Minutes of the meeting on Tuesday, 9th November 2021, 7:00pm
(by Zoom)

Tim Pogson (TP, standing down as Chair), Joan (Vice- Chair), Bob Hodgart (BH), Sakshika (Minutes), Philip McDowell, Steve Burgess (Councillor), Liz Logie, Stephen Rodger Benson, David Wood, Ellie Roger (University Representative),

Members of the Public:
Alison Neathey (AN), Betty Offerman(EO), Nahida Aslam, Bernadette Mageswari

Agenda item Discussion Action
1. Welcome Vice Chair welcomed all to the meeting of the Community Council and explained that Tim is standing down as Chair because he is a candidate in Southside for the City Council elections coming up in May and must dedicate himself to that.
Joan thanked Tim for his excellent chairmanship and hard work over the years, and offered best wishes for a good campaign.
2. Apologies Tommy Sheppard, MP.  
3. Constitutional matters Acting Chair raised several organisational/constitutional issues, partly arising out of Point 1:

-Queried how we elect a new chair? Steve Burgess suggested it could be done at the next meeting. Joan suggested it would be good for this to be publicised asap- perhaps on website?

-Highlighted the urgent need for new CC members, primarily in the "elected" category. We are currently at minimum membership allowed, which means we are in danger of finding ourselves not quorate. Also, with poor membership we are not representing the community properly. She suggested a special meeting to devise a plan. Also, everyone should try recruiting as many people as possible.
Joan will email all for ideas and to activate discussion.
All / JC
4. Ascertain issues brought by members of the public Nahida Aslam introduced Bernadette Mageswari (resident of Lauder Road, but issue in SCC domain) who raised concern that her project in the Meadows on Sundays, which involves cooking for and feeding, and creating a friendly space, for people who may be feeling lonely, was being given a hard time and possibly being forced to shut down. She didn't know on what authority this was happening, but had been approached twice by someone who claimed to be from the Council, who told her to remove her free food stall from the Meadows. She explained that she is providing a useful social and mental health resource, as well as free food. We were able to support the advised action she had received that she should speak with Mike Shields, Parks and Greenspace Officer for the area. Members of the CC felt the project was a very commendable project, fostering a sense of community in the Southside and beyond, and hoped any official or practical obstacles it had encountered could be overcome so that it could continue in an appropriate form.  
5. Previous Minutes The minutes of the meeting held on 12th October 2021 were agreed.  
6. Matters Arising 6.1 Sakshika shared about low maintenance of University leased flats by Domus at West Nicolson Street. Ellie asked Sakshika to write this all down for her and she would investigate.
6.2 Bernard Terrace zebra crossing - Zebra crossing is being constructed. There is a further delay however because an obstacle was met in construction that meant different poles need to be found. Still expected to be completed soon.
6.3 Ellie explained that GP services are not the responsibility of the University; this lies entirely with Lothian Health Board. The University can supply projected numbers of students to the NHS to assist in their demographic understanding for planning.
6.4 Tim had hoped we had secured a representative from Preston Street PS (Raph) for the CC. We hope he can join our next meeting.
6.5 The problems around the Distillery that were discussed at last month's meeting were updated. It was agreed that AN, EO, SB and JC would discuss how a meeting should be organised - who should be there and what was needed to be understood before then. Steve B to try to find out what the permitted production levels are, what levels are they achieving, and how does the Council monitor that?
6.6 Noise from Salisbury Court Student Housing - Philip reported that neighbours are still experiencing unacceptable levels of noise from the student residence. Joan agreed to write to the management to add our pressure to improve the situation.
Sakshika, Ellie


7. Councillor's report (Steve) Scottish Widow building - Steve now has the name of the man responsible for maintenance of the building and is hoping to meet him.

The estimated cost of retrofitting some 300 Council buildings (including around 100 schools) to achieve net zero was around one billion pounds, which is roughly the whole annual budget of CEC. He noted the Scottish Government has a fund for Green Investment but that it is quite small and requires bodies like CEC to match fund any awards to councils from it.

Steve explained why the LEZ had not passed, and explained it will quickly be revised, in the light of improvements suggested primarily by Preston Street PS, and put before Council again.

Liz asked about the missing diversion signs at Simon Square. Steve confirmed that it is the contractor's responsibility to make sure diversion signs are in place.

Stephen has a hard copy of the City Plan 2030 and offered it to anyone who might want to see it. David Wood agreed to co-ordinate our response.

Philip asked about the shutting of North Bridge. Steve explained that it will be closed to north bound traffic for 9 months, and traffic will be diverted via the Mound. Pedestrian access is maintained on the pavement on the east side.

8. Chair's report (Tim) The Treasurer position is still vacant. Svetlana is still offering help until a replacement is found. Tim is still pursuing possible options. Nada Hudson, the woman Tim had approached about being our paid treasurer, had said she would have more time around January/February so that was perhaps still an option. Tim
9. Reports from Committees and meetings attended Nicholas represented the SCC at short notice as part of a deputation to Council on HMO license scheme revision.

Joan attended a Residents' Focus Group meeting on Short Term Lets on 1st November. It was set up by the Council, alongside focus groups for Operators and one for Visitors, to explain how a Control Area would work and to seek residents' views. Control Areas are likely to be passed into Scottish law in April and this gives Planning a significant new power. Each LA can then determine how their Control Area will work. Any STL that used an entire property would require planning permission. It is considered a "material change" unless the property has operated as such for 10 years or more.(In which case the owner would need to prove it by showing HMRC that they have paid tax on earnings form the property for the past 10 years)
Edinburgh will have a licensing system and its Control Area will cover the entire city.
10. Use of Public Open Space for Events and Filming Consultation Joan will do the Consultation on behalf of the SCC. She will wait a week or so before doing it so any comments anyone wants incorporated can be sent to her. (No comments were made at the meeting. Tim and Joan reminded members what their impressions were from the group meetings they attended on this.) Joan
11. Planning and Licensing Applications 11.1 We discussed the application for 63 student accommodation units at 4B East Newington Place by Harrison Development. We received an invitation to meet them, via Orbit, their hired communications team. It was agreed we oppose this vehemently. This is on the grounds that:
  • The student population of the relevant geographical area is 50 -60%, which is well above Guidance
  • We need affordable housing in the area
  • The proposal is not, to our eyes, in keeping with the area, which it is required to be as it is in a Conservation Area
  • If the Local Plan is approved, then
            1. student housing must be built so that it can be converted into housing
            2. amenity space provision must be the same as it would be for any housing
Stephen, Philip and Joan will arrange and attend a meeting.

11.2 Noted that Wetherspoons had been granted permission to serve the full menu with the additional ventilation
Stephen, Joan and Philip
12. AOB 12.1 Philip raised concerns about Nazanin Zaghari-Ratcliffe's imprisonment in Iran. It is completely unjustified and has been allowed to continue for far too long. The British government is reneging on its duty to protect one of its citizens. Philip will draft a letter to our MP and to MSPs, although we recognise it is not a devolved power.
12.2 Philip asked about the historic lamp posts that had recently been removed from Melville Drive. Steve Burgess promised to enquire.
13. Date of Next Meeting Next meeting is on 14th December 2021, possibly a blended meeting with the opportunity to meet in person in a large enough space and the opportunity to join online.