Image of first slide of Petra Biberbach's slides

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

Date: 19th January 2021

Chaired by Ian Doig, Chair of Merchiston Community Council (MCC)

Started: 19:00
Ended: 21:05

Attending: Ian DOIG (MCC Chair), Vivien Kitteringham (MCC Vice-Chair, Minutes taker), 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), Michael Lugton (MCC), Saul Sutcliffe (MCC Associate, Steiner School), Ben Thurman (resident), Bradley Francis (MCC Associate, Boroughmuir High School), Jacob Slater (resident), Roma Menlowe (resident and proposed co-opted member of MCC), 2 local residents (not identified).

Councillor Mandy Watt, (City of Edinburgh Council — CEC), Councillor Melanie Main (CEC), Councillor Neil Ross (CEC, attended part of Meeting), 

Petra Biberach (Planning Advice Scotland — PAS), 

Apologies: Mairianna Clyde (MCC), Helen Zealley (MCC), Councillor Nick Cook (CEC), Councillor Gavin Corbett (CEC), Karen Galloway (MCC Associate, Bruntsfield Primary Parents Council Chair), Christine Carr (Resident)

The meeting began with Agenda Point 4Presentation on Community-Led Planning, by Petra Biberach, Chief Executive of PAS. (Slides attached below), followed by a Q&A session.

This focused in particular on key changes to the Planning (Scotland) Act 2019, in particular a new tier of community-led plans, which present an opportunity for Community Councils to take on a greater role in local planning. It also emphasises involvement of all sections of the community, especially young people, sustainability and well-being. Any community body can prepare and submit a Local Place Plan (LPP) demonstrating the involvement of a range of different groups and submit it to the local planning authority. Planners should take account of LPPs alongside local development plans. 

The chair thanked Petra Biberach for a very interesting and informative presentation. 

The meeting then followed the planned agenda.

  1. Welcome and Introduction — Ian Doig, MCC Chair.        
  2. Minutes of Meetings on 20th Oct and 17th Nov: These were approved. There were no Matters Arising.
  • Chair’s Report — Ian Doig (ID)
    Despite a glum beginning to the year and vaccine taking a while to come through things generally are improving
    • ID attended a meeting of the SW Edinburgh Community Grants funding panel at which a grant of £200 was made to N Merchiston Club. Applications from further projects are invited subject to the scheme’s criteria.
      ID also represents MCC on SW Edinburgh Locality Community Planning Partnership.
    • It was disappointing that no police reports had been received despite our requests. (Councillor Main to follow up).
    • MCC has 4 vacancies for co-opted members. Suggestions are welcome.
    • Meanwhile Roma Menlowe has agreed to be co-opted onto MCC, proposed by Ian Doig, seconded by Bridget Stevens.
      A point of order was raised by P. Brett that future suggestions for co-option should be discussed prior to being put to the vote at public meetings. However there was no objection on this occasion and the motion to co-opt Roma Menlowe was passed unanimously and MCC is delighted to welcome her.
  • Planning Activities Report — None available
  • Licensing Activities Report — Bridget Stevens:
    • Present law states carry-out alcohol only, with lid, to be served from 10 a.m.-10 p.m. with socially distanced queueing.
    • McLarens awning apparently still in place, Councillor Main will report immediately to CEC.
    • In response to an application from 19 Colinton Road it was decided not to oppose a music licence but to monitor the situation when it becomes relevant (Post-lockdown).
  • Covid and Related Issues: 
    • Mairianna Clyde sent a report of the current statistics for Edinburgh and the Merchiston area. Generally the rate of infection in our area is lower than the Edinburgh average.
  • Spaces for People (SFP), and Traffic Issues 
    • Peter Brett reported not much change other than installation of the cycle lane on Dundee Street, but still little protection for cyclists and pedestrians at entrance to Western Approach Road and at entrance to Yeaman Place. 
    • Frances Hawarden initiated a discussion of the effect of SFP on disabled people needing motorised transport, including the removal of disabled parking spaces and difficulty of accessing Quiet Routes. It was suggested that MCC should raise the issue of reinstating disabled parking spaces. Also to approach the Access Forum.
    • Michael Lugton reported that as of yet CEC had not responded to 4000+ comments on the SFP plans.
      Councillor Ross had attended a constructive meeting with traders and reported that several parking spaces had been restored on Morningside Road, including loading parking places for traders. The problem of misuse of these spaces was discussed, as was the rationale for the SFP project and possible mitigation of problems that have arisen, including the deficiencies of some of the new cycle lanes.
  • Bruntsfield Living Project: Progress report:
    • Bridget Stevens outlined the history of the project, which still maintains a Facebook page but is not very active at present. It is difficult to keep in touch as many businesses are closed. 
      It was suggested we could co-opt a member onto MCC and also that, although MCC’s resources for support are limited, we could help promote Bruntsfield Living and encourage residents to support local traders.
      Councillor Main explained that it is a formally constituted group, where MCC used to be represented and is intended as a partnership between businesses and residents. More residents and traders are needed to get involved to revive it. She will look out a copy of the constitution.
  • MCC Virtual Plaques Project: Bradley Francis read Joan Houston’s report. The project is progressing: the group will meet via Zoom during school hours. Help has been offered by several people and more suggestions were made for people who could contribute information. 
  • Communications and Outreach: Vivien Kitteringham and Jake Horsburgh reported on the reach of the website and social media. It was suggested that MCC could set up a regular subscribable Mail Chimp newsletter, that we could advertise meetings on NextDoor, write a column in Canalside and look to place a new noticeboard at the Polwarth Gardens roundabout. Members were also asked to help with the distribution of posters to sites and shops near to their home. Sharing noticeboards with Morningside CC was suggested for the noticeboard outside Waitrose and outside Eric Liddell Centre. These ideas to be considered further at a Comms group meeting.
  • Treasurer’s Report – Frances Hawarden reports that no major transactions have occurred. MCC has funds available if needed.
  • CEC City Councillors’ Reports
    • Councillor Ross mentioned that first CEC budget planning meetings take place in February.
    • Councillor Watt is working on issues related to street cleaning: litter, leaf litter and gully issues plus re-filling of grit bins.
    • Councillor Main reports that vaccinations are going well, new centres coming on stream soon, the nearest large vaccination hub for us will be at the EICC on Morrison Street.
    • A report provided by Councillor Gavin Corbett (attached) includes the following on Network Rail (NR) activities in the area:
      Issues are around persistent noise at all hours of day and night; complaints by residents about diesel fumes; loud railway engine noise pollution, air quality and tree work on the line and at Slateford Rail Yard. 
      Network Rail has statutory authority in its own right which reduces the leverage the council has to regulate pollution and noise from rail operators, however a meeting was arranged and the following action points agreed: 
      • NR to share data on level of activity in recent years which had led to increased complaint 
      • NR to come back on streamlining communication with residents and elected reps 
      • NR to forward plans on commissioned exercise to monitor noise and air quality levels; council to do so on issues of diesel fumes
  • Issues raised by members of public / questions

Q: How can residents report problems to CEC?, e.g. empty grit bins, blocked drainage gullies, overflowing recycling bins etc. for quick responses from CEC
A: Use CEC web form or Tweet, but if no success send an email to all 4 councillors (Nick Cook, Melanie Main, Neil Ross, Mandy Watt) for Morningside Ward, who coordinate responses among themselves. (For Fountainbridge/Craiglockhart Ward councillors are Gavin Corbett, Andrew Johnston and David Key).

  • Any Other Business.
    It was decided to defer discussion of school crossing warden recruitment for the next meeting
  • Action Points 
    1. Councillor Main to follow up request for police reports
    2. Councillor Main to look out constitution of Bruntsfield Living
    3. Councillor Main to report awning at McLarens still being up 
    4. Ian Doig to raise issue of replacing disabled parking spaces removed by SFP
    5. MCC (Frances Hawarden?) to approach Access Forum about access for disabled residents to Quiet Routes
    6. Communications Group to discuss suggestions for improving visibility of MCC

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