Minutes of Marchmont & Sciennes Community Council
Meeting of Wed 23rd June 2021, 7.30pm by Jitsi Meet.
Present: Brian Gilmore (Chair, MSCC), Elinor O’Donovan (Minute Secretary), Nigel Ayton (Grange Association), Alison Service (MSCC), Vineet Lal, Adam Stewart (MSCC), Cllr Cameron Rose, Shane Voss (MSCC), Susie Agnew (MSCC), Anne Laing (MSCC), Cllr Ian Perry, Cllr Mandy Watt.
Apologies: Anthony Holmes (Thirlestane Lane Assoc).
Minutes from May’s meeting have been circulated, followed by Adam’s amended version of the minutes. After some discussion, it is agreed that Adam’s amended minutes would be accepted. The minutes were approved by Nigel and seconded by Alison.
Special Item: Saroj Lal’s Life and Legacy in South Edinburgh
Vineet Lal gave a brief presentation about his mother, Saroj Lal, who was a teacher and community organiser local to Hatton Place.
Born in British India in 1937, Saroj Lal moved to Scotland in the late 1960s when her husband accepted a position at Napier University. She studied primary teaching and taught at South Morningside Primary School from 1970 to 1973. Afterwards, she spent time at the YWCA as a volunteer and a community worker. Among her many achievements in supporting ethnic minorities and people from marginalised communities, she helped to establish the Hindu Temple in St Andrew Place, founded the first ethnic library at McDonald Road, and as director of Lothian Racial Equality Council helped to bring in significant reforms in the policing and prison systems regarding race and ethnic minorities.
Her name has been put forward as an option for the new school being built on Canaan Lane.
Pupils of the four catchment area schools will choose the new name out of three options including Saroj Lal Primary School.
Meadows and Bruntsfield Links
FOMBL report has been circulated. Toilets on the Meadows were installed last week and are operating as of today. Congratulations to FOMBL and colleagues in Edinburgh Council for the great progress made on the Meadows.
City Councillor Report on topical local issues:
Spaces for People continues to cause considerable excitement in the community, with a lot of interest and concern from residents regarding Whitehouse Loan.
The Sciennes Primary closure is the only school road closure being kept. Apart from the other school road closures, most closures are being retained in this area. Spaces For People is going to the full council tomorrow and is expected to be a significant debate.
Construction of new Canaan Lane Primary School is now ongoing, and plans are for it to open in August 2022 for Primary 1 pupils.
A local issue is mixed-use parking for residents and pay-and-display users. In the last month or so changes have been implemented in an attempt to get better use of parking spaces.
Cllr Rose has been in touch with Downing regarding the mortuary chapel in the Sick Kids site. There are ongoing discussions with interested groups, with people particularly interested in the Phoebe Traquair murals. There have been attempts to get more meaningful discussions underway.
The notes of last year’s AGM were approved Alison, seconded by Nigel.
A2 Matters Arising
A3 Chair’s report
It has been a difficult year, and the virtual meetings have been an unsatisfactory method of meeting. In light of this, however, we have made some interesting developments. Thanks in particular to Alison for her work as Treasurer, thanks to Nigel for keeping our meetings straight, and thanks to the other MSCC members for their participation.
Brian notes that the council has been strained for the last two years without having a proper secretary. Given the issues raised about the effectiveness of the MSCC at the previous meeting, Brian has serious concerns that the actions of the community council are not viable and as a result will not stand for re-election as Chair this year.
A4 Secretary’s Report
A5 Annual Report and presentation of audited accounts
Alison has circulated the accounts and P&L for this year, at the end of the year we have approximately £1000 in the bank. Everything has been audited and signed off, thanks to auditor Jim Orr.
This year the financial situation has been very different due to the pandemic, and apart from the minute secretary and insurance, there have been very few expenses. This means that there is quite a bit of money that might be used for small projects in our area.
Nigel notes that a balance sheet was not circulated.
Action: Alison will circulate the balance sheet.
A6 Co-option of members
A7 Election of officers
Nominations for chair: None.
Nominations for secretary: None.
Nominations for treasurer: Alison nominated by Anne and seconded by Brian. Alison accepts.
The date of the next AGM will be next year in May or June.
Dates of ordinary meeting as proposed: 4th Wednesday of each month, except July, August and December.
No other AGM business.
Sick Kids site update
The report from Douglas has been circulated.
A group of people who live on Sylvan Place and who will be affected by the demolition works have established a link with Downing with Anne as their representative.
Action: Anne will put together a short report which Brian will circulate.
Nothing to report.
4B Palmerston Rd – change of use of part of property to become short-term lets.
Nigel notes that the Grange Association’s feedback on this planning application was that the planning permission for change of use should be limited by the earlier of change of ownership of the property or 10 years. The application was withdrawn.
Susie, who is the owner of the property and who made the planning application, says that the application was withdrawn as they were warned it would be rejected. The council make no distinction between the use of short-term lets for holiday lets and short term lets for ‘corporate tenants’ (which is what the property would be used for in this case as the property is very much part of her residence. Susie wanted to rent to tenants for a minimum one month and maximum six months).
Cllr Watt: The rejection of this planning application was not unique to this particular property but is part of a wider council policy to not distinguish between short term lets for Airbnb’s and corporate short term lets. The issue is that properties that should be homes for people are being turned into commercial businesses, contributing to the greater housing shortage in Edinburgh. There are a huge number of properties being operated as short term lets without proper planning permission and safety considerations, and Cllr Watt encourages us to report them if we come across them. This council policy comes from feedback from Edinburgh residents who wanted long-term residents in their communities, according to their response to a public consultation.
Report has been circulated.
Monthly report has been circulated. The bank balance is currently £942.28.
Anne: There is a planter at the top of Marchmont Crescent outside Café Artista which needs refurbishment and replanting. Dorothy Ryle used to look after it some years ago. Mike Shields might be willing to empty it and put in new compost, and a local florist or MSCC could sponsor it to put in new flowers and to tend to it.
Anne has been in touch with Sheila from Sheila’s fishmongers who is excited about the idea, and Mike Shields has offered to remove it if no one will tend to it as it is an eyesore.
Action: Anne will get back in touch with Sheila and will report back.
Date of next meeting: Wednesday 22nd September at 7.30.