ParkLife Project: Leith Links update

An update on the Edinburgh ParkLife project in relation to Leith Links…

Introduction

Parks are vibrant public spaces that are important for local communities as places to exercise, relax, play and appreciate nature. The ParkLife project, a partnership between the University of Edinburgh and the City of Edinburgh Council, is exploring how technology can help gather more information about how parks are being used and enjoyed – by wildlife and people – to help those who manage and care for them.

The project ran four community meetings across Edinburgh, including one in Leith organised by Leith Links Community Council, to find out what members of the community want to see improved in their park, what the main challenges are, and which areas are the most/least used in their park. Taking this forward, we then asked them to think about the role that technology might play in all these issues.

Leith Links

Our Leith workshop took place at the beginning of April, was hosted by the Leith Links Community Council in Leith Community Centre and was attended by fifteen Leithers. We divided the attendees into three groups and seated them around an enormous map of Leith Links. We were also lucky to have Scott Thomson in attendance – Scott is the Park Officer for Leith Links.

We then asked them to quickly list everything happening in the Links and to mark their location with a coloured dot on the map. Green dots represent the most used areas, red dots mark areas of conflict and yellow dots specify areas for potential opportunities. As you can see in the photos, the attendees identified up to twenty areas, with the space around the playground being the most colourful on all three maps.

After this exercise, everyone came together to walk around each table to discuss the outcomes. The sorts of issues raised included dog owners using designated play areas and the football pitches; the lack of seating in the playground; and whether it was fair for military fitness groups to use the Links without contributing towards its upkeep. There were lots of opportunities to improve the park: planting a community garden and the improvement of the allotments; the need for better cycle path connections; the restoration of the bowling greens; and a wish for an ice-cream stand, to name a few.

For our last activity, we asked the attendees to narrow down their thoughts to name ONE opportunity to be created or ONE challenge to be solved. They produced the following list:

1. Using social media to canvass views on how the bowling green can be restored.

2. Improving the infrastructure of the non-sporting spaces e.g. picnics or BBQs.

3. Surveying how many people use the park and what people are doing in different areas.

Understandably, funding was the single most important obstacle mentioned by the attendees. The ParkLife team will be to take this list and see how using technology can help. This technology won’t replace getting out Leith Links and speaking to more people. Amongst other things, it is hoped that new information will provide more evidence to make the case for more funding for Leith Links.

The workshops were our first steps to talk with the local communities around Leith Links and other areas across Edinburgh. They reinforced how vibrant and integral these public spaces are for those who use and live near them. We look forward to working with the communities and seeing how parks across Edinburgh bloom over Spring and Summer.

We would like to thank all the participants who attended our workshops and shared their insights. If you want to find out more about ParkLife then you can contact us at parklife@ed.ac.uk or visit our website https://www.edinburghlivinglab.org/projects/parklife

Community Councils Together on Trams: Minutes of meeting held on Thursday 21 February 2019

Leith Links Community Council is a member of ‘Community Councils Together on Trams’ alongside Leith Central Community CouncilLeith Harbour & Newhaven Community Council and New Town & Broughton Community Council. CCTT is the coalition of Community Councils who meet regularly to discuss, scrutinise and influence the intended continuation of the Edinburgh Tram system to Newhaven.

 

Abbreviations

BAFO = best and final offer LLCC = Leith Links Community Council
CCTT = Community Councils Together on Trams LW = Leith Walk
CEC = City of Edinburgh Council NTBCC = New Town & Broughton Community Council
CPZ = controlled parking zone OBC = outline business case
CS = Constitution St POLHA = Port of Leith Housing Association
ECI = early contractor involvement SPC = swept-path contract
EIA = environmental impact assessment TAPOG = CEC’s tram all-party oversight group
FBC = full business case TfE = Transport for Edinburgh
ISC = infrastructure and systems contract TN = Trams to Newhaven project
LCCC = Leith Central Community Council TRO = traffic regulation order
LHNCC = Leith Harbour & Newhaven Community Council TT = trams team

TAPOG is CEC’s leader and vice-leader, CEC’s transport convenor and vice-convenor, and transport spokespersons from each party

1 Welcome, introductions

1.a Attendance

Charlotte Encombe CCTT/LCCC Rob Levick CCTT/LHNCC Harald Tobermann CCTT/LCCC
Angus Hardie CCTT/LL CC Jennifer Marlborough CCTT/LHNCC Bruce Ryan CCTT minutes secretary
Allan Jack CCTTNTBCC Andrew Mackenzie CCTT/LLCC Darren Wraight TT/CEC
Rob Leech TT/TN project Carol Nimmo CCTT/NTBCC

1.b Apologies

None

2 Update from TT

Rob Leech outlined the next steps for the final business case (FBC), and the main points of its contents.

2.a Next steps

The FBC is on (post-BAFO) schedule. It goes to

  • CEC’s transport and environment committee on 29 February
  • CEC’s finance and resources TEC committee on 7 March, to consider procurement and contracts
  • Full council on 14 March.

2.b Contents

Minuter’s note: subjunctive (‘would’, ‘should’) is used where relevant because many things will only happen if CEC approves the FBC.

2.b.1 Background

  • This project is about completion of phase 1a of the original tram scheme.
    • This should have been completed years ago, i.e. along with the existing line from the airport to York Place.
  • The existing line is performing ‘extremely well’, e.g. 7m passengers in 2018.

2.b.2 Contents

  • The FBC has been updated (from the outline business case [OBC]) to take account of tendered prices, inflation, design-changes (resulting from consultations) and the ‘support for business’ package.
  • The FBC has a section on lessons learned from building the existing line. This includes information on retaining knowledge from that project .
  • It has been prepared in accordance with Scottish Government and UK Government guidelines.
  • It contains much on the strategic case, i.e. reasons for building this extension.
    • Edinburgh’s population is set to grow by 20% by 2039.
    • Employment will also grow by 7% by 2022.
    • There is low car-ownership in the Leith area and the Leith Walk corridor.
    • CEC wishes less car-ownership/more sustainable transport, i.e. shift from private motor vehicles to public transport.
    • There is very high population on the corridor where this extension would run.
    • There is content on connectivity between employment centres, and employment during and after construction.
    • There is content on sustainable development at the waterfront.
      • Good public transport enables reduced car-dependency in such areas, hence enabling different life-choices.
      • That is, it allows people to live near their work; it reduces need for commuting and urban sprawl.
      • This would lead to improved air-quality in the tram corridor.
    • The extension would enhance Leith and Newhaven as destinations.
    • Hence chapter 3 (the strategic case) covers how this project would
      • follow UK treasury guidance (the ‘green book’), and CEC policies and strategies, e.g. local development plan
      • link 3 out of four economic centres in Edinburgh: airport/international business gateway/Edinburgh park; city centre; Leith waterfront. (Tram would not serve the SE quarter economic centre.)
    • Overall, the FBC presents tram as an enabler for growth that would not occur without it.
  • Concerning the economic case:
    • The capital cost is set to be £196m. (It was £165m in the OBC.)
      • This allows for risk, using a quantitative analysis using ‘green book’ methods.
      • It includes an amount for contractor-pricing. This was initiated by the collapse of Carillion, leading to contractors undertaking much more due diligence when tendering.
      • It also includes inflation and design-changes.
      • It also includes the ‘support for business’ package.
      • There will also be two contracts, hence increased contract-management overheads. (Management will be by a blended team, including a delivery unit containing experienced light-rail consultants, and senior CEC officials such as D Wraight. At peak, there will be around 30 CEC managers in this project.)
      • Early contractor involvement (ECI) adds some management overheads, and adds 6 months to the programme.
    • In addition to the £196m, £10m has been added for optimism bias (OB), following government guidance.
      • This takes the total cost to £207·3m, giving a benefit to cost ratio of 1·4:1. (In public transport schemes, this ration is expected to be between 1·2: 1 and 2:1, because public transport has quite high construction and operational/maintenance costs. The OBC had 1·64, but the majority of the change here is due to changed government guidance on costing time.)
      • At the start of a process (before design starts), the ‘green book’ mandates a large OB (66%). However, there is then a sliding scale based on Network Rail’s GRIP design process. This scale moves from optimism bias to quantitative risk analysis (QRA). SO FBCs should be base costs + an amount from QRA. (Economic cases should include OB, but the guidelines are ambiguous about inclusion of OB in financial cases. TT has assumed 6% OB. The OBC had 20% OB in its economic case, but not in its financial case.)
      • Also, professor Bent Flyvbjerg and colleagues have an alternative method for calculating risk, based on an ‘outsider’ view using information from similar projects about projected and actual costs. (The UK and Scottish Governments do not currently accept this method.) Flyvbjerg and colleagues calculated this project’s capital cost as £257m, not £207m. However, they recognise that the project is very advanced from the initial design stage, that some utilities have already been moved, and that this project is an extension of an existing line, not de novo. These could reduce the overall cost but such reductions are not part of their model.
      • Hence £50m (£257m – £207m) has been earmarked as a contingency to be managed by CEC’s head of finance and a finance and risk subcommittee (reporting to the project board).
      • The impact of such drawdown would increase the 2024-27 borrowing from £1·9m to £14·8m. This level of borrowing would be repaid by 2037.
      • The FBC hence considers mitigation, e.g. borrowing at less than 4·1%, moving away from parity of fares between bus and tram, and optimising tram maintenance and infrastructure costs.
    • The economic case is also based on patronage forecasts of 15·7m in 2023 (first year of operation).
      • This comes from high population densities and increased development on the corridor, e.g. Cala development.
      • Increased patronage would come from bus and car, i.e. people would use trams rather than buses.
      • Suitable wording in the FBC has been agreed with Lothian Buses (LB), recognising that this project is part of an integrated public transport framework. This section also covers what LB needs to remain robust during and after construction. These include clear radial routes into the city, e.g. double-red lines at the Roseburn shops. Hence LB wants CEC to enforce route-clarity more strongly than is done today.
      • (C Encombe suggested that implementation of a CPZ in LCCC’s area would help enhance route-clarity.)
      • (H Tobermann suggested that historically CEC has not enforced well in the past, and questioned why LB has not asked for route-clarity enforcement previously.)
    • This extension was always the part that would make Edinburgh trams financially positive.
    • There are also anticipated wider benefits, which may add between 15 and 40% to the economic case. (There is no agreed method for assessing their financial value, so they have not been monetised in the FBC.)
      • These benefits include employment opportunities, connectivity (agglomeration of businesses), linking brownfield sites with other economic centres to provide more opportunities, higher population densities.
  • The financial case centres on future tram revenues, but also relies on £20m dividend over 11 years from Lothian buses.
    • LB already pays a dividend to CEC.
    • In early years during construction, there is drawdown of money, but no revenue [from ticket sales].
    • There would be a cashflow-issue (2024 to 2027) of £1·9m. This would come from CEC’s reserves. Later, revenues should grow, enabling replenishment of CEC’s reserves.
    • This use of reserves would cause an opportunity cost. (Examination of this was inspired by the Hardie enquiry.)
    • The extension would give Edinburgh £395m economic benefit (net present value) over 60 years.
      • The FBC includes downward sensitivity-testing, around patronage and cost of borrowing. This assumes 4·1% interest, but CEC can borrow more cheaply than that. It also assumes no loss of revenue from stoppage.
  • The FBC also includes a commercial case.
    • This covers ECI and contract-conclusion.
  • The FBC also includes a management case.
    • This covers how the project will be implemented, e.g. heritage and archaeology work, large work-sites, no double-digging, support for businesses, governance.
    • There is also a section on supplementary projects. It has been agreed that CEC would fund these (e.g. from its active travel and capital roads budgets) in parallel with the tram-work. However, these are outwith the tram-project’s limit of deviation and are hence not part of the FBC. It is very likely that TT will deliver these supplementary projects.
      • The supplementary projects do not include integrated ticketing.

2.b.3 Q&A

Minuter’s note: the information in some answers has been included at relevant points in the above, so is not repeated here.

  • The cost of the completion phase is ¼ of the cost of the initial phase because the initial phase is ‘extraordinarily expensive’. Building from lessons learnt from the original tram project, firstly the contracts for this project use NEC industry standards. (The contracts for the original project were bespoke.) This form of contract mandates that contractors cannot stop work if there are (contractual) issues, and that contractors will continue to be paid.
    • Secondly there are large work sites, so contractors can (and are contractually required to) continue work in other, non-problematic areas while problems are being resolved.
    • Thirdly, excavations for utility-diversions would not be covered over, and then re-dug to enable construction. Instead, a swept-path process would be used: excavations would be dug, utilities diverted, then construction would occur. Because there would be several stretches of work using this method, if a problem occurs in any area, work can continue in other (parts of) stretches while problems are being resolved.
  • The contracts now use the NEC4 standard, rather than NEC3. The main difference is that NEC4 mandates a project bank account from which main subcontractors are paid directly. Hence, should the main contractor become insolvent, the main subcontractors would continue to be paid. This would also enable ECI.
  • There are two incentive mechanisms in the contracts:
    • During ECI, there is an incentive mechanism to reduce costs: this would benefit both the contractors and CEC.
    • Once construction starts, a ‘pain-gain’ mechanism would start on the Infrastructure & Systems Contract. That is, should costs exceed the target price, CEC would share the costs 50/50 with the contractor up to a threshold of 120% of the target price, thereafter the risk is with the contractor for all the main civil engineering works. Should costs be less than the target price, CEC and the contractor would receive equal shares of such savings. Hence th contractor would have a ‘massive’ incentive to deliver for less than the target price.
    • However, there is no incentive to cut corners. While the contractors are self-certifying. CEC’s technical services (provided by Atkins) will check contractors’ designs as they arrive. Similarly, TT will employ 3 quality-control inspectors (1 during ECI). Their sole responsibility is to be on site all through the work, checking that everything is as per the designs. TT will also inspect the inspections.
  • Price-increases were partly cause by market price-testing. (R Leech is not privy to the actual contractors’ costs for each part of the design.) However, it is very likely that risk has been priced into the costs. There were risk-costs in the OBC’s £165m costs.
    • H Tobermann stated that the construction cost has increased more from the OBC cost than he would expect.
    • R Leech responded that probably as a result of Carillion’s collapse, contractors took a more diligent approach to tendering. RL believes this is a positive step because it means prices are realistic, and contractors really understand what they are taking on. (Too often, they haven’t known, so ‘disasters’ happen during work.) ECI also adds to this positive effect.
  • TT has closely followed the evidence presented to the Hardie enquiry. It has also undertaken its own ‘lessons learnt’ process, based on knowledge from people who were involved in the original work.
    • It was suggested that the people available to this process were only involved in ‘rescuing’ the original project, so they know what went wrong but not what caused this. However, RL stated that people with knowledge of the original project, pre-mediation, are available to advise the project. Physical work would start before the end of 2019. However, ECI work will start before this, leading to some minor road-works and accompanying traffic-management. An outline of the main works is on the TT website.
  • The principles for landscaping designs have been created but detailed designs for areas such as Elm Row have yet to be finalised. This will specify details of trees etc.
  • It needs to be decided whether and how these CCTT/TT meetings will continue. However, RL believes that they have been beneficial. D Wraight stated that other groups have asked how they can be involved in these meetings.
    • H Tobermann suggested that further meetings should cover the timetable and [CCTT’s list of] supplementary projects.
  • Much documentation is being published along with the FBC. Stakeholders will be emailed when the FBC and accompanying documents are published, giving links to them.

Community Councils Together on Trams: Minutes of meeting held on Thursday 30 January 2019

Leith Links Community Council is a member of ‘Community Councils Together on Trams’ alongside Leith Central Community CouncilLeith Harbour & Newhaven Community Council and New Town & Broughton Community Council. CCTT is the coalition of Community Councils who meet regularly to discuss, scrutinise and influence the intended continuation of the Edinburgh Tram system to Newhaven.


Abbreviations

BAFO = best and final offer LW = Leith Walk
CCTT = Community Councils Together on Trams NTBCC = New Town & Broughton Community Council
CEC = City of Edinburgh Council OBC = outline business case
CPZ = controlled parking zone POLHA = Port of Leith Housing Association
CS = Constitution St SPC = swept-path contract
ECI = early contractor involvement TAPOG = CEC’s tram all-party oversight group
EIA = environmental impact assessment TfE = Transport for Edinburgh
FBC = full business case TMRP = Traffic Management Review Panel
ISC = infrastructure and systems contract TN = Trams to Newhaven project
LCCC = Leith Central Community Council TRO = traffic regulation order
LHNCC = Leith Harbour & Newhaven Community Council TT = trams team
LLCC = Leith Links Community Council

TAPOG is CEC’s leader and vice-leader, CEC’s transport convenor and vice-convenor, and transport spokespersons from each party

1 Welcome, introductions

Attendance Apologies
Charlotte Encombe CCTT/LCCC Jennifer Marlborough CCTT/LHNCC Harald Tobermann CCTT/LCCC
Rob Leech TT/TN project Andrew Mackenzie CCTT/LL CC
Rob Levick CCTT/LHNCC Bruce Ryan CCTT minutes secretary
Angus Hardie CCTT/LL CC Darren Wraight TT/CEC

2 Update from TT

2.a Summary of current status

D Wraight noted

  • TT is still on target for its programme, so no amendments are needed to a programme document circulated by HT.
  • TT is building up to Transport & Environment Committee meeting on 28 Feb, and to full Council on 14 March .
  • They still need to complete political briefings, and open a data room for CEC members to scrutinise the business case.

Action CE to forward most recent programme document to BMR.

2.b Supplementary projects

2.b.1 Foot of the Walk to Ocean Terminal options appraisal around active travel

  • Stakeholders convened before Christmas
    • These include active travel groups, POLHA, local elected members and C Encombe as CCTT representative
    • The objective of this meeting was to set key objectives for the appraisal. One of these is affordability criteria.
    • Action: D Wraight to supply agreed key objectivesinfo [AECOM’s slides) to BMR and other CCTT members
      • NB this is not for publication, simply because it is not TT/DW’s document, but the information can be used.
  • Stakeholders reconvened on 14 January with AECOM to consider strategic corridors in this area.
    • Initial suggestions were derived by AECOM from the local development plan, active travel plans, key locations, trip generators etc. Then a workshop considered whether AECOM’s suggestions were correct. (They were.)
    • The strategic corridors are Constitution St, Newkirkgate to Kirkgate, Henderson St, Great Junction St, and east-west routes (Salamander St, Ocean Drive)
    • Then local links into these strategic corridors were considered. Many such links are already on the active travel plan.
    • Debate focussed on Leith Links’ connections with the corridors.
    • POLHA’s input about their properties was useful in this discussion, e.g. to consider use of Links Lane by children
  • Now AECOM will collate information and score each corridor and link against the key objectives.
  • They will report within 6 weeks of 14 January.
  • Then there will be a further discussion, then a public consultation. The format of the consultation depends on the outcomes of preceding steps.
  • AECOM will also provide high-level figures (presumably costs) for the full council meeting in March.
  • However, the other steps, including the consultation, will not be complete until May 2019. At this point, there will be a fully costed and consulted design for this region. It will then be CEC’s decision whether to proceed with construction.
  • This appraisal process has been funded by Sustrans.
  • CEC has not yet funded any construction that might stem from this appraisal process.
    • Sustrans has offered 50% match-funding.
    • Other funding arrangements are also being discussed with Sustrans.

It was noted that C Encombe and/or A Hardie may be CCTT’s representative in relevant fora, and that AECOM might also present to CCTT. There was then a discussion of where is and isn’t cycle-friendly in the area.

2.b.2 Duke St roundabout (bottom of Easter Road)

D Wraight noted that the current roundabout needs to be removed during tram-construction because of extra traffic that will then be using Easter Road. Temporary signals would allow traffic to enter the junction sooner, reducing congestion. Also, CEC transport staff wish to replace the roundabout with a signalised junction to deal with current congestion, but don’t currently have budget to do so. The junction is also considered not to support pedestrians or cyclists.

The predesign is complete, and detailed designs are in progress. Building is due to be completed in summer 2019. It was noted that if there is a TRO, there will be relevant consultation. Active travel aspects will also require some consultation. So DW expects that at minimum, community councils will be consulted

2.b.3 Duncan Place

There are three questions about [work on] this area: (1) Can it be extended to include Academy St and Wellington Place? (2) Can the road condition be improved? (3) What is the final look of these streets to be?

Predesign is in progress, following consultation, by the capital roads team DW anticipates CRT will opt for a renewal (i.e. resurfacing, possibly also look and feel, including maybe reconsideration of one-way systems) of these streets around summer 2019. AECOM is also looking at active travel in this area. This study may also affect the renewal/look and feel work.

2.b.4 Controlled parking zones and other items not [necessarily] on TT’s list

  • C Encombe noted that a Leith CPZ is third priority on CEC’s list of potential CPZs. (Corstorphine 1st, Morningside 2nd.)
    • DW noted that he, A Mackenzie and J Marlborough attended a meeting with local councillors about CS, where CPZs were discussed. Cllr Booth has contacted a relevant CEC official, and received a response, so this topic is ‘open’. DW also noted that despite the priorities, when major projects come online, relevant other/additional features must be considered. Hence the Leith CPZ is ‘open to discussion’. C Encombe noted the community strength about Stead’s Place, and suggested that this strength may influence CPZ decisions. (A Mackenzie noted that CPZ discussion was mostly about Leith Central’s area.)
  • Action: DW to ask Cllr Booth to share with CCTT the reply he received about the CPZ priorities.
  • C Encombe noted that Monty Roy has not received a response about issues affecting her police box. (DW noted that he has received MR’s communication.) Shrub hill work is encroaching onto the pavement, hence affecting MR’s business.
    • DW noted that TT has liaised with all developers along the tram route, and so knows what will impact the tram designs. MR’s issue should be handled by the locality team. DW also noted that despite police boxes are not deemed as fixed buildings, this one is now on TT’s drawings, and that DW would contact MR in the immediate future.
  • J Marlborough noted a new application to build a car-park on Ocean Drive to serve MV Fingal and Port Authority staff The relevant drawing implies the car-park would encroach on the tram route. Action: DW to investigate this potential issue
  • Constitution St
    • DW noted that he met with relevant CEC cllrs, Am and JM about this area. Prior to Xmas, DW was tasked with investigating parking and loading arrangements.
      • It was felt that creating such facilities in the church area was disrespectful and impractical, so the soft landscape area at Kirkgate House (KH) was considered for both parking and some loading facilities.
      • This week, TT’s recommendations around two design options will be taken to TAPOG. In general, option B is likely to be taken forward, with the caveat that other thing must be provided. Option B involves centralised tram-tracks, widening the footpath either side, introduction of a general traffic restriction at some point between Coatfield Lane and Laurie St (hence no parking or loading in this section). It also involves reinforcement of the pavement on the east side of CS to allow use of scaffolding and relevant vehicles directly outside houses. Option A had been rejected by the CS meeting.
      • The time-frame for restrictions is as yet undecided, but some local councillors prefer 7am to 7pm. Such restrictions on traffic are desirable because at peak hours there is much pedestrian use of relevant streets.
      • At TPOG, it was decided that this is part of the TRO considerations, and more work is needed to decide timing.
      • In the soft landscape area adjacent to KH, TT proposes providing loading facilities for up to 3 vehicles.
      • TAPOG has signed off moving forward with option B with loading provision and path-reinforcement before other tram-work starts. It was noted that walls in the CS area are grade A listed and so must be reinstated as is.
    • AM noted the meeting’s consideration of complete bans on traffic on CS. Sizes and weights of cherry-pickers that may be used in practice for inspecting and maintaining CS roofs were discussed. A 3-D model was suggested. He suggested that this is where negotiations over parking, loading, traffic restrictions should begin, rather than end.
    • DW emphasised that TT consulted in summer 2018, noted that strong concerns were raised about CS, met residents to discuss these concerns and hence gone to TAPOG with recommendations resulting from meeting residents.
  • JM asked about the conversion of Ocean Drive junctions from roundabouts to signalised junctions, hence preventing cars making U-turns. DW and RL responded that this issue will be resolved, potentially by the capital roads team removing the central reservation from Ocean Drive when it is resurfaced, and asked for time to go through processes.
  • A Hardie asked about coherence of design, specifically [adverts on] bus shelters, which may enhance TN’s image.
    • DW responded that TT has to perform a ‘massive’ comms task, which would involve the eventual contractors. Work on this is in progress but because the contractor has not yet been selected, this comms task can’t be started yet.
    • RL added that Hannah Ross is co-ordinating matters at senior levels in CEC.
  • The quantum of small business supporthas been signed off by TN’s board, despite low response rates to consultation.
  • Concerning other developments around Western Harbour, the contact is development@edinburgh.gov.uk.
  • TN now involves 127 building-fixing agreements, This will not involve 127 fixings, because there may be more than 1 person per building or group of buildings. Of the 127, currently only 11 are outstanding.

3 Date of next meeting

21 February 2019 (Subsequent meetings are to be agreed.)

‘Fascist political group plans to infiltrate Community Councils’ says The Ferret

The Ferret describes itself as an award-winning investigative journalism platform for Scotland and beyond, recently one of their contributors published an article claiming that the far right are planning to infiltrate Community Councils. Reproduced below is the article.

Edinburgh Community Councils will be holding their triennial elections this Autumn.

At the last triennial elections in 2016 Leith Links Community Council were the only Community Council in Edinburgh to hold a public poll. This was because we were the only Community Council in Edinburgh to have more candidates standing than the number of seats available, in our case we had 17 candidates for 12 seats.  If we had 12 or less candidates, they would have been given their seats without an election.  Information relating to our 2019 elections will be published soon on this website, and on our Facebook & Twitter streams.

It should be noted that Community Councils in Edinburgh are non party political but a number of Community Councillors across the City area members of political parties, pressure groups etc.


Billy Briggs wrote:

An extreme far right group modelled on Sir Oswald Mosley’s British Union of Fascists plans to put candidates up for community council seats in Scotland.

The New British Union (NBU) idolises British fascist Mosley whose violent supporters wore Nazi-style uniforms in the 1930s and were known as Blackshirts.

The openly fascist group is recruiting on Twitter and is led by Gary Raikes, the British National Party’s former leader in Scotland.

An official NBU document seen by The Ferret reveals that NBU plans to stand supporters as independent candidates to build support locally across the UK.

The document explains what Raikes terms as the “Quiet Revolution”. It says: “The important action is that cells should try to center (sic) around a member willing to stand in parish/local elections as independent candidates and help get them elected.

“Blackshirt cells will develop into Blackshirt units in every village, town and city in the UK. The idea is to build fascist cells of two to five people in as many places as possible.”

The document adds: “The action is true, grassroots style politics – fostering change nationwide, from the local level. The fundamental application of this philosophy is the induction of true British nationalists in all forms and level of local government.

“We at the NBU have recognised that obtaining appointment to parish and community councils is both a symbolic, and practically necessary starting point, in the pursuit of this philosophy of action.

“The NBU is a young movement, yet already has a handful of parish councillors, and one county councillor we also have a number of our people about to take up seats on Scottish community councils.”

Raikes formed the NBU in 2013 after leaving the BNP. He was also a member of the anti-Muslim group, Britain First, led by Scottish Loyalist, Jim Dowson.

At the 2007 Scottish Parliament election Raikes was a BNP candidate for the North East Scotland region. In 2015 the NBU claimed it was targeting Elgin politically prompting a backlash from locals.

The NBU uses Nazi iconography while Raikes posts sinister propaganda videos of himself speaking while dressed in a black uniform. Another video on the NBU site is of far right activist Stephen Yaxley-Lennon, aka Tommy Robinson, who is an advisor to UKIP.

Yaxley-Lennon is a former BNP supporter and football hooligan who has been convicted of multiple crimes including mortgage fraud and assault.

In one video Raikes says he is trying to “unite the right”.

Unite Against Fascism said: “Thankfully the far right in Britain is divided, whether this numpty has the ability to unite them remains to be seen. What can be seen from NBU website is that Tommy Robinson is the lightning rod that they are trying to use to unite the far right.

“Although the slogans and emblems of the NBU look old fashioned from the 1930’s we can see when they were used last year in the the “unite the right” rally in Charlottesville in America that they can become potent once again.

“‘Never again’ was the popular slogan after the second world war against fascism. We should never forget that and never give these dangerous idiots an inch.”

Scottish Greens justice spokesperson John Finnie MSP said: “It’s a sad reality that the Brexit mess created by the Tories has given confidence to those with extreme right-wing views. However, I’ve no doubt that communities across Scotland will continue to reject these dangerous and deluded groups who couldn’t organise a bun fight in a bakery.”

Raikes said: “We are not supporters of Tommy Robinson. We supported that specific issue not the man. We have been recruiting for six years. Social media is just one way of doing that. I fully expect you to deliver a bias twisted report detached from reality and know I will not be disappointed.

“British blackshirts fought and died for Britain in the last war just one of the many facts ignored by people like you. If you have read our website then you will know we are not a hate group we are simply offering people an alternative to failed democracy and a chance to discover the truth about Mosley and his ideas.”

Community Councils Together on Trams: Minutes of meeting held on Thursday 29 November 2018

Leith Links Community Council is a member of ‘Community Councils Together on Trams’ alongside Leith Central Community Council, Leith Harbour & Newhaven Community Council and New Town & Broughton Community Council. CCTT is the coalition of Community Councils who meet regularly to discuss, scrutinise and influence the intended continuation of the Edinburgh Tram system to Newhaven.

 

The minutes of their most recent meeting, held on Thursday 29 November 2018 at 17:30 in Leith Community Centre were recently published and have been reproduced below for your information.

 


Abbreviations

BAFO = best and final offer LLCC = Leith Links Community Council
CCTT = Community Councils Together on Trams LW = Leith Walk
CEC = City of Edinburgh Council NTBCC = New Town & Broughton Community Council
CPZ = controlled parking zone OBC = outline business case
CS = Constitution St POLHA = Port of Leith Housing Association
ECI = early contractor involvement SPC = swept-path contract
EIA = environmental impact assessment TAPOG = CEC’s tram all-party oversight group
FBC = full business case TfE = Transport for Edinburgh
ISC = infrastructure and systems contract TN = Trams to Newhaven project
LCCC = Leith Central Community Council TRO = traffic regulation order
LHNCC = Leith Harbour & Newhaven Community Council TT = trams team

1 Welcome, introductions

1.a Attendance

Charlotte Encombe CCTT/LCCC Andrew Mackenzie CCTT/LL CC
Rob Leech TT/TN project director (Anturas Consulting) Carol Nimmo CCTT/NTBCC
Rob Levick CCTT/LHNCC Bruce Ryan CCTT minutes secretary
Jennifer Marlborough CCTT/LHNCC Harald Tobermann CCTT/LCCC

1.a Apologies

Margaret Duffy CCTT/NTBCC Sally Millar CCTT/LL CC
Angus Hardie CCTT/LL CC Darren Wraight TT/CEC

2 Update from CCTT

A Mackenzie reported that some CS residents met with their CEC councillors, D Wraight and 3 members of LLCC. This meeting was about the design options from the Foot of the Walk to Queen Charlotte St. It was also to ensure that the CEC councillors were aware of the CS residents’ views. AM also stated that meeting was useful, but the CS residents’ issues remain in need of further consideration.

H Tobermann reported that the CCTT steering group will soon compile a list of outstanding issues along the route, and share that with TT asap.

  • This list may be ranked by importance to CCTT.
  • It was noted that J Marlborough has complied such a list for LHNCC’s area, of the format.
Design Drawing Issues
  • The list will be accompanied by a request for information on how TT intends to solve the issues.
  • Action: H Tobermann to circulate a template to the four CCs. CCs to supply their issues so that HT can submit its list by 12 December.

It was noted that LCCC has ratified CCTT’s submission to the second trams consultation, and that NTBCC has also sent in its own submission.

3 Update from Tram Team

R Leech reported that his colleagues Hannah and Steve gave a presentation to the Edinburgh Association of Community Councils. This presentation was high level, rather than detailed, concentrating on the question ‘why are we doing this?’ The response was mixed: some supporting the proposed project, others suggesting the money would be better spent on roads.

  • It was noted that EACC does not speak for LCCC and NTBCC.

3.a BAFO

R Leech reported that TT has received the BAFO tenders, and finalised their evaluation. This will go before the TN board on 3 December, with a recommendation to agree the pricing for the FBC, so that it is ready to go through board approval in January. This will be a formal committee process before the FBC is sent to CEC, but there will be no publicity around this.

The FBC will state how much of the £165 m budget would be spent on the ISC and the SPC. (The SPC costs are already known.) The budget also covers risk, inflation etc.)

3.b Consultation2: initial feedback

R Leech reported

  • The Support for Business (SFB) consultation has closed. Analysis will go before TAPOG on 12 December, with initial recommendations. These are generally positive but some elements of SFB proposals are clearly preferred over others.
  • Analysis of the design consultation is not yet finished. There were fewer respondents than for the first design consultation, but the feedback has been generally positive.

R Leech suggested bringing the SFB and design presentations that will be seen by TAPOG to the next CCTT/TT meeting, along with resulting actions.

H Tobermann suggested that businesses currently much uncertainty (e.g. from Brexit), that businesses in the relevant area will experience a major impact from [construction of] TN, and that current uncertainty is likely to be exacerbated by current lack of implementation detail in the SFB package. Hence CCTT will push hard for resources to finalise such details and hence minimise [TN-related] uncertainty.

  • R Leech responded that this would be worth exploring in the next CCTT/TT meeting. He added that the fine detail of the SFB will be worked out with the successful contractor.
  • H Tobermann reiterated the point in CCTT’s submission that the best way to think about such issues was to consider ‘life during construction’. R Leech concurred.
  • C Encombe added that the previous tram work had been ad-hoc and hence far more unpleasant than was necessary. She noted that LCCC now has a clean streets committee that is likely to ‘police’ LCCC’s area during construction.
  • R Leech stated that a report on the [SFB and design consultation] analyses will be shared with CCTT. He is not yet sure how analyses will be made public, but a ‘”you said, we did” + action plan’ publication is likely. He anticipated that this would cover some of the issues raised by CCTT.
  • R Leech suggested that the remaining issues will be around fine detail, e.g. ‘this loading bay doesn’t work’.

4 Outstanding design issues and permanent TROs post construction including:

The discussion moved from item 3b to item 4 without a noticeable break.

Items 4q to 4e in the agenda were not discussed in any detail because D Wraight was not present.

J Marlborough expressed concern that consultation 2 concentrated on Leith Walk, and did not fully cover LHNCC’s area. She suggested that respondent analysis is broken down by area.

  • R Leech responded that the majority of the changes in the plans in consultation 2 were in the centre of the route, but that consultation 2 covered all of the route.

R Leech stated that the design must be completely finalised by summer/early autumn 2019. He added that when the FBC is presented, the fundamentals of the design (e.g. the number of traffic and tram lanes) will be fixed. A need for fundamental changes would cause the project to halt. However, the detail in J Marlborough’s list is not fundamental and so can be carried forward to the next stage.

C Nimmo asked about NTBCC and local residents’ concerns, including the right turn from London Road onto LW.

  • R Leech responded that in his opinion, this turn would not work [during and after construction]. However, he acknowledged that a full explanation of this was needed, so such concerns should be included in CCTT’s list of outstanding issues.

C Nimmo stated that to the best of her knowledge traffic modelling has not been undertaken.

  • R Leech responded that it has been done in the past, but that CN may have heard that it is waiting to be updated.
  • Decision: It was agreed to add this to the list of CCTT concerns, for discussion at a meeting with NTBCC and residents.
  • Action: When TT receives CCTT’s list , TT will check the list for ‘fundamental’ issues

o R Leech added that non-fundamental issues can be covered by the risk and contingency budget lines.

  • H Tobermann requested a ‘first-pass’ response to CCTT’s list asap.

H Tobermann added that CCTT has compiled its own timeline of TN events..

  • Action: R Leech to send TT’s own timeline to CCTT, so that CCTT and TT are using the same timeline.

H Tobermann reported that some CEC officials do not know that TN is happening, or significant relevant dates.

  • R Leech responded that TN has a project board (including senior CEC officers from finance, procurement, legal, transport) chaired by the executive director of Place. The board is briefed on TN timetable at its monthly meetings. There is also a technical working group, including [representatives from] all CEC departments involved in the TN. They are also briefed on timescales and their own input to this. There are also ad-hoc meetings with various CEC departments. Hence if CEC officials appear to be unaware of TN, they are acting incorrectly in some way.
  • H Tobermann added that if relevant CEC officials are unaware, he fears for the supplementary projects and other projects that might clash with TN under their control. He emphasised that this lack of awareness was not TT’s fault.

J Marlborough asked whether the frequency of use of LW by emergency services has been taken into account, given that she sees such vehicles responding to emergencies whenever she visits LW. She added that the police use Constitution St regularly.

  • R Leech responded that TT has set up a traffic management review panel (including Lothian Buses, CEC, emergency services). It will meet regularly during construction. Emergency services will always have a clear route through construction. An in-progress part of the design process is considering how a clear route after construction. If an accident blocked the route, trams ‘up the line’ [and other traffic] would be stopped so that they didn’t cause further congestion.

R Leech stated that the TROs timeline is currently unknown.

  • This is because the TROs depend on feedback from CCTT and others.
  • D Wraight is assembling a note on the TRO process, considering statutory timescales, CEC needs etc.
  • This matter will be on a future CCTT/TT agenda.

4.a Design issues

See also appendix, item 8a.

R Leech stated

  • D Wraight is working on optimising bin locations etc. However, bins are CEC’s waste team’s responsibility, ultimately under the control of CEC’s director of place. Also, RL has a strong relationship with G Barwell, head of CEC’s waste division, who is very much alive to TN and working towards getting the bin situation right.
  • Work on bus-stop locations is in progress. This work considers the proposed 2-lane layout, pinch-points, bus trackers, signage etc. TT is ‘hooked in’ with J White, Lothian Buses’ operations manager. He has been working on traffic management plans and deigns. There is also a technical working group including Lothian Buses to finalise relevant parts of the design. This work will be completed over the next 2 months.
  • He is not currently sure of the progress towards solving TN-related parking issues. He is aware that Corstorphine is the CEC area that will first be promoted into a CPZ, and that Leith will be second, but has no power to influence this.

o H Tobermann was unconvinced that Corstorphine should be first, considering it is not having a tramline installed.

4.b Extract from Tram Design Manual

See appendix, item 8b.

H Tobermann asked whether this edition of the manual is current. R Leech stated that the principles are but this version has been superseded because street guidance has moved on very much in 13 years.

H Tobermann then asked what standards TT is working to, to which R Leech replied that there were very many.

Action: R Leech to supply details of guidance currently used by TT (This info is to come from Atkins.)

5 Review and update of tram pre/construction programme

Action: as noted previously, R Leech to send TT’s timeline to CCTT

R Leech confirmed that BAFO tenders arrived on 16 November, and that the relevant board meeting is on 3 December.

H Tobermann reported that he regularly checks whether Lord Hardie is due to publish his report on the issues in the initial Edinburgh tram construction, that he has found thorugh FOI that the cost of the enquiry is likely to soon exceed £10 m, and that it is highly desirable for the report to come out before TN gets too far.

6 Next meeting (10 January 2019)

6.a to agree: main topic: quantification of environmental benefits for area along tram corridor: before, during and after tram project

R Leech asked for clarification of the question CCTT is asking about the environmental aspects of TN.

  • H Tobermann responded that CCTT feels it does not have sufficient information from the TT, and that the existing environmental impact assessment (EIA) is from 2006, i.e. out of date. Hence it needs to be updated to reflect what is going to be built in 2019-2022.
  • That is CCTT wishes robust assurance that TN will provide a net environmental benefit from the start of construction until some years into its running life. He suggested that traffic modelling could aid such calculations.
  • There was discussion of the difficulty and various methods of proving environmental effects, e.g. effect of the new housing to be built in Leith, working from current car numbers, types and pollution levels.
  • R Leech reminded the meeting that he must follow the Tram Act’s requirements.
  • B Ryan asked whether the Act precluded an up-to-date full EIA being undertaken.

Action: H Tobermann to supply to TT detail of what is sought, including information on CEC’s LEZ staff; R Leech to respond to this

Action: main subject of next meeting to be the ‘you said, we did’. (See item 3b, bullet point 6 above.)

6.b to agree: (proxy) evidence to share in advance of the January meeting

Carried forward to a future meeting when environmental benefits are discussed

6.c to note: minute taker in January

Action: C Encombe to take this meeting’s minutes

7 AOCB

H Tobermann mentioned an email from Michael Motion of Turner Townsend, inviting CCTT to a meeting on 11 December (2pm to 6pm, venue TBC) about the Foot of the Walk to Ocean Terminal cycle way feasibility study. Action: HT to circulate this invitation.

  • R Leech stated that the meeting is to agree the objectives and scope of this project. He added that AECOM has been appointed to undertake a ‘route-optioneering’ exercise. There will then be a public consultation to sift options.

It was noted that Rory Garriock is now undertaking TN analysis and planning work, rather than being TT’s public face.

People who wish to contact TN/TT should email tramstonewhaven@edinburgh.gov.uk. This address is monitored daily.

8 Appendix

8.a Extract from CCTT response to consultation 2

Design issues: while many of the initial concerns have been resolved with the current designs, more detailed design work is required

  • in a few locations (especially at Ocean Drive, Constitution Street south; Shrub Place, Picardy Place)
  • optimising communal bin locations
  • refining bus stops/bays/shelters locations and dimensions
  • resolving issues around pavement/cycling/bus stop interactions at a number of locations
  • parking/loading locations (including side streets).

CCTT believes that this can be achieved in the available time, but such detailing may require additional design resources and a sincere engagement with the people most affected.

8.b Extract from Tram Design Manual 2005

A Commensurate Quality of Townscape and Public Realm Design

2.9 The proposed tram system is important not only as a new public transport project but also, as a strategic piece of new development, to act as an important catalyst and promote quality design within the townscape and public realm of the city.

2.10 Partnership working will be needed to ensure that an appropriate strategy for Edinburgh’s wider public realm can be put in place to complement works undertaken as part of the tram project. Fitting the tram route and its alignment into the townscape is the first stage of the design process. An understanding of the urban design issues that apply to a section of the tram route or a specific space along the route are required in order to achieve quality of design. This wider townscape assessment is essential in order for the tram to fit comfortably within a wider public realm and to realise the opportunity to improve the quality of streets and public spaces to a level commensurate with the quality of the city’s built heritage.

2.11 In order to ensure that a piecemeal approach is avoided, a joint programme of public realm works must be drawn up by the Council with input from key stakeholders, in tandem with the proposed tram implementation programme. This is essential to minimise disruption on site and to minimise abortive works.

 

 

Leith Links Park FAQs

Got a question about Leith Links Park? We hope you find the answer here.   Unfortunately, there is no single person or team at City of Edinburgh Council who has responsibility for Leith Links Park. This can make it confusing and difficult for members of our community to identify & contact the correct person or team responsible for the matter

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Scottish Water Apology to Community

Scottish Water finally put out an apology today after receiving several emails from me on behalf of the community council and those who live in the community.Scottish Water should we aware that there is an ongoing issue with odour emissions from Seafield due to the high number of complaints forwarded to them, local elected members, SEPA and City Of Edinburgh Council by you, the public.

The apology reads

Scottish Water is aware of an elevated level of odour related issues in the Leith Links area and would like to sincerely apologise to customers for the inconvenience this is causing. 

During the unprecedented long spell of hot and dry weather the site operator Veolia has been taking all steps to ensure the operating conditions at Seafield WWTW are optimised including management of sludge levels. Veolia has progressed and implemented the agreed network related actions contained within the Strategic Odour Review.  In addition, Scottish Water is checking operations within its wider network which connects to Seafield WwTW.

We are continuing to review what other measures may be implemented to address the situation during this period of dry weather and again we apologise for the inconvenience caused to customers.

The apology could have been copy and pasted from previous similar emails. Leith Links Community Council and Leith Links Residents Association are well aware of what causes the problem. City of Edinburgh Council sending out highly trained noses to agree or disagree with local residents over how strong and unpleasant a smell of sewage is no longer acceptable. If you as a local resident are effectively trapped in your house because of disgusting smells then that to me is totally unacceptable.

Last Tuesday there was a programme on BBC2 called Inside the Factory which showed the process of making toilet paper. During the programme they also visited the sewage works that services Brighton. What was the difference between Seafield and Brighton? All the areas that could cause odour emissions are covered.

Veolia who operate Seafield under a PFI contract from Scottish Water seem powerless to stop the stink. They are well aware of the problem because it’s not new and happens year after year.

How do we solve it? Money, lots of money to cover the settlement tanks at Seafield and reducing odour emissions by covering the areas where the sludge gathers and becomes septic. In these weather conditions sewage can become septic in the network because there’s not the usual rainfall to flush it through so it’s probably arriving at Seafield already septic and producing the honk.

I have been in contact with Ben MacPherson MSP to arrange a meeting with the community council and residents association. We will be lobbying for a move to demand that Scottish Government provide the necessary funding for work to be done on the plant.

15000 people were at Easter Road last night to watch the football and they could smell the sewage. What a wonderful advert for our capital city when visitors from Greece are greeted by the smell of excrement.

Please continue to report the Great Stink and tell your friends to do it. You can be sure that politicians do pay attention when they receive lots of emails reporting the stench especially when election time isn’t too far away.

Thanks

Jim

 

 

 

Community Clean Up | Restalrig Road & Railway Path

There is a community clean up happening this Sunday 9 April 2017, from 11:00, meeting at the Restalrig Road bridge – this clean up will focus on Restalrig Road and the Restalrig Railway Path.

 

This was a project funded by our Community Links Fund.

 

Many hands make light work so it would be great to see as many locals as possible take part.

 

There is a Facebook event, which you can click here to view.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

UPDATE:  Around twenty members of our community took part, with about 25 bags of refuse collected, some graffiti tags removed from litter bins & street lighting columns, and a ton of larger refuse items.  Well done to all those who took part.

 

Funding to enable & empower communities to make artistic & aesthetic improvements to the National Cycle Network

A new funding stream providing grants of up to £1500 has been created to allow community groups to make artistic and aesthetic improvements to the National Cycle Network (NCN), for the benefit of place quality, enjoyment and active travel.

For full information follow this link to the Sustrans website.

 

Participatory Budgeting

Leith Links Community Council has played an active role in local decision making for years, for a number of years this has included playing key roles in delivering local participatory budgeting processes. Community Links Fund (2016/27) Our Community Council was successful in obtaining Scottish Government funding to deliver its own hyper local participatory budgeting process – Community Links Fund. Sixteen

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