Minutes of Marchmont & Sciennes Community Council
Meeting of Wed 27th February 2019 at St Catherine’s Argyle Church Hall
Present: Brian Gilmore (Chair), Alison Service (Treasurer), Elinor O’Donovan (Minute Secretary), Cllr Mandy Watt, Stuart Tooley (UoE), Shane Voss (MSCC), PC Stuart Fraser, PC Neil Mackay, Alastair McInnes (Resident), Nigel Ayton (Grange Assoc), Rev. Karen Campbell (Marchmont St Giles), Judith Stewart (Marchmont St Giles), Anne Laing (MSCC), Susie Agnew (MSCC), Anne Marie Scott (Mansfield Traquair Trust), Tristram Clarke (Historic Churches Scotland Trust), Elizabeth Cumming (Mansfield Traquair Trust), Cllr Steve Burgess.
Apologies Mike Shields (MSCC), Anthony Holmes (Thirlestane Lane Assoc), Alison Johnstone (MSP), Ian Murray (MP).
Minutes from January’s meeting have been circulated, approved by Alison and seconded by Shane.
Brian notes the sad passing of Dorothy Ryle. Dorothy was a member of MSCC for a long period and was the Grange Association rep before Nigel.
It was actioned in last month’s minutes that Brian would write about securing the money from Meadows events to be spent on community parks, which he did. Alison urged FOMBL to write to write to Edinburgh Council regarding the same.
Shane has also sent the email confirming MSCC’s position on the 20mph scheme.
Alison sent in an objection to a planning application for 6 Cumin Place, in support of the Grange Association’s objection as requested by Nigel.
The agreed 40 pounds was sent to the Grange Association to assist in paying for the Astley Ainslie site meeting on 14th February. Alison urged FOMBL to write to city council on parks money being continued to be saved for us.
PC Neil Mackay: Recent crime stats taken from April 2018 to January 2019 were reported at the Localities meeting. In Morningside, house break-ins in are down 31% from last year, and down 39.6% on the 5 year average. In Southside/Newington area they are down 13.3% on last year and down 31.8% on the 5 year average. Break-ins to sheds and garages as well as break-ins to businesses are significantly down in our areas. There has been an increase in theft from motor vehicles -up 22% from last year in Morningside and up 39% in Southside Newington areas. However, a person was identified last summer and charged with over 50 car break-ins. He was identified as the main suspect in this area and since then, car break-in figures have plummeted.
Over the last month, there have been few house break-ins in this area. There was one break-in on Findhorn Place and a 42 year old man remanded in custody. A 30 year old man was also caught breaking into the Black Ivy public house.
Outside this area, there have been a couple of more alarming incidents. There was a murder on Clearburn Road in Prestonfield on the 21st February. Three teenagers have been remanded in custody. There have also been a number of sexual assaults on the grounds of the Royal Infirmary. A 21 year old man has been remanded in custody related to these crimes.
There will be a dedicated road safety day, related to the new 20mph scheme next Tuesday 5th March. Police will be around Grange Rd, Grange Loan and other roads in the area.
Rev Karen Campbell: Some updates regarding Marchmont St Giles church.
Marchmont St Giles has a lack of space to accommodate the large number of groups using the church, and so they have started planning for an extension. They are currently working with architects to build a new church centre. The new plan will allow people to walk through the church to the new hall, with a flat floor that is completely accessible except for a ramp at back of church. The new hall is planned to be where the outdoor play area is currently. There will be new loos and a boiler room underneath the toilets. Overall, the refurbishment is expected to cost 1 million pounds. The church currently has half the money and is working with fundraisers to apply to Big Lottery Funding and Trusts- they hope to have the money in place by the summer. If they have a firm promise of it, they are hoping to go to build in the summer, but this still may be put off until January next year. At any rate, they have planning permission and we can expect a significant build in the next year. Judith Stewart, involved in Church management, adds that the church is happy to hear from the community if they have any suggested uses for the new space.
Last summer, the church received money from Church of Scotland to be put towards IT help for older parishioners. A student named Fenton came in during the summer, updated the church’s website and organised a 2-hour session every week to help older people with any IT problems they might have had. A group called Tap Into IT heard about this as they had also organised something similar in Marian House, a care home in the Grange area. Mike from Tap Into IT came along at the end of the summer and continued Fenton’s initiative. The church has now received funding from Edinburgh Council to continue 6 months of this IT support for older people, beginning 27th March.
Meadows & BL:
At the last council meeting the decision was made to not continue with Localities. It took a year to set up, with another year of Localities meetings taking place. Following this it was decided that they weren’t going as plan- there was feedback received from community councils and community groups who preferred the Neighbourhood Partnerships. The original intention for Localities was to have Localities-specific budgeting, but since then there have been so many cuts to funding and because they were unable to establish a constructive participatory budget, the community organisations felt like they lost involvement.
At the moment, councillors are waiting to see what the new arrangements will be. Cllr Watt will let Brian know of any updates.
Cllr Burgess adds that the decision also involved dissolving Neighbourhood Partnerships from 1st April as well as Localities. They have now decided to create new Neighbourhood Networks which cover the same Neighbourhood Partnership areas, but the precise makeup of these networks is to be decided. Cllr Watt predicts they will be the same as NPs. Cllr Burgess believes this name change is to reflect that the new Neighbourhood Networks could involve more than just community councils.
Cllr Burgess attended 2 ward meetings; Southside/Newington and Morningside. He says that Cllr Melanie Main believed Morningside weren’t happy with the proposals about how to spend the Neighbourhood Environment Programme money and Morningside councillors didn’t want to approve the proposal. Cllr Watt believes Morningside didn’t want to approve the proposal as there was already money there as well as projects approved in the past that hadn’t been carried out. She says they are looking for a report that details everything that was approved, and what the obstacles were that prevented these projects from happening.
Brian, who attended Morningside ward meeting, notes that there was discussion about a proposal to move a dustbin put forward by Shane that had got lost, and that the decision was to take this to Localities. Since Localities will not be continued, Cllr Watt asks Shane to send a copy of his proposal to her. Shane agrees to send a copy to Cllr Watt
Cllr Burgess: Parents at Sciennes Primary School are struggling to police road management as part of their Schools Streets scheme. Cllr Dickie met parents and officers in order to talk about improving this. They met road safety officers who offered to move the existing road signs to a more prominent position so that they are less likely to be ignored by drivers. This will be covered by the Road Safety Officers’ budget for safety improvements.
There was discussion about erecting a ‘No Entry’ sign- but this would need to include another sign listing exceptions. As the Sick Kids hospital is still open, there would be too many exceptions to the ‘No Entry’ sign to the extent that there would be little point in having it.
Sick Kids Hospital:
Brian notes that the proposal by Downing Group went to the Development Management Sub-Committee and, after heated discussion, was approved by one vote. This essentially marks the end of the process for a major part of the site.
On the mortuary building in the Sick Kids hospital:
Elizabeth Cumming from the Mansfield Traquair Trust was present at this sub-committee meeting and spoke on behalf of the trust. Prior to the decision, one of the councillors advised that the mortuary building be taken out of the discussion of the site and the following vote. Although the main site proposal was approved by 1 vote, the future of the mortuary building is to be further discussed and developers have 3 to 4 months to come up with alternative proposals for it. Proposals prior to this decision suggested that the Chapel of Rest, featuring important historic murals by artist Phoebe Anna Traquair, would be left as is, while the rest of the building would be converted into residential flats. Elizabeth highlighted to the sub-committee the dangers of having residential flats and the potential threat they pose to the conservation of the murals. The Mansfield Traquair trust have no interest in acquiring the building themselves, but they support passing the building over to the Historic Churches Scotland Trust. The Mansfield Traquair trust would prefer a completely non-residential occupation of the mortuary building and suggest the upper floors, separate from the chapel, could be used as small offices.
Anne-Marie Scott from Mansfield Traquair adds that the vast majority of the Sick Kids site’s future has been dictated. The mortuary building is one small bargaining chip that has not yet been decided. The Mansfield Traquair trust have a vested interest in preserving the art in the Chapel of Rest and want to find out what appetite there is in our community for preserving it. From conversations with Douglas Rogers, she says it’s clear that the development’s community benefit is unsatisfactory. In this case, it could be useful to the developers to divest the mortuary building to Historic Churches Scotland to increase community benefit.
Tristram Clarke from the Historic Churches Scotland Trust says that his trust is in agreement with the Mansfield Traquair trustees about the value of the mortuary chapel and its potential uses. They are very much against the building being split up amongst multiple owners, as would be the case with converting the upper floors into flats. The Historic Churches Scotland Trust owns property, but is not in the business of leasing to residential tenants and so the ideal solution would be to use the additional spaces as offices, in order to generate a small amount of rental income.
Mansfield Traquair have had no further contact with the developers since the planning decision was made. They have been included in discussions from the start and their intention is to work closely with the developers. Historic Churches Scotland want Downing to give them the building, as Downing might see it as a liability. Historic Churches Scotland would first need to do a viability study to ensure the building could achieve a positive cash flow as it is expensive to maintain a Category A listed building.
The next step is to wait for the Council’s formal decision. Mansfield Traquair will keep in contact with Douglas Rogers. Mansfield Traquair would like community support for this, which Brian predicts they will get.
Nigel Ayton: The big public meeting regarding the AAH site was held on 14th February as planned. It was planned that there would be presentations by the NHS, Edinburgh Council and Daniel Johnson MSP but the NHS did not attend. As the NHS are supposedly in the driving seat, and are in charge of appointing consultants, the Council has become impatient and will take more of the initiative itself. The Council has committed to the proposed plan and is therefore stepping up to specify the requirements for consultants themselves. Nigel commends the Council on its clear, unequivocal answers to questions during the meeting.
When the NHS sent apologies for the meeting, they included a 1.5 page note for the meeting. The Council taking over the process is compatible with the contents of this note although there is still a question of how much leverage the Council will have in writing terms of specifications for the consultants if the NHS is to fund the consultants’ work.
As it stands, the Place Brief will be going to the Development Management Sub-Committee, and the NHS will not approach the market until the Sub-Committee approves the brief. The NHS wants the site to go on the market in 2020 which means that the Place Brief must be written with community consultation done by the end of 2019. Nigel remains confident that this could happen if all parties work together constructively and expeditiously.
To complicate things somewhat, the Astley Ainslie Community Trust is preparing consultations in relation to its own objective of community ownership of some or all of the site. The Trust plans to do a consultation with two stages; what do people want to see on the site? And what is the community’s business model in terms of what the community can own. There will be consultations by the Community Trust with dates set in March.
The Council has seen this and wants to join in with the first part of the Community Trust’s consultation in order for it to feed into consultation for the Place Brief.
Nigel emphasised the necessary distinction between public input to:
a) The Place Brief, which will be a document of record, against which any planning application to build anything by anyone on the Astley Ainslie site would have to be assessed; and
b) The Community Trust’s proposals to acquire assets for community ownership.
Nigel noted that it is essential that the public contributes to the Place Brief as, in the event that the Community Trust’s bid for community ownership fails, there would otherwise be no protection for the site. The Place Brief is the only certain protection that will be offered concerning future development, regardless of who ends up owning parts of the site.
Review of Community Councils Scheme
Brian: The Council is reviewing the Community Councils Scheme, the new draft scheme has been circulated. The main changes are:
- Scottish Youth Parliament representatives are ex oficio members.
- The election cycle is changing from 3 years to 4 years.
- The number of co-opted members cannot be more than one third of the maximum total membership without special permission from the Council.
- We must produce an annual report on engagement activities, if not then we don’t receive funding.
- There must be a balanced budget.
- We are to express the views of the community irrespective of personal opinions.
There is no change to membership. We are allowed a max of 21 members, 14 elected and 7 nominated.
No objections to the revised scheme were raised.
Reclaim our Streets
There are two groups planning separate events in Marchmont for the Jo Cox street party in June. The MSCC has already given its support to Damian Hayes, who wanted to organise a get-together around Gillespies school. Another group of people want to do something as well, suggesting that we close Roseneath Place or the bottom of Marchmont Crescent.
Brian will write to both groups suggesting they liaise with each other.
Alison circulated an email regarding a development on Whitehouse Terrace. It is a big development, but you can’t see it from the road, as none of it is higher than first floor level and they have a tall wall. The only visible change is widening gates at the front a small bit. The council has no objections.
48 and 48A Lauder road have each put in proposals for a rear extension next to each other. 48A wants a 6.5m x 4m tarmac area at front of the property to park a vehicle and Grange Assoc is objecting to this.
16 Tantallon Place wants to build an extension right up to front line, with bricks that are very different from the current stone of the house. Grange Assoc is objecting to this as well.
Plans are in to build a new school on Canaan Lane, just west of the AAH site.
There are new crossings to be installed imminently on Grange Rd. The Council published the TRO and RSO to redesignate pavements and cycleways. The RSO has been revised in the light of objections and has gone back up for consultation.
The Grange Association AGM is next week.
Has been circulated. At the end of February, there is £1002.81. The auditor Gordon McRobert has agreed to do the end of March audit for 18/19.
Meetings attended: No others.
Just Eat Bikes
Anne has asked about the Just Eat bikes that are abandoned by Café Artista on Marchmont Crescent and the bottom of Meadow Place. Stuart explains that the Just Eat Bikes get hijacked relatively easily which explains why you might see bikes abandoned randomly. Just Eat are testing new geo sites like those outside Café Artista, which means that temporary stands are in until they can be installed permanently.
Brian suggests that we keep an eye on the discarded Just Eat Bikes, and if scattered bikes continue to be an issue then Brian will contact the bike scheme’s organiser.
Date of next meeting
27th March. The meeting closes at 8.58pm.