2021 October Minutes

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

Date: 19th October 2021

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

Started: 19:00
Ended: 21:00

Ian Doig (ID) (MCC Chair), Vivien Kitteringham (VK) (MCC Vice-Chair, Minutes taker), Declan Murray (DM) (MCC, Zoom host), Frances Hawarden (FH) (MCC Treasurer), Bridget Stevens (BS) (MCC), Joan Houston (JH) (MCC), Navid Saberi (MCC), Mairianna Clyde MC (MCC), Marcia MacSween (Associate Member MCC)

Residents: Dan Thompson, Janet Wightman, Arthur Wightman, Christopher Cowdy, Peter Stewart, Margaret Stewart, Suzanne Senior

Dr. Linda Irvine Fitzpatrick (Edinburgh Health and Social Care PACT)

Helen Zealley (MCC), Daniel Cairns (MCC Secretary), Roma Menlowe (RM) (MCC), Ted Tate (MCC), Cllr David Key, Cllr Neil Ross, Ros Classe (Bruntsfield Primary)

The scheduled CEC councillor for this meeting, Cllr Melanie Main, was not available because of family illness.

Presentation: “More Good Days – Edinburgh’s Health and Social Care Pact”

Talk by Dr Linda Irvine Fitzpatrick, SRO for the Edinburgh Pact and Community Mobilisation; Strategic Programme Manager for Thrive Edinburgh, Edinburgh Health and Social Care Partnership), followed by questions and discussion. (See slides below)

The talk covered the development of the Pact, its main areas of focus and the ways in which its impact could be measured as the project further develops over the coming decade. Its main aims are:

  • to transfer power to the community and to enable people to look after themselves, while not distracting from the need for deeper structural change;
  • to build on people’s understanding of health and wellbeing and on the power of community for support; and
  • to identify local needs and move towards asking “How can we help?” rather than “What’s wrong with you?”.

Overall the focus should be on wellbeing, with the aim of “More Good Days for Everyone.” Community councils can support this by attending stakeholder events and identifying local priorities.

Business Meeting

  1. Introduction – Ian Doig, MCC Chair 
    No declarations of interest.
  2. Minutes of Public Meeting on 21st September were unanimously approved as a true record of the meeting.
    Matters Arising
    : reference was made to the pleasing number of volunteers to the leaf clearing project resulting from Bridget Stevens’ article in Canalside and notice on Nextdoor Merchiston. (More about the project further below)
  3. Chair’s Report – Due to time pressure this was taken as read. (See full report below).
    A brief summary:
    1. Membership of MCC: there are 3 vacancies – suggestions for new members welcome
    2. Welcome to Marcia MacSween, new associate member from Boroughmuir High School. We have 4 associate members from local schools so far.
    3. Communications and IT issues: the website needs improved management and we need to fill the gap left by Jake Horsburgh as regards media management. To be urgently reviewed by the Communications and Outreach team.
    4. Format of future meetings, online, in person or hybrid
    5. Edinburgh Association of Community Councils (EACC): ID represents MCC here. 2 recent meetings concerned Urban Diversity and an update on Edinburgh Partnership meetings, City Plan 2030, and the proposed National Care Service.
    6. Reminder that mandatory new fire and smoke alarm regulations come into force 1st Feb 2022. Key new requirement is that alarms are interlinked. Insurance of homes may not be valid if alarms don’t conform fully to the new regulations. See https://www.gov.scot/publications/fire-and-smoke-alarms-in-scottish-homes/.
    7. Consultation on new UK parliamentary boundaries in Scotland runs until Dec 8th; see https://www.bcs2023review.com/.
    8. Police Scotland still not participating in MCC meetings. A generic newsletter from Edinburgh SW division is little compensation for direct participation. No information received from SE Division.  It is hoped CEC councillors can facilitate future police participation and local crime reports. 
  4. Licensing Report – BS: Little to report. An eye is being kept on 2 current applications discussed at last meeting, and BS has asked to be kept informed of any applications by McLarens for extended licensing hours, especially in view of Christmas approaching. 
  5. Planning Report – MC:
    1. An objection (as previously circulated) has been submitted to the Christian Community application (21 Napier Road). 
    2. MC has received criticisms of the canopy at McLarens and will submit an objection on MCC’s behalf, quoting a previous statement by planners that it is out of keeping with the building/area. Later in the meeting residents Janet and Arthur Wightman queried the submission, withdrawal and resubmission of the planning application for the pink canopy, expressed disappointment that no CEC councillors were present and encouraged all to submit an objection and asked why no enforcement had taken place. MC: Many planning breaches have been reported, so far, no action has been taken. ID: MCC has no statutory powers for enforcement and sadly no CEC councillor present this evening. BS: Several CEC councillors are already on the case.
    3. 8A Napier Road: MC explained the background to the application by Mrs Fyvie, Councillor David Key’s wife, to build a house in the garden, adapted for the use of their seriously ill mobility-impaired son, went through the application in detail and later mentioned some of the issues the planners might consider.
      1. Peter Stewart, son of the resident in 8 Napier Rd (ground floor) read a statement on behalf of his mother, explaining their objections to the proposed development, which include loss of light and privacy as well as contravention of planning rules, in particular the need to adhere to the current building line, which could potentially create a precedent and allow inappropriate development in this conservation area. 
      2. Further discussion included a contribution from Dan Thompson, previously planning lead on the New Town/Broughton CC, underlining the need to abide by planning regulations in conservation areas, for example the use of traditional materials and retention of stone boundary walls, and asking if an external stairlift could solve the family’s problem.

        Decision: to follow up by holding a private internal MCC meeting to enable more MCC members to discuss views and options, including options for submitting comments by MCC in respect of the planning application, after taking all the contributions from this meeting into account.  MC to organise a Doodle Poll for a private meeting and to draft a paper on behalf of MCC for agreement with the Chair, prior to submission to CEC Planning Committee. MC: As a community council we can ask for extra time to submit comments. B.S: Members are of course free to make personal submissions.
  6. Transport and Travel Safely/Spaces for People Report – NS: Not much change but Thursday was a transport committee meeting mostly about Lanark Road plus a couple of interesting deputations: Hilda Sim from Living Streets on the frequency and duration of pedestrian phases at junctions, which NS agrees are inadequate in our area but needs impact assessments. DM: If we are aware of such problems in our area please let NS or DM know.
    NS: Deputation from group of private hire taxi group to be included in bus lanes and bus gates (like black cabs). They are raising a legal challenge against CEC. Possibly could be relevant in Dundee Street in future so we should consider a response.
  7. Polwarth Pavements Improvement Project – DM presented a report (see slides and report below) illustrating the proposed project on behalf of himself and RM. Polwarth has been neglected in “Spaces for People” and presents a poor environment for pedestrians. The project fits with current trends on active travel and urban improvement. It could also raise the profile of MCC and empower residents.
    The action plan is 1: Sound out stakeholders and apply for funding, 2: data collection, community outreach, professional study/designs.
    FH asked about a pot of money available for Roads Projects for CCs, more funding would be needed to take this project forward.

    Decision: After consideration of the Polwarth Pavements Improvement Project papers that have been circulated, MCC members agreed unanimously that they would approve this project in principle and invited DM and RM to bring back further papers to future meetings as the project shapes up.
  8. Leaf-Clearing Project: Progress Report – ID: praised the work done by Joan Houston and Helen Zealley (MCC) in managing this innovative project. 
    JH: Now have 50 volunteers, good response to a poster in Tesco, who also contributed bin bags etc. All very enthusiastic, though some residents feel CEC should be doing this. Uplift of bags by CEC very efficient, and already up to about 50 bags. Anecdotally this may be having a wider impact encouraging residents to do weeding, litterpicking and similar. 
    JH: Contact at CEC has promised professional gutter clearing where the leaves have been cleared.Overall a huge success and thanks are due to all participants, and to CEC for the uplift of the bags and providing implements.
  9. Treasurer’s Report – Nothing new to report, finances are in good order.
  10. City Councillors’ Reports – no CEC councillors present, and no reports submitted.
  11. Issues Raised by Residents, and Other Reports – none (a good turnout of residents earlier in the meeting, who have now left the meeting)
  12. Any Other Business – JH: MC attended a meeting at Napier University about the leaves from their trees. MC: Napier University agreed to take responsibility for the trees (leaves) inside their boundaries. ID: Membership – suggestions needed for new members; website issues need addressing, Communications Group is urged to deal with them.
    DM was formally invited to join Communications Group. Agreed.
    DM suggested he would run Zoom training for members in the coming month. Agreed.
  13. Future Public Meeting Dates: 16th November — (no public meeting in December).

Attached Papers

Presentation slides

Chair’s Report

Polwarth Improvement Project

Presentation Slides


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