Minutes of Marchmont & Sciennes Community Council
Meeting of Wed 23rd September 2020, 7.30pm by Zoom.
Present: – Brian Gilmore (Chair, MSCC), Nigel Ayton (Grange Association), Alastair Philp (local resident), Susan Agnew (local resident), Anne Laing (MSCC), Anthony Holmes (Thirlestane Lane Association), Cllr Cameron Rose (CEC), Pauline Flannery (SSCC), Alison Service (MSCC), Adam Stewart (MSCC), Ed Hawkins (JGPS Travel Committee).
It was agreed that Alison Service take the minutes of the meeting but they would be done in future by the Minute Secretary Elinor O’Donovan.
Apologies: – Ian Murray MP
Matters Arising: Nil
Draft Minutes from the last meeting, February 2020, were approved by Nigel Ayton and seconded by Anne Laing.
Police Report: None
Meadows and Bruntsfield Links: FOMBL report. The minutes of the last FOMBL meeting had been circulated and Alison gave the key points. At the recent AGM all Trustees were re-elected and two additional ones were voted in and a new secretary was appointed. Volunteers and members had done a lot of litter clean-up over the summer, plus watering and wildflower planting. Jawbone Arch repair is completed and it is to be re-installed in the Spring 2021
Susan Agnew and Adam Stewart gave thanks all the members, volunteers and supporters who support the work of FOMBL or who work away on their own or with other groups, and to the Park Rangers and cleaners for the early morning clean up. Cameron Rose agreed the CEC early morning clean up was excellent but he’d continue to look into whether the bins could be emptied more often each day of warm weather as they overflowed very quickly.
ACTION: It was recognised that over the summer months there had been particular concerns raised by many local resident about anti social behaviour on the Meadows and Bruntsfield Links, and that MSCC should seek to work with FOMBL, CEC and other local services to explore how it could take a more active role in representing local views and seeking solutions to these in future. Alison agreed to raise this issue with FOMBL at their next meeting in the first instance.
City Councillor Report on topical local issues:
Cllr Rose: He reported that the Sick Kids would be moving out of the site on 25th January 2021 hopefully. There’s an enquiry into the new hospital problems led by Lord Brodie – but probably won’t get results for 5 years!
Re Police news, there’s been quite a few break-ins in the Marchmont/Grange area targeting sheds, bike storage areas. A large haul of jewellery was found and the Gayfield Square Police station asks that anyone who had things stolen in the past to contact them with descriptions.
The Council is relaxing it’s requirement to “Login” before lodging a comment or reporting something, making it much more user friendly. The main Council meetings are back to “virtual” normal of once a month – people working from home. There’s a back log in licensing and Planning applications but it’s hoped they’ll be cleared soon.
Susie Agnew asked Cameron who she should contact about seeing Japanese Knotweed growing at the bottom of Chalmers Crescent – Cameron undertook to inform the correct people.
Brian Gilmore asked him about the complete closure of Sciennes Road today in front of the school. Anne Laing said there were closure signs at both ends but cars seemed to be passing through still. Cameron gave an update saying that the closure had been proposed some time ago and was now going ahead as part of the Spaces for People scheme – on a temporary basis only, though that remains to be seen! Access only to cyclists and walkers.
Brian said there’d been suggestions that Argyle Place was to be closed but so far nothing has happened.
It was noted that there were two aspects of activity in relation to James Gillespies Primary School. The first was in relation to the CEC commitment to introduce temporary traffic management measures to improve physical distancing on pavements around the school. Ed Hawkins reported that cones were out today to widen the paths on both sides of Warrander Pk Rd, which was welcome. However, it was noted that CEC had not yet undertaken the further measures that are planned, including removal of pavement fencing and widening of pavements.
The second aspect is the Blackford Safer Routes proposals to create a safe cycling and walking route to the school. Ed provided a detailed overview of the proposals, and highlighted that Whitehouse Loan is key in this plan as it is heavily used by the JGPS Bike Bus scheme (hundreds of young cyclists). Ed presented a leaflet of the route and closures/traffic calming involved. This would allow children to cycle or walk to school safely or potentially allow parents to drop their kids off further away from the school so they can walk/cycle in safety.
Adam highlighted to strong support for the scheme amongst many local parents and the JPGS school leadership, and that current levels of traffic and crowding had been highlighted by the COVID-19 situation, which further illustrated the potential of the project.
Alastair Philps noted that there were often such problems on Kilgraston Road too. Cameron said plans had been drawn up on this but due to lack of personnel it had rather died a death.
ACTION: Ed urged people to use the following link to inform themselves and to support this scheme.
Items for Discussion
Astley Ainslie Hospital Redevelopment: Nigel Ayton said there was little to report. Council to do the Place Brief but nothing seen so far. There had been some problems with work being performed on trees with no prior approval, despite the trees being protected by Tree Preservation Orders. Correspondence with the Council and the NHS Estates Office has now led to an application for work to TPO trees being submitted in retrospect to the Council’s planning team. The contractors claim the trees were diseased but others disagreed!
On the Planning side, a proposal to demolish the boiler house and huts is being reviewed at present (no one will miss them), and there is good communication with the NHS overall.
MSCC AGM: Brian said this would be held at our next meeting in October.
Communal Bin Review: Adam said that this was a city-wide review and the plans that were being rolled out would affect every street in the MSCC which has communal bin facilities. The current Big bins would be removed and a larger number of bin hubs would be installed on each street every 100 yards or so. There were not plans to consult residents on how these are situated but it was recognised the community council could have an important role in seeking to ensure that current issues with bin capacity were addressed and that the new hubs were located in ways which would link to local footfall, walking routes etc to avoid potential future issues. There would also be the loss of a few car spaces on each street but hopefully if the project was delivered effectively this would improve recycling and for residents and address some current issues in particular hot spots.
ACTION: It was agreed that MSCC should continue to monitor developments and engage with Changeworks and CEC once the roll out is scheduled, which is likely to be later in 2021.
CITY PLAN 2030: See: www.edinburgh.gov.uk/cityplan2030 Adam said that CEC has continued to develop the new plan during the lockdown and the latest information was available to view online.
The Scottish Govt launched their consultation on Short Term Lets which closes mid-October. Everyone is urged to participate as it is a very important issue impacting on the city and our area.
ACTION: it was agreed that MSCC would develop a submission to the consultation and that all MSCC members should consider the consultation and provide views to Adam to inform this.
Planning matters: Nigel Ayton said all was quiet on the planning front in the MSCC part of the Grange Association area.
Adam highlighted that planning permission was being sought for major refurbishment works at Warrender Baths. This would involve a 2.3m upgrade project involving installation of barriers in the foyer, changes to changing room layout, and wider refurbishment of the changing stalls and pool itself. It is understood that this replaces a previous planning application that had been refused. The works would take around 6 months to complete.
ACTION: it was agreed that MSCC would consider the proposals in more detail at their next meeting.
Treasurers’ Report: Alison Service reported that the EDC grant had been received but as very little had gone out of the account in the last few months the balance was a healthy £1350!
Meetings attended: None
AOCB: It was noted by all that the Notice Boards were looking very good and people were seen stopping to read them. Thanks was given to Adam Stewart for all his hard work. He urged people to pass info to him on local issues/businesses etc. that would be suitable for posting on the Notice Boards and also on the web page. He said he would now be looking at how to improve the MSCC webpage. Brian thanked him for this.
Date of next meeting: Wednesday 28th October at 7.30 – AGM using zoom.