MERCHISTON COMMUNITY COUNCIL
Minutes of public meeting on 18 October 2016 at Merchiston Tennis and Bowling Club
- Robin Morris (Chairman)
- Tom Graveson (Vice-chairman)
- James Geekie (Secretary)
- Daniel Cairns
- Ian Clement
- Mairianna Clyde
- Guillaume Evrard
- Ashley Graczyk
- Hugh Halcrow
- Vivien Kitteringham
- Bridget Stevens
- Ted Tate
Daniel Johnson MSP
- PC Graeme Howie (Oxgangs; deputising for PC Wotton and PC Pennycook)
- PC Neil MacKay (St Leonards; on behalf of PC Ponniah)
- PC Paul Gunderson (St Leonards)
- Janet Price
- Grant Davidson
- Pat Gillen
- Michael Billinghurst
- Ian Doig
- Frances Hawarden
- Joan Houston
- Ewan Klein
2. Police Reports
Merchiston area (Edinburgh South West)
PC Howie (Oxgangs) reported on the success of Operation Half-break which targeted anti-social behaviour and drugs in the Yeaman Place / Fountainbridge area. It resulted in four drug arrests and four on outstanding warrants. The stop-and-search element was successful and the staff of Fountainbridge Library were pleased with the outcome.
There had been a number of attempted housebreakings (Yeaman Place, Polwarth Crescent), six minor assaults and Road Safety arrests in Dundee Street and Fountainpark. Three motorcycles, one car and three pedal cycles had been stolen plus a minor theft from Fountainpark. A knife incident outside Fountainpark had been resolved and a weapon recovered with the help of CCTV operators.
Anti-social behaviour had been much quieter and one incident of racial abuse and one of online abuse had been reported. Crime prevention advice had been offered to hairdressing salons which had been targeted in the recent past.
MC raised the issue of drug dealing in Gibson Terrace and noted that Castle Rock Housing Association seemed to be placing drug users in Gibson Terrace. She was particularly concerned about drug activity in close proximity to the new student accommodation and in particular the new Boroughmuir High School.
PC Howie replied that the Police do offer advice to Housing Associations and as the area was included in Operation Half-break it will be monitored and the operation can be restarted if necessary. Resources mean that police are reactive rather than proactive but community officers are aware of problems which may arise with people and places and can request more resources.
RM expressed the hope that the school opening would prompt a period of special attention.
PC Howie observed that Housing Associations locate a certain type of person in one area to concentrate the problem and make them easier to deal with. Housing Associations found it difficult to evict people and in any event if they were evicted this policy meant that a similar type of person would be housed there.
IC suggested that hospital discharge policy made matters worse.
Merchiston area (Edinburgh South)
PC McKay (St Leonards) reported that the new Community Police shift pattern had started on Monday 17 October 2016. He observed that housebreakings may increase with the darker nights and that the Police offered simple advice – hide car keys and valuables; put lights on timers; ask neighbours to deal with mail and bins when on holiday; store tools securely.
BMS asked about the incidence of “doorbell ringers” checking for empty properties and reported a case where forced entry was attempted. Police were investigating these incidents but PC McKay observed that it was unusual for people to try and force their way in.
A 25-year-old man had been arrested for housebreaking; a driver had been arrested for drink driving and another for no insurance. No hate crimes had been reported.
The Police were aware of problems with schoolchildren in the Bruntsfield area and the area had been targeted on the street and via schools. Anyone with concerns could report incidents via the school or by email to the Community Police mailbox.
The PCs were thanked for their reports.
3. Edinburgh Rugby planning application to play at Myreside – update
RM asked DJ for updated on the proposal.
DJ met with both Edinburgh Rugby and with the Head of George Watson’s College. The planning application has been logged in the Council systems.
Main concerns are with the induced traffic, transport requirements, access, and proximity of local residents, as 6,000 people are meant to attend rugby matches. This is bound to generate additional car traffic, and disruption to local residents with the added crowd around entrances to the site.
MC pointed out that
- the access to the stadium is also the goods access for the Royal Edinburgh Hospital
- there are questions over the height of the stands; few people are affected, but the impact is potentially severe. Even though there are just a few matches scheduled, stands will be there for a while.
- noise and light from the pitch could be an issue
and expressed concerns on the way people are meant to feedback comments about the trial plan with the temporary stands.
VK suggested that Edinburgh Rugby could organise shuttle buses with Lothian Buses.
RM pointed out that Mr Petrie from Edinburgh Rugby had made a presentation to Merchiston Community Council, and again to Morningside Community Council. The application is only for a few months; the outcome of the consultation period will depend on how many public comments are received by the Council.
DJ emphasized that, as this is a planning matter, each stage of the process is time-limited. Edinburgh Rugby have offered solutions to address concerns about traffic, but measures put in place like a car park might not be enough. He also pointed out that, if the ‘trial’ planning application was accepted, this would have a strong impact on future applications as it would serve as a benchmark supporting future applications in this particular setting.
RM noted that George Watson’s College claim no benefit from the planning application, just publicity in hosting the event, and contributing to the life of the community with giving added access to their facilities.
MC expressed doubts on the reality of the benefits of the application for the community.
IC noted that tickets would be given to local youths.
HH shared first-hand experience of Edinburgh Rugby meetings at Murrayfield, and how the stadium feels very empty because they don’t attract a large enough crowd to fill the venue.
RM reminded that Myreside is the only alternative to Murrayfield for Edinburgh Rugby.
JM asked if there could be an issue with away supporters. DJ answered to point out that there are usually very few away supporters.
BMS urged that the community council needed to vote on the matter, and record a comment in the consultation, if the consultation period ended before the next community council meeting. DC seconded this thought, supporting the idea that the community council should comment on the planning application.
: MC to prepare a balanced comment on behalf of Merchiston Community Council and circulate to members in advance of the public consultation deadline.
4. City of Edinburgh Council’s Amendments to the Licencing Policy – Music is Audible – update
The question of whether or not regulations about music noise from licensed premises should be ‘relaxed’ or not would be decided by the Licensing Board on 3 November.
The issue had been very controversial as had the manner in which it was being handled by the City Council.
5. Daniel Johnson (Labour), MSP Edinburgh South
DJ thanked the community council for their welcome, and highlighted that he’s here to help as much as possible, both community council and constituents with a wide range of matters.
For example, he’s met with bed-and-breakfast owners about repeated motorcycle thefts.
He’s also been involved with the pothole campaign to maintain a register of the worst roads, as the state of roads is a shared concern.
On that matter, RM commented that 20 roads are dire in the area, and that the situation is not helped with the matter often caught between at least two level of government, local and national. JG also added that it’s not only potholes; speed bumps without proper markings are very dangerous as they are not visible enough.
RM asked about the level of interest in the matter in the Scottish Parliament. DJ explained that this is a problem that is relevant throughout Scotland, but there is also a lot of moneypinching. There are discussions to change the law about responsibilities of utility companies for the road repairs and the quality of these repairs. Currently, utility companies can be fined, but the level of fines is not high enough to be a real incentive.
JP asked if the 20mph roll-out across Edinburgh is on target. DJ answered that it was ongoing, and commented that it would be interesting to see if the policy makes it passed the 2017 local elections.
DJ was thanked for taking part in the meeting, and is welcome although not expected every time.
6. Minutes of the last meeting on 20 September 2016 and matters arising not on the agenda
TG pointed out that turning at red light is a general issue, not just at Ashley Terrace. RM commented that the timing of lights can often be frustrating, and the design of junctions can also be at fault, being neither good for vehicles nor for pedestrians.
: Take the matter forward with the Community Safety group of the South-West Neighbourhood Partnership.
About the change of arrangement for the maintenance of tenement stairwell lighting, IC shared that Scott Coppola Electrical Distributors Ltd is a wholesaler in Leith who sell the appropriate keys to access the light fittings, and the lamp tubes for the fittings.
7. Regular reports – Neighbourhood Partnerships
South West Neighbourhood Partnership (SWNP)
DC flagged up the ‘South West Health Matters’ participative funding pot, with £20K available, match-funded by the Scottish Government. The scheme works along the same lines at the ‘South Central Decides’ programme of community grants, usually £50K, where constituents vote at the end of November.
Check the SWNP website
BMS emphasised that secondary representatives of the community council to Neighbourhood Partnerships need to be validated internally first, and agreed by the City Council.
TG explained that city councillor Eric Milligan was the only nominee to be the chairman of SWNP; the ward boundaries are being redrawn, with new lines following the footprint of the Union Canal.
Next meeting of SWNP, Tuesday 31 January 2017, 19h-20h30, Carrickvale Community Centre
8. Regular reports – Planning
MC explained that the old Boroughmuir High School conversion and redevelopment by Cala Group is an ongoing matter. The process has been chaotic, with the wrong set of neighbours being notified of the planning application, for the purpose of the public consultation.
The community council is allowed to request a consultation extension.
The current state of affairs feels very much like earlier stages of the process, with very little publicity, very little notice of the developer’s plan for the redevelopment of the site.
RM noted that the community council shall scrutinize incoming planning applications carefully.
9. Regular reports – Health
IC had been invited by Ruth Davidson MSP to join a cross-party health group in Holyrood.
RM requested that reports focus on local issues rather than on national strategies.
IC explained that the trend is towards the integration of health and social care, with the creation of an Integrated Joint Board for Edinburgh and Lothians, which seems very distant as the community is where resources need to be available. Community councils are statutory bodies and should therefore be more involved. However, IC underlined that NHS Lothian have different views on the matter, and things feel very opaque as a result.
MC agreed with this analysis, explaining that NHS Lothian has a bigger budget than the City Council and is responsible for the healthcare of 800,000 people; by contrast, there is little transparency and democracy in the way decisions are taken.
DJ noticed that more information regarding the future of the old Sick Children Hospital and the Astley Ainslie Hospital would be needed and welcome.
RM emphasised that the community council ought to look at closer questions than national issues. IC argued that national issues have local implications.
10. Regular reports – Treasurer (in absentia)
Community council accounts are up to date and healthy.
Morningside CC would be cutting back on its Christmas Lights because of City Council budget cutbacks. The Holy Corner Lights Switch-On would take place as usual, on 7 December.
11. Councillors – in advance and/or present
12. Community Councillors
JG is interested in the maintenance of the community council’s website to ensure it is up to date.
DC is happy to deal with Twitter and Facebook for the social media presence of the community council.
TT took part in the latest meeting of the Friends of Harrison Park group. There is no talk of formal constitution for the time being.
DC reported on the organisation of a petition about the street light situation in North Merchiston; the LED lights don’t meet the requirements of local residents; current LED street light make the street feel less secure for pedestrians.
13. Points raised by residents and members of the public
14. AOCB – Community Council Elections
There was a full complement of nominations, and so no election was required.
Key office bearer roles would be notified to the City Council and a list produced of roles and responsibilities of all MCC members.
Associate members could be nominated to represent local organisations and groups.
15. Date of next meeting – Tuesday 15 November 2016, 7pm