NTBCC minutes – Monday 10 December

Minutes of New Town & Broughton Community Council’s ordinary meeting, held in the Drummond Room, Broughton St Mary’s Church, Bellevue Crescent on Monday 10 December 2018 at 7:30pm

Actions and decisions are in red italicnem con means that no-one spoke against or voted against the item.

1 Attendance and apologies for absence

Susanna Beaumont NTBCC Chrissie Ross NTBCC
Foysol Choudhury NTBCC Sheila Warnock NTBCC
Judy Conn NTBCC secretary Fran Wasoff NTBCC
Jonathan Finn NTBCC treasurer, licensing convenor Bruce Ryan NTBCC Minutes Secretary
Jack Hugh NTBCC Cllr Joanna Mowat City centre ward
Stephen Hajducki NTBCC PC Keith Deuchars Police Scotland
Simon Holledge NTBCC Alan Macintosh Broughton Spurtle
Stuart McAllister NTBCC Matt Ferguson SGN
Carol Nimmo NTBCC chair Caroline Lawrie SGN
Richard Price NTBCC planning convenor 5 residents/visitors

1.1 Apologies for absence

Margaret Duffy NTBCC Lewis Press NTBCC
Allan Jack NTBCC transport convenor Cllr Hal Osler Inverleith Ward
Susan Macinnes NTBCC Cllr Amy McNeese-Mechan Leith Walk ward

2 Minutes of meeting of 12 November 2018

These were accepted as-is (proposed C Ross, seconded J Hugh, nem con)

2.1 Matters arising

  • Item 4.1.7 (writing to CEC about tree-felling in East Princes St gardens) Action: this is to be taken forward by a subgroupIn connection with this, S Holledge will attend Old Town CC’s January meeting. He noted that replanting is due to happen after 5 January. R Price added that 22 trees will be planted in locations as defined on the most recent approved planning application.

3 Police report

PC Deuchars reported

  • He is a community police officer (CPO), based at the West End police station.
  • Serious assault/rape on Calton Hill: enquiries are proceeding
  • Sudden death in Carlton Terrace: this was an accident. (The person fell down some stairs.)
  • Vandalism to motor vehicles on Royal Circus: the perpetrator has not been identified; however this enquiry has been closed down.
  • The West End team has been involved with Operation Winter City since the end of November. This operation covers Christmas festivities and the Christmas market. Hence more officers are on the ’22 beat’, including officers from other parts of Edinburgh, Fife & Central. These officers are based at, but not restricted to, East Princes St Gardens, St Andrews Square, George St, Lothian Road. Since the opening of the market, an estimated 130,000 people have visited it, hence CPOs are very busy.
    • It was noted that Underbelly are responsible for managing admissions to the market, and have used ‘1 out, 1 in’ sometimes.
    • Plain-clothes police have apprehended a pick-picket and hence recovered stolen bank cards.
  • Enacting a drugs warrant led to recovery of cocaine, heroin and money.
    • Two more drugs warrants for the city centre are being sought, as a result of foot-patrols and calls to 101 or Crimestoppers.
    • A Crimestoppers leaflet campaign has led to an increase in crime reports.
  • Joint patrols with Trading Standards officers at the Sunday markets at the Omni led to seizure of significant amounts of counterfeit goods.
  • Speed-checks on Regent Road let to 10 speeding tickets being issued.
  • An Initiative with taxi inspectors (on the Mound) led to 12 vehicles being checked, of which 3 taxis were taken off the road.
  • In the ’22 beat’ area, between 12 and 30 November:
    • 7 break-ins (6 to businesses, including a church [This crime has not been solved.])
      • Domestic break-ins have been reduced by 41% year-on-year. This may be due to resurrection of a dedicated team.
      • Business break-ins have been reduced by 36%.
    • There were 28 assault calls. These were mostly connected with the night time economy in George St and Greenside.
      • For 2018 YTD, there were 79 serious assaults. Although there was no year-on-year change, more have been solved.
      • Common assaults have dropped marginally by 1% year-on-year (from 916 to 908). However, this is still around 3 per day.
    • There were 129 calls concerning theft, mostly from shops.
    • There were 4 thefts of pedal cycles. As advised previously, cyclists are strongly advised to buy good locks and register their cycles.
    • There was 1 theft of a motor vehicle (a motor-cycle). Year-on year, theft of motor vehicles has reduced from 80 to 45.
    • There were 2 acts of vandalism of motor vehicles. Enquiries are proceeding.
    • Drug possession year-on-year figures have increased (from 285 to 307). This may be due to more arrests, rather than more actual possession. For example, ‘supply’ charges have increased from 25 to 41.
    • There were no robberies this month.

J Hugh handed over a list of streets in which NTBCC believes speeding checks would be beneficial..

4 Presentation from SGN on proposed works in Broughton St area in January 2019

M Ferguson and C Lawrie from SGN reported

  • For 12 weeks (starting 7 January), Broughton St will be one-way southbound only. The northbound lane will be closed and parking / deliveries on northbound also suspended (deliveries for business on both sides of the street will be from the east side of the street).
    • The diversion will be from Picardy Place, via York Place or London St.
  • The full project will last 26 weeks, and will consist of 3 phases
    • Phase 1: in Broughton St, a new 12-inch gas main will replace one that’s around 100 years old. There will also be new services to premises and houses. This work is unrelated to the St James Centre.
      • SGN will work Monday to Friday (7am to around 4pm), with reinstatement at weekends (8am to 4pm).
      • Another company will simultaneously work on the footpath.
    • Phase 2 continues work into London St, but Broughton Street will be opened.
    • Phase 3 continues work into Forth Street.
  • The work will involve open-cutting (i.e. laying the new gas main in a trench).
  • Residents will be notified, and discussion of closure dates with CEC has been undertaken
  • SGN has notified the majority of shops in the area. Information signs will be installed this week, and information will go on SGN’s website in the coming week.
  • No dedicated cycle lane is proposed but cyclists may walk through the affected areas, but two-way pedestrian access will be maintained.
  • There is no planned loss of gas supply. SGN will take extra care of vulnerable customers on their priority services register.
    • This register is maintained by gas resellers, and SGN can supply heaters and cookers in advance if needed.
    • Action: NTBCC and residents to inform resellers and SGN of any vulnerable customers who might not be on the register.
  • Work is decided according to gas mains’ ages, sizes, locations and numbers of leaks. Mains near the replacement-threshold are identified up to 10 years before replacement is necessary, so that SGN can negotiate closures with local authorities.
  • Another project (reinforcement of the St James gas main) is being formulated. If it goes ahead, this will be in summer 2019.

Cllr Mowat asked about SGN’s communications plan and width of notification.

  • Information signs will cover the affected roads and their feeders-roads. ~1000 letters will be sent to buildings in relevant postcodes (every street connected to Broughton Street)
  • Standard letters may not cover facilities for vulnerable customers. However, the onus is on SGN to inform such customers.

S Hajducki suggested that this would be the fourth time that Broughton St had been dug up in 6 months, and noted that 1·5 metres of clearance is needed around temporary signs on pavements.

  • SGN was unaware of the other occurrences, but will look into this. (They may be due to St James or Scottish Power work.)

5 Presentation by David Ellis of Ross Development Trust regarding West Princes Street Gardens

See also slides and video. D Ellis reported

  • Ross Development Trust (RDT) is a charity created in 2016 .
    • This charity aims to tackle the run-down state of the Ross bandstand, and hence make West Princes St Gardens a world-class green space and a flexible performance space.
  • Spending £2·1 million on the restoration of the fountain and a lighting system has made it look much better. (See slides 2 and 3.)
  • There have been improvements to the little gardener’s cottage near the floral clock (slides 5 – 7).
    • CEC allows RDT use this cottage as an office and fundraiser venue.
  • Following 2 years’ discussion of and consultation on the brief, RDT launched an international design competition in Jan 2017.
    • The brief covers the whole WPSG area holistically.
    • The shelter area beneath the south side of Princes Street is currently very run down (slides 8 – 11, 13), and is used by rough sleepers and for taking drugs etc. . CEC is currently closing down relevant shelters.
    • Overall, disabled access is poor, paths can be slippery due to frost, and chairs are susceptible to wind (slide 12).
    • A winning bid was selected in August 2017. Their ideas for the area are shown in slide 14. (Slide 15 is the current state.)
    • Through-access is planned (slide 16).
    • Slide 17 shows the current view from the castle; slide 18 shows how it might look after the work.
    • Slides 19 and 20 show historic use of the area.
  • Over summer 2018, there was consultation on various aspects including setting up an arm’s length external organisation (ALEO)
    • Initial funding conversations resulted in two questions: (1) how much would CEC contribute?; (2) how can investors be sure that the area will be cared for after the work? (Clearly this currently doesn’t happen.)
    • CEC suggested that creation of a charitable ALEO would answer these questions and concerns.
    • However, the public was not happy with giving control of this public area to such an ALEO.
    • Hence a report went to CEC committee in October. CEC agreed to maintain the area in perpetuity, and to contribute up to 20% of project costs if 80% was guaranteed from elsewhere.
  • Hence RDT is currently working with architects to develop the design, and to give stakeholders a say.

5.1 Questions

It was noted that NTBCC (R Price) had sent in some questions on behalf of NTBCC members in advance. Mr Ellis responded to these and other questions:

  • The design brief states that the new design must accommodate what is there now, e.g. space for 3000 people in the amphitheatre. RDT does not plan to increase the size of the site or add much extra infrastructure.
  • There would be some large events (e.g. Hogmanay) in the space but for most of the year, the area would function as a park.
  • There would be community performance hub, for events including up to 200 people inside the new building, hence no disruption of the gardens. (RDT wishes to cause minimal disruption.) There would also be some outdoor theatre.
  • Most current issues are about set-up and take-done of recent events, including bringing in new stages.
  • However, ultimately, CEC would decide numbers and types of events.
  • RDT wishes the [indoor] space to be used daily. It doesn’t want to increase the number of major events, but to create the best possible public garden for Edinburgh . This would involve adding lighting so the area can be open in the evening.
  • Funds would be raised perhaps by naming certain aspects of the finished piece, and from donations. (For example, a donor has pledged £5 million but asked for no publicity about this. Others have donated over £1 million for the fountain renovation.)
  • There would be sufficient public toilets in the gateway building linking Princes St to the gardens. That would include a lift, be underground, and also contain the food ‘offering’. It would face the bandstand, thus minimising disruption of the gardens.
    • It was noted that there are currently a few publicly licensed food outlets in West Princes St Gardens.
  • Nothing would be higher than Princes St on the south. A new platform would enable photography and easy access.
  • There will be no buildings under Princes St.
  • RDT is about improving but respecting a loved space that currently needs investment, and wishes public input.
  • As the formation of an ALEO was not supported, the site will be managed by CEC after the work is complete. RDT will aim to ensure CEC meets certain conditions about upkeep of the area. Café income should ensure that CEC doesn’t need to invest further in the longer term upkeep.
  • RDT is concerned about unwelcome influence and ‘privatisation’ by major investors.
  • Concerning formal planning processes
    • Cllr Mowat stated there would need to be a service-level agreement, which she would prefer to be public.
    • Development will go through CEC’s normal planning processes.
  • Fundraising had been on hold while RDT tried to gain agreement for the longer term sustainability of the gardens . Now an agreement has been reached, rebranding work by the RDT is in progress. The timeline is not yet finalised, but work may start in 24 months. There is still much design work to do.

6 Transport

See also transport update. (Item 2 should have said CCTT, not CCTP.)

  • Cllr Mowat noted that trams are now paying for their own operating expenses (this having been previously paid for by CEC), thereby leaving CEC slightly better off, and that the Smarter Choices strategy is basically about Sustrans funding for active travel.
  • C Nimmo noted that a ‘road stopping order’ (due to objections submitted by the public) has been sent to the SG reporter.
  • C Nimmo noted that CCTT/TT meetings have been worthwhile. Action: NTBCC to consider format and submitting its outstanding concerns.

7 Communications

S McInnes has not convened NTBCC’s comms group for personal reasons. Action: comms group to meet in December if possible

8 Planning

See also planning update. R Price added

  • Powderhall: Draft Place Brief now completed and due for discussion / approval at CEC Planning Committee on 12 December. Broadly, content as expected but with perhaps more development proposed for ‘bowling green’ site. Also states that plans for the existing Waste Transfer site may include buildings up to 8 storeys high. Action: RP to circulate place brief / post on website.
  • Canonmills toilet: this has been closed since 2016 and put up for sale. (as an aside, CEC aspirations for encouraging local businesses to allow members of the public to use their toilets have not been successful based on approaches made by CEC to businesses in the Grassmarket area). Regarding future uses for the Canonmills building, NTBCC have been approached by an architect working for a client who is looking at repurposing the building as a ‘craft pizzeria’, seeking the CC’s input as well as other residents’ groups.
  • C Nimmo reported that the RBS building on Blenheim Place (which had been the subject on several planning applications for Class 7 (hostel) use which had subsequently been withdrawn) may have a new owner/occupier as a retail business. NTBCC is broadly supportive of the principle of retail at this location.

9 Environment

See also environment update.

  • NTBCC environment committee will meet about WPSG trees in January.

10 Licensing

See also licensing update. It was added:

  • (J Finn) The new statement of licensing policy has a much bigger overprovision area, including the new St James Centre (Edinburgh St James). Cllr Mowat noted that NTBCC’s input quantifying the extent and cumulative capacity of licenced premises across the First New Town had been helpful.
  • (Cllr Mowat): CEC will reconsider the noise audibility condition, but this will be tested in court. CEC will attempt to enforce businesses that, for example, say ‘this is a bistro, selling the occasional glass of wine’ but actually are selling much alcohol.

11 Localities/local residents’ associations

No items

12 Any other business

  • It was noted that recently cycle-paths have not been gritted/salted. Cllr Mowat responded that CEC’s thermal imaging system to predict where action is needed is to be adjusted by 1° so more paths would be treated.
  • It was noted that the newly-resurfaced St Marks path is very smooth and hence slippery.