be made available to undertake improvements to other areas of Marchmont that were previously identified as being part of the same ‘shopping area’ as Roseneath Street and Argyle Place, and have already been considered as part of current plans. No clear answer was available at this time, though these possible improvements have been noticed and should remain on the city-wide programme for future improvements. This may be something that the Neighbourhood Partnership can influence, though discussions have still to take place regarding how the NP will influence budgets.
-It was clarified that no residents parking spaces will be lost as a result of the plans, although one pay & display space will be lost. Short term parking will not be free.
-Concerns were raised that currently people often double or triple park on Roseneath Street, and that narrowing the street will worsen the situation, and increase the risk of the bus getting stuck. There was some discussion and disagreement of whether the narrower street might actually discourage people from parking in this way and make it safer by slowing down traffic. Sergeant Towler clarified that if double parking is causing an obstruction the police can be called to deal with it.

7 Grange Cemetery
Susie Agnew informed the group that the Council have a policy whereby upright gravestones that are deemed to be a health and safety risk are periodically flattened. Extended to its natural conclusion, this policy will eventually result in no gravestones being left standing, effectively spoiling a site of enormous historic and cultural value. The MSCC have previously contacted the Council expressing these concerns, and Susan Bruce re-confirmed the answer given then, that the Council does not have the resources to maintain all the graveyards in Edinburgh.
-Susie Agnew will approach Historic Scotland and the Heritage Lottery Fund, making the case for the maintenance of Grange Cemetery.
-It is Council policy to contact the relevant family where possible before flattening gravestones. Susan Bruce will make enquiries to ensure this policy is being followed.

8 New Year Honour
Susie Agnew informed the group that Herbert, who has worked in Kings Chemist for 49 years, retires this year.
Susie Agnew will look into nominating Herbert for the ‘Name your local hero’ and Council citizen of the year award, and start the process of nominating him for a New Year Honour for next year.

9 Roads and Traffic
9.1 Meadows Place
It was brought to the group’s attention that the Council proposes to make Meadow Place a no-through road for traffic. The MSCC has already objected to this and received several e-mails of support. There was brief discussion, and the following points were raised:
-Meadows Place currently takes pressure of the other junction.
-The current proposals would result in an increase of parking spaces.
-It was also suggested that the current proposals would be an improvement only if they were combined with improvements (extra traffic lights and a yellow box) to the junction at the bottom of Marchmont Road.
Cameron Rose will liaise with the appropriate people at the Council reiterating the MSCC’s objection to the proposal as it currently stands.
Susie Agnew will send Cameron Rose a copy of the MSCC’s previous objection letter.

9.2 Pavement at Warrender Park Terrace
Local residents have been campaigning to get the whole pavement at Warrender Park Terrace covered with slabs. Having had no success so far, John Simon has spoken to local councillors and they are going to take this up.
Susan Bruce will review this case with John Gill at Edinburgh City Council.

10 Planning and licensing issues
Monica Higgins, on behalf of the Traders’ Association, asked whether the café in the pavilion on the Meadows had required a license to put out street furniture.
Susan Bruce will find out.

11 Reports of meetings
11.1 Meadows Festival
Cameron Rose updated the group. The Meadows Festival group has met numerous times, and envisions a medium scale event with a community focus, which will leave locals with positive memories and experiences. They are now considering how to go about getting this started, and are considering whether the process should be led by an existing organisation such as an individual community council, or whether a separate entity should be set up with representatives from interested organisations. They agreed that some kind of key person/event organiser/ key team will be required to take things forward. The group have managed to get in touch with the previous organisers of the festival and are exploring the possibility of taking over the existing Meadows Festival Charity. They have begun to explore possibilities of co-operation and sponsorship with local organisations and so far responses have been fairly positive.

12 Any other business
12.1 Seagulls
Concerns have been raised about seagulls nesting on roofs in Marchmont. The Council does have a service as part of pest control, but it would be the responsibility of individual owners to contact them about this. It was suggested that any attempts to get rid of seagulls would have to be made before nesting season. In Bruntsfield, individual proprietors hired a hawker to solve their seagull problem. The group agreed that there is little the MSCC can do on this issue since each roof is private property.
12.2 Edinburgh University Community Relations
Edinburgh University will not make available an electronic version of the minutes from the meeting between the MSCC and Rob Tomlinson but a paper copy is available for the group to share.

13 Next Meeting
The next meeting of the group will take place on Wednesday 12 September, beginning at 7.30pm, at St Catherine’s Argyle Church Community Hall, Grange Road.

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