MCC Meeting March 19th 2024 Minutes

Merchiston Community Council – March Public Meeting

Tuesday 19th March, 7pm, Zoom

Attendees: Ian Doig (Chair); Leslie Howson; Ellie Logan; Cllr Val Walker; Tyler Hinton; Frances Hawarden; Roma Menlowe; Babs Clemence-Brown; Millie Pace; Bridget Stevens; Joan Houston; Raphael Uddin; Vivien Kitteringham; Declan Murray

  1. Introduction by Chair

ID review of housekeeping: electronic hands, chat function etc

  1. Minutes of 20thFebruary Public Meeting – For Approval. Matters Arising

Minutes: Accepted as correct record

Matters Arising: RM reported that the draft paper commenting on CEC’s review of the City Mobility Plan and its ‘Future Streets’ strategy (which had been considered at MCC’s February meeting) was now ready for circulation to Ward councillors.  RM would pass the final version to ID for issue.

Apologies: Helen Zealley, Vanessa Meadu, John McKenna, Daniel Cairns. Klaus Glenk and Councillor David Key

Declarations of Interest: None recorded

  1. Residents’ Issues Forum – Residents are invited to raise issues of concern

3.i – Garvald Offices, Viewforth Terrace

Mr Howson (LH) raises concern about frontage of former Garvald offices at Viewforth derelict

ID says this is a matter for CEC and not much MCC can do, other than suggest Mr Howson raises it with City Councillors

LH was wondering why hadn’t received response from Chair

ID apologised – been on holiday

3.ii – 36-38 Yeaman Place planning application (former car parts shop)

EL no neighbour notification received for a planning application for 36-38 Yeaman Place > loss of light into bedroom and block of nice sandstone end feature (“1879” sign).  This is the old car parts shop

ID looking for advice from Marianna Clyde (Planning Lead)

LH suggests it is negligence

ACTION: Cllr VW offering to find out if this application will go to CEC Planning Committee or if being decided by CEC officers – if going to committee, VW can ask to be heard as a Ward councillor

3.iii – Bin Hubs (Babs Clemence-Brown)

Blantyre Terrace bin hubs, BCB is part of a campaign to move bins to another location not in front of someone else’s home AND to reduce number to 4

ID says hubs across Edinburgh and acceptance from CEC that challenges: some have been able to be moved. ID suggests bring it up with CEC’s Morningside Ward councillors; City councillors have indicated that arrangements not set in stone and it may be possible to “fine-tune” local sitings.

BCB went to see MP Daniel Johnstone at library the other week but not heard back. Frustrating.

ID clarifies that it is a CEC issue, not an MSP issue.  Advises not to give up.

BCB campaign called: SAY NO TO BIN HUBS

ID says CEC’s official line is that “bins have got to go somewhere” and if not there, others will be upset. Not taken away but moved around is possible

FH signed one petition recently on this very subject on

BCB clarifies that is the same petition she is referring to.

  1. Chair’s Report– Ian Doig, MCC Chair

4.i Dundee Street student accommodation planning application

ID spells out basis of objections to the Dundee Street application:

  • Design quality poor
  • Too high
  • Daylight reduction concerns
  • Saturation of student accomm in area
  • City Plan advocates 35% affordable housing
  • Surface water and urban drainage – SUDS risks
  • Parking and vehicle access
  • Amenity concerns

City councillors indicating that can modify this scheme but will have difficulty turning it down and developer could always appeal to Scottish Government

BS points out that a similar Aire Place application was rejected by CEC Planning, appealed but original decision was upheld. Neighbours rejoicing

LH says whole students’ flat developments thing is a scandal: off-shore companies that do not pay tax; it’s gone on too long; writes for “Urban Realm” magazine; that money should come back into the city; cannot go on like this; we don’t need all these student flats; a lot of Scottish students cannot afford this accommodation; got to build communities

ID agrees, too many student residences developments change the balance and nature of the neighbourhood

Cllr VW can only be objected to through planning regulations; trying to get that changed; can be an area full of purpose-built student accommodation but hard to be 50% over 800m; assures LH it is not for want of trying; will look to see if any ground for rejection

DM asks BS if any more detail on Eyre Place?

BS says read in media but just knows that it is possible if rare; although considers that students big part of city’s economy

RM saturation criterion is curious – for Yeaman Place they said it was 48% so would just get in; but for Dundee Terrace they said it was 30-odd%: can’t both be right. In Dundee Terrace, 800m takes you to Roseburn, no meaningful sense in which Roseburn is connected to this community; people aren’t going to hop over railway lines in order to do their shopping.  1) Inconsistent criterion and 2) Needs a rethink

ID would like to see more affordable housing.

4.ii – Visitor Levy

ID says implementation looking like 2026; still discussion within CEC about what use of that money is going to be. ID thinks be well spent on litter clear ups and public toilets.  ID personally concerned with over-tourism all year round; makes transport, tickets and restaurants over-stretched. Many of us have seen Visitor Levies work around the world; actual amount involved is marginal compared to overall cost of visit.

4.iii – CEC Budget

Councillors accepted the council tax freeze = two-edged sword but benefit here is skewed towards higher income areas/households.

Cllr VW, Mandy Watt (MW) Labour Convenor of Finance Committee said at last meeting if CEC didn’t accept this freeze, it would have equated to losing money from budget. VW agrees that not fair and hits lowest income more, especially those who depend on public services.  Two issues: 1) have to see how this goes over the year; 2) surplus in pension fund > able to use this money to cover shortfall at organisations like Edinburgh Leisure, but this will only be the case for one year. Libraries and community centres doing everything can to keep them open.

VW urges everyone to respond to open consultation on Libraries

FH any moves to reforming council tax bands?

ID says big conundrum, but all options appear flawed with regards to differing views on perceived “fairness”. ScotGov kicking into long grass as one for future; ID recognises funding of local government is out of date and needs total reform

ID personal gripe about deteriorating state of roads and pot-holes

4.iv – Review of Community Councils and boundaries

ID disappointed with CEC’s Review. Objective should be to make it easier for residents to get involved and to streamline CEC’s oversight and regulation. CCs need to be recognised as having clout * influence, and making things happen. Review mainly focused on administration side of things and doesn’t recognise all the work that needs to happen and small volunteer base

ID says significant request from CCs inn Review was to remove extra workload for MCC and other CCs because they straddle more than one CEC Ward; also request that CEC provide support to CCs for web-hosting/IT support and IT licences, but both these aspects also ignored

Cllr VW says Saturday 23rd March meeting of EACC will be chance for CCs to put thoughts towards Cllr Scott Arthur on this issue and on Active Travel plans for City Centre

ID explains that it has been arranged jointly by EACC and CEC.

BCB asks if the Saturday meeting is open to members of the public; unfortunately places not available to the public, only to CC representatives because of numbers capacity.

BS says BCB welcome to share views with MCC

ACTION: ID says “place on the bus for everyone” to participate in work of MCC and invites BCB to get in touch

  1. Police Report – Police Scotland representative invited but not able to attend

ID says that pre-Covid police officers used to come along in person to each meeting

  • Big increase in shoplifting apparently across Edinburgh and Scotland
  • ID had attended a Police Forum in November 2023, and had exchanged correspondence with Sgt Coull from SW Community Policing Team
    • Possible loan of speed guns to community members to use
    • VK doesn’t know who to follow up with; been asking for “Pop Up Kirsty” cardboard police officer
      • ACTION:ID and VK will follow up with Sgt Coull (Oxgangs Police Station)
    • LH says that cars race down Granville Terrace and Gilmore Place; all Police have to do is issue one £1,000 fine; pop-up police officers won’t do anything; CCs and councillors should push this issue; shouldn’t live in environment where life is in threat
    • VK points out this would be good source of income as well
  1. City Councillors’ Reports. Scheduled Ward Councillor – Cllr Marie-Clair Munro – Did not turn up

(In addition, all Ward 9 and Ward 10 City Councillors are invited to MCC meetings)

6.i – Parking

Cllr VW – issues that are most frequently raised are parking; particularly on edges of new CPZ and effects of displacement parking; going to be discussed by CEC in June but this is too far away; CEC could be doing better

6.ii – Bin hubs

Cllr VW getting a bit quieter now; there was a consultation in February if residents wanted them to be moved; there was a period when bins weren’t getting emptied but VW said once raised with Waste it would get cleared the next day but sometimes not the next pick-up day; this seems to have been resolved though as not hearing so much of late

6.iii – Culture and Communities Committee of CEC

Cllr VW is convenor of this committee, managed in most instances to hold grants but they have been at that amount for the past 5 years despite rise in inflation.  Real terms it is a cut because of inflation.


DM asks if any positive feedback on the extension of CPZ

Cllr VW says most people only get in touch with problems; one teething problem has been maintaining parking permits for carers: both professional and informal i.e. family members

VK says it is better in the day but evenings still busy for car parking; but generally more positive since commuters pushed further out

BS – any luck finding out who need permission from to replace benches?

Cllr VW not yet but still working on it

  1. Planning Report– Mairianna Clyde, Planning Lead

Mairianna not here, so no report

  1. Licensing Report– Bridget Stevens, Licensing Lead

No meetings of Licensing Board and no applications been submitted

  1. Polwarth Pavements Improvements Project –Roma Menlowe

RM report submitted as Local Place Plan but no response as yet

MW spoke to Cllr Scott Arthur about our project but no firm advice yet on how to approach Transport & Environment Committee

MW did say could receive a Safety Assessment of the Polwarth intersection

RM asked for contact there so as to share traffic data we commissioned last year; not received a contact as yet

RM understands that in June, T&E Committee will be invited to consider list of Active Travel projects; we want PPIP to get on to that list > essential for getting support and funding; essential that CEC gets external funding for active travel projects

RM says have an article in progress for media; Napier University got in touch, have a journalism student who wants to write about MCC PPIP

LH says CEC ignoring MCC and this project; pavement work going on right now; number 1 problem is speeding; shouldn’t cost the CEC much to make those changes right now; nudge the pavement out at top of Polwarth Crescent and neck the entrance to Merchiston Avenue; LH is an urban designer and architect

RM says all these items are in the report, complete with better signage and other low cost measures; RM doesn’t know why CEC not interested in picking up these measures; RM says we had asked for pause in that phase of re-surfacing of that roundabout but, even with councillor help, the response was contract couldn’t be amended at this stage; from now on onwards all pavement improvements will also include public realm enhancement but not ours

ID says we are offering to CEC on a plate the solution in whole and also option of small chunks; ID as Cahir is frustrated about this; report is there but CEC not engaging; thanks so much to Roma for leading on this

  1. Treasurer’s Report– Frances Hawarden, Treasurer

FH nice to wrap up everything for report for auditor – asks JH if next report will be able to show that two cheques have been paid

JH confirms that two cheques were taken to bank on Saturday

ID finances are fairly healthy just now

ID says FH looking at a History Project

DM suggests incorporating History Project into other work: benches dedicated to influential former residents or to bolster our other projects on pavements or objections to planning applications

  1. Other Reports and Correspondence

JH met with Cllr Ben Parker about parking on South Ettrick Road – had given predecessor Melanie Main file of correspondence about how long this has been going on, been going on for 8 years now. Cllr Neil Ross has been excellent.  Comparison with Gilsland Road and other nearby streets. JH requested wants shorter waiting times and reduced speed of drivers – better marking of speeds

  1. Any Other Business

12.i – NextDoor Merchiston

RM says Morag Jones (a resident known to some) sent a message 29 minutes ago, reporting a suspicious-looking person in black, looking into gardens and being trailed by others in a car.

ID had seen this message on NextDoor Merchiston yesterday – same message

12.ii – Blister Pack Recycling

VK suggests sponsoring a blister pack recycling box at Eric Liddell Centre.

ACTION: ID is supportive and says to bring this as a full proposal with estimated costs to the next meeting for decision to fund project

12.iii – Planning Group

ID suggested that MCC form a Planning Group, to support Planning Lead and spread the workload.  Invites anyone to get in touch if interested

12.iv – IT Support

ID MCC needs to up our game on IT front.

RM has done research on firms to support MCC website, but external support appears too expensive

RU says retiring janitor at Boroughmuir HS could be an option, as he used to run a nature blog and is interested in the history of the local area.

12.v – Canal Society
VK event coming up on 14th April – Rowing Boat Hire Season Launch, Coffee and Information. 12.00 to 17.00 at towpath at Ogilvie Terrace.

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