General Election Hustings – your candidates, your vote

The General Election, to elect MPs to Westminster, will take place on July 4 2024.

Voting

Are you sure you are registered to vote at your current address? (You MUST register by midnight on 18th June.) Do you know that you now need to produce photo ID, in order to vote? Do you need a postal vote, if you may be away from home on the election date? Check out this page of vital info and links to make sure you are election-ready! https://www.gov.uk/how-to-vote

What constituency am I in?

If you are not sure, you can find out by putting your postcode in, on this website: https://members.parliament.uk/constituencies

Hustings

A hustings is “a meeting where election candidates or parties debate policies and answer questions from the audience.” It provides voters with an opportunity to hear the views of candidates or parties. Hustings are generally open to anyone who wishes to attend. Some like to have questions written in advance, others allow questions from the floor, many have both.

Edinburgh North and Leith

If you are in Edinburgh North and Leith constituency, you can go to hear what your candidates have to say on Monday 24rth June, at Broughton St Mary’s Church, 12 Bellevue Cres, Edinburgh EH3 6NE, 7:30 – 9:30pm

Organised by the Broughton Spurtle. Read more and send advance questions to: https://broughtonspurtle.org.uk/news/general-election-send-us-your-questions

 

 

Edinburgh East and Musselburgh

If you are at the eastern end of the Leith Links area, you may be ‘over the border’ and in the Edinburgh East and Musselburgh constituency. If so, we have so far heard about two possible hustings:

25th June  – 2pm at Southside Community Centre,  117 Nicolson Street,EH8 9ER

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And another one on Monday 24 June, 7:30pm

Portobello Community Council and Northfield & Willowbrae Community Council are pleased to run a hustings for this year’s General Election.

The hustings will take place on Monday 24th June at 7.30pm at Portobello Town Hall. Please submit advance questions to secretary@portobellocc.org before Midnight 22nd June. There will also be opportunity to ask questions on the night.

The candidates for 2024 (in alphabetical surname order) are:

Charles DUNDAS (Liberal Democrats)

Jane MacKenzie GOULD (Independent)

Amanda GRIMM (Scottish Green Party)

Marie-Clair MUNRO (Conservative and Unionist Party)

Chris MURRAY (Scottish Labour Party)

Tommy SHEPPARD (Scottish National Party)

Derek WINTON (Reform UK)

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More hustings may be announced, in due course. There are some ‘special interest’ hustings as well as constituency based ones. See for example:

Surfers Against Sewage 18th June
https://www.sas.org.uk/water-quality/election-hub/election-road-trip/

Human Rights Hustings (Health & Social Care Alliance) online
https://www.alliance-scotland.org.uk/blog/events/general-election-2024-human-rights-hustings/

AGM and Next Meeting, Leith Links Community Council, 24 June 2024

The next meeting of the Leith Links Community Council will be held on Monday 24 June at 6:30pm. This meeting will be ‘live’, in-person, and will take place at Duncan Place centre (4 Duncan Place).

The first part of the meeting will consist of the AGM, followed by a short ‘ordinary’ meeting.

Minutes of 2023 AGM (draft until adopted), and 2024 AGM Agenda are here.
The Annual Report 2024 from Chair, Secretary & Treasurer is also available, here.

The Minutes of the recent May 2024 meeting, are here, and the Agenda for the 24 June 2024 ‘ordinary’ meeting, is here.

Members of the local community are welcome but, sadly, space is very limited in this venue, so please be sure to contact us in advance if you would like to come along. Please email contact@leithlinkscc.org.uk if possible, well BEFORE 24 June.

We will also set up an online link so that people can attend the meeting remotely. Email contact@leithlinkscc.org.uk and you will be sent the link nearer the time. Warning – the quality for listeners will not be particularly good, as we only have a standard laptop and no special broadcasting equipment, but you should be able to ask a questions/make a point via the zoom host.

Does Leith Links really need more hotel rooms, and why are local hotels doubling in size?

Planning matters

Below is a brief summary of an issue that is of serious concern in our area. You can click through to read the article in full, and please feed back any views and comments that you may have, either via the Comments facility below, or via contact@leithlinkscc.org.uk

Does Leith Links really need more hotel rooms, and why are local hotels doubling in size?

A particular issue is arising repeatedly these days – that is, hotels around Leith Links are applying for – and usually getting – permission to double their capacity.

The Council has announced a ‘Housing Emergency’. But no recent planning applications in our area have been for actual homes. Most of the recent planning proposals concern changes to existing buildings especially those used as hotels/guest houses/HMOs (Houses in Multiple Occupation).

This is significantly changing the ‘mix’ of population in the area. A series of applications have come forward for hotel/guest house premises around Leith Links to greatly expand their capacity – potentially doubling in capacity – through extensions to the premises. The References section in the full article highlights Street, Links Gardens and Johns Place

So – is it just being ‘NIMBY’ for locals to object? After all, Edinburgh is a tourist city, and Leith is a great place, so Leith should welcome more visitors to spend money in the local bars and restaurants, right?

But looking closer, these are not proposals driven by tourist demand/money. The local hotels and guest houses seeking expansion in recent years are operating in the City of Edinburgh Council’s created market of supplying so-called ‘bed and breakfast’ or temporary accommodation for homeless people.

We need homes, not ‘hotel’ rooms
Edinburgh does indeed face serious challenges of supply and affordability of housing. But as demand increases, the only things that seem to be increasing in supply are purpose-built student accommodation and hotels of various kinds. Our city needs homes, not hotel rooms. In February, the Council said that of the c.5,000 homeless households, 1,203 households were being put up in bed and breakfast accommodation (usually unsatisfactory, especially for families) across the city. But at the same time, it also had more than1,500 Council-owned properties sitting empty – so-called ‘voids’ – needing repairs to bring them back into use. So, properties owned by the Council are empty, whilst the Council is paying literally millions of pounds to owners of bed and breakfasts/hotels. Is this good housing management – to own empty properties but pay for hotel rooms?

The average cost of providing temporary accommodation was £12,416 per annum per household which if multiplied by 4920 households is £61m per annum. Proprieters who specialise in providing accommodation to the Council can earn at least £12k per annum per room in one of their guest houses for someone who might, on average, stay 2 years. Mostly the accommodation has not even been vetted nor evaluated for value for money, as Councillors regularly approve ‘waivers’ from the obligation to put out to competitive tender. The ‘hotel’ proprietors are laughing all the way to the bank.

A bad situation
This situation is bad for the people being housed by the Council in unsatisfactory temporary accommodation for far too long. It’s bad for everyone who needs help with housing, especially social housing, as too many properties in this city lie empty and too much money is being spent on hotels and unsatisfactory accommodation. It’s bad for council tax payers who would prefer to see £61m per annum spent much more effectively. And it’s bad for the Leith Links area, where we are seeing a slow but steady creep of expanding hotels and guest houses – including some that take formerly residential premises that are entirely aimed at providing accommodation for homeless people, that may be poor quality for unfortunate resident, but highly profitable for the proprietor….

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Click here to see the full article

Click here to download the full article (pdf)

 

Your Community Council needs YOU!

The Annual General Meeting of Leith Links Community Council is coming up, on 24 June, and a full scale Community Council election will be coming up later this year.  Our minds are turning to the future – we urgently need a few new people to join us, to ensure the  future of the Community Council, to represent local residents and businesses in this area. Please think about whether you might be able to come to a monthly meeting, and spend a few hours working on issues of local importance?

     

Call for urgent action – local building at risk of collapse

Responding to local residents’ concerns about their safety, the Chair of Leith Links Community Council (LLCC) has called on City of Edinburgh Council urgently to use its extensive powers to protect the public by requiring the owner of a building at risk of collapse in John’s Lane to make it safe and repair it.

22 John’s Lane is a listed Georgian warehouse which has been neglected for many years. It has been on the Historic Environment Scotland ‘Buildings at Risk Register’ since 1991, though pictures there show it had a roof at that time which is now long gone. See  22, John’s Lane, Leith | Buildings at Risk Register

The outer wall facing John’s Lane is now leaning dangerously and at over 3 storeys high, with obviously eroded mortar, a high wind could cause a collapse. Any falling masonry could cause damage or injury to passers by in this narrow lane, off Queen Charlotte Street. In addition to providing rear access to a number of homes and businesses, John’s Lane is used by a local garage business and their customers.

Clearly the owner of the building is responsible, but the Council has strong powers to act to prevent any accidents from the obvious neglect of this structure. It can issue a Dangerous Building Notice which is used by Local Authorities to protect the public when it appears that the building owner has failed to prevent the building from falling into a dangerous condition. The notice is served to require a building owner to reduce or remove the danger posed by a building.

A Dangerous Building Notice requires the owner “to make safe or demolish a building that poses a threat to public safety. Repair Notices can be served on both listed and unlisted properties, and specify those works considered reasonable and necessary for the preservation of a building, along with a timescale within which these works should be completed. Failure to comply within the specified deadline may result in works being undertaken by the local planning authority, and a charge being made to the owner(s).

The Council can also issue an Urgent Works Notice on vacant listed properties, to allow the local planning authority to undertake emergency works such as the erection of supportive scaffolding or temporary roof structures.

Leith Links Community Council reports acute concern

LLCC Chair, Jim Scanlon, said ‘I feel this is a very urgent issue because of the risks to life that the condition of the building currently represents.’

You can read the full letter sent by the LLCC Chair to the Council here [link]

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If you are concerned about a dangerous structure and don’t know who owns it, you can contact the City of Edinburgh Council Shared Repairs Service who have the responsibility for this type of issue.  Further information can be found here Unsafe buildings and emergency repairs – The City of Edinburgh Council
The email address is esrs@edinburgh.gov.uk. ‘

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New murals on Constitution Street? What do you think of the designs?

The Trams to Newhaven team is proposing to fund and install a series of 4 new mural panels along the recently rebuilt outer wall of South Leith Parish Church cemetary, at the top of Constitution Street. (The 5 old ones were removed when the original wall came down, and are not in a good enough condition to be replaced.)

So far so good. But the actual designs that are being proposed have not impressed (indeed rather horrified) some local people, for example –

The Tram Team says it consulted on new designs with some members of the church congregation, although we have so far been unable to find anyone that was consulted – were you? There is certainly no evidence of any wider community engagement – which would have been appropriate since the wall is public-facing to the roadway, not inward facing to the church. Perhaps people more widely should have a say in what replaces the former mural boards which included historical information about Leith, the layout of the area in 1770s, and a reference to the shipping/port/trading heritage of Leith.

The murals designer has now submitted an application for Listed Building Consent. Would you like to have a look, and submit your views? Please note that the deadline for lodging any comments – in support, or objecting – is Friday 24th May 2024.

How to view and comment on the application

The reference number for the application is 24/01951/LBC  and the planning address used is 1 Kirkgate (so a search for Constitution Street won’t find it). Here is a direct link to the application page. 24/01951/LBC | Aim to replace four of the five previously removal wooden artwork / interpretation panels that had deteriorated beyond repair 

The key document which shows images of the proposed murals is Document 4 ‘Planning Statement’ which you can reach through the ‘Documents’ tab via the link above, or download directly by copying and pasting the URL below into your browser. (Don’t just click on this link and expect a web page to appear, it may say, misleadingly, that it’s unavailable).

https://citydev-portal.edinburgh.gov.uk/idoxpa-web/files/C7CB192AE18326E31FD10152C1BE12E9/pdf/24_01951_LBC-PLANNING_STATEMENT-6268735.pdf

The application is made by a company called ‘Tactical Media’ based in Glasgow who are submitting it as part of Trams to Newhaven Project Support for Businesses Package.

Please take this last minute chance to have your say!

Next meeting of Leith Links Community Council, Monday 27 May, 6:30pm, in-person Duncan Place

The next meeting of the Leith Links Community Council will be held on Monday 27 May in-person at Duncan Place at 6:30pm.

Agenda May 2024.

Minutes of previous meeting available here.

April Community Police Report here.

The meeting is held in public, to allow interested local residents to participate, as well as members of the CC. Please email contact@leithlinkscc.org.uk if you wish to attend. There may not be an online option this month, sorry.

N.B. This is NOT the AGM meeting, the AGM will be held next month, on 24 June 2024.

Archeology tests on the Links

Please be aware that there will be people working on site at the bowling greens at Leith Links this Thursday 9th May.  In case you are wondering – and to combat any possible misinformation – these are workers from AOC Archaeology Group who have been officially contracted to carry out archaeological tests at the site. This is part of the development work and site scoping for the proposed Activity Hub project (part of the Leith Links MasterPlan).

Hello Sun! ……Hello Stench?

As the weather warms and softens a little, local people will have noticed the return of our old friend(?),  the disgusting ‘Seafield Stench’.

Despite the assurances of the sewage plant operator Veolia, that the weather and the smells are not connected, we have all noticed that the Stench seems to descend on sunny days, just to try us. Report smells here!

Same campaign success, some progress?

Although it is a long-running saga, local people may remember that our years of campaigning DID get the Scottish Government to commit funding-

  1.  – to build a £100,000 million state-of-the-art new Sewage Plant, starting in 2029 when the current private finance agreement with Veolia comes to an end, and
  2.  – in the meantime, to spend £10 million on improvements to the existing plant, aimed at reducing odour problems.

These improvements are, sadly, still at the procurement stage, and they are not expected to ‘break ground’ until early 2025. Though they may well improve things longer term, it’s possible that there will be more, rather than fewer, stink incidents next year, as the work disrupts the normal running of the plant. So it’s important to keep them on their toes!

Reporting Portal Working again, please report!

Those in authority have openly admitted that our reporting facility (see on this page), which so many of you used to great effect, was a huge factor in getting the Government to commit to spending on Seafield. Unfortunately, for the past few months it hasn’t been working properly due to technical glitches

However, we have got the report form system working again and some of you have already been using it to complain about our recent, treasured sunny days becoming stinky days.

So please take the few moments needed to report every time you smell sewage from Seafield. Your reports go to every official who has anything to do with Seafield Waste Water Treatment facility, right up to the Scottish Government Minister, who gets every email!

It worked the last time, let’s keep the pressure up!

Report smells here! leithlinkscc.org.uk/seafieldnuisancereportform

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