Update newsletter from Cllr Gavin Corbett

Please note that all views expressed in this newsletter are the views of Scottish Greens and Gavin Corbett – Merchiston Community Council is not a party affiliated organisation. This is for resident information purposes only and MCC should not be held accountable for the views expressed in this bulletin. Thank you – MCC Communications and Media Coordinator (merchistonmedia@gmail.com). 

Welcome to an occasional e-mail bulletin from local councillor Gavin Corbett about things that may be of interest in the Fountainbridge – Craiglockhart area.

Gavin always welcomes your feedback!

A debt of gratitude: Normally I aim to highlight a variety of projects in different parts of our area. But there’s only one issue just now, of course: coronavirus.  It’s affected all of us in ways we could never have imagined, from the heartbreak of losing loved ones, to businesses, community organisations and households struggling to pay bills, to children missing their friends, to older and vulnerable people enduring isolation. It’s often those on lowest incomes who take most strain. I know too that it is a time of heightened feelings. These can include frustration that not everyone appears to be taking restrictions or advice as seriously as they should be. I understand those frustrations but it is also proving to be a time of extraordinary generosity: of neighbours helping neighbours; of businesses going the extra mile and community groups adapting to radically different ways of working.

   And we have discovered what really makes for a key worker: care assistants, bin collectors, supermarket shelf-stackers, and others too many to mention, working throughout, alongside our wonderful NHS staff. 

As we start to think ahead to a better future, my thanks to everyone.

North Merchiston Club: Many community organisations and local businesses have had to close up just now. Even with furlough payments for staff and various forms of rates respite and business grants it is a time of huge uncertainty.

North Merchiston Club at the Harrison Park end of Watson Crescent is one of many such examples. With a thousand people a week through its doors for all sorts of activities normally, the club celebrates its centenary next year. Close-down has come as a major challenge, but made worse by a break-in in mid April causing thousands of pounds worth of damage. If you can help the club bounce back from this shameful blow by donating that would be fantastic.    

  Meanwhile, local business owner Alastair Watson has turned his business Boundless Workshop to making face-visors for NHS and other staff. I’ve spent some time at Gorgie Farm delivering food boxes to households in need while my older son has helped with free bikes for NHS workers at Bridge8.

  These are just some of many examples I could highlight. Let me know your experience.

Staying safe in open space:   The last few weeks have shown how lucky we are to have so much green space on our doorstep: our parks, from Fountainbridge Green to Harrison Park, Saughton Park and Paties Road; Easter and Wester Craiglockhart Hill, the Water of Leith. But, with much larger numbers understandably enjoying those spaces for daily exercise, it’s sometimes been hard to square that with social distancing requirements. The canal towpath, especially from Gibson Terrace to Harrison Park and from Ashley Drive to Hailes Quarry Park, has often been too busy and I have had detailed discussions with Scottish Canals about reducing pressure.

With colleagues I have also been investigating what more could be done to expand space for cycling and pedestrians on footways and roads, given reductions in traffic volumes. Whatever can be achieved in the short term we must take the opportunity to build better walking and cycling space for the future.

Meantime, please do enjoy the fresh air and green space but think carefully about peak times and, above all, use safely.

Hutchison Home Grown: Exciting plans by the Clean Green Hutchison campaign for community growing have had to go on the backburner for now, although I was really grateful to all the volunteers who joined me for a community litter-pick back on 7 March).  However, that does not mean an end to growing. Thanks to Edible Estates we have set up the Hutchison Home Group on facebook, which sees local people in the area swop tips on how to grow food at home whether in a window box, a garden or a back green.

New security? One of the big topics that the last few weeks has thrown up has been the case for Citizens Basic Income. As it happens, as a supporter, I am on a Scotland-wide councillor group which has produced a tantalising first stage report on how it could be done. I’ve set out some of my thoughts on next steps.

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