1 Sederunt and Apologies
Susie Agnew welcomed attendees to the meeting and noted apologies.
2 Minutes of meeting held 12 September 2007
The minutes were accepted as a true record.
3 Matters arising
3.1 Gillespie school building update (item 5)
Group members informally reported that the Scottish Government had made the decision not to supply the £90 million required to undertake re-building of the school on site.
ACTION: Councillor Marilyne MacLaren will be asked to provide an update at the next meeting, including what action will be taken on this issue in future.
3.2 Neighbourhood Partnership (item 6)
Archie Enwood of Edinburgh City Council reported that he and Mike Shields would be the Neighbourhood Partnership liaison officers from the Council. Their role would be to come along to future meetings to provide a link between the City Council and the MSCC, answering any queries that might arise.
4 Police Report
PC Lindsey Thomson, community beat officer for Marchmont gave an updated police report:
· There have been 13 actual and eight attempts at housebreakings in the Marchmont area. Five of these have been solved. The vast majority of the properties broken into were situated off common stairs and were broken into during the daytime. Often the suspects gain initial access through the main door, which is insecure, or they buzz residents and pretend to be looking for someone that lives in that tenement block.
· There have been five thefts of bicycles, in all cases the bikes were chained to railings, 4 inside communal stairs, and one attached to an external fence.
· There have been two incidents of shoplifting, and six other general thefts. These don’t really form a pattern and do not seem to be linked, as they occurred in widely varying circumstances.
· There have been five thefts of motor vehicles and two attempted thefts. 5 out of these 7 have been solved. The thefts included 3 scooters, which are frequently targeted by younger lads, who seem to find it quite easy to cut through security chains and cables.
· No vehicles have been broken into, though one vehicle, left insecure, had its tax disc stolen.
· There have been nine assaults, all minor in nature, including 2 fights between schoolchildren. One more serious assault took place in Brougham Place. Three of these nine have been solved.
· There is a current trend of property being graffitied in Marchmont, including vehicles, gates and walls. PC Thomson will be launching a new strategy in the Southside to counter graffiti-tagging, which has become prolific in some parts of this area. Grafitti-tagging typically consists of an abbreviated name or nick-name, which identifies the individual or ‘crew’ responsible for the piece of graffiti. The initiative will involve cataloguing and matching photographs of all graffiti tags in the area, to enable them to be attributed to individual offenders. This means that when somebody is charged with one graffiti offence, they could additionally be charged with many other offences from the linked graffiti tags.
· There have been fewer youths hanging around in the Meadows during September than over the summer period. PC Thomson aims to gather more detailed data about ‘youth disorder’ activity on the Meadows and Bruntsfield Links, and focus more resources on this recurring problem She would hope to introduce a partnership approach, involving local residents, and will keep the group updated on any progress made.
PC Thomson encouraged individuals to report any witnessed incidents of graffitti or new graffiti to the police. Digital photos of new graffiti are particularly helpful.
5 Meadows Place possible closure
Caroline Burwell and Jonathon James of Edinburgh City Council gave a presentation on the proposed closure of Meadows Place to motorised vehicles. They explained that Meadows Place is part of the main cycle route from Bruntsfield to Forrest Road, and that the proposed closure would ensure that this entire route was car-free for cyclists. The closure would be enforced by bollards which could if necessary be easily removed at a future date.
There was some discussion of the proposals, focusing mainly on whether this would adversely affect traffic flow in nearby streets, and whether this would have safety implications for cyclists. There was also some discussion of whether accidents involving cyclists are as well-reported as accidents involving motor vehicles.
Council representatives noted comments and explained that an impact study of the proposed closure is currently underway.
- Council representatives will return to update a future meeting on the results of the impact study.
- Cameron Rose had agreed at the July meeting to liaise with appropriate people at the Council reiterating the MSCC’s objection to the proposal. Since Cameron was not present at the current meeting, the group will await an update at a future meeting.
6 Controlled Parking Zone
Hugh Leather updated the group on proposed changes to the parking zones in Marchmont & Sciennes. In particular, he described the meeting attended by himself, Marilyne MacLaren, Cameron Rose, Jim Grieve and Brian Butler where the proposal was discussed in more detail. The community council has asked that rather than making a long narrow zone 8, that the boundary of S1 be extended to the Meadows and possibly Causewayside. City Development will do some more traffic modelling and will get back to us.
7 Special rubbish uplift
At the July MSCC meeting, several individuals had expressed concern at the new system for special uplift of rubbish, whereby residents are now entitled to just one free special uplift each year, with further uplifts being charged at £17.20 for a maximum of six items.
Chris Stanard of Edinburgh City Council Environmental Department explained that the decision to introduce this new system had been taken after benchmarking against other local councils, and that the £17.20 charge is comparable to the kinds of charges being made in other council areas. He explained that the charge helps to pay for the special uplift service, freeing up council money for what are seen as being more pressing priorities. Since the introduction of the new system in August, the number of people requesting special uplifts has reduced, causing further monetary savings. The Council has no reason to believe that fly-tipping has increased, but this is being monitored. There has always been fly-tipping, and whilst this is recognised as a problem, the Council does not expect it to increase under the new system. Rather, it is expected that people will be more efficient in their use of special uplifts, and residents will have a vested interest in reporting any fly-tipping they witness.
General discussion followed, and group members reiterated some of their concerns about the new system, including its expense for residents and expectations that it would increase fly-tipping. The view was expressed that it will penalise the conscientious while allowing irresponsible residents to continue having free special uplifts, since the Council will respond to any reports of fly-tipping. The group was slightly reassured to hear that the Council is monitoring the effects of the new system, but felt that the true effects of the new system could not be truly seen until monitoring took place outside university holidays, since a high proportion of Marchmont residents are students.
8 The Grange Cemetery
At the July meeting, there was discussion of the Council’s policy of flattening upright gravestones, with concerns expressed that, extended to its natural conclusion, this policy will eventually result in no gravestones being left standing.
George Bell, Manager for Bereavement and Public Health at Edinburgh City Council explained that this policy is the result of health and safety concerns. Many old gravestones were not originally laid properly, meaning that many now have a high risk of falling over. This has lead to deaths in some graveyards, with people being crushed by falling gravestones. It is likely that the owners of the land have responsibility for ensuring the safety of graveyards, and therefore the Council have introduced this policy for health and safety reasons.
Specially trained teams regularly check all gravestones on Council land. Where stones need to be laid flat, this is done carefully to minimise damage to the stones. Where possible, surviving relatives are notified if their family’s stone is unsafe, allowing them the opportunity to pay for its maintenance if they wish. Unfortunately the Council currently has no money available to maintain graveyards, though George Bell explained that he is making ongoing efforts to find sources of money that might allow graveyards to be maintained.
Susie Agnew updated the group that she, Dorothy Ryle and Ken Dougall had met with Mr Bell to discuss this issue, and had found the Council’s attitude helpful. Dorothy Ryle had also reported some minor maintenance needs of the graveyard, and Mr Bell’s team had responded almost immediately. George Bell encouraged group members to report any maintenance needs they spotted directly to Stuart Fagan, Cemeteries Officer on 0131 664 4314. There was also brief discussion of replacing the benches in the graveyard.
9 David Stay obituary
Susie Agnew informed the group that David Stay recently passed away. David was a valued member of the community and will be sorely missed.
10 NHS consultation
Susannah Lacey reported on her attendance at a public meeting about the discussion document Better Health Better Care. She explained that the Scottish Government is currently holding a consultation on this document, and that views expressed will be used inform a new Scottish Government health plan. There was brief discussion of the document and it was agreed that there was not sufficient consensus to submit a MSCC response, though individuals may of course submit individual responses if they wish.
The MSCC accounts are now available on the blog.
12 Report of meetings
There were no reports of meetings.
No further business was discussed.
14 Next meeting
The next meeting of the group will take place on Wednesday 14 November, beginning at 7.30pm, at St Catherine’s Argyle Church Community Hall, Grange Road.