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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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.

 

 

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/ 

 

 

Pongs from Seafield Sewage

We are all sick of the horrible smells from Seafield, and it is even worse in lovely weather when we would like to sit outside (or even just have our windows open). In spite of the recent commissioned review, there are no signs of improvement lately – we have had a very smelly week!  One thing HAS improved though. We have been asking for this for years, and at last it is now a bit easier to report these disgusting smells that ruin our quality of life. Many households have had a leaflet and contacts card delivered from the Public Health Department. Use that contact if you wish. Or, if you don’t feel like phoning, click on ‘Report it Here’ in the yellow box  (above, below, or side bar, depending on your device) to use our own new web-based form.

CCTT – JOINT STATEMENT on TRAMS

Community Councils Together on Trams

Leith Links Community Council is one member of a group of four community councils who have issued a joint statement urging the city council to reconsider the wider implications, the detail, and the timeline of the controversial proposed extension of the Edinburgh tram to Newhaven.

Read the joint statement here from the Community Councils Together on Trams (CCTT) –(i.e. Leith Central, Leith Links, Leith Harbour & Newhaven, and New Town & Broughton, through whose wards the extended tram will run, if given the green light by the City of Edinburgh Council (CEC).  These bodies approve the proposed extension of the tramline in principle,  but urge caution and highlight a number of concerns on which they are seeking reassurances from the trams team and CEC. The joint Community Councils are seeking improved communications/consultation, as a matter of urgency.

Read the joint statement here

ONECITY TRUST OPEN FOR GRANT APPLICATIONS

ONECITY TRUST OPEN FOR GRANT APPLICATIONS

GRANTS OF BETWEEN £5,000 AND £10,000 AVAILABLE

The OneCity Trust is pleased to announce that its main grant programme is now open for applications. Registered charities and constituted groups based in Edinburgh and focussing their work in the city. Ideally with an annual income of less than £200,000, are invited to apply for funding for equality and social inclusion projects meeting one or more of the following priorities;

  • COMMUNITY CONNECTEDNESS
  • CULTURAL BRIDGING
  • CIVIC INCLUSION

For the third year, we are also in a partnership with Travis Perkins Managed Services and the City of Edinburgh Council. This is a Community Benefit Legacy fund offered to the Council by Travis Perkins as part of a major contract and is managed through the OneCity Trust.

Applications for this funding will be considered from organisations that involve City of Edinburgh Council tenants or from other organisations aiming to benefit geographical areas with a high proportion of Council homes. 

Overall, the Trust intends to make up to 15 grants, of between £5,000 and £10,000.

For further information and to request an application form, please seewww.onecity.org.uk, or alternatively, please telephone Elaine McCafferty on 0131 469 3856 or e-mail 1819applications@onecity.org.uk.

Please note that the Trust is supported by the council on a part-time basis.

The deadline for applications is 20 April 2018, and projects should commence on 2 July 2018 and run for up to one year.  Please note one off projects will also be considered.   A condition of this funding agreement will be the promotion, media and photographic opportunities organised with the OneCity Trust, at any time throughout the period of the fund.  You must also acknowledge the source of your funding at every opportunity, e.g. logos on websites, promotional materials, etc.

Trams to Newhaven: Notification of First Round of Public Consultation

Beginning 19 March, the City of Edinburgh Council will undertake six weeks of public consultation and engagement on taking Edinburgh Trams to Newhaven. This will provide the public, local business and stakeholders with general information on the project, specific details around traffic management during construction and the proposed permanent design. We will also outline our current proposals on how we aim to support local business during the construction period. 

During consultation your views will be sought on traffic management and phasing. This includes proposals for the closure of Leith Walk to all northbound traffic, with a single city-bound lane remaining open and the phased closure and reopening of Constitution Street. Work in these areas is expected to last for up to 18 months.

These and wider plans for traffic management during construction have been drawn up following in-depth traffic modelling and discussions with key partners and stakeholders.

We also intend to communicate our plans to help support local businesses who will be most affected by the works. This includes provision for parking and loading between work sites, an open for business campaign, on-street customer service staff, logistics hubs and financial support. 
Your opinions will also be sought on the plans for the permanent design of the street along the route. This includes a dedicated public transport-only lane on Leith Walk for tram and bus during the morning and evening rush hour. During off peak time the outside lanes will close to traffic and provide essential parking and loading areas for local business.

This is the first stage in a consultation process that is scheduled to continue through to the end of 2018.

Consultation 1 Begins: 19 March 2018 

  • 28,000 letters delivered to residential addresses in the area surrounding the planned tram route
  • 4 public information events:
    • Thursday 22 March: Leith Theatre, 11am – 6pm
    • Tuesday 3 April: McDonald Road Library, 10am – 4pm
    • Thursday 12 April: Leith Community Education Centre, 3pm – 9pm
    • Saturday 21 April: Ocean Terminal, 12 noon – 5pm
      • 4 local business forums
      • 4 community council briefings 
      • Online feedback via Consultation Hub from 19 March
      • A dedicated Trams to Newhaven website to keep you up-to-date

      Consultation 1 Ends: 29 April 2018
      As part of our consultation the project team commissioned an independent survey to understand local behaviours and attitudes towards Trams to Newhaven. The research was carried out by Progressive Partnership – an Edinburgh-based market research company. This involved a ten-minute on-street interview carried out with representative sample of 368 individuals at three locations along the proposed route.

      Below are some of the key findings:

      • 59% agreed that the line would benefit Leith with 58% saying it would be easier to get around and 42% saying it would be good for local business
      • 91% were satisfied with current transport provision on Leith Walk 
      • When asked what would improve public transport provision in Leith Walk, the most popular response at 38% was ‘introduce a tram service’ NB most respondents currently used buses or walking to get to and around Leith
      • 56% said they were likely to use the new line
      • Among those who did not think Leith would benefit, concerns focused chiefly on disruption, delays and congestion resulting from construction works 

      If you have any further queries, please do not hesitate to get in touch.

      Trams to Newhaven Project Team

£EITH CHOOSES – Local Democracy in Action!

Your Leith Links Community Councillors were out in force yesterday helping to run the amazing £eith Chooses Voting day. It was hard work but it was terrific fun. We love to meet up with our community!

This year’s voting day was a record-breaker in every sense of the word – more posters, leaflets, lamppost wraps; more project applications than ever before; more money to be distributed (though still still not enough, sadly); more new project groups applying; more diverse projects, in terms of minority groups in our community; and more people attending to vote than ever before! (Also more worry and panic, before the day, right up to the very last minute, due to the horrendous snowy weather and difficult conditions for getting about.) We are also now shaping up to see more online votes than ever before rolling in.

Many thanks also to our friends and colleagues from Leith Harbour and Newhaven, and Leith Central Community Councils, who have been helping to organise £eith Chooses and were also there yesterday to help.

People possibly don’t realise that a large part of all of this is done by volunteers! Having said that, Leith Links Community Council and fellow Community Councils certainly couldn’t have put on this whole event without our close partnership with Edinburgh City Council and their dedicated and super-hard-working staff team. And last but not least, our great elected representatives (some of whom were last seen shovelling snow in the Kirkgate!) from Leith and Leith Walk: Marion, Chas, Susan, Amy, Adam, Gordon.

We ALL worked hard for our amazing Leith community, and it was great!

The strapline on our Leith Links community Council bid to the Scottish Government Community Grants Fund (which brought us £72.000 for community projects) was ‘Local Democracy in Action’. Well, it certainly was, yesterday.

MSP Ben MacPherson seems to like £eith Chooses as much as everybody else did.

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