May 2017 – Annual General Meeting and Public Meeting


Minutes of annual general meeting and public meeting on Tuesday 16 May 2017, at Merchiston Tennis and Bowling Club, 7-9pm

Residents and members of the public are very welcome to participate.


1. Chairman’s welcome and report

34th MCC AGM; one of 5 CCs set up in Edinburgh in 1982

Ashley Graczyk has been elected as a City of Edinburgh Councillor (Sighthill/Gorgie), so must stand down. Ashley was representative for the North Merchiston Residents Association, who cannot be associate members, unfortunately, as they are not officially constituted.

Filling the various roles for the MCC has not been easy, and we don’t still run very efficiently. The strain put on us by two NPs and two localities is beyond the resources of MCC members. If boundaries cannot be changed, then MCC could be changed and split.

Edinburgh Myreside rugby planning application has kept MCC busy over the winter. The application seemed a source of concern, and once the application was granted, the outcome of the events prompted positive feedback from all involved.

Victor Paris students’ accommodation application has been turned down; and so has the old Boroughmuir development plans.

RM and BMS have been involved with the licensing board. There hasn’t been any HMO discussion anymore. The HMO licensing regime is going to change, so that licenses don’t have to be applied for on an annual basis.

We’ve had a good Police attendance throughout; and MCC hope that it will carry on.

We’ve had a good city councillors’ attendance, which MCC appreciate. It’s useful and important that councillors are in attendance and contribute what they’re thinking.

RM feels he must stand down from MCC chairmanship at this stage, as he’s done that for long enough, and some responsibilities ought to be passed on.

2. Present

  • Robin Morris
  • Tom Graveson
  • Mike Billinghurst
  • Daniel Cairns
  • Mairianna Clyde
  • Hugh Halcrow
  • Frances Hawarden
  • Joan Houston
  • Bridget Stevens
  • Ted Tate

Apologies for absence

  • Ian Clement
  • Ian Doig
  • Jim Geekie
  • Vivien Kitteringham
  • Ewan Klein
  • Ian Murray, MP

Elected representatives

  • Gavin Corbett, Cllr
  • Neil Ross, Cllr
  • Nick Cook, Cllr
  • David Key, Cllr
  • Melanie Main, Cllr


  • Ian McKellen
  • A resident

3. Police reports – for both meetings

No Police officer in attendance tonight.

4. Minutes of the last AGM on 17 May 2016 and matters arising

Acceptance of the minutes was proposed by BMS, seconded by TG, and approved.

5. Points raised by residents and members of public


6. Annual Accounts for Year ending 31 March 2017 and any other Reports

FH presented audited accounts for the financial year ending 31 March 2017.

The annual carry forward for 2016-2017 is over £1000 as there is a grant of over £200 for the Shandon notice board from the NP that has not been received.

MCC recently set up a standing order to the attention of Kin to pay for the regular website hosting fees.

Accounts were approved.

The health agenda

The future of Astley Ainslie involves MCC along four other community councils around the hospital compound.

The committee set up to oversee this transition has been chaired by a former member of MCC, Helen Zealley.

RM proposes to adopt formally Helen Zealley as our representative to the committee there. This is approved.

MC proposes to co-opt Helen Zealley, RM seconds. Approved.

MC suggests that these meetings have been difficult to keep up with because of the level of engagement of NHS Lothian, and as many MCC members as possible should try to get involved if they can attend at short notice.


The development of the New Boroughmuir has been shambolic. The delivery date is January 2018.

New Boroughmuir High School building – Project update – 11 April 2017 (external link)

GC explains there is a buffer period, as the confidence in the contractor has been depleted, and to fix any snagging issues. The contractor’s reputation is so low that they are not motivated to improve on anything.

DK explains the contractual delay penalty clause is so small that contractors have not been worried since they missed the original delivery date. Also, if the penalty clause is too high, contractual costs increase.

8. Elections – Chair, Vice-Chair, Secretary, Treasurer

Tom Graveson is proposed by RM for chairmanship, and seconded by MC. Elected.

Vice-chairmanship to Mairianna Clyde, proposed by RM, seconded by FH. Elected.

Secretary, Jim Geekie – status quo

Minute secretary, Guillaume Evrard – status quo

Treasurer, Frances Hawarden co-opted to become MCC member and treasurer, GE proposes, DC seconds.

Mike Billinghurst stands down as MCC member.

RM explains that MCC members need to volunteer to take tasks on to complete.

BMS suggests that TG picks the list of MCC members and list of tasks to distribute tasks and MCC works more efficiently overall.



1. Chairman

TG takes up the chairmanship.

2. Present

  • Robin Morris
  • Tom Graveson
  • Mike Billinghurst
  • Daniel Cairns
  • Mairianna Clyde
  • Guillaume Evrard
  • Hugh Halcrow
  • Frances Hawarden
  • Joan Houston
  • Bridget Stevens
  • Ted Tate

Apologies for absence

  • Gavin Corbett, Cllr
  • Ian Clement
  • Ian Doig
  • Jim Geekie
  • Vivien Kitteringham
  • Ewan Klein
  • Ian Murray, MP

Elected representatives

  • Neil Ross, Cllr
  • Nick Cook, Cllr
  • David Key, Cllr
  • Melanie Main, Cllr


  • Ian McKellen
  • A resident

3. Minutes of the last meeting on 21 March 2017 and any matters arising not under

Check spelling: David Key, Cllr

4. Regular reports – Neighbourhood Partnerships

See below in 8. Papers


MC, HH and VK meet up to set up a planning sub-committee.

PAN about the private site next to Quayside.

Old Boroughmuir application by Cala Homes was turned down. Are they going to revamp their application? Or are they going to reduce their bid because they cannot develop as many dwellings as originally planned? The purchase of the school is dependent on empty vacancy, and on granting of planning application.

The rejection of the Victor Paris planning application was a surprise, as the Council followed a recent planning guidance.


FOMBL are not happy with decisions of the outgoing CEC Transport committee on having one event running 33 continuous days in the Meadows.

Treasurer – Accounts since 31 March 2017 to date

Direct debit has been set up to pay for the MCC website hosting.

Everything is in order.

Councillors – in advance and/or present

David Key; discussions to create a new administration are slow. Next stage is the election of the Lord Provost.

Morningside councillors are going to take a rota to attend MCC meetings.

Community Councillors – in advance and/or present

TT: fly tipping in the railway corridor is an ongoing issue (litter, sofa…); same issue around Harrison Gardens. Car park by North Merchiston Club is being partly used by The Grove with planters, and it’s being improved little by little.

Joan Houston, about parking on Ettrick Road

DC, what are the coalition talks at moment?

DK, SNP/Con is one option that’s not going to happen.

NC, there could be a Con-led or a SNP-led administration.

5. Points raised by residents and members of the public



Ettrick Loan garage block was broken in, a couple of week-ends ago. Two individuals on a motorbike.

7. Date of next meeting – Tuesday 20 June 2017

Meeting called off at 21h00.

8. Papers

21 March 2017: Summary report by Tom Graveson on meeting attended for MCC since the previous MCC meeting (TG)

27 March 2017

Notes on a meeting of the SWNP Community Safety Action Group (CSAG)

Note: These notes are not in chronological order, rather grouped together by subject matter.

Cllr Dixon opened the meeting by saying that the group set-up should become more proactive rather than reactive. No details were given but more information will follow later.

Sgt Dickson (Police Scotland) reported that there had been significant problems with juveniles in the Stenhouse area but that anti-social behaviour now seemed to be under control.   Children had been coming from other areas of the city via old railway lines, for example, Drylaw to Stenhouse, and that the catalyst was often stolen motorbikes.

Trouble had been spreading into Corstorphine and Carrickknowe.

Youths had been playing chicken or placing obstructions on the tram lines.  Officers had been posted on trams and whilst trams CCTV was very good, tram drivers may be fitted with body cameras in case they have to leave the tram.

Tram surfing had been reduced by modifying trams.  (Note replacement tram windows cost £5,000 each).   The use of decoy buses had been very successful.

The critical issue is how do the Police and Council engage with youths.

C.I. Helen Harrison had suggested the involvement of youth outreach workers. There had been an Anti-Social Behaviour Meeting with Stenhouse Community Council in April.

Police meetings with parents and youths was effective; some children had been charged and the community had responded trying to reduce the problem.

Police attendance at community meetings had improved since last October’s changes.  They were also liaising with other agencies at daily briefings (see SWNP notes/minutes).

Drug users around The Plaza had been targeted in a Police operation involving a sergeant and six officers leading to a number of arrests.   Resources had been diverted to Saughton.

Police couldn’t get an Order to prevent drug users congregating and were concerned that light nights may exacerbate the problem.

Cannabis/weed use in Saughton skate park adjacent to the children’s playground was discussed.

Scottish Fire and Rescue had reported a number of fire raising incidents, 25 of which were in Murrayburn.

The murder in Gibson Terrace was discussed briefly.

In response to complaints about intimidating and inconsiderate cyclists on the canal towpath, Sergeant Dickson said it is the intention to have more officers on cycles to patrol cycle paths.   Mention was made of there being a historical requirement to have a licence to cycle on the tow path, but no information was forthcoming.

The Dunedin Canmore Dalry representatives welcomed the Inter-Agency weekly meetings as this allowed them to take pre-emptive action.   Additional funding had been secured to improve housing areas but they were still trying to find solutions to dog fouling problems.  Scottish Secure Leases are a special lease for those with high support needs or a chaotic lifestyle and do not allow dogs.   Long term tenants may keep dogs but problem dogs can be removed.   Councillor Dixon will meet with Dunedin Canmore to discuss these issues. The old police box at Caledonian Crescent may be used as a toolstore to encourage/allow tenants to cultivate gardens.

The issue of congestion and illegal parking during rush hour and at school opening/closing times around Balgreen Primary and the Stevenson Road roundabout were discussed.  Sergeant Dickson commented that it was principally a transport issue and Councillor Dixon added that there had been no formal reports.

At the close of meeting Councillor Dixon reviewed the issues raised and the Group thanked him for his efforts with CSAG.

Tom Graveson

28 February 2017: Report on Edinburgh Community Councils: Scottish Government planning review event, organised by Leith Links Community Council on  at City Chambers (VK)

Attended by Vivien Kitteringham and Hugh Halcrow from MCC

Purpose of the meeting:

‘Places, people and planning: Consultation on the future of the Scottish planning system’ is a Scottish Government consultation running until 4/4/2017.

Leith Links Community Council  wanted to receive & consider further information before compiling a response and felt that there would be some value in bringing together Community Councils from across Edinburgh to share knowledge, views, outlook and experiences which would help us all formulate responses.


Mainly a presentation from Clare Symonds from “Planning Democracy” – an SCIO working for a fair and inclusive planning system in Scotland. There was time for Q&A afterwards and discussion of some further points raised by attendees.

“Planning Democracy “(PD) exists to undertake practical and academic research on the state of community participation in the Scottish planning system; campaign for a just and open decision making; and promote practical changes for a more equitable, inclusive and transparent planning system.

Main points made by speaker:

  • New consultation is in response to lobbying by a dissatisfied housing industry, who tend to blame problems on “Nimbys”, but communities have a right to be involved in decision making;
  • The report doesn’t really challenge this, apparently ignoring the benefit of planning for community and the unequal “weapons” of the different groups involved.
  • Development plans should pave the way for decisions but getting people involved earlier hasn’t really been achieved – local plans are drawn up, but may be ignored, and only developers have the right of appeal (the report states clearly that there is no intention to change this).
  • Equal rights of appeal (ERA) are a central goal of PD and the government’s objections (delay and vexacious appeals) are not supported by experience in Ireland, where the system appears to work well.
  • PD call for action: get in touch with MSPs; Facebook, blogpost, tweet @ScotGovPlanning #Sgplanningreview; write to pointing out that there is talk of community empowerment which contradicts their not accepting ERA
  • Those hearing the appeal must be independent and have expertise.

Discussion points made by attendees

  • The document steers round many problems,
  • How will the ideas be implemented and resourced?
  • Many of the measures identified respond to long established concerns and have featured frequently in attempts to reform the planning system over the last fifty years and more. The worry is that by failing to acknowledge and address the root causes of these concerns, we are likely to see little of fundamental importance change.
  • Is this a sop? Often approval is given ahead of examining the scheme / objections.
  • The abolition of strategic development plans after less than ten years and their replacement with some kind of duty for local authorities to cooperate over regional issues guided by a much stronger role for central government policy and the NPF – it’s hard to see how this removal of strategic capacity from the system will help to improve planning. 
  • Problems with DPEA – sometimes one person overturns a council decision; suggestion that billionaire developers get vast amounts of money from Scottish Government.
  • Councillors may be making decisions for areas they know nothing about, e.g. S. Queensferry. If government takes over strategic planning they have even less local knowledge.
  • ERA should be a recognition of equal status of communities and developers
  • Community councils’ powers limited as little funding/ volunteers/ meet irregularly, but EACC could pull responses together if we asked for a strong focus on planning. Input needed from each CC (it was discussed / agreed that…) Reps should raise specific issues with planning committee.
  • On the whole the review is developer led and reduces the number of opportunities for consultation. The pre-application process goes to the developer – who can ignore it.
  • 56% of housing need is for social housing but developers only need to provide 25%
  • Increase in land value with planning permission should be ploughed back into infrastructure (as in England)
  • 5-year planning cycles should be maintained to cater for unexpected changes, which can be expected in these changeable times.
  • The consultation talks of avoiding ‘unreasonable protectionism’, and only welcoming the engagement of those who back development and growth suggesting people are welcome to get involved provided they agree to pre-approved answers.

Suggestions for community councils:

  • A joint letter we can all use as a basis for CC responses to the review (by 4th April).
  • PD suggests we start with ERA and could talk to them about more radical change (root and branch reform needed, they feel) – alternatively reject the whole document rather than cherry-pick
  • Any thoughts – feed to David at EACC (e.g. time frame too short, we need longer to mobilise)
  • Need to meet MSPs regularly
  • Reintroduction of planning shops?


From EACC:

Jim Henry, a well-respected commentator on planning matters, has provided his comments on the consultation.

SWCF has also provided their draft responses.

EACC now has a Draft PPP Preamble and Response

From PD:
Comments on the Government White Paper Consultation: More branch than root?

Vivien Kitteringham

30 March 2017, Edinburgh Partnership open meeting (BMS)

chaired by Andrew Burns, focussing on CEC new South East Locality. There will be a LIP (Local Improvement Plan) for each of the 4 localities. To be published, following the 2016 public consultation (about which MCC heard a presentation), by October 2017; priorities, different for each locality, will be presented first to CEC and then to Holyrood. Most of the MCC area is in South East Locality, comprising three Neighbourhood
Partnership areas – Liberton/Gilmerton, South Central and City Centre.

Find general information about Localities on the City of Edinburgh Council’s website

I asked about continuation of NP sub-groups eg community safety, and interface between them and the new localities. Answer was that question would be included when continuation or otherwise of NPs was discussed in early autumn.

Question raised about lack of conterminousness of boundaries between local government wards, CCs, NPs and now Localities. Problem acknowledged but no answer given other than that boundaries are of less importance than issues and outcomes. Main task will be to bring together the right people to address and deal with problems.

6 April 2017, CEC Licensing Forum Short Life Working Group (BMS)

The aim is to help local residents engage with the Licensing Board in relation to its decisions about the granting of liquor licences. Document drafted outlining what happens when an individual or a CC objects to the granting of a licence, what they should expect when attending/speaking at meetings of the Board etc. Forum itself is considering ways of making it easier for members of the public to view licence applications.

6 May 2017, Arranged for MCC to have a stall at Spring Fling (BMS)

showcase of volunteering and other opportunities in south Edinburgh mainly but not
exclusively for people aged over 50. Thanks to Tom Graveson, Hugh Halcrow and Frances Hawarden for (wo)manning the stall.

Bridget Stevens

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