NTBCC ordinary meeting minutes Monday 14 June 2021

Minutes of New Town & Broughton Community Council’s ordinary meeting, held via Zoom, on Monday 14 June 2020 at 7pm

Actions and decisions are red italic. ND (‘no dissent’) means that no-one spoke or voted against a decision.

Edinburgh Council has stated that ‘CCs can approve minutes, and take other decisions, remotely’, as so long as they ensure that ‘remote meetings are as accessible to members of the public and (as) well-advertised as possible’.

1 Technology check

This was done at the start of the AGM.

2 Attendance/apologies for absence, membership update, précis of meeting

2.a Attendance

Susanna Beaumont NTBCC Richard Price NTBCC
Mike Birch NTBCC, RRCTMA David Renton NTBCC
David Clarke NTBCC Alan Welsh NTBCC
Susan Duff NTBCC Peter Williamson NTBCC, Picardy Residents Association
Annick Galliard NTBCC Bruce Ryan Minutes secretary
Laura Graham NTBCC David Sterratt Broughton Spurtle
Stephen Hajducki NTBCC Cllr Gavin Barrie Inverleith ward
Deirdre Henderson NTBCC Cllr Max Mitchell Inverleith ward
Simon Holledge NTBCC/EACC Cllr Joanna Mowat City Centre ward
Carol Nimmo NTBCC Cllr Rob Munn Leith Walk ward
Jack Hugh NTBCC ~9 residents/visitors
Susan Macinnes NTBCC

2.b Apologies for absence

Cllr Amy McNeese-Mechan Leith Walk ward Diedre Brock MP Edinburgh North and Leith
Cllr Hal Osler Inverleith Ward

2.c Membership update

  • Annick Gaillard was co-opted onto NTBCC (proposed S Holledge, seconded D Henderson, ND)
  • David Renton was co-opted onto NTBCC (proposed R Price, seconded S Beaumont, ND)

3 Minutes of 10th May 2021 meeting (via Zoom) and matters arising

  • Accepted as-is (proposed L Graham, seconded P Williamson, ND)
  • No matters arising

4 Police report

No report received.

5 Transport

All points made by Mike Birch unless otherwise noted

See transport report in Appendix 1

5.a Low emission zone (LEZ)

  • CEC’s transport and environment committee meeting (Thursday) will consider a report on the LEZ for the city centre.
  • It is disappointing that this ’very comprehensive’ report was not supplied to CCs until 18:30 on Friday, thus not allowing sufficient time for it to get the attention it deserves.
  • NTBCC had proposed including Queen St in the LEZ but the report does not.
  • The LEZ will undergo further public consultation over summer 2021.
  • NTBCC will decide whether to make a deputation, taking into account the city mobility plan, displacement of polluting vehicles. (SEPA forecasts increased atmospheric pollution on the edge of the LEZ.)
  • CEC has an objective of minimising traffic displacement related to the LEZ. This objective is unique to CEC. However, the report does not state how this will be measured.
  • Plans for a wider LEZ seem to have been abandoned due to concerns on pressure on commercial vehicle operators.
    • Cllr Barrie: this is also my understanding. It is ‘bizarre’ that there is no rationale for this.
  • The LEZ would be operational from spring 2022, but there would be no enforcement until 2024.
  • There is no mention of electric vehicles in the report, and hence no plans in it for accelerating roll-out of electric vehicle charging points. The premise seems to be just reducing private car usage.
  • The rationale behind the LEZ map/boundaries is traffic modelling by Jacobs. If Queen St was included, there would be more displacement of polluting vehicles to other areas, e.g. Stockbridge. If London Rd was included, vehicles would be displaced to Leith Walk and Easter Rd
  • Cllr Mowat
    • The above summary is fair. The report’s rationale is about creating an inner ring-road/boundary, via increasing fines. My biggest concern is for people who have older cars and need to go to the city centre occasionally, e.g. to medical services, or provide overnight care to city-centre residents.
    • I am also concerned about displacement of traffic. Other measures can be more effective.
  • Cllr Mitchell: Stockbridge and Inverleith CC had concerns about displacement through Stockbridge. Many people have been contacting councillors about the issues mentioned. I would like to see a summary of NTBCC’s position, and to hear others’ views.
  • Cllr Barrie: I am also concerned for people who need to go into town occasionally, e.g. for medical appointments. The south side of Edinburgh is interesting. For example, travel from Gilmerton to Inverleith via parks makes no sense, nor does travelling via the bypass. I am concerned that Edinburgh’s periphery will get all the pollution, and there seems to be no long-term plan for this. There seems to be a peripheral ring-road already.
  • A Welsh: Historically, NTBCC has been concerned with excessive pollution. There were national standards and monitoring on Queen St. The LEZ plan is ‘woke’ document, i.e. it’s laudable but avoids the main issue. If main roads are excluded, the plans are pointless because they do not address the actual problem: big/commercial vehicles.
  • S Holledge: NTBCC produced an LEZ proposal in July 2019, stating that Edinburgh should raise its sights and offer the highest level of protection against pollution, by (for example) including the northern new town. Is this still NTBCC’s position?
    • Some elements of that document should be reiterated, but some need more discussion. For example, inclusion of Queen St would have positives and negatives. The report states, based on evidence from elsewhere in the UK, LEZs cause reduction in non-compliance around their boundaries. Hence Queen St would have around 30% non-compliant vehicles. This is better than the current level.
    • CEC is following legislation that requires certain standards. Scotland is not following models used elsewhere in the UK. That is, bringing a non-compliant vehicle into the LEZ would result in fines. Repeats would be fined more heavily. The scheme has been simplified to cover all vehicles, including diesel cars, after the grace period.
  • D Clarke: I strongly support introduction of an LEZ. NTBCC needs to promote environmental action. There could be reasonable exemptions for the concerns mentioned earlier.
  • D Henderson: I don’t want to live on a motorway. St James will soon add a large amount of traffic to York Place. Hence I agree with the need to create better air-quality, in pursuance of (for example) rights of the child.
  • R Price: we all need cleaner air. This plan needs both carrot and stick. Any periphery will have polluters just outside it. Introducing a pan-Edinburgh LEZ on this timescale would have serious economic effects on residents, e.g. those who have diesel cards. This plan is simpler than previous ones by promoting a simple set of rules and minimum exemptions. The majority of pollution is from commercial vehicles and buses so limited exemptions or grace periods might be good.
    • The report assumes that Lothian Buses will be fully compliant by the end of 2021.
    • R Price: it’s not clear whether this means buses used in the LEZ or the entire Lothian Buses fleet.
  • M Birch: it appears NTBCC supports the general direction of its previous comments. The focus of the CEC report is on NOx, not particulates or reducing carbon emissions. CEC needs to go further. I query why there is nothing in the plan to encourage switch to electric. (We agree there should be fewer cars eventually.) The report mentions £2000 grant for scrapping non-compliant domestic vehicles, £2500 for scrapping commercial vehicles. However, these don’t go far enough. So I favour exploration of exemptions in further consultations.
  • Various: discussion on time available to write a deputation for this week’s TEC meeting
  • Resident: what about coal-burbning stoves and cruise-ships, which are also very polluting?
  • Action: M Birch to send a summary of NTBCC’s final position to Cllrs Mowat and Mitchell. (They had to leave early.)
  • Action: M Birch and NTBCC transport committee to write NTBCC’s current position – a 1-page statement for this week.

5.b Spaces for People

  • Action: M Birch and NTBCC transport committee to listen to Thursday’s TEC meeting, then submit a full deputation to toe full Councilmeeting following on from the TEC meeting

5.c Trams to Newhaven

  • No discussion

5.d Other transport matters

  • On Thursday, CEC will also discuss capital projects to be completed over the next year. The total budget = £20m plus £15m of loan charges.
    • The only proposed project for NTBCC’s area is resurfacing Regent Rd. This does not make sense, and is not justified at all in the report. NTBCC should ask for an explanation
    • Money has been allocated for renewing street-lighting columns on Scotland St.
    • No money has been allocated for footway improvements in NTBCC’s area, despite known problems.
    • 10% of the budget is ring-fenced for cycling improvement (not active travel).
    • CEC will not be able to fully follow Edinburgh Street Guidance quality standards, and will only do the minimum.
    • Action: Cllr Barrie to ask why Regent Rd has been prioritised in this way.

6 Environment

6.a Follow-up from ‘Communal Bin Review Update’ at 22nd April T&E Ctte, including gull-proof bags and residents’ sub-group

  • C Nimmo: NTBCC and residents’ groups are ‘devastated’ that they have not been consulted in any way, Hence there is now a campaign to ask CEC to rethink. It is very surprising that no heritage bodies were informed.
  • P Williamson: Concerning the wider communal bin review, NTBCC environment committee hopes to meet with the relevant CEC official next week. There was a promise of strong engagement but this has not materialised at all. Following this meeting, we will circulate a briefing to all NTBCC members and other interested people.
  • Action: B Ryan/NTBCC to work with residents’ groups, using its website to share information and gather opinions.

7 Planning

All points by R Price unless otherwise stated

7.a Dundas St

  • Plans for RBS have been approved. However these are not what would actually be built – they plan for a hotel – so the developers plan to make a further application (called New Town North 1’). It appears this application is ready to be submitted. This may have improved geometry. An update is due this Friday.
  • Centrum/BUPA houses: PAN presentation and applications have been made. NTBCC, Cockburn Association and Historic Environment Scotland objected. An amended proposal fundamentally didn’t address issues raised by NTBCC etc. CEC planning officer’s report (with recommendation to approve) will be before the development management subcommittee this week. NTBCC will request submission of a deputation and opportunities for residents to be heard. Any resulting hearing would be in June
    • Cllr Barrie: I have asked for this to have a hearing.
    • A Galliard: Marshall’s Court is going through a detailed application. Councillors decided they have enough information to not need a hearing, so do make a submission on Centrum/BUPA in case it follows the same route.
    • A Galliard: It is astounding that daylighting of various windows has not been protected. There are missing details on available plans. (AG referred to relevant previous planning decisions.) It is surprising that re-use of the existing buildings has not been explored.

7.b 7 Henderson Place Lane (behind Royal London Building)

There is a proposal for complete demolition, and building a residential development (40 units). There will be a public online consultation but there is no need for a PAN. Yet the existing building is perfectly serviceable.

7.c Jenners

An update is expected via a meeting at 2pm on Friday 16th

7.d Impact centre

A new plan for a boutique concert hall will soon be revealed.

8 Licensing

All points made by S MacInnes

  • There are no new applications for permanent licenses. There are two requests for variations:
    • Off-sales at a burger shop in Frederick St
    • Deaf Action in Albany St
  • There are many appliaations for occasional licenses for Rose St and nearby. These seem to continue things that are happening anyway, but now covering the end of August.

9 Engagement and communications

All points made by S Holledge unless otherwise noted

9.a Update from ‘Use of Public Spaces for Events’ Working Group’ (PSMP)

  • I Buchanan (IB) has clarified many things via email. All subgroups have met at least once to discuss key principles. Today IB sent drafts of key principles for each subgroup. There are four stages: key principles; strategic issues and requirements; process issues; procedural needs and management requirements. Hence each subgroup will have at least 2 more meetings. It is vital to get the key principles right.
    • R Price: can these drafts be collated so all seven subgroups know what’s happening in other groups.
    • Action: NTBCC to say if it is happy with these drafts (S Holledge to organise a meeting)

10 Any other business & news from local residents’ associations etc

10.a Short-term lets working group

  • D Henderson: 2 resident representatives attended a meeting in May. It was helpful have their strong push to move to licensing, not registration. A vote in the Scottish Parliament is likely this summer.

10.b Traffic noise and vibration

  • M Birch: I met with Lothian Buses, who may have identified the source of a serious problem on Bellevue. CEC is being pushed to undertake appropriate repairs. Meanwhile Lothian Buses is reducing numbers of buses using Bellevue. This raises concerns about Spaces for People measures here because buses cannot safely make a certain turn at night.
  • L Graham: a Gayfield Square resident is suffering from very bad overnight vibration. She does not know the cause.
    • M Birch: it may be buses returning to the depot.
    • Action: L Graham to put the resident in touch with M Birch, who will pursue this problem.

10.c NTBCC business meeting

This will be on 2nd Monday in July (11 July)

11 Appendix 1: transport report

11.a Spaces for People

It does not appear that all of the approved changes to Broughton Street and along the route to Canonmills have been fully implemented. This is particularly true of the already limited improvements for pedestrians where apart from some white lines on the road there is little to indicate where the pavement widening has occurred. There has been no response to our request that the new loading bay in Forth Street should be removed or to our request for clarification of the criteria to be used to evaluate the temporary measures. One change that has resulted in negative feedback from residents is the banning of the right hand turn from Canonmills on to Eyre Place. This change was suggested to allow more space for pedestrians at this junction but there has been no widening of the pavement where it is most required. Subject to further discussion with the Council and residents, it is likely that we will be recommending that the right turn be reinstated. We understand from Lothian Buses that the loss of the left hand only turn lane at this junction is creating additional congestion impacting the return of buses to the Annandale Street garage so there appear to be growing reasons for a rethink.

The Transport and Environment Committee meeting on Thursday 17 June will be considering the report on the retention of some Spaces for People measures. Given that this report was only made public on Friday evening there has been too little time to develop a comprehensive response that could be used as a deputation for this meeting. Fortunately the matter will be referred up to the full Council meeting on 24 June so this appears to be a better opportunity to present our position.

11.b Traffic Noise and Vibration Issues

I had a positive meeting with management from Lothian Buses to discuss a number of issues relating to noise and vibration associated with buses based at the Annandale Street garage. The key outcomes were as follows:

11.b.i Bellevue

Following complaints from a local resident, they have undertaken a survey of Rodney Street and Bellevue during which they have found a defect in the road surface associated with previous repairs to the water main. This has now been marked to alert drivers to avoid it and its repair is being expedited with the Council

11.b.ii Leopold Place

They have agreed to conduct a survey of this area to see if there are specific issues causing the vibration. Under the Trams TRO it has been proposed to make the current temporary bus stop permanent, which makes the repair of this section of road more important. This matter has also been raised once again with the Trams team who have confirmed that this section of road will be included in planned remedial work being agreed between the Council and Trams Contractor.

11.b.iii East London Street

It was reported that changes agreed at the NTBCC meeting last March were not introduced until November 2020 but have now resulted in a reduction in the number of buses using East London Street. I was advised that there are less than 40 buses using the road in the morning over a five hour period and less than 10 buses using the road to return to the garage at night. I have requested an update from the residents on East London Street about the status of the vibration monitoring that they have been undertaking which will allow us to confirm that the expected reduction has occurred. There remains a significant issue with the road surface that needs to be addressed, as it appears that it is not possible to completely avoid the use by buses of East London Street. Lothian Buses would support a resurfacing of the central section of the road similar to that already undertaken on London Street. Such a change would require the active support of local Councillors.

In addition, we have been contacted by a resident on East Claremont Street about heavy vehicles being diverted along this street as a result of road closures required for the Trams Project, which is creating significant vibration and noise. Following discussion with the Trams team they have confirmed that East Claremont Street is one of the streets that will be included in the list of streets to be repaired. We will continue to lobby for this work to be completed as soon as possible.

11.c Tram Works

11.c.i Picardy Place Work and Traffic Management Plans

We have requested a further update from the Trams Team about the planned traffic diversions that will be required once work on the section between York Place and London Road commences late this year.

11.c.ii Traffic Regulation Orders

The Trams Team have agreed to arrange a meeting to review the outcome of their consideration of the various comments included in our objection to the Trams TRO. This meeting is expected to take place in July.

11.d Low Emission Zone

The Transport and Environment Committee meeting on 17 June will be considering a report that includes a recommendation to proceed with a more limited LEZ than we had sought. It would not include Queen Street, London Road or Regent Road all of which have significant traffic. It appears that there will be a further opportunity to have input to this decision during a period of public consultation before any changes are introduced. However, subject to further discussion within NTBCC it is likely that we will submit a deputation to the T&E Committee reiterating our reasons for having a wider LEZ. This position is supported by the SEA that formed part of the City Mobility Plan which also identified significant concerns about displacement of more polluting vehicles on to streets adjoining the planned LEZ. The SEPA forecast attached to the report shows an increase in atmospheric pollution on Queen Street, London Street and Abbeyhill; all areas on the edge of the currently proposed LEZ. Edinburgh Council has though included an objective in its plans for the LEZ to “minimise the impact from traffic displacement across network, related to LEZ scheme”. It will be useful to understand how achievement of this objective will be measured. It would appear that any plans to have a wider LEZ in the future have been abandoned due to the impact on commercial vehicle operators.

Subject to formal approval later this year, the Council has committed to have the city centre LEZ operation by Spring 2022 but now with a grace period of two years. Interestingly there is no mention of accelerating the roll out of EV charging points to facilitate a change from petrol and diesel to electric vehicles.

11.e Transport Infrastructure Investment Priorities

The Transport and Environment Committee meeting on 17 June will also be considering a report that includes a recommended list of capital projects across the City in 2021/22 that will cost just over £20m (with a further £15m of loan interest charges). In our area it is proposed to undertake road resurfacing to Regent Road. It is not clear why this road has been prioritised for such work. Other streets in the area are in much poorer condition. There is also money allocated specifically to renew street lighting columns on Scotland Street. Again it is not clear why this street has been selected for this work. Also it should be noted that there are no monies allocated for footway improvements in our area despite the known problems.

Of note is the decision (paragraph 3.10) to spend 10% of the overall objective on cycling improvements rather than active travel improvements, which would therefore place a higher priority on pedestrian-related improvements. It is also stated that additional priority has been given to carriageway schemes that are heavily used by cyclists – Edinburgh is apparently unique in having such a weighting in Scotland. It is stated that this “further enforces the Council’s commitment to active travel”!

It is also stated in the report that the work planned for 2021/22 will not fully meet the requirements of the Edinburgh Street Guidance in order to be able to maximise the amount of work that can be completed. This is of concern as there are already many areas where the requirements of the ESG are not being met in particular pavement widths on busy shopping streets such as Broughton Street. It is not clear from the report what relaxation is being proposed.

It is stated that consultation will occur with Living Streets, Spokes, Lothian Buses and Edinburgh World Heritage but there is no mention of Community Councils despite our statutory responsibility to represent the views of our communities.

Mike Birch, 12 June 2021