Minutes of Marchmont & Sciennes Community Council
Meeting of Wed 24th March 2021, 7.30pm by Jitsi Meet.
Present: Brian Gilmore (Chair, MSCC), Elinor O’Donovan (Minute Secretary), Nigel Ayton (Grange Association), Alison Service (MSCC), Susie Agnew (MSCC), Shane Voss (MSCC), Tony Holmes (Thirlestane Lane Association), Cllr Steve Burgess, Adam Stewart (MSCC), Anne Laing (MSCC).
Matters Arising: None.
Brian talked to Cllr Mandy Watt about the pavement outside Grange cemetery on Beaufort Road. As things have been busy with Spaces for People she was not able to look into it but will do so presently.
The minutes of February 2021’s meeting have been circulated and approved by Brian, seconded by Alison.
Police Report: Has been circulated.
The police are unable to attend our meetings as they can only use Microsoft Teams.
Susie is disappointed that the break-ins reported in the area over the last six weeks weren’t reflected in the police report. In the last week, there was another break-in on Tantallon Place, and all the recent break-ins have been reported to the police.
Brian will contact the police again before our next meeting to see if they can provide a report more specific to our area.
Meadows and Bruntsfield Links: None.
FOMBL Report: Was circulated last month.
FOMBL have recently applied for three small grants and are actively going ahead with putting table tennis tables on the Meadows by the tennis courts. They are also involved in tree-planting. There will be another meeting on April 6th.
City Councillor Report on topical local issues:
Cllr Steve Burgess:
Anti-social behaviour and public urination on the Meadows:
The recent stint of good weather means that there has been an increase in people drinking on the Meadows, and subsequently an increase in public urination on the streets surrounding the Meadows. There are public toilets on the Meadows, but these are only open until 6pm which creates a problem after this time. Cllr Burgess would like to see the council keep these toilets open to correspond with daylight hours.
Cllr Melanie Main received an agreement that there would be a report made to the Culture and Communities Committee of the Council to develop a strategy regarding toilets on the Meadows. This would hopefully result in new toilets being placed on the Meadows, possibly in the junction at the mid-way point on Middle Meadow Walk. If approved, however, this could take time to implement and won’t solve the problem this summer.
It was also noted issues associated with the Meadows extended beyond public toilets, and included proactive management of the green spaces, anti-social behaviour, waste management and other issues. These had been occurring for a number of years and are likely to require a longer term joined up plan to address, involving relevant public sector organisations, retailers and community groups. This could also usefully benchmark with the approaches taken by other local authorities. Cllr Burgess agreed to explore how the council’s statutory community planning responsibilities could be used to develop and coordinate an appropriate response, and to identify who the community council could engage with to explore this further.
There has been a movement to bring in more mobile CCTV cameras on affected streets which may provide a deterrent for public urination.
The public toilets at the top of Middle Meadow Walk fell into disrepair a few years ago but could be a potential solution, though Cllr Burgess feels these are still too far away from the Meadows to prevent people from urinating on the streets closer by.
Cllr Burgess believes – and everyone generally agrees -that Portaloos are the best solution (though they may be vandalised). Cllr Burgess believes that other Southside councillors would support this if brought to the Council, and comments that it might be a good idea for MSCC to lobby local councillors about getting Portaloos put in place.
When cafes re-open, the public toilet sticker scheme will be back in action which may alleviate the issue somewhat. Susie raises the issue that the stickers are quite small and so may not be noticed.
Closure of Whitehouse Loan:
Cllr Burgess has received many emails from people both for and against the closure. The Project Officer for this scheme has produced a briefing note addressing residents’ concerns, and notes that cycle journeys are at 600 per day and are likely to increase. The closure will take some getting used to for residents, but it will be closely monitored, and in the briefing note the Project Officer details what the next steps are likely to be.
Cllr Burgess will share the Project Officers’ report with Brian who will circulate it.
Gillespie’s High School:
There was a recent deputation of Gillespie’s High School to the Education Committee about parents’ concerns regarding the squeeze on classroom space and its consequences for students. Students that are currently taking Advanced Highers now have 2/5 periods that are non-classroom based, i.e. trips, activities, remote working. Parents are concerned that this isn’t a suitable replacement for face-to-face teaching.
The Committee officers have been tasked with finding out if they can put in temporary accommodation.
Sick Kids Hospital Site
The NHS have begun moving out this week and it will have high security staff onsite until Downing Group take over.
Local residents received a letter saying that NHS Lothian will still have the site for another 10 weeks – and it is currently high security as they move out. 1st June is the expected hand-over date.
There have been no updates regarding the Downing proposal.
The Grange Association has received an email from NHS saying that at this time the focus of NHS Lothian is that Astley Ainsley Hospital remains an active healthcare site, pending a further review of the business cases.
This has raised concerns that the NHS are backtracking and will not vacate the site as they said they would, though at this time this is just speculation. The Grange Association will continue asking them to clarify their intentions for the site.
14-16 Hope Terrace has been sold, and those who bought it are redeveloping it into family homes. Part of their application is that they want to build a new three-storey house on the site of the tennis courts which abuts the adjoining property. Nigel has been relaying concerns from residents to the developer and Grange Association have submitted formal objection.
Friends of Grange Cemetery (FOGC) is an active voluntary group which look after Grange Cemetery and which is mostly composed of volunteers from the Grange area south of the cemetery. FOGC wish to recruit more volunteers from the Marchmont area and one approach to achieving this has been the addition of a standing item to the MSCC meeting’s agenda where Nigel will give updates on the activities of FOGC.
Susie comments on how lovely it has been to see Grange cemetery used by people for exercise during the lockdown and to see it used as a park. She suggests that FOGC put a larger and more visible notice on the gates encouraging visitors to join in.
Monthly report has been circulated. The bank balance is currently £1176.28.
Spaces for People:
Shane: Edinburgh Council are trying to reassure local Community Councils that the current measures put in place by temporary traffic regulation orders will be followed up with proper consultation, i.e. due process will return as soon as possible.
Date of next meeting: Wednesday 28th April at 7.30 – using Jitsi Meet.