NTBCC minutes – Monday 12 June 2017

Minutes of New Town & Broughton Community Council’s ordinary meeting, held in the Drummond Room, Broughton St Mary’s Church, Bellevue Crescent on Monday 12 June 2017 at 7.30pm

Actions and decisions are in red underlined type. Nem con means that no-one spoke or voted against a decision.

1 Attendance and apologies for absence

Susanna Beaumont NTBCC Richard Price NTBCC planning convenor
Judy Conn NTBCC secretary Fran Wasoff NTBCC
Christopher Collins NTBCC Alan Welsh NTBCC
Andrew Haddow NTBCC Bruce Ryan Minutes secretary
Stephen Hajducki NTBCC Cllr Claire Miller City Centre ward
Allan Jack NTBCC transport convenor PC Liam Coleman Police Scotland
Stuart McAllister NTBCC Gareth Barwell Edinburgh Council
Susan MacInnes NTBCC Alan McIntosh Broughton Spurtle
Carol Nimmo NTBCC 7 residents
Ian Mowat NTBCC chair

1.1 Apologies for absence

Foysol Choudhury NTBCC Cllr Marion Donaldson Leith Walk ward
Jonathan Finn NTBCC treasurer, licensing convenor Cllr Karen Doran City Centre ward
Lewis Press NTBCC environment convenor Cllr Jo Mowat City Centre ward
Christine Ross NTBCC Cllr Hal Osler Inverleith ward
Deidre Brock MP Edinburgh North and Leith Cllr Alastair Rankin City Centre ward

2 Minutes of AGM and ordinary meeting of 8 May 2017 and matters arising

Both sets of minutes were approved without changes (proposed F Wasoff, seconded J Conn, nem con)

3 Co-option

I Mowat reported that due to C Millar’s election to Edinburgh Council, NTBCC has two vacancies, and proposed that Susan MacInnes was co-opted. (seconded C Collins, agreed nem con)

4 Police

PC Coleman reported that since the last NTBCC meeting, in NTBCC’s area there had been

  • 1 serious assault
  • 14 assaults (7 solved – most are linked to the night-time economy)
  • 3 housebreakings to homes (most are opportunistic and linked to people leaving property in view. There is very little geographic pattern.)
  • 3 housebreakings to businesses
  • 2 attempted housebreakings to homes
  • 2 attempted housebreakings to businesses
  • 3 reported vandalisms

4.1 Other points

It was noted that a housebreaking in East Claremont St resulted in theft of car keys and hence theft of a car.

It was also noted that bicycles had been stolen from tenement closes. PC Coleman suggested that because stolen bicycles, cars etc are often used for housebreakings, these vehicles may well be recovered.

Operation Ostenberg concerns antisocial behaviour (ASB) in the area from Hunter Square/North Bridge to the cathedral. Edinburgh University is trying to redesign Hunter Square to defacilitate ASB and hence make such areas more enjoyable. PC Coleman suggested that this could also be implemented at the top of Broughton St.

Due to recent terrorist activities, implementation of 20mph limits has been ‘put to one side’.

Operation Cerimon concerns youth antisocial behaviour. 15-20 youths who have committed ASB in South St Andrews Square have been identified. Police are working with schools and youth groups to minimise ASB.

There have been no complaints other than High Street residents complaining about music noise from the bars on top of Waverley market (up to about 4 weeks ago). PC Coleman is in favour of using this space effectively rather than leaving it for ASB and drug activity. It is not yet proven whether this tactic reduces ASB.

Problems centred on the Omni Centre seem to have reduced, possibly due to car-parking being taken over by a different company, leading to lighting and security improvements.

Operation Gopik is concerns rough sleepers from outside the UK – this appears to be a big problem in Edinburgh. Police are patrolling every morning, signposting rough sleepers to relevant agencies. PC Coleman stated that the Home Office can assist police with rough-sleeping EU nationals, that about 90% of these people do not want to be here, so police have assisted with their repatriation: 22 people so far. Another action is planned for the end of June.

Foreign rough sleepers who had been in the tennis court area of East London St have been repatriated. (Other examples were mentioned by NTBCC members.)

PC Coleman also stated that begging is a wider issue that will be tackled ‘soon’. PC Coleman direct evidence suggests that very few rough sleepers have been trafficked. He considers rough sleepers to be victims, so works from a welfare perspective. He suggested that repatriation has had a positive impact numbers of rough sleepers.

Police are working with other agencies: CEC are very supportive. Police and CEC are working with 4 people at a time, along with NHS to find and solve issues leading to begging, homelessness and criminality.

G Barwell noted that ‘homelessness’ is within CEC’s ’place’/public realm remit. For example, street design guidance is being informed by begging etc. Closing the toilets in Hunter Square bog had reduced drug activity nearby.

5 Gareth Barwell, Head of Place Management at City of Edinburgh Council, on waste services

See also Mr Barwell's slides on NTBCC’s website

5.1 Slide 2

  • He acknowledged that waste collection was a big issue for NTBCC members and residents, and that the service has room for improvement, to enable ‘joined up service delivery’. Issues and obstacles included the traditional separation of waste collection and street cleaning, Edinburgh’s many old buildings and streets and poor performance levels.
  • Hence ‘joined up’ service delivery is needed, along with working locally (i.e. with localities), and work to ‘design out’ persistent problems. However, economies of scale are still important.

5.2 Slide 3

  • Lack of ownership of issues has led to frustration, e.g. 4 teams dealing with [different issues] from the same pile of refuse, rather than 1.

5.3 Slide 4

  • Service improvements include increasing ‘barrow beats’ in high footfall areas, and using brooms to clean up.
  • Recruitment and retaining of more permanent staff is reassuring for residents, and leads to more effective services because there is less traffic.
  • Special uplift prices have been reduced from £26 minimum to £5 per item. This has led to a marked increase in uplift/recycling, and a decrease in dumping rubbish next to bins.
  • The ‘Our Edinburgh’ campaign is fostering social responsibility and community spirit. However there are barriers due to languages and many residents being transient.

5.4 Slide 5

  • The number of reported missed refuse collections has dropped. There was an issue around contaminated bins, and another just after transfer in of 70 staff in 2015.
  • Mr Barwell and colleagues are aiming to miss 0 collections. (There are 26 million collections per year, with the current reported missed collection rate is around 0·15%. However, this may be artificially low due to under-reporting.)

5.5 Slide 6

  • A new route management system enables location of ‘hard-to-find’ bins. Information is exchanged between crews and management, enabling reallocation of pick-up points, and feedback from crews (e.g. when parked cars are preventing collections).
  • East and West Edinburgh depots and transfer stations (Seafield and Bankhead) have replaced Powderhall, which is in suspension and is due to be closed down.
  • Millerhill ‘Energy from Waste’ plant and food waste facility will reduce landfill at Dunbar (from 2018). By 2026 it will generate electricity and heat, to be used for the Sick Children’s hospital.
  • There have been positive changes in staff morale – more time is being spent collecting bins.
  • The communal waste collection service is being redesigned. Currently communal bins are emptied twice a week, apparently for no known reason. There is a need for better looking communal bins that are serviced properly.
  • This means increasing bin capacity or collection frequency. Modelling work is in progress to understand how to increase collection frequency, hence reducing the number of communal bins.

5.6 Slide 7

  • Issues important to NTBCC residents include use of gull-proof bags, the above-mentioned service redesign, improving recycling services, increasing street-cleansing barrow beats and commercial waste enforcement.
  • There is no ‘blanket containerisation’ (introduction of communal bins throughout Edinburgh). Instead, the aim is to provide optimal services for all residents. This necessitates consultation with CCs and resident groups.
  • Removal of weeds from streets and gutters is being blocked by parked cars. Hence the service is considering how to access these places.
  • Another issue is that around 50% of businesses do not have commercial waste removal contracts

5.8 Slide 8

  • There is recognition and desire to improve the service, to deliver an effective, proactive service that supports a high quality local environment.
  • So there is a need to maintain a local focus but share resources across the city, and to build stronger local relationships with local groups

5.9 Responses to questions

  • In response to a question about design of bins making it hard for disabled/elderly people to open them, and slots preventing larger items being put in bins:
    • Only Edinburgh and Brighton use big communal bins needing special vehicles and no double parking.
    • The current bins have outlived their asset-life, which is why many of them are in disrepair.
    • Communal bins are linked to high population densities, which is prevalent in Edinburgh.
    • Other EU cities have compaction systems landscaped into city buildings.
  • Data on Edinburgh’s waste shows that
    • amounts of waste have reduced over the last 3 years. However, amounts will arise as the city grows in the next few years. Landfill is around 30% food waste.
    • Much recyclable refuse is being put in communal bins. Edinburgh could recycle around 7000 tonnes of food per year, would save over £1 million.
  • In response to questions about budgets, and how people can report bins needing repair and other complaints:
    • The budget for bin refurbishment/replacement is around £200,000. The service may be able to provide online reporting of repair/replacement.
    • It is anticipated that the changes to practice (e.g. the new route management system) will minimise but not entirely remove the need for such complaints to be phoned in.
    • Digital systems to notify residents that, for example, ‘your bin was not collected today because a car had blocked access to it’ are also under consideration. These should reduce the cost of phoning in complaints.
  • Proposals for changes to the service should go to CEC’s Transport & Environment committee in August.
    • Currently there are 3 or 4 options for change being considered by the service.
    • Consultations on changes will be substantial, and will include road safety groups, equality groups etc. The service is currently working out how consultation can include everyone.
    • It was suggested that ‘how to complain’ notices or QR codes could be put on all bins.
  • Communal bin uplift lorries all have 2 or 3 operators. Their roles include getting out of the lorries to ensure bin areas are clean. Procedures, including disciplinary ones, are in place and being used to ensure this work is done. Work practices have been changed to minimise temptation for operators to take short-cuts or no finish jobs.
  • There are easier-clean coatings for bins, but the service wishes to ‘design out’ the need for these.
  • Work is being undertaken to integrate waste services with other licensing procedures. It was suggested that HMO premises are simultaneously provided with fire precautions and waste disposal information.
    • Such services are being linked, e.g. new fast food licensees are required to consider how their litter and refuse will be handled.
    • Similarly, the service is trying to be smarter with council tax data, e.g. new residents should get new information on waste services.
    • The service is working with students’ associations to provide information for new students, and to enable furniture to be passed on to new students, rather then it being dumped.
  • ‘Bin-creep’ is caused approximately 50% by CEC staff, 50% residents moving bins to park their cars
  • Trade waste requirements are being enforced. Business must segregate waste, which necessitates 4 bins per business. However, some businesses aren’t complying. Solutions being attempted include encouragement of neighbouring business to share contracts and/or waste storage areas.
  • Mr Barwell will be happy to review a residents’ association’s guidance on gull-proof bags.
  • It was suggested that because all landlords are registered, they could be sent template documents, which they would complete to inform tenants how to dispose of waste.
  • The red & blue box recycling boxes system will be removed from NTBCC’s area when the problems around communal bins have been solved as much as possible.

6 Transport: Leith St works/closure

Decision: NTBCC will recommend that London St, East London St, Northumberland St and AbercrombY Place are traffic-monitored before the end of June and during the Leith St closure (but not Albany St, because there is only 4 sets of equipment). This is because these roads are residential streets close to the proposed ‘western diversion route’ by Hanover St and York place for the Leith St closure which, it is feared, that displaced traffic will choose to use as a result of the closure. It was noted that CEC is considering changing traffic signals to improve flow.

It was also noted that a residents’ association wishes CEC to follow through on its commitments, including implementing box junctions. Action: I Mowat to inform SWECO of these points.

There was concern that Leith Walk and Leith St works will clash, but it was noted that CEC’s modelling shows that it’s best for them to be simultaneous. However, some Leith Walk works have been delayed for consideration by the SG reporter.

It was suggested by one member that the closure should last 65 weeks, but that this would include finishing all work, rather than being ‘only’ 44 weeks followed by contraflows and other causes for confusion and bother still being in place. The CC did not adopt this suggestion.

7 Licensing

7.1 Music licensing applications

F Wasoff suggested that NTBCC objects to 2 licensing applications which propose that the onus for objecting to music noise is moved to residents being inconvenienced, rather than noise needing to be inaudible outside premises. This was agreed nem con. It was suggested that CEC’s licensing board might change policy following the recent council elections

7.2 Charlotte Baptist Chapel

F Wasoff reported that the chapel was bought by Peter Schaufuss (formerly of the Festival Ballet), to create a ‘destination dance centre’. However, Gilded Balloon has recently applied for a late license: up to 850 capacity , normally until 1 am but during festival until 3am). F Wasoff has received no reply from PS or FB about concerns. She sent informed the council that NTBCC were minded to object but would confirm detail of objections after this meeting. R Price noted that NTBCC had opposed a ‘superpub’ on this site, and that the dance centre was approved subject to the bar only being open during performances, which would end around 10:30pm. He suggested that now Mr Schaufuss has St Stephens, he may have come to an agreement with Gilded Balloon.

Action: NTBCC to object to the application on the grounds that the capacity would create significant noise, which would be exacerbated unless secondary glazing to control noise (as specified in the original planning permission) is agreed, and against opening after 11pm normally (1am during festival). NTBCC is to stress that it is acting on behalf of nearby residents who would be inconvenienced by noise from pub-goers.

8 Planning

R Price noted that the Royal High School and Royal Bank of Scotland planning applications are both due to be determined in late June. CEC planning committee is convening next week, but it is likely that there is a backlog. (Cllr Miller concurred.) Hence the RHS application is likely to be determined in mid to late August. However, there is no news whatsoever on the RBS application.

R Price reported that NTBCC was contacted by planning consultant working on the northwest corner of St Andrews square, including the facia on North St David St. This plan is to turn these buildings, some of which are category A listed, into a Malmaison hotel/bar/restaurant. Consultees so far are broadly supportive. CEC’s planning officer wishes more detail. It was noted the building used to be IBM’s Scotland HQ, but it has been unused and unmaintained for 3 years. It was suggested that servicing the building could cause traffic problems.

It was reported that David Chipperfield Architects won the design competition for the other side of the Square.

Cllr Miller reported around 7 candidates have been shortlisted for the Ross bandstand. There will be an exhibition, but timing is tight. Action: Cllr Miller to send relevant dates to NTBCC

9 Communications

S MacInnes will join NTBCC’s comms team.

Action: B Ryan and former member Cllr Miller will work together to regularise admin of NTBCC online presences

Decision: agreed nem con to spend £62 + VAT on replacing the perspex in NTBCC’s Broughton Street noticeboard, so long as this covers materials plus cost of cutting and fitting

10 Neighbourhood Partnerships

Cllr Miller reported that NP meetings have been suspended pending decision on how their functions will be shifted to localities.

11 Any Other Business

No items

12 Date of next meeting

14 August