Merchiston Community Council: Minutes of Public Business Meeting (Zoom meeting)

Date: 17th November 2020

Started: 19:00

Ended: 21:00

Attendees:

  • Ian Doig (MCC Chair)
  • Brian and Margaret M (public)
  • Cllr Neil Ross (CEC)
  • Jacob Horsburgh (MCC)
  • Vivien Kitteringham (MCC)
  • Declan Murray and Ben (public)
  • Paul Bailey (Public)
  • Morag Deans (Dig-In Bruntsfield)
  • Rosalyn Claase (Bruntsfield Primary School Parents’ Council)
  • Joan Houston (MCC)
  • Ed Hawkins (JGPS Travel CCTE)
  • Bridget Stevens (MCC)
  • Joan Lumsden
  • Rachel Sedman (Re-union)
  • Imogen Blain (MCC Associate – George Watsons College)
  • Roma Menlowe (public)
  • Morag Jones (Living Streets Edinburgh)
  • Stephen Hughes (public)
  • Cllr Melanie Main (CEC)
  • J Scott
  • Frances Hawarden (MCC)
  • Joseph Anderson (public)
  • Ewan Klein (MCC)
  • Peter Brett (MCC)
  • Cllr Gavin Corbett (CEC)
  • Mairianna Clyde (MCC)
  • Michael Lugton (MCC)
  • Caroline (public)
  • Clair Selfridge (public)
  • Christine Carr (public)
  • Saul Sutcliffe (MCC Associate – Steiner School)
  • Karen Galloway (MCC Associate – Bruntsfield Primary School Parents’ Council)
  • John Lumsden (public)

Apologies:

  • Helen Zealley (MCC)

Welcome and Introduction by Chair

Declarations of interest

No declarations of interest given

Minutes of AGM and Business Meeting on 20th October and Matters Arising

Minutes of the meeting of 20 October 2020 were approved.

Chair’s Report

  • Christmas lights will be at Eric Liddell Centre, but no official ceremony.
  • No response from police regarding police reports and attending meetings. Cllr Main said she would get in touch with the Police. Cllr Main says she doesn’t have anything official back. Will send email to police to follow up.

Bruntsfield Primary School: Road Safety Issues 

Presentation by Karen Galloway, Chair of Bruntsfield Primary School Parents’ Council

  • Explained the Parents’ council focus is on safety of pupils
  • 600 in primary school built for 400, therefore a large amount of public going to and from the school
  • Have worked with ward councillors to make sure “less than ideal” behaviour is raised with parents and children
  • Working with Safer for Schools project
  • Surprised Bruntsfield Avenue is closed due to Spaces for People
  • Understanding there will be improved signage and permanent structure at both closures (such as planters)
  • Another initiative is the “quiet routes” from Greenbank to the Meadows. Are supportive of the safety impact it will have on the pedestrians on the area.
  • Explained there is no safe facility for crossing the road (i.e. lollypop person). Previous lollypop people have left the role, and this is one of the biggest concerns of the Parents Council, so asks MCC and councillors for support to fill those roles. Dearth of suitable lollypop people. It isn’t possible to have temporary positions available and cannot get any parents to volunteer.
    • Response: Cllr Ross: Says CEC acknowledged need for crossing patrols, explained it is an issue across the city. Explained it is difficult to fill the positions. Advised school to persevere.
    • Response: Cllr Main reiterates the point that crossing patrols are difficult to fill and it is an ongoing problem
      Regarding Quiet Routes; Cllr Main said parents have got in touch with her in support for Quiet Routes
  • Karen thanks the councillors for their continued support of the Parents’ Council
  • Peter Brett asked if it is possible to find out where traffic is coming from and going to within Bruntsfield. Karen agrees and explains her concern is an increase in delivery vehicles due to online shopping deliveries.

CEC Spaces for People Project and Street Changes 

  • Cllr Main: Changes coming in have been delayed as there is another discussion scheduled.
    Traders have asked for further changes to be made in Bruntsfield and Morningside
  • Cllr Ross spoke about Safer Routes. Original plan has been changed – worth checking online. Cllr Ross expressed concern about the lack of public consultation.
    Peter Brett (MCC) asked Cllr Ross if he could provide the document to MCC.
  • Morag Jones (on behalf of Living Streets Edinburgh) is supportive of all the measures on Spaces for People but expresses concern with media coverage focusing predominantly on negative aspects of street changes. 
  • Christine Carr (local resident) wants to make sure we’re doing the right thing and not being reactive. Is supportive of the principle of Spaces for People and Quiet Routes, but concerned about the process taking place. Objects that Quiet Routes is being rushed through as an emergency measure. 
    Cllr Ross welcomes Christine and suggests Christine should also report her view to local MSP and CEC Transport Convenor.
  • Ed Hawkins (JGPS Transport committee, which also runs Blackford Safe Routes) explains there is a huge demand to walk and cycle to school. Supports Quieter Routes and explains it is more than just cycling and walking; it is also to reduce pollution, increase safety and increase social aspects.
    Explained the Quiet Route is a trial and can be modified
  • Paul Bailey supports Quiet Routes. Objects to Cllr Main saying (in last MCC minutes) that it will relieve traffic. Cllr Main replied the traffic engineers explained Scottish Government’s policy is to encourage citizens to walk and cycle more often. Quiet Routes gives people confidence to for example, not take car so frequently. She added that had a good meeting with Gillespie Primary School Head Teacher and that it is difficult to social distance when dropping off children at school. Explained due to this risk, pupils are crossing roads. This is why it is an emergency measure.
    Suggests Christine Carr gets in touch with headteachers to get their views.

Bruntsfield Living

  • Rosalyn Claase explained the history of Bruntsfield Living, which started in 2012 and combined interests of traders and residents.
    What could we do to retain the independent and diverse nature of businesses in Bruntsfield among other things, such as involving charities.
  • It is a residents and traders organisation and has a formal constitution.
  • Rosalyn explains they are raising it as a “call to arms” and asks how (and whether) this can be re-galvanised.
    Bruntsfield Living needs more support from business owners and local residents.
  • Chair explained MCC does not have any staff or other resources to provide practical support to Bruntsfield Living and invites local business and residents to get involved.
  • Cllr Main spoke about helping revitalise Bruntsfield Living and explains there are grants available. Suggests asking CEC to get involved. Would support anyone who can give up some time to support Bruntsfield Living.
  • Morag Deans (Dig-In) is concerned about the lack of a voice of traders getting out there. Explained there are models out there which can help broadcast the voice of traders.
  • Karen (Bruntsfield Parents Chair), as a resident explains a degree of agility is needed, for example there are grants available but there is a need to be proactive and “quick footed”

St Oswald’s Centre, Community Hub in Montpelier Park in Bruntsfield.

Chair proposed that MCC take Associate Membership, at a cost of £3 a year 

Decision: Agreed.

Covid-19 and Associated Issues.

  • Mairianna Clyde gave update report and summarised recent statistics
  • Got in touch with professor at Edinburgh Napier University for their response to COVID 
    Summarised that Edinburgh Napier University are doing a lot to tackle COVID in the university.
  • Cllr Corbett spoke about schools and COVID, believes schools are handling it currently well.

Virtual Plaques Project

  • Joan proposed a Virtual Plaques Project for MCC’s area. 
    • Joan will lead the project and will seek support and participation from MCC members schools and other interested parties.
    • Joan asks anyone who would be interested in Virtual Plaques to get in touch with Joan. Explains it would be an interesting project for students and pupils as it is a good opportunity to work on various skills, including local history and research skills.
    • Imogen Blain (GWC) will see if there is interest in Watson and will get back in touch
    • Ewan Klein (MCC Member) suggested the use of Wikipedia to gather information.

Decision: Agreed to proceed with this project

Licensing Report

  • Bridget Stevens summarised current lockdown rules as they affect licensing.
    • Urges anyone to see breaches of licensing to report to CEC and councillors.
      For example alcohol being served beyond restrictions hours etc.
      Explained CEC will actively pursue reports & take enforcement action.
    • Vivien asks about people buying alcohol to take away and drinking alcohol near premises, Bridget encourages to report breaches of lockdown restrictions.
    • Cllr Main explained some of the restrictions in detail and said if there are any concerns, they should contact CEC, they will be very responsive. Chair gave an example of CEC being quick to respond in an incident in Bruntsfield.

Planning Report

Mairianna Clyde spoke about planning breaches concerning McLarens Pub. No response from CEC, for example blocking the right of way, moving the bins away from current location (in breach of planning conditions).

Treasurer’s Report.

  • Frances Hawarden gave an update report.
    • No financial activity since last meeting.
    • Confirmed that recipients have received their cheques.
    • No financial problems to report.

City Councillors’ Reports.

  1. Cllr Corbett: 
    • First Fountainbridge sounding board meeting this week. It was a good catchup to find out what is happening in the old brewery site. Spoke about Fountainbridge Canal Initiative
    • Spoke about flooding issue from August. Flooding will become a more frequent issue as a result of climate change. Will provide link regarding flood mitigation measures.
  1. Cllr Corbett: 
    • First Fountainbridge sounding board meeting this week. It was a good catchup to find out what is happening in the old brewery site. Spoke about Fountainbridge Canal Initiative
    • Spoke about flooding issue from August. Flooding will become a more frequent issue as a result of climate change. Will provide link regarding flood mitigation measures.
  1. Cllr Corbett: 
    • First Fountainbridge sounding board meeting this week. It was a good catchup to find out what is happening in the old brewery site. Spoke about Fountainbridge Canal Initiative
    • Spoke about flooding issue from August. Flooding will become a more frequent issue as a result of climate change. Will provide link regarding flood mitigation measures.

Points raised by Residents

  • Christine Carr (local resident) explains closing off two ends of a road affects schools’ traffic. Pleased with level of discussion. Concerned about how to get the safety message out to residents.
  • Brian and Margaret M (residents) spoke about the danger of crossing a roundabout opposite a church in Morningside Ward. Cars come whizzing through. Wants to take it forward to CEC. Chair recommends contacting Ward Councillors and complaining to police. CEC Road Safety Team should be contacted says Cllr Ross, and Cllr Corbett also suggests this.

Other Reports 

  • Peter Brett (MCC) gave feedback from his discussion from Spaces for People. 
    • No progress on addressing Merchiston Ave traffic
    • Low priority for CEC transport safety team (no/low KSI in area)
    • Next step is to liaise and investigate possibilities
  • Vivien Kitteringham (MCC) spoke about website updates and asked residents to give feedback about MCC’s website, posters and MCC engagement.
  • Chair gave update on Astley Ainsley Engagement Group on behalf of Helen Zealley, who could not be present. 
    • Concern that NHS Lothian have been felling trees covered by tree preservation in AA grounds.
    • Buildings to be demolished on AA grounds without getting proper permission.
    • AA Engagement group have written to NHS Lothian to request a meeting to find out why this occurred.

Any other Business

Rachel Sedman (Re-Union) spoke about plans in the local area about Union Canal initiative and future plans. Income down to zero due to COVID. Proposal is to setup a new community development trust as a partnership with FCI. Wants to work with Fountainbridge site so there is a green plan and social enterprises for the area and that there is public space. FCI campaigning on this. Asked to get input from residents. Will gather feedback in January/February to get feedback form residents. The plan expands all the way past Harrison park.

Vivien Kitteringham to invite Rachel to write an opinion piece for MCC website.

Business Meeting finished at 21.00

Action Points

  • Virtual Plaques: 
    • Imogen Blain (Watsons) will see if there is interest in Watsons
    • Saul Sutcliffe (Steiner) to see if anyone in Steiner’s is interested in participating
  • Cllr Ross to chase up on issues with McLaren’s Pub
  • Cllr Ross to offer assistance to Brian and Margaret M regarding roundabout safety issues on a particular roundabout
  • Vivien to ask Rachel Stedman to write an opinion piece about Union Canal developments for MCC website
  • Daniel to publish Public Meetings schedule for 2021
  • Chair to take forward the St Oswald Associate Membership and arrange payment of £3 by Treasurer.
  • Bridget to set up meeting with Ros Claase and Mike Billinghurst to discuss whether/how possible to re-establish Bruntsfield Living.