NTBCC minutes – Monday 11 September 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 11 September 2017 at 7.30pm

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

This minute is in the agenda order, but the chair re-ordered the meeting due to late arrivals from the Cockburn Association AGM.

1 Attendance and apologies for absence

Susanna Beaumont NTBCC Susan MacInnes NTBCC
Foysol Choudhury NTBCC Carol Nimmo NTBCC
Christopher Collins NTBCC Richard Price NTBCC planning convenor
Judy Conn NTBCC secretary Christine Ross NTBCC
Andrew Haddow NTBCC Bruce Ryan Minutes secretary
Stuart McAllister NTBCC Alan McIntosh Broughton Spurtle
Ian Mowat NTBCC chair 9 residents

1.1 Apologies for absence

Jonathan Finn NTBCC treasurer, licensing convenor Cllr Marion Donaldson Leith Walk ward
Stephen Hajducki NTBCC Cllr Amy McNeese-Mechan Leith Walk ward
Allan Jack NTBCC transport convenor Ben Macpherson MSP Edinburgh Northern & Leith
Lewis Press NTBCC environment convenor Deidre Brock MP Edinburgh North & Leith
Alan Welsh NTBCC

2 Minutes of ordinary meeting of 14 August 2017 and matters arising

Approved as-is (proposed C Ross, seconded C Nimmo, nem con)

3 Police

No police representative, hence no report

4 Planning

4.1 Royal High School

R Price noted that NTBCC’s position is on the website, that the original application had been ‘sisted’ while a new application was made, and that this application had been turned down unanimously by CEC. He fears that the developers will appeal this decision, and/or de-sist the original application.

The costs and potential allies (e.g. Cockburn Association, AHSS) for NTBCC’s position and potential actions were discussed. (It was suggested that party litigants [those who have no professional legal representatives] might be looked on favourably in an appeal.) It was also suggested that NTBCC sends a regular representative to CA meetings.

It was also suggested that crowd-funding could be used to raise money towards potential legal costs.

4.2 Royal Bank of Scotland

RP reported rumours of an alternative or amended proposal being prepared, but there was uncertainty whether this would require another PAN.

4.3 Ross Bandstand and Princes St gardens

See also the Spurtle article (page 1, bottom left).

RP noted that a design completion had been run, and a winner selected, but that a planning application is needed. It was suggested that the developers would present to NTBCC (even though the site is just out of NTBCC’s area) because they are sensitive to community feelings.

RP noted that there had been a plan to extend the National Gallery into Princes St Gardens, but that this scheme had run out of budget. A ‘less invasive’ scheme is now apparently being developed by Hoskins Architects. HA are presenting to Old Town CC this week, so some NTBCC members will attend this meeting and link with OTCC.

4.4 Heriot Hill

RP noted that residents are urgently contacting their CEC councillors because work is currently outwith conditions set by the Scottish Government reporter, and that is supporting them in a personal capacity. He stated that plans are severely self-contradictory, among other deficiencies, so that no-one really knows what has actually been approved.

RP noted that a development of 10 flats in the former car-park on Broughton St might have some affect on access to the Heriot Hill development OK, and that on the planning portal there were 7 supporting and 7 opposing submissions.

4.5 Charlotte and St Andrews Square

Installation of hard standings and other infrastructure were briefly discussed, but no consensus was reached. This was in the context of Standard Life’s (and NTBCC’s) position on how the square should be used, and the suggestion that if the Ross bandstand goes ahead, there would be more scope for St Andrews Square to be left as a green space.



5 Local resident and street associations

See also first part of Communications (section 6 below).

5.1 Claremont Crescent

Two residents presented on issues arising from the Claremont Hotel, in the middle of the crescent.

  • It has recently refreshed the paint on its railings and other exteriors. Tops of railings which were a very dull off-white (apparently due to natural weathering since it was last repainted in the 1970s) are now a brilliant white which, in these residents’ opinions, is visually intrusive in this class 1 listed street, and gives the hotel more visual impact than it warrants. It was suggested that nowhere else in Edinburgh has white tops to such railings. The residents stressed that the hotel has not painted more than was painted before.
  • The hotel also has now has a lurid bright red sign, which has unfortunate connotations, in these residents’ opinions.
  • The hotel also attracts some noisy clients (apparently hen and stag parties). The residents have contacted CEC’s licensing team, who apparently may well be able to act here.

It was suggested that the residents approach the owner in the first instance. Failing that, approaches to Edinburgh World heritage may be fruitful, as may forming a residents association and/or circulating a petition to show that the residents presenting to NTBCC represent the majority of residents. Approaches to relevant CEC councillors were also suggested. Various precedents of successful actions by CCs and other community bodies were also highlighted.

Most CC members appeared to support the residents’ aims, but no formal vote was taken.

Action: R Price to meet with these residents to discuss ways forward

6 Communications

See also draft minutes of communications committee (section 0 below).

  • There was discussion of how streets that don’t have residents’ associations (RAs) can influence CEC, and how NTBCC can reach out to RAs, garden associations and similar groups.
    • J Conn stated that constituted RAs are almost essential in this regard.
    • IM suggested that such streets could either form their own RAs or link up with neighbouring existing RAs, and that NTBCC should encourage and support these and other relevant groups.
    • Vacancies on NTBCC could be filled by reps from new RAs, so long as they register with CEC, or by co-opting members from nascent RAs, subject to co-option limits. (These are detailed in CEC’s Scheme for CCs.)
    • Action: B Ryan to use website asking all local RAs and similar to engage with NTBCC
    • In the meantime, nascent RA reps could join NTBCC emailing list.
  • There was discussion of publishing draft minutes, rather than waiting for approval at following meeting.
    • I Mowat stated that this is now a possibility, so long as first drafts are checked first.
    • He suggested publishing ‘highlights’, perhaps from draft minutes, soon after meetings.
  • It was suggested that NTBCC develop its Twitter presence. Action: B Ryan to find other CC Twitter policies.
  • It was noted that 2 of the 9 visitors had seen NTBCC’s Facebook page, and suggested that this should be better used.
    Action: B Ryan to ensure that website posts automatically appear on Facebook and Twitter.
  • It was noted that NTBCC’s refurbished noticeboard works well, and should be used to advertise community events.
    • It was suggested that the noticeboard in Tesco (Broughton St) should be used. (Tesco has demurred in the past.)
    • Action: all NTBCC members to adopt noticeboards and hence advertise NTBCC more strongly.
  • Action: IM to convene another comms group meeting, ideally after 26 September and before October meeting.

7 Transport

7.1 Leith Street closure

7.1.1 Dangers to cyclists and pedestrians

  • S Hajducki had circulated a diagram and email outlining the issues .(See section 14 below.)
  • Attendees who have used Leith Street since the closure generally agreed that the arrangements for cyclists and pedestrians are poorly executed and dangerous, as outline by SH.
  • B Ryan reported seeing no staff advising cyclists and pedestrians on his way to tonight’s meeting.
  • A resident who is a member of Spokes reported that Spokes is urgently taking up these issues with CEC, and that there is no proper connection of the current cycle-routes.
  • It was reported that no work was being undertaken here on Saturdays.
  • Action: I Mowat to forward S Hajducki’s concerns to CEC/SWECO
  • Action: B Ryan to attempt to video cycling up and down Leith St

7.1.2 Other relevant points

  • R Price stated that he had no issues with the diversions for cars.
  • It was noted that some promised traffic-counts have not been undertaken, but that traffic in certain areas (e.g. Broughton St, West End) is unexpectedly light.

7.2 Trams

  • It was noted that the Outline Business Case for extending the tram ‘network’ to Newhaven will be taken to the full CEC for a decision in late September. However, it was reported that a final decision will not be taken until 2018.
    • It was suggested that this will allow the current Hardie enquiry to report before the final decision.
    • A resident asked where the money for the tram extension would be found. Responses included Lothian Buses, and that the rolling stock and rails had already been bought, although it was also suggested that new rails would be bought.

7.3 Other points

  • There will be an engagement day about remodelling Melville Crescent (in West End CC area) on Thur 14 September.
  • A Herriman will present to NTBCC in October. (This had been scheduled for this meeting.)
  • R Price noted that NTBCC is interested in the redevelopment of Picardy Place, and how it will work for pedestrians, cyclists and other road-users, that this is where NTBCC ‘overlaps’ with spokes, and suggested that there is lack of transparency around this planning.
    • A resident reported that a consultation would start on 20 September.

8 Environment

No items

9 Licensing

No items

10 Neighbourhood Partnerships and Localities

C Ross reported that NTBCC is part of southeast locality, which is convened by Cllr C Miller, a former NTBCC member. (Localities comprise reps from Police Scotland, the Fire Service, NHS, CEC councillors, community representatives etc, and meet quarterly.) It has recently produced a draft Locality Improvement Plan.

The recent SE locality meeting also discussed alcohol licensing (including overprovision), and the balance between public and private spaces (also considered in the draft LIP).

It was suggested that all candidates for relevant CEC wards stated that decisions about the World heritage area would be involve local communities, but this has not happened. CR responded that Cllr Miller is more open to such concerns.

11 Any other business

I Mowat has written to Sweco etc about St Andrews Square. Action – this letter to be put on website.

C Nimmo noted that the Cockburn Association meeting had discussed adding to Charlotte Square, and asked whether this was likely. R Price suggested working with Standard Life to consider what should happen to the square.

13 Appendix 1 – draft minutes of NTBCC communications committee (Monday 19 June 2017)

Attendees Apologies
Foysol Choudhury (FC), Susan Macinnes (SuM) Ian Mowat (IM) Bruce Ryan (BR)
Stuart McAllister (StM), Richard Price (RP)

Given the new members (both to NTBCC and the Communications group) – we have a general discussion covering both the current thinking regarding more effective communication though the existing channels as summarised in the previous Communications group minutes (November 2016) as well as exploring new ideas and testing some of the previous positions regarding NTBCC’s approach to communications with social media.

Key points noted through the discussion

13.1 NTBCC Monthly meetings

  • Agreement that we should try to make more use of the residents that actually attend the Face to Face monthly NTBCC meetings.
  • We had agreed to ‘open up’ the monthly meetings by ensuring that residents felt more involved.
    • g. not having NTBCC members sitting with their backs to residents
    • try to ensure that they are given a clear opportunity to express their views at meetings

13.2 Contact with NTBCC

  • Continually communicate (through website, monthly meetings and noticeboards – how to contact NTBCC. We could check if those at the monthly meetings are aware how to contact NTBCC?
  • Be more systematic in acknowledging contacts via the contact form – agreed it would be helpful to acknowledge within 24 – 48 hours even if a full response isn’t available until later (maybe this is already done?).

13.3 NTBCC website

  • Some debate amongst group members as to the format/layout of existing website – no consensus reached but acknowledged that it had taken some time to get a website that functions as well as it does today & further change may not be the highest priority.
  • Given that we currently have a robust website framework and we have the genesis of a Facebook page – we should ensure that there is better linkage/referencing between them.
  • Key to effective communications is to make it timely – we should resurrect the ‘highlights’ from NTBCC meetings and aim to post something within a week. We should also reconsider the slightly bureaucratic approach to agreeing minutes (which results at least a 1 month delay in posting on website ; group supported the posting of minutes as soon as possible (even if marked Draft).
  • The website shouldn’t necessarily be the prime means of communication but should act as the overall repository for information – key is to continually direct residents to the website through other communication channels e.g. Twitter, Facebook.

13.4 Reconsider an NTBCC Twitter presence?

  • Although previously NTBCC had discounted the use of Twitter – due to concerns over ‘policing’ of the content and concerns that views expressed may not represent the wider NTBCC viewpoint, it was argued that it was widely used and effective as a communication tool.
    • However, to be effective – it needs new content to be posted at regular intervals – however, the new postings do not necessarily have to originate from NTBCC all the time – there are many other relevant Twitter feeds that NTBCC could retweet (with the normal caveat that the views expressed are not necessarily endorsed or supported by NTBCC).
    • Proposal put forward to delegate responsibility for tweets/retweets to members of the Communications group.

13.5 Facebook – how to build on work done so far?

  • For Facebook to be effective – it needs new content (however brief) to be posted regularly – to achieve this needs a small group with the necessary energy & expertise – we need to agree an inventory of possible contributors
    • Debate about closed F/b groups vs. open – no consensus reached.
    • Currently we are short of Facebook knowledge (with Lauren & Claire having now stepped down from NTBCC) – is Bruce an option?
    • Suggestion to supplement contributors from Communications group unless other individuals step forwards?
  • Widespread dislike of current NTBCC header used on Facebook page – although used in other NTBCC communications, it doesn’t work in Facebook.

13.6 Other options for communicating

  • Key to effective communications is to make it timely – we should resurrect the ‘highlights’ from NTBCC meetings and aim to post something within a week. We should also reconsider the slightly bureaucratic approach to agreeing minutes (which results at least a 1 month delay in posting on website ; group supported the posting of minutes as soon as possible (even if marked Draft).
  • More use of libraries e.g. McDonald Road or even Stockbridge (whilst it is outwith the NTBCC area, it is still used by many NTBCC residents) – post agendas etc. on their notice boards? (also see d. below)
  • Group agreed that the Spurtle is both well-read and widely used – both the monthly paper copy as well as the online version – should we consider a NTBCC ‘newsletter’ to Spurtle? If supported – it needs someone to have clear ownership within NTBCC.
  • For some communications – consider spreading the load and responsibility for distribution e.g. concise monthly meeting summaries – give all NTBCC members (say) 5 copies and get them to distribute to noticeboards etc. local to them e.g. Tesco’s, pub information boards etc.

14 Appendix 2: S Hajducki’s input on Leith St closure

For the first (southern) section from Waterloo Place there are separate cycle and pedestrian lanes, although the pedestrian one is of inadequate width to cope with the number of users at peak hours.

At each end of the cycleway there are clear ‘Dismount’” signs.

At the Waterloo Place end, most cyclists ignore these signs and cut straight across the pedestrian flow heading towards Princes Street.

At the north end of the cycle lane, cyclists are required to dismount and cross the traffic heading towards Calton Road. Pedestrians also cross at this point. The traffic is fast moving as there are no physical restraints (eg bends, surface humps etc) to slow it. There is however no signalled crossing at this point.

The next section, past the Cube office block, is a shared section between pedestrians and cyclists who have supposedly dismounted and are wheeling their bikes. Naturally, few do so, and instead continue to cycle through the pedestrians, sometimes quite aggressively. This is the narrowest section and is interrupted by steps and street furniture.

At the end of this section cyclists are able to remount and join the general traffic heading towards Picardy Place (although it is unclear as to whether this is the recommended route). However, many of them simply continue to cycle illegally northwards along the pavement towards the Omni Centre – again, on a stretch with heavy footfall and with steps and level changes.

There is in fact plenty of unused road space to provide a cycleway parallel to the shared section of pavement and so avoid the situation altogether.

There is a plethora of yellow-coated “officials” who make no attempt to regulate the situation, and in particular to curb errant cyclists – they just pretend not to see them.

I have never seen such a breathtakingly inept piece of traffic ‘management‘. I do not know whether it is the responsibility of the contractors Laing O’Rourke or ContraFlow, whose vehicles were present, but it is clearly a potentially dangerous situation which could result in injury and fatalities to pedestrians and cyclists. The Council’s transport section needs to take control here and engage a competent traffic engineer to design a safe and workable solution.

I would also add that the general assemblage of cones/barriers/tape/signs/fencing etc is untidy and amateurish and is quite unacceptable for a long term installation in a world heritage site. The overall standard of ‘temporary’ works which continually disfigure our city needs to be addressed and this could be the subject of a separate CC initiative.