May AGM – Chair’s Annual Report (April 2019)

Below is the full text of the Chair's Annual Report, presented at the May AGM on 2019_05_13.

The New Town and Broughton Community Council (NTBCC) is one of Edinburgh's 44 community councils, established under statute, to represent the views of the community within the New Town and Broughton area, the boundaries of which are set but the Edinburgh Scheme for Community Councils.

Since the AGM in May 2018 we have held ten public meetings; in May (immediately after the AGM), June, August, September, October, November and December 2018, and January, March and April 2019. These meetings were open to the public and were attended regularly by some of our ward Councillors, who along with our local MP and MSP are ex officio members of the Community Council. Police Scotland officers are also invited and have reported at each meeting, and between 10 and 50 local residents have regularly attended.

In addition, NTBCC held a ‘closed door’ business meeting in September 2018, with Community Councillors only in attendance.

Since May 2018, 3 elected Community Councillor members have stood down or resigned; one after completing his representation of a local residents’ association and we anticipate a replacement in due course, and 2 others who have left the NTBCC area. Three new members have joined; 1 co-opted in April 2018, a second co-opted in January 2019 (from being an Associate member) and 1 becoming a Nominated member, representing a newly-registered residents’ association.

NTBCC has five subcommittees who report at each meeting and there is always discussion on issues raised by our representatives on the Neighbourhood Partnership, the South-East Locality and from Resident Associations’ in the area.

This year has very possibly been one of the busiest on record for NTBCC, with many significant City of Edinburgh Council (CEC) consultations being highly relevant for both NTBCC and the city at large. These included:

  • ‘Connecting our City, Transforming our Places’
  • George Street and First New Town Project
  • Review of Parks Manifesto
  • Parking Action Plan.

NTBCC has also been involved with several large scale planning applications, the ‘Community Councils Together on Trams’ (CCTT), the latest Licensing Statement of Policy and the five week Inquiry by the Scottish Reporters with regard to the future of the Old Royal High School (ORHS).

Planning subcommittee

The Planning Sub-committee continued to follow the development of the IMPACT proposal (the new performance venue to the rear of 36 St Andrew Square). NTBCC, as a statutory consultee, submitted a representation with a neutral stance – acknowledging the cultural benefits but also reflecting the impact on the last remaining residents in the St James Square tenement. The application was scheduled for a hearing at the April Development Management Sub-committee.

The scheme for the Royal Bank of Scotland site on Dundas St / Fettes Row, which had attracted significant community interest, was suddenly withdrawn; with the site being  put up for sale in the autumn of 2018.

Also, during 2018, NTBCC has been actively involved in the proposed development at Powderhall (the old Waste Transfer Station) and submitted a detailed response to the initial consultation. NTBCC also supported the consultation process and approach to a large scale planning development with local community views being sought at an early stage; with concerns or potential difficulties being heard before the application became a reality.

The planning committee have also been involved with many other smaller applications, by supporting local residents in understanding the planning process when making objections, but also by submitting representations on behalf of NTBCC in support where appropriate.

Finally, a significant activity was NTBCC’s involvement as part of the 'Coalition' (with The Cockburn Association & Edinburgh World Heritage) at the Inquiry in September / October regarding the refusal by CEC of the Royal High School Hotel application and preparing a witness statement representing NTBCC’s concerns as part of theCoalition.

Transport subcommittee

Two large scale CEC initiatives involved several of our sub-committees, namely the ‘George Street Design’ project and ‘Connecting our City, Transforming our Places’. CEC officials presented both projects at NTBCC meetings during the year and several community councillors attended various meetings and discussion groups in their regard. Submissions were duly made to the relevant consultations. Both of these projects have significant consequences for residents within the NTBCC area and were given serious consideration.

Another significant effort was required by NTBCC on the Tram Extension. NTBCC agreed to support a formal collaboration with neighbouring CCs (Community Councils Together on Trams - CCTT) which launched in June. CCTT met with the Tram Team regularly and were fully briefed at each stage of the process up and until the CEC endorsed the extension to the tram line.

Although perhaps less significant, but still important, NTBCC responded to the consultation on the London St/Drummond Place crossing, and are pleased to see that definitive proposals have now been agreed.

Regarding the Parking Action Plan, NTBCC hosted a presentation by the City of Edinburgh Council manager responsible for this. NTBCC remains concerned about the combined effects of these plans and will pursue these issues with CEC in the year ahead.

Licensing subcommittee

In terms of new legislation and guidance, NTBCC provided a full response to the Edinburgh Licensing Board’s consultation on their Statement of Licensing Policy; in particular  regarding  overprovision, and were pleased to see that nearly the whole of the city centre has now been classed as an area of overprovision.

NTBCC also requested that the removal of the inaudibility condition be reviewed. We welcome the Board’s proposal to carry out a review of this change as we do not believe it has encouraged live music in Edinburgh, which was its original intention.

We also responded to the Scottish Government’s consultation on the Licensing Procedure Regulations.

Finally, short term lettings in Edinburgh remain a concern for many residents and we wrote to support the MSP trying to get legislation passed to provide more clarity and greater powers for local authorities.

Environmental subcommittee

The sub-committee have patiently waited for the full year for a meeting of the Waste Management Forum (WMF) to be called. No date has yet been announced. This is a matter of serious concern to the CC and will again be raised as a matter of urgency with our elected councillors.

The tree felling in East Princes Street Gardens (EPG) before the Christmas Market was set up was also of great concern both to the CC and to many city centre residents. Representatives from NTBCC met with the Director of the National Galleries to voice these concerns and to fully discuss the issue.

Communications subcommittee

The committee are looking at ways of raising the profile of the community council - both offline and online - so more of our residents realise we exist, understand what we do, and know how they can approach us.

Online, we are looking at ways of making the website more accessible for residents, while concentrating our social media activity on Twitter.

Given our current age-profile, the committee is considering how to involve both under-40s and schoolchildren, in community council affairs.

Notes

Further details on the activities of all of the Sub-committees can be found in the NTBCC Annual Report.

During the period ended 31st March 2019, NTBCC received its statutory grant of £1075·08 from the City of Edinburgh Council.

No remuneration or expenses have been paid to any Community Council member during the year, except reimbursement of expenses incurred by members on postage, photocopying, paper and print cartridges etc in the course of community council work.