2021 February Minutes

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

Date: 16th February 2021
Chair: Ian Doig, Chair of Merchiston Community Council (MCC)
Time: 19:00 – 20:45


Present: Ian Doig (MCC Chair), Vivien Kitteringham (MCC Vice-Chair), Jake Horsburgh (MCC,  Zoom Host), Daniel Cairns (MCC Secretary), Frances Hawarden (MCC Treasurer), Bridget Stevens (MCC), Joan Houston (MCC), Peter Brett (MCC), Ewan Klein (MCC), Ted Tate (MCC), Mairianna Clyde (MCC), Roma Menlowe (MCC), Jacob Slater (resident), Gill Clark (resident), Joe Anderson (resident), Lisa Blackwell (resident), Cat and Tina Low (residents), Susan Logie (resident), Ciaran Pugh (North Merchiston Football Club, for item 13)

Councillor Melanie Main (CEC -City of Edinburgh Council) and Councillor Mandy Watt, (CEC)

Apologies: Helen Zealley (MCC), Michael Lugton (MCC), Councillor Neil Ross (CEC), Councillor David Key (CEC), Daniel Johnson MSP.


  1. Welcome and Introduction — Ian Doig, MCC Chair
  2. Minutes of Meeting on 19th January were agreed as a correct record and approved.
  3. Matters Arising: Councillor Main indicated that Police Scotland had not attended MCC meetings due to a Police embargo on using Zoom. Another video platform such as MS Teams may be used for future meetings.  See also Chair’s report below.
  4. Chair’s Report — Ian Doig (ID)
    Everyone is at a low ebb as the pandemic stretches on. The rapid rise in the numbers getting the vaccine, schools opening for some pupils on 22 February are all positive signs.  However, it is important to abide by restrictions at all times and especially within 3 weeks post vaccination.

    1. MCC Meetings — Virtual meetings will be held for the foreseeable future, rather than resuming physical meetings at the Tennis and Bowling Club.   This is enabling MCC to liaise with more residents and Councillors than previously.
    2. Future Public Meetings — Suggestions for Topics and Presentations: ID invited suggestions for future topics from residents, councillors etc.   ID has written to thank Petra Biberbach   for her very interesting presentation on Planning Issues at the January Public Meeting.
    3. SW Community Grants Funding Panel — Next meeting 23rd February — the last for the current financial year. £14,000 community grants available for projects that meet criteria.  CEC provided a budget of £45,000 for current financial year.  However, it is hoped CEC will provide equivalent funding for next financial year.  This has not yet been confirmed.
    4. SW Locality Community Planning Partnership — met 3rd Issues discussed arose from SW Locality Improvement Plan, particularly Hate Crimes (definition, causes, motivation and possible remedies) and Support for Vulnerable People in the community (Families that experience unsafe environments and need support to reach their full potential).
    5. SW Neighbourhood Networks — Participative Workshop on 23rd Objective: “How we might develop networks across communities in future”.  ID has been invited to participate as an attendee from each Neighbourhood Area who is familiar with Community Planning.
    6. CEC Roads, Pavements and Gutters are in a terrible state. Potholes which damage vehicles, and result in claims against CEC for damage caused, broken road surfaces causing vehicles to swerve and cyclist to crash, gullies blocked by years of failure by CEC to clean resulting in flooding, and uncleared leaves making pavements extremely slippery etc.
    7. Litter — Plea for community action There has been a huge increase in unsightly litter everywhere and, as CEC is extremely stretched and apparently unable to clear it up, residents should take care not to add to the dropped litter problem.
    8. St Oswald’s Centre — MCC has taken out an Associate Membership. Residents are encouraged to support this community project by taking out Ordinary Membership £5.  Information from St Oswald’s website and from Karen Galloway.
    9. Police Reports — It was disappointing that no police reports had been received despite MCC’s requests. Councillor Main indicated that due to the lockdown, some police resources have been freed up and officers may have time to attend future community council meetings. The Police Commander gave a commitment that written statistical reports would be made available to community councils.  There is also the possibility of a Police newsletter which will have local information and links.   SW Edinburgh have had partial success in requesting Police crime reports, which it is hoped will be available for MCC future meetings.
  5. Planning Activities Report — Marianna Clyde: Extension for Care Home in Polwarth has been refused by CEC due to the design. Scrutinising planning applications is a standard procedure, which MCC review.
  6. Licensing Activities Report — Bridget Stevens
    1. Lack of social distancing around the entrance to McLarens, problems arising from takeaway foods, and alcohol sales etc remain a concern.McLaren’s are responsible for managing their takeaway queue: any breaches in the law, e.g., street gathering, should be reported immediately to Police Scotland (101) and to CEC when enforcement officers will attend at McLarens.    Present law allows carry-out alcohol only, with lid, to be served from 10 a.m.-10 p.m. with socially distanced queueing.   Bridget liaises with Tom Veitch (CEC Licensing officer) on these various matters.
    2. McLarens pink awning remains in place without planning permission.A retrospective Planning Permission (21/00466/FUL), for the awning to remain in place until 31st March 2021 has been reported in the Weekly Planning List dated 16th  Deadline by which objections have to be received is Friday 12th March.   Log into —  http://www.edinburgh.gov.uk/planningcomments . Bridget and Marianna Clyde will give any guidance on drafting your comment.  A copy of your comments should be sent to planning@edinburgh.gov.uk and mbclyde1@hotmail.co.uk (Mairianna Clyde is MCC’s Planning Lead).
    3. The stonework to this Grade 2 listed building, 8 Morningside Road (McLarens pub) has been damaged by the guy ropes which attach the canopy to the building.Councillor Watt indicated that it is a legal requirement that Planning and Licensing issues are considered separately by CEC.
    4. The Right of Way was closed during the recent heavy snow falls, resulting in danger to pedestrians on the narrow pavements adjacent to McLaren’s (Susan Logie — Resident)
    5. Roma Menlowe asked whether the repeated submission of identical or near identical planning application constituted a misuse of the planning system.
  7. Spaces for People and Traffic Report – Peter Brett
    1. Spaces for People  Measures currently in place in Merchiston CC area:  (i) Boroughmuir High School: Widened footway on NE side of Viewforth.   (ii) Bruntsfield Primary School: Montpelier & Bruntsfield Avenue closed, except for residents and waste collections.   (iii) Edinburgh Steiner School: Widened footway along school frontage.   (iv)  Meadows to Greenbank ‘quiet route’: Modal filters outside James Gillespie’s Primary School and at the south exit of the junction with Strathearn Place.   (v) Pavement widening on Bruntsfield Place & Morningside Road to accommodate queues for local shops.  Loading places are retained throughout the area.   (vi)  Cycle lanes on Dundee Street.  No further measures are currently proposed.
      People are frustrated with the ‘quiet route’, but it serves a number of schools and will be used when schools return next week for drop-off and pick-up.
      Ewan Klein requested that Peter Brett supplies the correct webpage for discussions and views on the ‘quiet route’.
      Spaces for People were set up at an emergency level as experimental orders during the initial Covid lockdown to facilitate social distancing. Consultation is necessary and MCC must be proactive.
      Gill Clark (Resident) enquired if there is a Summary of the Strategic Plan and what will happen to residents in the ‘frontier streets’ adjacent to the ‘quiet route’.   She has written to Councillor Gavin Corbett with her concerns.  See Gavin’s excellent report on parking in Shandon and surrounding areas. https://www.shandonparking.org.uk/news/2021/02/05/phase-1-approved
    2. MCC will circulate Cllr Corbett’s paper to all attendees of this meeting.MCC may consider the ‘quiet route’ as a discussion topic for a future public meeting.
    3. Disabled parking spaces (i) There are quite a lot of disabled parking spaces in the Merchiston CC area, but they are all outside the homes of Blue Badge holders; There is no destination disabled parking. (ii)   There does not seem to be a CEC policy or process for providing well-suited destination parking for Blue Badge holders.  If disabled people are dependent on driving to access local businesses such as pharmacists, where are they supposed to safely and reliably park?
    4. City Mobility Plan — conclusions on reading the report.
      (i) The mobility plan heavily emphasises increasing the proportion of journeys made by walking, wheeling and cycling, rather than cars. CEC will likely seek to make many of the Spaces for People measures in Merchiston CC permanent or will install permanent infrastructure that achieves equivalent goals.
      (ii) The mobility plan also discusses improvements to public transport, including integrated ticketing and adjustments to bus routes/stops.  The proposed Park & Ride facility near Fairmilehead will affect travel to Merchiston and possibly improve public transport links beyond the city.
      (iii) There are several places in Merchiston CC area where people ‘s daily needs (local centre, food shop, GP, primary school, parkland and children’s play area) cannot be met within a 10-minute walk/wheel of their home, especially in the south and west of the area.  We should suggest the development of a “20-minute neighbourhood” hub accessible for residents in Shandon and near Myreside.
      (iv) Parking for residents in the Merchiston CC area is in short supply.  Much of it is on-street parking that is often contended at weekends with parking for non-residents and visitors.  There will be a new Parking Action Plan due in 2021 which will likely involve controls/limits on on-street parking.   We should make sure MCC feeds into this process.  The ongoing Strategic Review of parking and the proposed CEC Workplace Parking Levy will also affect our area.
  8. Bruntsfield Living Project — Bridget Stevens: Mike Billinghurst (trader at 181 Bruntsfield Place) and Ros Claase (local resident) have had a prominent role in endeavouring to bring this initiative to the fore.   They are trying to keep as many traders supported by customers in these difficult times.   Bruntsfield Living Facebook page is still active and possibly they could advertise MCC public meetings and website on their page.    Ian Doig will forward the Constitution of the Bruntsfield Living Project to Bridget and Cllr Main.   ‘Dig-in’ is a member of the Bruntsfield Living Project.
  9. MCC Virtual Plaques Project — Joan Houston: A virtual meeting with Joan and Bradley Francis (MCC Associate, Boroughmuir High School) and Saul Sutcliffe (MCC Associate, Steiner School) and the other Associate Members has not yet taken place. Joan was informed to be mindful of the pressure on the senior school pupils as SQA assessments and course work will be in operation on the return to school.   These are important for the SQA awards which will be announced in August.
  10. Communication and Outreach report — Jake Horsburgh (In the absence of Vivien Kitteringham)
    1. Jake has set up a Mailchimp account which will allow residents to have a link to the MCC and receive joining instructions for MCC public meetings.
    2. The MCC Twitter account is going well, with an increasing number of social media hits.
    3. MCC should consider joining ‘Next Door Merchiston’, as the membership includes many local residents in the MCC area.
    4. Question posed — What would residents like to see on the MCC website? Opinion pieces would be welcomed.  Daniel Cairns (MCC Secretary) would be the liaison contact.
  11. Treasurer’s Report — Frances Hawarden: There has been little change in the MCC finances, and no financial problems were reported. Ewan Klein’s cheque for £70 for the website has been delayed but is now being progressed.  CEC has yet to agree the grants to community councils for 2021-22.
  12. CEC City Councillors’ Reports
    1. Councillor Melanie Main
      (i) CEC Budget is due to be finalised soon. Hopeful that community councils will receive grant monies.
      (ii) May elections — Due to the Covid restrictions, the elections will take a number of days as some polling stations may not be suitable for social distancing. Postal voting is encouraged.
      (iii) CEC are pushing ahead with 2 additional tram lines: one going from city centre north to Newhaven and another going south to the Edinburgh Royal Infirmary at Little France. Funding is not interchangeable and planning for future generations is important.  We should be investing in the way forward and not just day to day services.  She hoped that funding for the new lines may not be funded completely from CEC funding — possibly by long-term borrowing?
      Jacob Slater (resident) and Ian Doig stated that the use of the South Suburban Railway Line should also be considered, although it is recognised that there are bottleneck capacity issues with Haymarket Tunnel and Waverley Station. “Train/trams” have been used successful elsewhere and can switch between city streets and suburban railway lines.
    2. Councillor Mandy Watt
      (i) The number of homeless people in Edinburgh has been reduced to 7, who all have refused any help; Accommodation has been given to the remainder. It is important to retain homelessness at these zero levels.
      (ii) Poverty funding — available from Scottish Government and other sources.
  13. Issues Raised by Residents, and Other Reports Complaints that cycle lanes were not cleared of snow, which led to dangerous conditions for cyclists.
  14. Any Other Business.
    1. North Merchiston Football Club. Ciaran Pugh had presented a briefing document to the MCC members prior to this meeting. Ciaran wishes to build good contact with the community.  The football club has increased in size, now with 230+ members from all round the Merchiston area. They also have 40 volunteer coaches.
      The football club wish to purchase collapsible goal posts which are easier to set up, and to house goal posts and football equipment in a shipping container that the club proposes to acquire. A proposed site in Harrison Park has been identified, subject to CEC approval.   It is hoped that a local artist could paint it, incorporating logos etc.  2021 is an important year for North Merchiston FC as they celebrate their centennial.
      Bridget Stevens advised that Ciaran approaches local Ward Councillors and CEC for a community grant, and also to contact Councillor Gavin Corbett who is active with ‘Friends of Harrison Park’.  Councillor Melanie Main indicated that there may be CEC Sport and Leisure funding available in future years.   Councillor Mandy Watt suggested that CEC Parks and Estates could also be approached for support.
      Gill Clark (resident) remarked that it was good to see all the sporting activity in Harrison Park during the lockdowns.
      MCC agreed it is supportive of this initiative by North Merchiston Football Club and wishes the project continued success.
    2. School Crossing Patrol Vacancies. This has not progressed due to the pandemic. There are 2 local places where there is no school crossing patrol: the east end of Merchiston Place and at the junction of Merchiston Avenue and Granville Terrace. Councillor Main observed that the second is a dangerous junction as Merchiston Avenue is a ‘rat run’, creating road safety risks because of increased traffic.   She suggested that a solution to the school crossing there should be integrated with measures to reduce the adverse impact of traffic flows up the Avenue. School crossing patrols are usually undertaken by older people, who enjoy helping school pupils to be safe.  This item should be taken forward at the next MCC Meeting.
    3. Roofing Work. Jacob Slater (resident) stated that, in his opinion, roofing work should be allowed during the pandemic, as it is “essential work”. [Post meeting note: Scottish Government guidance on permitted building and maintenance work during Coronavirus restrictions: https://www.gov.scot/publications/coronavirus-covid-19-general-guidance-for-safer-workplaces/pages/work-in-other-peoples-homes-faq/ ]


Future MCC Public Meetings Dates: 16th March, 18th May, 15th June, 21st September, 19th October, 16th November (no public meeting scheduled in April, July, August and December).

Scroll to Top