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Tuesday, 27 November 2007

MSCC Minutes: 14 November 2007 (Unapproved)

There will be an opportunity to approve these minutes at the December meeting of the group.

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

2 Minutes of meeting held 15 August 2007
The minutes were accepted as a true record pending two amendments to the attendance list. (Proposed: Alastair Philp; Seconded: Susanna Lacey.)

3 Matters Arising
3.1 Gillespie school building update (item 3.1)
Susanna Lacey read out a letter from Fiona Hyslop MSP which said that the Scottish Government had never promised any money to rebuild Gillespie’s school, and that it had never received an application from Edinburgh City Council for such funding. In any case, the Government does not fund individual schools.

Marilyne MacLaren updated the group that she has met with Fiona Hyslop and the Secretary for Education to discuss this issue, and ascertained that there never was any money for this project and it is unlikely that there will be in the future. The Council will therefore undertake a feasibility study on the James Gillespie’s project along with similar feasibility studies on five other schools in a similar situation. Each study will cost £10,000 and will be submitted to the Scottish Government. The Council feel that this is the most that they can do at this stage since the Council cannot find the £100 million required for these projects, and there is at present no other way of funding them.

3.2 Police Report
It was suggested that it might be useful to see comparative crime figures over several months.

3.3 NHS Consultation
Susanna Lacey reported that although the group had agreed that there wasn’t sufficient consensus to submit a response to Better Health Better Care on behalf of the MSCC, she had noted the points discussed at the October meeting and submitted them anonymously.

4 Police Report
PC Lindsey Thomson, community beat officer for Marchmont, provided an updated police report:
· Eight actual and attempted house-breakings took place in October, four of which have been solved. This is a decrease since September.
· Cycle theft has increased to 17 since September, mainly in communal stairs. Four of these have been solved, and a leafleting campaign is underway to educate cyclists about looking after their bikes.
· There have been eight assaults, roughly the same number as in September. One of these was an assault with attempt to ravish, which took place on Bruntsfield Links on 28th October. An investigation into this is ongoing by the CID.
· A recent RBS takeover has led to protesters putting glue in the locks of some local RBS branches.
· There has been no rise in youth activity.
· The police tackled recent trends for egg-throwing at Halloween by asking local shops not to sell eggs to youths and to stick up anti-egg throwing posters. There were two egg throwing incidents on Halloween.
· There have been some positive results to inquiries into graffiti, and several culprits have been found.
· One man has been found in possession of heroine, and this individual was also responsible for some house-breakings.
· Three vehicles have been stolen, including a dumper truck on the Quarter Mile site which was later recovered.
· There have been seven road traffic offences in the local area.
· The police are currently giving out vouchers (roughly £20) to local pensioners who may need financial help over the Christmas period. Last year the vouchers were given to 420 pensioners.

Group discussion followed:
Cyclists cycling without lights on their bikes can pose safety problems.
Some school-aged children were seen trying to blow up a ticket meter in Spottiswoode Street.
There was some discussion of graffiti and its possible motives and deterrants.
Groups of underage drinkers is an ongoing problem at the weekends and the police are trying to tackle this.

Anyone who knows of local pensioners who might be appreciative of the vouchers should e-mail:

5 Meadows Place
The MSCC had previously objected to the proposed closure of Meadows Place and Edinburgh City Council has agreed not to go ahead with the closure until the issue has been resolved with the MSCC. Caroline Burwell and Jonathon James from Edinburgh City Council had attended the September MSCC meeting, where there had been an emotive and lively debate.

Susie Agnew explained that Caroline Burwell and Jonathon James were unable to attend another MSCC meeting until January. Susie had therefore e-mailed some questions to the Council, and read out the e-mail she received from Jonathon James in reply:

When was the pavement widened in Meadow Place?
We were unable to find any information regarding the date of construction of the build outs on Meadow Place. By all indications the build outs have been in place for at least 12 years.
What accidents have happened before and after that?
Until we can ascertain an exact date of construction this information would be speculative at best.

When were the pedestrian lights put in Marchmont Road?
The Toucan Crossing was put in the latter part of 1997.
What accidents happened before and after that?
Marchmont Road/Melvilled Drive
1993-1997 28 accidents (8 cyclist; 7 pedestrian; 13 vehicular)
1998-2005 22 accidents (8 cyclists,5 pedestrian; 9 vehicluar)
Meadow Place/Melville Drive
1993-1997 6 accidents (2 cyclists; 1 pedestrian; 3 vehicular)
1998-2006 9 accidents (7 cyclists; 1 pedestrian; 1 vehicular)

The analysis of the Marchmont Road/Melville Drive Junction indicates that there is sufficient capacity to accommodate the traffic currently using Meadows Place.

What plans are there for Argyle Place?
There are conceptual plans to include a pedestrian phase at the Argyle Place and Melville Drive junction. The process is in its initial stages and is currently going through the Traffic Regulation Order procedures.

Further information about vehicular movements and accident types and locations was also provided.

Group discussion followed and the following points were raised:
- Susie had been trying to find out how many accidents took place before and after the pavement was widened, but the unavailability of information about when the pavement was widened prevented this.
- There was general consensus that the pavement was widened much more recently than 12 years ago.
- Fewer accidents have occurred at Meadow Place than at Marchmont Road, yet this is the area the Council intends to concentrate on.
- There was discussion of the possible causes and solutions to the problem, and general agreement that the area needs to be considered as a whole. There are genuine safety problems at the Marchmont Road junction, and it is important that Council money is spent on a rounded solution to solving these problems rather than simply focusing on the closure of Meadows Place.

- Marilyne Maclaren will see if she can find out when the pavements were widened at Meadow Place.
- Mark McInnes will take this issue to the transportation committee and ask for a report on Marchmont Road.
- Marilyne Maclaren will ask to see the ‘conceptual plans’ for Argyle Place mentioned in Jonathon James’ e-mail.
- The MSCC won’t withdraw its objection to the Meadows Place closure, and will organise a deputation.

6 Lunch Club
Cameron Rose updated the group that Mr Malik currently runs a successful lunch club for older people from Asian Communities. He is looking to start a similar, multi-cultural lunch club and is currently exploring options and applying to the Neighbourhood Partnership for a seed-corn grant.

There was brief discussion and it was mentioned that:
· If the MSCC is applying for a grant the lunch club should be located in the Marchmont/Sciennes area, and Marchmont St Giles was suggested as a possible location.
· Lots of people currently go to a daily lunch club at the Eric Liddel Centre.

Anyone interested in helping organising the lunch club or with any suggestions should contact Cameron Rose or Mr Malik.

7 MSCC Marketing
Ken Dougall explained that a sub-group of the MSCC has been set up to look at ways of attracting new people to MSCC meeting. The group has met twice and designed two questionnaires: one for MSCC attendees and one for the wider population. The sub-group will decide what to do next once the questionnaires results have been collated.

There was brief discussion of how the questionnaires should be distributed, including suggestions of using the wider MSCC e-mail list and distributing questionnaires at the Christmas Tree lighting party.

Ken then updated the group that the Traders’ Association is looking to raise its profile and is considering producing cotton or jute bags that say ‘Traders’ Association supported by MSCC’. He suggested that the MSCC might be willing to joint-fund this endeavour and requested £400. The group was positive about this idea and agreed to consider the funding request.

- The Treasurer and Chair will look at the MSCC accounts with a view to providing some funding for the bags.
- Alison Johnstone is aware of similar community projects to produce bags and will keep Ken updated with information he might find useful.

8 Christmas Tree Party
Cherry Ledlie updated the group that preparations for the Christmas tree party are progressing as planned. This event will take place on 8th December at 4.30pm. Charles Stewart also mentioned that the Marchmont St Giles Christmas Fayre will run from 10am – 1pm on the same day.

9 Reports of Meetings
9.1 Meadows Festival
Susanna Lacey updated the group that the Meadows Festival steering group has been meeting monthly, and it has now been arranged that the group will take over the existing Meadows Festival charity. An AGM will be announced soon for election of office-bearers, and they will be looking for volunteers to get involved. Volunteers will be required to be vetted by Disclosure Scotland. A health and safety study has been undertaken and the dates of 6-7 June 2008 have been provisionally booked for the event. The group will be applying for a grant from the Neighbourhood Partnership and will also be looking for funding from other sources. A few bookings of bands and groups to take part in the event have already been made and plans are progressing well.

9.2 Friends of the Meadows
Marilyne MacLaren updated the group that she had attended a packed meeting of Friends of the Meadows on Monday evening. It was felt that there was a need for a strategy to better manage the number/length of events on the Meadows, and that while the Meadows being damaged by too many events, there are likely to be other city parks which would benefit from these kinds of events. Marilyne will be spreading this message around the Council, and feels there is a need for all departments to work coherently on this issue. The meeting also discussed car parking on the Meadows, fly-posting and possible deterrents.

Alastair Philp notified the MSCC that a sub-group of the Neighbourhood Partnership is taking forward the issue of better management of the Meadows, and John Simon will be joining this short-life working group.


If anyone from the MSCC is interested in joining this sub-group they should let Alastair Philp know.

9.3 Student consultation meeting with the community
Ken Dougall updated the group that he had attended a meeting organised by Josh McAlister, President of the Edinburgh University Students Association. Various topics were discussed, including houses of multiple occupancy (HMOs), and it was an interesting meeting although no real consensus of opinion was displayed. It wasn’t clear what kind of follow-up there would be from this meeting.

10 Any other competent business
10.1 BlythBank Action Group leaflet on water supply
The BlythBank Action Group has produced a leaflet expressing concerns about a proposal to develop a poultry unit in the Scottish Borders. The unit would be built on top of an aqueduct which carries Edinburgh’s drinking water from Talla and Fruid Reservoirs, and the Action Group takes the view that this poses a threat to the integrity of the integrity and purity of the water.
- Susie Agnew will write to Public Health and Lothian Health Board for their opinion and information about this development, and based on this information the group will decide whether further action is required.
- Marilyne MacLaren and Mark McInnes will look at gathering information on this from a Council perspective, including contacting Scottish Water.

10.2 Cycle racks at James Gillespie’s Primary School
New bicycle racks have been placed on the pavement outside the primary school and there are concerns that they make the pavements too narrow. The racks were placed there by the Council without any requests from cyclists or the local community, and there is strong consensus that these racks should be removed.
Alison Johnstone will make enquiries at the Council.

10.3 Kilgraston/Grange Loan Intersection
Alastair Philp has seen some close and dangerous incidents at this intersection and wonders if the Council are going to consider improvements to this area.
Susie Agnew will raise this point with Caroline Burwell and make sure she can come to the January MSCC meeting.

10.4 Blackford Avenue
It was mentioned that it has recently become very difficult to get past at Blackford Avenue.

10.5 Quarter Mile Neighbourhood Relations Group
No-one has heard any more information about future meetings of this group.

10.6 Grant Application
Alastair Philp informed the group that the Neighbourhood Partnership has decided not to grant the MSCC’s recent grant application since many of these aspects will be covered by the Council-funded streetscape improvements.

Alastair Philp will find out what was in the original grant application to see if it contains aspects that aren’t included in the streetscape improvements. If so, he’ll try to get these aspects of the application continued.

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

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