What price Local Democracy?

The investigative  / fact checking online journal The Ferret recently researched just exactly how much Councils invest in its Community Councils. It seems City of Edinburgh Council invests 7p per head of local population per year, to hear views from local people. The least was Dundee – 1p – and the highest was Shetland – £6.81)  Read the full article here.

What does this mean for local democracy?

Community Councils are statutory bodies tasked by local authorities to “ascertain, co-ordinate and express to the local authority for its area…the views of the community it represents”. All Community Councillors are volunteers.

So what does your Community Council do? A fair question. One short answer is (slightly facetious, yes, sorry!) – we do our best….

Response to Ladyboys / La Clique event proposal for Links

Below is the response from Leith Links Community Council (LLCC) to City of Edinburgh Council (Parks and Greenspaces Dept.) on the proposal to use Leith Links as a Fringe venue between 29 July 2019 and 28 August 2019, by Lady Boys of Bangkok / La Clique Cabaret. Leith Links Community Council itself starts from an impartial position on the matter but considers its duty is represent the interests of local residents, who have raised a number of important points and concerns. Follow the links to read those points in more detail.

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The Leith Links Community Council has considered all aspects of this application very carefully. Please see attached our policy on events outlining the general terms that any applicants (and City of Edinburgh Council) need to meet in order to be acceptable.  It is clear that for a large and exceptionally long-running event such as is proposed here, there are many key issues that would need to be addressed, on which we would need to be reassured, before even considering accepting such an application. We have also carefully read and considered the many views expressed by local residents, and these have very much informed our view as a Community Council.

Views of local residents / community

Because this proposal is unusual in proposing a much longer use of the Links than previous applications for events, LLCC decided to put this proposal out to wider public consultation. From our website, FaceBook page and Twitter accounts we provided a link to an easy-to-complete ‘form’ for local residents to give their views. In the 5 days the form was available, we received 56 formal responses (plus a number of informal comments, that are not recorded here).

We have copied and pasted from those responses into the attached document public comments . Please take the time and trouble to read these comments – or you will not be ‘listening’ to our community.

We are aware that these are popular Fringe shows in need of a new venue. We have nothing against the shows in question. We can appreciate the potential value for local businesses in bringing more Festival visitors down into Leith. However, overall, we would have to question whether that is a powerful enough rationale for granting the application, when set against the opposing arguments. It is not clear that having these shows on the Links for 4+ weeks would be in the best interests of the local community. We therefore propose that City of Edinburgh Council should not approve this proposal at least until there has been wider consultation and until all the concerns raised have been adequately addressed.

On a practical basis, there are barriers to Area 9 as a potential venue, due to the John Rattray Statue due to be installed shortly exactly on the access point for that part of the Links. (See attached picture). Also, the childrens Playpark close to Area 9 is due to be upgraded in 2019, so there could be vehicles to and fro-ing, and fairly major building works still taking place there. Furthermore, it is our understanding that that part of the Links is already booked by LAFC for football (which season restarts in mid-August).

The Links is a large park, however other areas on the Links are equally ‘booked’ or in permanent use e.g. football, cricket pitches, St. Mary’s Primary school playground, PE and sports (term restarts in mid-August), informal childrens’ play, informal sports and/or relaxation, family picnics, dog walking, cycle path, formal and informal bootcamps, tennis, future development of the ex Dry Dock area etc. etc.

In short, Leith Links is not a commercial business but a green space for relaxation, health and well-being, much needed by the community in this very densely populated area of Edinburgh. It is a busy, family-friendly, public place that belongs to the local community and that should be openly accessible to them at all times, rather than blocked off in part for a long chunk of the summer for adult shows and private profit.

Wider Consultation?

We think that the Council should undertake further consultation with the community, given the scale of the event proposed, the risk of a significant precedent being created, and the sensitivity of citizens of both Leith and the whole of Edinburgh, at the moment, about Council decisions about the use of public green spaces being imposed upon them.

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Seafield Update, Good news for local residents?

Leith Links Community Council and Leith Links Residents Association received the following excellent news yesterday from local MSP Ben MacPherson that Scottish Government now realise that something has to be done at the Seafield plant. You just have to travel round the city to see the number of new housing developments and villages like Wallyford doubling in size. All these new houses feed into the same sewage network which ends at Seafield. Leaving out politics this is good news for Leith residents who for years have had to put up with the great stink from the sewage treatment plant

Although we welcome this news Leith Links Community Council will continue to monitor the situation and we ask that you play your part by reporting odour incidents through our website.

The next meeting of the Seafield Stakeholder group takes place on 28th September when we will hear directly from Scottish Water on their plans for the future.

Ben said in his email

I’m writing to make you aware, if you aren’t already, that Seafield has been referenced in the Scottish Government’s Programme for Government 2018-2019.

https://news.gov.scot/news/delivering-for-today-investing-for-tomorrow-1

On page 58 it states:

We have identified that the sewerage systems serving Edinburgh and the surrounding area are facing particular challenges which will be exacerbated by the prospective population growth in the area and climate change. A recent study has shown how the performance of the main treatment works at Seafield is impacted by events elsewhere on the network. It is vital that a sound strategy is developed to meet these challenges and ensure that in future the networks operate efficiently and support the continuing economic growth of the area. We have therefore asked Scottish Water to work with local authorities in the area and SEPA to review future waste water treatment needs in the area in order to guide future investment planning.

This is testament to all the work that you and the community have put in to press the issues with Seafield.

While together we will keep pressing for short-term action too, this commitment from government will develop medium-to-long term strategies and solutions.

I also believe it is an opportunity for Edinburgh to consider Seafield within the wider Waterfront vision and opportunities.

We can discuss more on the 28th but I wanted to write to congratulate you both as soon as possible.

Consultation: Lady Boys Of Bangkok propose to use Leith Links in 2019

We are currently considering proposals submitted to City Of Edinburgh Council to allow The Lady Boys Of Bangkok to use Leith Links as a venue during August 2019.

As we are a statutory consultee we will be submitting a response in due course, as we consider our response we are particularly keen hear & consider the views of others on the proposals.

We have created a brief easy to use web form to help people submit their views to us.

We will publish our response to the proposals on our website as well as our Facebook & Twitter channels.

 

The Lady Boys Of Bangkok propose to use area 9.

 

 

Edinburgh Mela 2018 on Leith Links next weekend

Not this weekend, but next weekend – the 2018 Mela opens on Friday 31 August (tickets needed) and runs through Saturday 1st and Sunday 2nd September (FREE!) opening at 12 midday both days. It will be great! Please note that it will be along at the far (Seafield) end of the Links this year (No. 12 bus goes along there). For more details of programme see www.edinburgh-mela.co.uk

 

Leith Links Community Council ,Monday 27th August 7pm

Although there was no community council meeting in July we were still involved in meetings regarding trams, planning and Seafield. The next meeting of the community council will take place on Monday, 27th August at 7pm in Leith Community Centre.

 

Agenda27.8.18LLCC Draft Ordinary Minutes May 2018LLCC MINUTES Draft Jun 2018 (1)

 

 

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

 

 

 

Traffic Restrictions around Leith Links schools

Have your say on the proposed restriction of traffic around Leith Primary School, and St. Mary’s Primary School, on Leith Links. This aims to cut down vehicles on the small streets nearest to the schools for a set period around the start and end of the school day.

There is a very short survey here that is open until 31st July 2018, please do take the chance to look at the plans and contribute your views.

https://consultationhub.edinburgh.gov.uk/sfc/schoolstreets-phase3/ 

 

 

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