LCCC minutes: January 2018

Minutes of the ordinary meeting of Leith Central Community Council, held in Nelson Hall, McDonald Road library on Monday 15 January 2018 at 7:00pm

Actions and decisions are red underlined. nem con means that no-one spoke or voted against a decision. URLs added by minutes secretary.

1           Attendance, apologies, declarations of interest

1.1        Attendance

Jack Caldwell LCCC Bruce Ryan minutes secretary
Roberto Colasuonno LCCC Nick Gardner Friends of Montgomery St Park
Alan Dudley LCCC Cllr Marion Donaldson Leith Walk ward (Labour)
Charlotte Encombe LCCC Cllr Susan Rae Leith Walk ward (Scottish Green)
John Hein LCCC Duncan Bremner Leith Creative/Citizen Curator
Sheila Kennedy LCCC Morvern Cunningham Leith Creative/Leith Late
Iona McLeod LCCC Ella Taylor Smith Broughton Spurtle
Julian Siann LCCC PC Calum Clark, PC Joe Kennedy Police Scotland
Harald Toberman LCCC 14 residents

1.2        Apologies

Katherine Chisholm LCCC Damian Sefton LCCC
Jeremy Darot LCCC Ben Macpherson MSP Edinburgh Northern & Leith (SNP)
Lorraine Moore LCCC treasurer Deidre Brock MP Edinburgh North & Leith (SNP)

1.3        Declarations of interest


2           Minutes of 27 November 2017 meeting

Approval held over to February because agenda had link to October minutes

2.1        Matters arising from previous minutes and not included in agenda below


3           Community Police Officer’s Report

PC Clark reported

  • He has taken over from PC Weaver. PC Mark Barrie has taken over from PC Gemma Knox
  • £45,000 of drugs were seized by Police Scotland (PS). 1 person was reported to the procurator Fiscal (PF).
  • PS has done much work in the Springfield area about antisocial behaviour and drugs. 5 people were reported to the PF.
  • A person was arrested with a knife on Leith Walk, and reported to the PF.
  • Over the weekend, there was some action into motorcycle crime – this is an ongoing investigation.
  • A person was reported for disorder offenses on a stair in Papermill Wynd on Xmas day.
  • PS are encouraging citizens to look out for their neighbours.
  • PS community police officers are holding surgeries every 3rd Wednesday of the month.

3.1        Questions and answers

  • Is poor lighting in Springfield contributing to crime? PC Clark couldn’t comment on this, but would take it forward.
  • A local shop-owner reported that she has often been intimated by drunk and drugged people coming into her shop, and has not seen police on patrol for 2 months. PC Clark responded that he will inform his community police team.
  • N Gardner asked whether ‘weeks of action’ would recur to tackle issues. PC Clarke responded that PS will look into this.

4           Presentation and Q&A by Leith Creative: The future of Leith

D Bremner (DB)and M Cunningham (MC) reported on Leith Creative (LC), a ‘cultural mapping exercise in order to better understand Leith’s cultural resources and creative industries’. Their findings are online at

  • C Encombe (CE) asked how LCCC and others can collaborate to achieve the recommendations in the report.
    • MC and DB responded that there have been a number of failed masterplans for Leith, but LC is undertaking some creative and multicultural activities, and speaking to CEC about, for example, access to the seafront. (The problem here is caused by customs/security concerns hindering access to the docks.) LC is also talking with NE Edinburgh Locality, and anticipating funding to develop ideas around, for example, around connecting the community.
  • CE also noted that LCCC did not have sufficient candidates to need an election, and so is looking to co-opt members.
    • MC and DB replied that there are questions about connectivity and engagement, and that difficulties lie in ensuring the correct governance to create change and link up relevant organisations
  • J Siann noted that things are happening, e.g. conversion of former tram works to a community centre. However, volunteers are needed to get involved with, for example, planning, as is an overall programme for improvements.

5           Planning

5.1        LCCC Planning Sub-committee: status of current planning applications

J Siann (JS) noted that

  • He has asked for an extension to comment on 17/05742/PPP because the CEC planning website was offline.
  • LCCC has achieved a success concerning 17/03584/FUL.

5.2        Community meeting 10/1/18 re 154 McDonald Road (minutes)

  • CE reported that the issue here is that this development is likely to overlook the next-door primary school, hence causing privacy issues. There was also concerns that noise from the school would affect residents.
  • JS noted that New Town & Broughton CC has commented on this application, because it is in NTBCC’s area. However, the development would affect LCCC because there is no planned onsite parking – occupants of the development are hence likely to add to parking pressure in LCCC’s area. JS was also concerned that the suggestion of screens on some windows would not solve the privacy concerns. The development is of interest to LCCC also because some LCCC residents’ children attend the primary school.
  • It was noted that other concerns are
    • existing residents wish to have input into any code of conduct for residents of the new development.
    • parents of the primary school should have input into marketing material for the development.
    • This development should have been all affordable housing for sale, but now all flats will be for rent. It was suggested that this change of use occurred after planning permission was granted, and that this was enabled by the developer promising to build a suitable amount of affordable housing ‘elsewhere’.
    • The flats are likely to be very small but very expensive to rent, and are likely to attract transient occupants. Hence people who would be key to community strength are unlikely to live here.
    • A public asset has been sold for private gain.
  • N Gardner noted that the development owners will be their own letting agents, and so will need to apply for a letting license. This may be an opportunity to pressurise CEC officers and members, e.g. on management of the development.

Action: HT to submit objection based on the concerns that are likely to affect LCCC.

5.3        LCCC policy towards Airbnb and repurposed student accommodation on LCCC area

H Tobermann noted that LCCC’s policy is to generally object to further student accommodation and hotels on the grounds of overprovision. He proposed a similar policy to generally object to further AirB&B and similar accommodation.

  • A local shopkeeper stated that tourists bring economic benefits to the community.
  • I McLeod (IM) asked how objections could be made on unregulated properties. Action: HT to propose wording in February
  • J Caldwell suggest that LCCC’s policy could ‘permit’ owners renting out single rooms while being against rental of complete houses or developments.
  • J Hein (JH) welcomed the diversity that rental can bring.
  • CE suggested that an issue is that student housing effectively become hotels during student holidays, adding to over-provisioning.
  • Cllr Rae noted that her party is working on this issue, via the Homes First

5.4        CEC consultation to stop accepting planning representations by email

  • JS noted that people can comment on or object to planning applications via post, phone and email to planning officers and/or via CEC’s planning portal, but that the portal is not easy to use, and provides no feedback on comments.
  • HT suggested that if CEC have sufficient human resources to read comments arriving via the portal, they have sufficient to read emails. In any case, comments should be read by humans, not just end up on a database.
  • S Kennedy noted that the portal automatically redacts personal information from submitted comments but that it takes time for CEC to redact the large number of planning emails it receives. This adds significantly to CEC’s costs. IM also supported the ‘portal only’ option on this ground.
  • B Ryan (BR) suggested that it should be relatively easy for emails to be automatically redacted and added to the portal.

Vote: for maintaining all options for submitting comments – 6 votes; for removing email option – 3 votes

Action: HT to circulate a draft objection to removal of the email option

6           Transport & Clean Streets

6.1        Update on street lighting problems in Dalmeny Street (insufficient spread) and speed of repairs

HT noted that CEC has a lighting repair backlog.

Action: HT to comment to CEC that Dalmeny St lighting has been an issue for 12 months

6.2        Impacts of Leith Street closure and planned Picardy Place works on LCCC area

HT asked for experience of the closure

  • BR stated that the cycle lane on Leith St (LS) had started off extremely poor but was now only very poor. It’s too narrow, poorly maintained, not staffed, and there are clashes between pedestrians and cyclists. There seems to be less traffic in the evenings on Leith Walk (LW), making it easier to access LW from LS.
  • JH was concerned that cyclists do not dismount when they should – could the route be reconfigured to enforce this?
  • R Colasuonno suggested that there are too many pedestrian crossing on the closed LS.
  • CE complimented the new stone paving, and contractors cleaning their lorries.
  • One resident noted that there less traffic on Broughton St (BS) but that the pedestrian area at the top of BS has insufficient pavement and too many cars.
  • Another suggested that the LS cycle lane is too narrow, and has poor visibility – fabric hoardings should be removed.
  • IM asked whether anyone else had commented on busses apart from her. She will contact HT directly about this.
  • HT responded that he had received no such comments, and suggested that the reduction in traffic (which fitted predictions) was a proxy for reduced economic activity.
    • A local shopkeeper commented that local cafes were suffering, and that closure of loading bays was a key concern.
  • A resident stated that the reduced bus service on Hillside Crescent was making this area feel cut off.

Action: HT to summarise the above, submit it to CEC director of place and M Perry of St James development.

6.3        Parking Working Group update

IM reported that the group has been working on a petition and related leaflet. CEC now needs a list of LCCC’s actions so far, in order to put the petition on its website. The petition should be submitted this week: approval may take 5 days.

  • There was discussion on how the leaflet would be distributed.
  • It was noted that petitions by individuals need 200 signatures to be considered by CEC, but community group petitions only need 50 signatures
  • Action: CE to obtain quotes for printing leaflet. (likely cost is £100 to £200)

6.4        Leith Programme Phase 4 snagging progress (lighting, RNIB, compound 
areas, armadillos)

HT noted that he has taken part in a snagging visit. He asked for others’ observations.

  • CE noted that she has enquired about traffic light timings. Durations of green lights for pedestrians vary much on different crossings. Durations are apparently set according to Department of Transport regulations.
  • Alan Dudley reported that M Motion has not yet met with RNIB. Action: Cllr Donaldson and HT to follow this up.
  • Ponding and trip-hazards on Albert St were noted.
  • A resident was concerned that removal of the armadillos on the LW cycle lane was dangerous, especially where the lane merges onto the carriageway.
  • HT noted that the former compound on Iona St suffers from ponding and other issues.

Action: HT to pass these comments onto M Motion.

6.5        Trams

It was noted that R Garriock has not yet contacted LCCC to arrange consultation, as promised in November, item 4·3

Action: HT to follow this up

7           Parks & Green Spaces

7.1        Friends of Pilrig Park

N Gardner reported that there would be a consultation on grasslands.

7.2        Update on other Friends groups

  • CE noted that Greener Leith has organised winter pruning of 100 fruit trees on 3rd People wishing to take part should email her.
  • HT asked whether the Paolozzi ankle on Hill St had sunk into the mud any more. (apparently not)

Action: CE to circulate draft parks and green spaces remit for adoption in February

7.3        Future use of disused Powderhall railway line: reopen as rail line or transform into green walk and cyclepath

Opinions included

  • JH: it’s fine to convert it to a cyclepath, but retain the possibility of reverting to it rail (or tram), i.e. do not build here.
  • HT: strongly in favour of transformation, because the railway has not been used for a long time, and is a cul-de-sac.

Decision: transformation into green walk and cyclepath, but retaining rail/tram possibility is now LCCC policy

7.4        Coallie park

CE noted that this park needs complete renovation. She proposed working with LHNCC on this (agreed nem con).

N Gardner suggested linking this and nearby parks as a ‘string of pearls’. JH favoured ‘endowed’ benches.

8           LCCC Office Bearers’ Reports

8.1        Secretary

CE noted that D Garab has moved out of LCCC’s area, so is no longer a member of LCCC. Hence there is a vacancy.

8.2        Treasurer

Treasurer not present – no report

8.2.1     Desirability and feasibility of purchasing projector for presentations and papers at LCCC meetings

  • BR noted that LCCC is running a deficit, and that the library has a big TV suitable for presentations.
  • HT suggested that a projector would cost around £500

Held over until February when treasurer should be able to comment

8.3        Update by Communications Group

  • J Caldwell reported that LCCC is now on Facebook: and has already had 194 likes.
  • There is an end-of-year report on the website and noticeboard.
  • The comms group will be asking people to help leaflet about the parking petition, and Leith Chooses.
  • Leithers don’t Litter has asked for help sharing their survey on fly-tipping.

8.3.1     Update on NE Locality Committee and Leith Neighbourhood Partnership

  • CE noted that the next LNP meeting would be at the library at 7pm on 18 January.
  • CE noted that a ‘zero waste’ meeting will take place at Thomas Morton Hall at 5:30 on 24th

8.3.2     Update on £eith Chooses

CE noted that voting on distribution of £116,000 will take place on 3 March 2018. She is helping organisations and individuals with their applications at the library on Mondays (12 noon to 2pm). Such help is also available at other locations.

9           Councillors’ reports, MSPs’ reports, MP’s report

9.1        Cllr Donaldson

CEC’s 2018-19 budget is due to be set on 22 February, following a report to CEC’s finance committee on 8 February.

  • Because the current government is a minority, it will rely on another party to pass its draft budget. In 2017-18, Scottish Greens got more money for local government for their support for that budget. This may recur for the 2018-19 budget
  • CEC’s budget follows the draft Scottish Budget (published on 14 December). Under this draft, CEC’s revenue budget would fall by 1·75% (national average cut is 1·6%), i.e. in flat cash terms £17m more than predicted (but still a cut when inflation is factored in).
  • CEC officers are currently analysing results of a public consultation in November 2017.
  • CEC’s budget motion will go on its website on 16 February; its deliberations on 22 February will be live online.

10       Open Forum

10.1      Proposed transfer of Gaelic Medium Education (GME) to Drummond Community High School (DCHS)

See also statement by Drummond Parent Council (DPC)

DPC’s chair reported

  • On 8 December, an informal consultation on GME suggested that DCHS could become the site for delivering GME to secondary pupils from Bun-sgoil Taobh na Pàirce (BTP) primary school, and that DCHS could later become GME-only.
  • This has caused much concern for parents of pupils at primary schools that feed DCHS. CEC has been asked for assurance that pupils (and their younger siblings) who have started at DCHS can complete their education there.
  • A formal consultation is due in March.
  • DPC’s chair supports GME but notes that numbers of GME pupils would exceed DCHS’s capacity (600 pupils) by 2022.
    • Hence he and DCHS parents are very concerned about the future of non-GME pupils at this school.
    • He notes that extra GME primary provision is due, leading potentially to a need for 700 GME secondary places. Because of lack of capacity at DCHS, either GME or English-taught pupils would eventually have to go.
    • Having met with CEC officials, he notes that there is no rush to statutory consultation in March.
    • He and DCHS parents are ‘open to mutually acceptable solutions’.
  • A resident noted that a 2016 report predicted 350 GME secondary pupils, and asked why DCHS was now the preferred option, having not been suggested in 2016.
  • Cllr Rae stated that DCHS is a specialist, multicultural school, and echoed concerns stated above.
  • A resident stated that DCHS was threatened with closure about 10 years ago, causing much concern for parents of Broughton primary school pupils, and many pupils to be sent to other secondary schools to avoid potential disruption to their secondary education. DCHS has since worked hard to recover, e.g. by providing excellent provision for special needs facilities and teaching of English to speakers of other languages. Her concern is that this would be lost.
  • Other residents stated concern over lack of certainty where secondary (and primary) GME would be provided, noting that there is a lack of qualified GME teachers, and concern that pupils should stay with their friends throughout school.
  • There have been vague suggestions of extending the buildings at DCHS, but extensions would occupy either the car-park or the playground. Hence a resident suggested using the Powderhall site for a new GME school.
  • Cllr Donaldson noted that engagement events are due – dates TBC.

11       AOCB

LCCC’s copy of the current local development plan will be kept by LCCC’s secretary.

12       Future meetings

See agenda