Please note that these are draft – while LCCC’s minutes secretary has tried to ensure they are accurate, they are provided for information only and do not represent LCCC’s decision until ratified (possibly with changes) at a subsequent meeting.
Minutes of the members-only meeting of Leith Central Community Council, held via Zoom on Monday 17 August 2020 at 7:00pm
Actions and decisions are red italic. nem con means that no-one spoke or voted against a decision.
1 Welcome, apologies, minutes
|Jack Caldwell||Y||Y||no meeting||Y|
|Cllr Amy McNeese-Mechan||A|
|Cllr Rob Munn||Y||A||A|
|Cllr Susan Rae||A||Y||Y|
|Cllr Lewis Ritchie|
|Ben Macpherson MSP|
|Deidre Brock MP|
Y = present; y = sent representative, A = not present, sent apology; * = not present, did not send apology
1.a Minutes of previous meeting
These were not considered due to an issue with circulation.
- Action: B Ryan to ensure they are circulated (done 19 August 2020 at 13:13)
2 Update on recent events that led to abandoning public meeting (background)
- The chair noted that this had been a ‘hotly debated issue’. She explained that
- LCCC had planned to hold a public meeting at Out of the Blue. This would enable social distancing etc.
- LCCC had expected a presentation from Drum Properties about Stead’s Place in the August public meeting. It believes that in-person meetings are better than online meetings, due to some people having lack of internet access, some finding online processes too hard, and LCCC believing that ‘proper discussions’ of such complex subjects are impossible online.
- LCCC would have invited up to 50 attendees to register via Eventbrite
- At first this seemed feasible to CEC.
- However, firstly Ben Macpherson MSP objected to such a meetings, then CEC and others concurred with that.
- Hence the public meeting for August was cancelled by LCCC [which then arranged this members-only meeting].
- P Foressier noted that he had agreed with the MSP because this meeting would have discussed a PAN. Such consultations centre on ‘very vague’ drawings, so the public would have been put at risk for little reason. PF suggested that Drum should hold a socially-distanced in-person exhibition, as was done for Drum’s previous Stead’s Place application. He suggested Out of the Blue (OOTB) was not a suitable venue due to lack of ventilation.
2.a EACC paper
- J Tibbitt (also chair of EACC) noted that he agreed with not holding this public meeting due to risk. He supported finding another way of handling this consultation. He noted EACC’s exploration of various ways of meeting: some CCs had very successfully held ‘properly constituted’ meetings online, some using Eventbrite to register attendees. It is possible, despite the difficulties, to meet online, so long as various things are done to ensure smooth running. Hence LCCC should not give up on online meetings.
- JT later noted that EACC is seeking clarity on the validity of decisions made during online CC meetings. CEC’s position seems to be that decisions are valid if taken at ‘properly constituted’ meetingsthat follow the CC scheme.
- H Tobermann responded that some CCs present at the EACC meeting felt that online meetings undermine democracy. Also, the PAN step is the step at which CCs can most influence developments. He had today attended a Planning Advice Service webinar with some other CC representatives: opinion was divided whether online consultations can be successful. If there was a consensus, it was that online can supplement but not replace ‘live’ consultations, which are likely to become collaborative.
- The chair expressed concern for people who do not have adequate (or any) internet access, or suitable devices.
- P Foressier noted his agreement with HT, but reiterated that OOTB is unsuitable.
- HT noted that CEC had advised that CCs could meet in-person, but had not stated a limit on numbers. LCCC had chosen the limit of 50 attendees based on advice for weddings and funerals.
- J Wilkinson noted the paradox that people can now go to pubs and aeroplanes, but not meet as LCCC planned.
- I Mowat noted he supported cancellation of the planned public meeting because it may not be legal. The Scottish Government restrictions do not mention CCs, and weddings restrictions for do not automatically apply to CCs, although it is may be that a presentation by a developer would fit in the ‘live public event’ category. Hence LCCC should ask its MSP to ensure CC meetings are covered by SG restrictions. For now, LCCC should not hold its AGM in September, not least because CEC has now ruled that its CC do not need to hold AGMs in-person and cannot hold them online.
- J Hein suggested thinking serious about holding hybrid meetings. In response to the chair’s concern about financing this, he suggested asking CEC for necessary resources.
- B Ryan recalled LCCC’s experiments with using Twitter to engage digitally during meetings. He suggested that ‘someone’ could observe modern digital channels and feed into/out of the meeting as appropriate. He noted that this would not necessarily be perfect, especially if the feeder wanted to take full part in the meeting. He noted that he had taken part in another CC’s public online meetings. These had worked, partly thanks to good chairing.
- H Tobermann responded sarcastically, drawing attention to the problems with the current meeting.
- The chair noted that she supported looking for solutions.
- J Caldwell noted that one of CEC’s communications had given LCCC incorrect information.He was concerned that LCCC had not had any form of public meeting for 4 months. Hence he suggested that LCCC needs to prioritise working out how to hold public meetings, even if what it does is not ideal.
- J Wilkinson suggested that infection-rates are very low, but that until musical performances are allowed, public meetings cannot be held.
- A Woodgate suggested that LCCC needs to consider pragmatically that it will not be able to meet in-person for some time, and decide how it can handle PANs and other public meetings.
- Later, after the chair dropped out, due to internet failure, she suggested that LCCC needs a protocol for replacement chairs.
Action: I Mowat to write to MSP to make him aware of the discrepancies mentioned above
3 Current version of Annual Report (draft)
The chair noted some highlights of the report:
- LCCC had been unable to meet at Mcdonald Rd library for some months.
- I Mowat noted that LCCC has not yet been charged for its recent use of the library.
- LCCC had reconstituted its committees.
- It had had a lot of work on planning. It is difficult for CCs and communities to fully engage with large planning proposals. However, there have been some successes, and LCCC is ‘minded to’ continue with relevant public meetings.
- LCCC has engaged with the Trams to Newhaven project, not least via successful CCTT/Trams Team meetings.
- She noted the forthcoming long closure of Leith Walk to motor-traffic, and the issues raised by the Spaces for People programme being devised and implemented hastily.
- Action: due to the chair’s drop-out during this discussion, A Woodgate to share with members the version she displayed.
4 Progress of IT/website proposals and Comms Policy
J Caldwell and A Woodgate shared this presentation:
- One of LCCC’s purposes is to represent its community. Hence it needs to engage, and even explain its role to the public.
- It currently has a WordPress website (1681 subscribers), a MailChimp emailing list (147 subscribers), 1181 Twitter followers, 453 Facebook followers, 4 office-bearer email addresses.
- It meets the best practice requirements of a 2014 Scottish CCs review.
- Its current problems include lack of email addresses for all office-bearers, lack of document repository, website’s inability to host video media, low social media engagement due to automated tweets and Facebook posts from the blog, meeting content not being reframed for easy reading, difficulties due to large numbers of personal email addresses being used for LCCC business.
- A possible solution is use of G Suite: Groups for internal communication, Meet for video-conferencing, Drive for hosting and collaboration, Gmail for email hosting, Calendar to publish meeting dates and events.
- Possible costs include enhanced WordPress hosting (£84/year), 6 G Suite licenses (£331/year), totaling £415/year.
- This would include individual email addresses firstname.lastname@example.org, email@example.com, firstname.lastname@example.org,email@example.com, firstname.lastname@example.org, email@example.com; and email-lists firstname.lastname@example.org,email@example.com, firstname.lastname@example.org, email@example.com,firstname.lastname@example.org. All document and email content would be backed up. Redirections would ensure emails to the current LCCC addresses reach the new addresses.
- Future actions considered include redesigning the website, e.g. splitting ‘news’ and ‘meetings’ posts, a new social media strategy and summarisation of minutes
- If LCCC does not undertake the above, inter- and intra-CC comms/engagement will remain suboptimal, there may be GDPR issues, and it will remain difficult to find previous material.
- A Woodgate: we need to invest in digital tools that enable better engagement with our community, that all can use.
- J Hein: if other CCs are doing this, can we ‘buy in bulk’?
- J Caldwell: we’ve not found other CCs doing this. We will continue to investigate.
- I Mowat: isn’t this an annual expense? I am concerned that, even though LCCC has a substantial reserve and hence can afford this for a couple of years, it can only sustain under £300 per year of such expenditure without other cuts.
- A Woodgate: yes – many software houses are doing this. It pays them more, and they update software more often. It may be that LCCC can vary the number of addresses etc it pays for each month.
- J Wilkison: we would need training.
- A Woodgate: we will do this, and record training materials for future reference.
- J Tibbitt: LCCC needs to think about its content and presentation-styles, in view of its [current] lack of audience.
- A Woodgate: agreed – LCCC comms group is already working on this.
- P Foressier: I am not concerned about the costs but I am concerned that ‘more tools = more work/problems’.
- J Caldwell: we are currently using a deprecated email provision, but scaling down the proposal may be possible.
- H Tobermann: LCCC needs an external comms/engagement policy, as well as such technical/internal improvements.
Action: LCCC comms group to share current slides, and further consideration of levels of costs and benefits, with LCCC members
Action: LCCC comms group to develop and share a draft external comms/engagement policy
5 Date and format of next meetings
5.a Proposals on agenda for this meeting
5.a.i 21 September 2020 proposal
Properly constituted public meeting with all appropriate safeguards in place, including controlled access, at an ‘oversized’ venue and subject to the latest public safety advice, with the following provisional agenda items:
- Drum presentation & Q&A
- Ratification of decisions made since March
- Change to polling places
- Planning status schedule
- Draft LCCC response to consultation on Proposed Changes to Pre-Application Consultation Requirements in Planning; pavement parking
- H Tobermann: Ben Macpherson MSP and CEC’s chief executive were asked to clarify how CCs can hold public meetings.
- H Tobermann: the proposal above is to meet in public (possibly at OOTB, possibly at another suitable venue) in September. If it is to meet in public in September, it needs to organise this very soon.
- I Mowat: we need to try arranging a public online meeting because it is not clear that SG regulations will change in time.
- J Tibbitt: I endorse this.
- J Wilkinson: I do not endorse this. I prefer the OOTB-based meeting.
- P Foressier: we should not have an in-person meeting unless it is also hybrid, due to health concerns. A ‘shop-based’ presentation would enable far more people to fully engage with Drum’s presentation than up to 50 at an LCCC meeting.
- J Hein: I concur: I will not attend in-person meetings until circumstances change.
- H Tobermann: I will not attend an online or hybrid meeting about the Drum proposals. We cannot underestimate the [positive] aspects of in-person public meetings – these cannot be replicated in other meeting-styles.
- I would support asking Drum to wait until in-person meetings are possible.
- There was discussion of public-health expertise needed to decide whether/how LCCC might meet publicly in-person.
- H Tobermann: I sympathise with the idea of waiting for a change in regulations, but we will need to decide soon.
- P Foressier: LCCC should try to find a compromise that is generally acceptable to all, without necessarily waiting on CEC for changes in guidance or support for online/hybrid meetings. We should try, accepting that nothing in life is perfect.
- H Tobermann: I would support a ‘shop’ presentation but this would be on Drum’s terms, but we also need to ‘interrogate’ Drum when SG guidance allows this.
- J Caldwell: LCCC should decide now how it will proceed if guidance isn’t changed in time for an in-person meeting. See NTBCC’s discussion of issues at its public online meetings. Also, very few people come to LCCC’s normal meetings. LCCC needs to begin re-engaging with its public, however it can.
- J Tibbett reiterated his points in section 2.1 above, mainly that well-chaired online meetings can be successful.
- C Encombe: I like the ‘shop’ idea. I agree internet connections may be too unstable to enable ‘decent’ meetings. Is it possible for people to submit views on PANs etc on paper?
- A Woodgate: online requires different approaches, depending on what is being covered. Online transactional meetings work very well. Online is not so great for large-scale discussion. For example, it takes longer to get views from all participants than at in-person meetings. Hence more meetings might be needed to cover the full range of topics. Given the right approach, online meetings can be effective.
- P Foressier: the onus should be on Drum to arrange an exhibition, similar to the online one already held.
- A Woodgate: that worked well for Drum – no-one engaged and hence held them to account.
- P Foressier: if LCCC office bearers chair such a meeting, then Drum can be held to account. However, Drum should provide the technical infrastructure to enable this to succeed – it has sufficient resources but CCs do not.
- A Woodgate: online engagement with Drum has been along the lines of ‘Drum will do whatever it wants to do’.
- P Foressier: a Facebook Live event might well draw more people than an LCCC Zoom online meeting. This would be preceded by people being able to examine full-size drawings in the proposed ‘shop’, to prompt deep questions.
- H Tobermann: such a potential solution should be drafted and shared with Drum.
- H Tobermann: I summarise this discussion as a significant number of people are concerned about physical meetings. Others are willing to wait a bit longer to see if a physical meeting is possible on 21 September. The Facebook idea is potentially successful but has not yet been tried by LCCC. (There are technical risks.) Hence it would be optimal if Drum is willing to engage via all such channels: shop/exhibition, Facebook, in-person meeting when SG regulations allow.
- Action: A Woodgate to draft options, consult with comms group, then share updated draft with LCCC members.
- See AW’s draft, including pros and cons, here.
5.a.iii AGM proposal
Date, format (formal, speaker or workshop; archaeologist) and safeguards as in (5a) above and the following provisional agenda items:
- debate and adopt Comms Policy
- agree future meeting dates including option of4 special sessions a year where ward councillors can report on their activities in the previous 12 months
- sign off accounts
- elect office bearers
- H Tobermann: it would be very difficult to include this in the September meeting.
- I Mowat: I concur – we do not need to hold the AGM until later. Government guidance may enable an [in-person] AGM. Unless guidance changes soon, the September meeting needs to be online.
- Chair: who would attend an in-person meeting, for the record?
- I Mowat: I would not unless guidance changes
- P Foressier: as I Mowat
- J Tibbitt: I would not
- B Ryan: I would not. If an in-person meeting happens, and I am to minute it, can someone record it?
- (NB B Ryan later apologised for the somewhat grumpy way he expressed himself.)
- J Hein: I would not, even if the regulations changed.
- H Tobermann: I would attend unless there was a physical danger
- A Woodgate: I would attend, especially if support for a hybrid event was needed.
- C Encombe: I’d be happy to attend.
- J Wilkinson: I’ll go.
- J Caldwell: I would not, except to set up cameras in advance. Then I would attend online.
- S Kennedy: I would go if the SG guidance changes.
- H Tobermann: so most members would attend if the regulations change. So LCCC needs to decide how long to wait before deciding how to meet, and time is getting short. Hence it needs to decide on or before 28 August. It is decided that the AGM will not be in September.
6 Other business
6.a LCCC Secretary best wishes and temporary communications redirect
- It was noted that LCCC’s secretary is currently in hospital – but is still attending this meeting! Members wished her well.
- Action: secretary to forward urgent communications to other office bearers for decision on how to proceed, and to forward other communications to A Woodgate for advertising etc. (This decision to be reviewed in ~2 days.)
6.b Tramways Bowling Green
- H Tobermann noted that this green (off Rosslyn Crescent) is for sale from Lothian Buses. A community group wishes to buy it and make it into a community garden.
- Decision: LCCC supports this in principle
- Action: LCCC to advertise a relevant petition on its website, but make it clear that it currently has a neutral position.
- H Tobermann noted that Waverley station is outwith LCCC’s area, but major works would impact LCCC.
- J Wilkinson stated that he had found the drawings to be ‘awful’, giving him no idea of what is proposed.
6.d Other points
- H Tobermann noted that there appears to be more pavement parking than normal – hence the photo in the agenda.
- C Encombe: has the planning committee responded to a concern about too much traffic near a school?
- H Tobermann: this might be handled via the Spaces for People process. Action: chair to forward details to Cllr Rae
- P Foressier: a resident has asked PF about possible vibration-damage to his property on Leith Walk that might be caused by tram-works. How might he engage with CCs about this?
- H Tobermann: The CEC Trams Team (TT) has promised to engage with this resident about potential technical solutions, but this has not yet happened. CCTT has asked TT about this issue. TT has hired a second relevant expert.