NTBCC minutes – Monday 9 March 2020

Minutes of New Town & Broughton Community Council’s meeting, held in Drummond Room, Broughton St Mary’s church, Bellevue Crescent on Monday 9 March 2020 at 7pm

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

1 Welcome

R Price chaired the meeting in the chair’s absence.

He noted that the city centre ward councillor who was due to attend this meeting was absent, and that another councillor who had been due to attend a previous meeting had not yet explained his absence from that meeting – adding that it was very disappointing that no councillors (City Centre, Inverleith or Leith Walk) had attended the last 2 community council meetings..

He noted that the meeting was being recorded so that the minutes secretary would work up minutes from that.

1.a Attendance

Mike Birch NTBCC, RRCTMA Susan MacInnes NTBCC
Laura Graham NTBCC Richard Price NTBCC secretary
Stephen Hajducki NTBCC Sheila Warnock NTBCC, Great King St Residents’ Association
Deirdre Henderson NTBCC Peter Williamson NTBCC, Picardy Residents’ Association
Simon Holledge NTBCC engagement officer Ian Bieniowski Lothian Buses
Allan Jack NTBCC, India St Association John White Lothian Buses
James Kilner NTBCC At least ~13 residents/visitors
Stuart McAllister NTBCC

1.b Apologies for absence

Susanna Beaumont NTBCC Andrea Simpson NTBCC, Drummond Civic Association
David Clarke NTBCC Fran Wasoff NTBCC
Susan Duff NTBCC Bruce Ryan Minutes secretary
Jonathan Finn NTBCC treasurer Cllr Jo Mowat City centre ward
Jack Hugh NTBCC Deidre Brock MP Edinburgh North & Leith
Carol Nimmo NTBCC chair

2 Minutes of meeting of 10th February and matters arising

The draft minutes were approved as-is (proposed M.Birch, seconded P Williamson, ND).

2.a Matters arising

  • Item 2a, point 2 (speeding): R Price noted that Cllr Osler had sent him lists of streets that had been and were going to be checked for speeding. Attendees suggested various streets that should be checked.
  • Item 2a, point 3 (potential judicial review of CEC re Princes St gardens): L Graham noted that she had approached a potential reviewer but that he turned out to be unsuitable. Action: L Graham to continue to ascertain cost/process for a judicial review.
  • Item 6a (City Plan 2030 and City Mobility Plan drop-in events): R Price noted that a significant number of NTBCC members had attended these
  • Item 6c (planning application at 5 – 6 Marshall’s Court: NTBCC’s planning committee had outstanding concerns, despite a very useful and open meeting with the agent, CBRE. Action: NTBCC planning committee to submit representation.
  • Item 7 (Lothian Buses): see item 4a below.
  • Item 12 (events in West Princes St gardens): R Price noted that around 8 notifications of events on CEC-run parks had been received, most in Princes St Gardens. NTBCC has submitted an objection to the Summer Sessions.
  • Item 12a (AGM report): Action: all NTBCC convenors to send summaries of 2019 activities in their areas to C Nimmo by the end of March.

3 Police report

No police present, hence no report.

  • Action: r.price to check with b. ryan that correct email contacts are being used in new google group distribution lists.

4 Transport

4.a Q&A with Ian Bieniowski and John White, both of Lothian Buses (LB)

A Jack noted that some answers may not yet have been worked out in detail.

J White noted that he deals with infrastructure for LB, while I Bieniowski (Network manager) deals with commercial matters. (Minuter’s note: Their answers are the bullet-points below each question. Some points are responses to NTBCC members and residents’ oral questions. Points are not necessarily in the exact order they were made.)

4.a.i City Mobility Plan (CMP)

  1. What, in outline, will ‘redesign of bus networks’ and ‘changing the radial nature of routes’ mean for the overall shape of Lothian bus services; and how will this contribute to the promised ‘reduction in overall number of buses especially on Princes Street’ and ‘reducing bus congestion and penetration of key streets’?
    • LB is at the beginning of its response to CMP, and will be part of CEC’s consultation finishing at the end of March.
    • Dialogue has been going on for quite some time. CEC wishes to reduce the number of buses passing through the city centre, while LB wishes to reduce its impact as much as possible while recognising that it needs to move many people through the area each day.
    • There are currently very few places to turn buses around or layover buses in the city centre.
    • No detailed plans have been decided for routes and timetables: changes are contingent on outcomes of consultation and further dialogue with CEC.
    • CEC is LB’s major shareholder but in law LB has to act commercially at arm’s length. Hence it makes final decisions but wishes to find consensus with CEC to optimise matters.
    • LB will consult [with residents] wherever possible about route-changes. CEC will be consulted initially, but consultation will be wider, including consultation with CCs. However, this is a long way off, and LB is currently dealing with impacts from tram-construction works, e.g. extended closure of Leith Walk.
  2. What is meant by ‘large capacity buses (LCBs to take people round the centre’?
    • If other routes feed into shopper buses, then LCBs could be part of the mix but there are no definite plans yet. LCB use is also dependent on dialogue with CEC about its wishes. NB many people use cross-city routes that begin and end outwith the city centre, needing suitable provision.
    • LB is happy to take part in creating new interchange facilities. However, Edinburgh does not have sufficient wide streets or streets that can be bus-only. Buses also need layover/recovery places so that a delay to one run does not automatically cause subsequent services to continue to run late. (That is, contingency is built into the ends of runs.)
    • LB has been working with Edinburgh’s Access Panel about provision for disabled customers, prams etc. LB has committed to improve matters, but this has been delayed due to an expected change to national regulations. LB is working with CEC on issues such as side-door being blocked by street-furniture.
  3. What does ‘tram/bus integration of ticketing and routing’ mean in practical detail? How will the proposed interchange hubs actually work?
    • There are bus-cards and now contactless ticketing. Better contactless functionality and more flexibility is due to be introduced in the coming months. Integrated ticketing is already available in the form of cards and other tickets that are valid on trams and buses. If CEC wishes to revisit integration, e.g. as part of the City Mobility Plan, LB is happy to consider this. However, some of this may be superseded by Scottish Government action to integrate bus and train ticketing nationally. Naturally, this will take some time to implement due to the many operators.
    • Purchase of bus-cards is available via direct debit, minimising visits to physical ticket-shops to once every 10 years.
    • Edinburgh has citysmart stored-value cards. These store a number of journeys, rather than money. Money-store cards might be simpler for customers, but contactless, capped payment for both bus and tram is becoming popular.
  4. What will ‘digitalisation of the ticketing system’ mean and when can it be introduced?
    • There has been movement in this direction, e.g. smart-cards, mobile and contactless ticketing. LB intends to increase contactless functionality to give customers payment flexibility.
  5. Is the suggested timescale appropriate (City Mobility Plan promises ‘comprehensive review of bus routes by 2022’ and ‘new strategy agreed by 2025’? Can this not be achieved more quickly?
    • [not directly discussed - but could be discussed if there is a further session with LB at an NTBCC meeting]
  6. What are the plans for future development of the bus tracker system?
    • On-street trackers are a matter for CEC. The original tracker system was a CEC/LB joint project.
    • Concerning the app not yet giving bus-tracker information, the current system is from 2003. LB has been working with suppliers to update it, and has now procured a supplier to ‘radically change’ the real-time information systems over the next ~2-3 years. LB will run its new management information system, which covers more than timing, then feed information (along with info from other providers) to CEC-run facilities in shopping centres etc.
  7. Electric buses
    • LB‘s fleet is ~800 buses. It has 6 fully electric buses, and is working with Scottish Power (SP): this may lead to more. There may currently not be sufficient supplies to enable an entirely electric fleet. LB is also working with SP on this.
    • LB has a significant number of hybrid buses, and is aware that Edinburgh is to introduce low-emission zones and move away from diesel by ~2030. Hence it is working with manufacturers etc. Non-diesel buses [currently] cost more than diesel buses. Current technology is limited, but is improving.

4.a.ii East London Street (and Hopetoun Crescent) issues

  1. Residents are highlighting that East London Street (ELS) experiences very high volumes of bus traffic as a result of buses apparently coming from or returning by that route to the Annandale Street Bus Depot, resulting in high levels of noise disturbance for residents, often in the very early hours, in a street which is actually classified by Edinburgh Council as ‘no bus use’ (as there are no actual bus stops/scheduled bus services on this street).
  2. We also understand Hopetoun Crescent is similarly affected in this way to a degree.
  3. What action can LB take to address this issue?

A resident added that it has been reported that there is now an asthma problem at St Mary’s RC school on ELS, and asked whether one of Edinburgh’s seven pollution monitors could be moved there. Residents also noted that it appeared that noise levels can be more than 100dB, that law requires ear protection for more than 80dB, and that buses often travel at more than 20 mph on ELS, and asked for reduced bus-traffic here.

  • The central bus garage houses 260 buses – these need to get to their routes which are proximal to this garage. There is little alternative to using ELS, particularly due to Picardy Place works. There was an exercise in 2015-16 that identified that 180 buses use ELS. Drivers currently have discretion over how they get to the starts of actual bus-routes. LB representatives stated that they do not wish to be bad neighbours, that LB runs a ‘clean fleet’, that diesel-use by small vehicles is a greater cause of pollution. LB understands the concerns raised, including noise, and now needs to take discretion away from drivers.
  • There will be changes due to tram-works on Leith Walk, so LB is working with CEC, e.g. on use of Annandale St.
  • LB will monitor speeds. There is ‘no excuse’ for speeding. If drivers are caught speeding (by police or by LB), they will be disciplined. However, there isn’t on-board speed monitoring.
  • Concerning vibration (not all caused by speed-bumps according to residents), LB is aware of this issue. LB has been working with CEC about how to use setted streets, e.g. putting tarmac for running lanes. However, ELS is within the New Town Conservation area and hence is covered under the recently adopted CEC policy on setted streets, i.e. if a street is currently setted, then any repairs would maintain that street as a setted street. However, if residents supported removal of the sets from the central section of the street (similarly to the western part of London Street); LB would support such community aspirations.
  • There was discussion of removal of speed-bumps, CEC policy on tarmac over setts, and repairs to bus-route streets. It was also noted that CEC had carried out repairs to ELS & other expected diversion routes as part of tram-work preparation and it is unlikely that CEC would support further work at this time. LB has also discussed removal of bumps with CEC but with limited success. (It was noted that if a City Centre councillor had been present, this discussion may have been more fruitful).
  • There was discussion of ceasing or minimising use of ELS in early mornings and late at night.
  • There was discussion of trainee bus-drivers being trained on ELS, and why Annandale St isn’t used.
  • Air-monitoring is run by CEC. LB does not regularly monitor noise or vibration, but can talk with CEC about this.
  • LB is applying for funds to improve the emission-levels of its buses through the Scottish Government programme but buses that use the central garage are Euro-5 or better.
  • LB agreed to return to NTBCC once it has considered these issues and possible solutions, perhaps in March.

4.a.iii Bus Stops (location/facilities/design)

  1. Some concern has been voiced regarding the new bus stop in Queen St opposite Scottish National Portrait Gallery (traffic congestion; possible safety issue as ‘dark and at times deserted location’) – thoughts?
    • This bus-stop was moved during the original tram-works. (It had been due to be removed but LB asked for it to be replaced.) As part of modelling for new trams and Edinburgh St James, this stop was moved as close to Dublin St as possible. LB was initially reluctant to use it because of congestion and footpath width. There was an issue about fitting a bus-shelter on the footpath: the matter became ‘should there be a shelter at the stop or should the stop be in a lit area’. (NTBCC members suggested that it should be in a better-lit position. LB stated that this concern could be taken to CEC.)
  2. What are the pros & cons of ‘floating’ bus stops?
    • Cyclists aren’t keen on these. LB doesn’t like them for passenger-safety – exit doors can be right on cycle-paths. It is hard to move such bus-stops. LB understands that CEC will review this issue.

4.a.iv Longer-term questions (to be covered later)

These questions were not directly discussed.

  1. What are the future plans (and timetable) for conversion of the LB fleet to electric (or hydrogen), and what’s the position with the current programme for testing electric buses?
  2. What further route changes might be envisaged should a tram extension to Granton go ahead as proposed?
  3. What processes can be put in place to ensure improved long-term strategic collaboration with Trams and TfE?

4.b City Mobility Plan - feedback from NTBCC members & others on consultation sessions – as input to final NTBCC response

S Hajducki, D Henderson R Price and M Birch stated

  • There is little provision for taxis in the plans – taxis are a form of public transport.
  • There are concerns over the cost of the plans. Congestion-charges have been discussed in connection with this issue.
  • The plan is basically to (re-)design the city around pedestrians, with traffic flowing around them.
  • There are concerns over the reliance on (very pro-cycling) Sustrans. For example, numbers travelling to work on foot and by bike are not separated, perhaps because such cyclists are very few.
  • It has been acknowledged that there is a need for cars to access the city centre.
  • There have been suggestions of park-and-rides for goods (using electric vans in the city centre).
  • CEC’s planning department has been criticised for still allowing car-dependent developments.
  • The impacts of tourism have not been mentioned.
  • There have been suggestions to re-open the suburban [train] line, e.g. for use by trams.
    • It was suggested that Network Rail is reserving this for when other lines are unavailable.
  • The role of rail has not been included or discussed.
  • There has been insufficient discussion with Lothian buses over the role of buses in the plans.
  • There are concerns over the depth of thought, and ‘leadingness’, behind the questions in the consultation.
  • There are concerns over the short time allowed to implement the plan, and whether it is a plan, a strategy or a vision.

A Jack noted stated the basic idea is good: an overall plan over time, rather than a series of disjointed projects, but NTBCC should point out where it could be better/stronger. NTBCC has supported, moving from car to public transport. Queen St has been omitted from initial the Low Emission Zone proposal and in some ways the plan is unambitious. For example, 20mph limits should be better enforced, and CEC should take concrete steps to reduce parking in the city centre.

A resident suggested moving a pollution monitor from parks to roads where the problems actually are.

  • Action: A Jack to draft NTBCC’s response.

5 Licensing

J Finn reported by email

  • The only new applications this month are for a lot of new bars, restaurants etc in the new St James Centre. NTBCC supported the Licensing Sub-committee view that there was no reason to object to any specifically - but as they are all in an area of overprovision, NTBCC agreed to question how granting these would be consistent with the principles agreed on ‘over-provision’.
  • The NTBCC Licensing convener had asked Cllr Mowat whether the Licensing Board (LB) had a view. She said each licence would be considered individually and that the Board does not need to take into account overprovision in the area.
  • The assumption therefore is that the Board will approve them all, as not doing so would be problematic.
  • It was agreed that NTBCC should remind LB that it should take into consideration overprovision, rather than ‘rubber-stamp’ them all. It should explain why overprovision does not apply; this will be helpful for objections to new applications.

6 Environment

6.a To agree: key priorities as agreed at NTBCC Sub-committee meeting (25 February)

  • See Appendix 1 for full report on these proposals.
  • P Williamson noted
    • More members of the subcommittee would be helpful, as would balancing gender.
    • ‘Built environment’ refers to places (e.g. Picardy Place) where there are overlapping transport, planning etc. issues.
    • Action: subcommittee to flesh out how it will work. In general, it will delegate research and drafting responses to two people leading on each topic, then more widely consult.

6.b To note: Parks & Greenspaces: response to ‘Summer Sessions’ notification

  • See submission on website.
  • R Price sought clarity around how NTBCC should handle such matters. AS secretary, he does not have capacity for this because he already handles planning and the NTBCC Twitter account.
    • Action: Environment subcommittee to further consider how best to handle responses to parks & greenspaces notifications.
  • S Holledge stated that CEC parks and greenspaces staff do not send out timely information.
    • Action: R Price to raise this with relevant CEC contacts.

7 Planning

7.a Info: Update on Ediston / Orion (ex-RBS Dundas Street/Fettes Row) development

  • It was reported that the third (final) consultation will be on 26 March at Bellevue Church. NTBCC hopes that full detail will be provided at this event. Ediston hopes to apply for planning permission in May, and obtain it by the end of 2020. Demolition would then take 6 months, and building a further 3 years. (Post meeting note : session now confirmed as 2 April).
  • Ediston is the local developer, but the site is believed to be owned by Orion Capital. It is based in London but operates internationally.
  • R Price noted that he has met with some local residents in the Applecross development who fear that the proposal to demolish the building directly adjacent to them may have significant impact. He stated that [presumption against] demolition of recent/functional buildings should become increasingly important part of applications such as these.

7.b Update: Powderhall Stables & wider scheme

R Price noted that matters are progressing – funding has now been secured for the stable-block development. An application for the nursery development (on front Bowling Green site) is due in the next two months, with a view to completion for 2021-22 school year.

7.c Other points

NTBCC has met with the agent, CBRE about Marshall’s Court. CBRE & the architect engaged in a very open and worthwhile discussion regarding justification of the footprint / size of the planned development – however, several key issues remained for NTBCC. A comprehensive objection has been submitted by a local resident (on behalf of an unofficial residents’ group) ; AHSS have also objected.

  • Action: R Price to submit NTBCC’s representation ASAP.

8 Engagement

S Holledge noted that notices about NTBCC meetings have been put on 32 noticeboards covering NTBCC’s area. However, there are currently none in Queen St Gardens. (However, it is not clear that there are noticeboards there, according to an attendee.) It was suggested that posters could also be put in King George V Park. (Possible contacts were suggested.)

  • He added that Lord Moray’s Feuars would be interested in sending a representative to NTBCC.

S Hajducki suggested that NTBCC develop a plan for virtual meetings (perhaps not public due to bandwidth limitations) in the light of coronavirus. Skype, FaceTime etc were mooted.

  • Since this meeting, NTBCC comms/engagement members have experimented with Zoom and Webex.

9 NTBCC AGM (May 2020)

R price called again for convenors’ contributions to the annual report.

10 Localities / local residents’ associations

See below.

11 Any other business

  • A resident noted the previous discussion of setts, stating that they can be dangerous.
  • He also asked whether there is a residents’ association for Bellevue Crescent (BC). R Price explained how local interest group representatives can join NTBCC. BC residents could consider joining the Drummond Civic Association or form their own association.
  • M Birch suggested that stronger action is taken to get city centre councillors to attend NTBCC meetings.
  • There was discussion of how to respond to City Plan 2030 (the latest iteration of the local development plan). The main outcomes were :
    • Support for requesting an extension for comments (either for all or for the community council)
    • Proposal for NTBCC to list the key areas where we should comment.
    • A collegiate approach involving members of NTBCC focussing on 1 -2 areas as listed in the online consultation (~15 in all)
    • Further discussion to be progressed outside of meeting.
  • Action: R Price to request an extension for NTBCC.

Appendix 1: Environment Committee Proposals For The Future

1. Introduction

The following are the proposals for the future of the New Town & Broughton Community Council, Environment Committee that flow out of the meeting of the Committee held on 25 February.

Those who attended the meeting were Jack Hugh, Allan Jack, Simon Holledge, Stuart McAllister and Peter Williamson. There were apologies from Stephen Hajducki and Carol Nimmo.

The proposals here are draft for confirmation and for comment and suggestions, particularly by those not able to attend.

2. Remit of Environment Committee

The Environment Committee will cover the following broad issue areas:

  • Waste – Collection and Processing
  • Pollution, including air quality, and water and sewerage
  • Parks and Greenspaces, including private greenspaces
  • Trees (protection, planting, and ecosystem services etc.)
  • Biodiversity
  • Built environment, i.e. placemaking

3. Committee’s Priority Areas For 2020

The Committee will concentrate on the following issue areas in 2020 with the following members taking the lead.

Priority Areas For 2020
Issue Lead
Waste collection Stuart McAllister, Jack Hugh, Peter Williamson
Pollution TBC
Parks and Greenspaces Simon Holledge
Graffiti Simon Holledge, Peter Williamson

 

Further lead persons need to be identified. It is intended that the first step would be for the designated leads to set out a brief plan of what actions require to be undertaken. This will be done in liaison with other Committee members, and the plans will be presented to the Council at a regular meeting for discussion.

The Community Council would receive updates on progress with the Plans for discussion at appropriate intervals.

It is acknowledged that new priority issue areas may arise in the course of the year.

4. Membership of the Committee

It is proposed to seek two additional members for the Committee to reflect the scope of its work. This should be done to achieve a greater gender balance.

5. Method of Operation of Committee

It is intended that the Committee develop proposals, drawing on the knowledge and expertise of its members, for adoption by the Community Council. Proposals will be presented in the form of papers by the designated lead(s) that will emphasise the actions that the Council should take, in addition to background information.

The Committee will identify ‘key contacts’ among Council officials Council with whom the Committee will liaise directly to progress its work. This will include the Committee holding meetings with these Council contacts. It is hoped to develop long-standing relationships, accepting that these may already exists and only need confirmed.

6. Future Meetings

It was agreed to hold the next meeting in April. It was also acknowledged that meetings could be held during the working day, especially if there are to be meetings with Council officials.

7. Immediate Actions

The following immediate actions result from the meeting on 25th February and are set out below. The table will be used to keep Committee members up to date

Environment Committee Action Plan
No. Action People/Meeting Date
001 Organise April meeting date Peter Williamson 5 March
002 Seek additional members Community Council Meeting 9 March
003 Identify additional leads for priority issue areas Community Council Meeting 9 March
004 Develop plan for each priority issue area Appropriate leads Next Committee Meeting
005 Produce list of ‘key contacts’ Peter Williamson 20 April

 

Peter Williamson

2 March 2020