CC Members: Daniel Fisher (DF) (Chair), Joan Carter (JC), Nicholas Oddy (NO), Bob Hodgart (BH), Stephen Roger Benson (SRB), Liz Logie (LL), Philip Pinsky (PP), Betty Offerman (EO).
Minutes: Alex Alderton (AA)
Councillor: Tim Pogson (TP).
Members of the Public: Anna Pinsky (AP).
DF welcomed everyone to the meeting.
Apologies from Philip McDowell (PM)
None brought forward.
The minutes of the last meeting were approved.
3.1 7 Visioning - DF had not heard back from Pam yet about the visioning day.
3.2 9 Police Consultation - Nobody had completed the consultation on behalf of the SCC. EO had completed it as an individual.
3.3 10.2 Southside Community Centre - JC had reminded the Centre's Management Committee of this meeting. Their meetings appear to be biweekly at the moment, so JC suggested we go monthly, not to each one, on the understanding that they will attend the SCC's monthly meetings. DF queried why they have so many meetings and there was speculation that if the Council has lessened its FM support, the Committee may need to meet more often. JC was not sure if it is always biweekly.
3.4 3.3 Birds - LL reported that she had followed up on a report in a local paper of a similar issue with birds elsewhere. In this case the group affected received funding and installed sonic devices which were effective on gulls. LL wondered if there is an equivalent fund in Edinburgh. JC advised the sonic devices might be harmful to other animals e.g. bats. There is also a 1981 law that protects wild birds, which applies to nearly all birds. LL suggested the other option could be to put posters up to stop people feeding the birds. She had been in contact with Keep Scotland Beautiful, who advised pointing out the connection with rats might be a good angle to bring the public on board. DF suggested getting photos of businesses throwing food out, to help convince environmental wardens that it is not just individuals causing the problem. PP thought it was mostly individuals, and it was generally agreed posters would be a good idea. EO suggested asking Alison to design posters.
No Councillor was present.
5.1 Secretary - SRB had objected to one of the recent HMO applications that had come up, but not yet the second one.
5.2 Chair - DF had been in discussion with various parties regarding the Braidwood Centre. He had pointed out to the Council that they need to consult local residents, including the SCC, on its future. People had been invited to show interest in taking over the building for community use, and the Charteris Centre is looking at a joint bid with various other groups. The deadline for showing interest is 20th February. DF has asked for the Council to keep the SCC updated on progress. There was a food bank there before who will probably want to move back in but it is not clear which other groups will come back. DF will have a meeting with the potential partnership organisations on Thursday. The utilities are the biggest risk. JC hoped the Council would continue to support the Centre to some degree. The main concern was that the building would not properly be used for the benefit of the community.
5.3 Treasurer - PP reported that there was £4137 in the bank, and there was still Christmas funding to spend on wine for next year. JC added the decorations at the Southside Community Centre needed to be sorted and suggested SCC members sort through it and keep a box of whatever is useful though storage would be an issue. PP calculated there was £188.95 left from the grants. In general the finances of the SCC are healthy.
5.4 Webmaster - PM was not present but SRB reported that PM had put on the SCC website a link to a petition on disposable vapes. .
6.1 JC had attended the Management Committee of the Southside Community Centre. The name of the Centre has changed to something new. JC thinks it is valuable for SCC members to attend. DF agreed it would be good if we can offer support, and could benefit from their connections to local residents. JC explained they have some interesting projects on e.g. the garden, and a potential projection installation. Minutes are available from JC.
6.2 BH attended an EACC (Edinburgh Association of Community Councils) meeting on 26th January. He had circulated a report and drew attention to a presentation by Andrew Field who is responsible for Community Empowerment and Engagement in the Council. This means he is responsible for Community Grants, working with neighbourhood networks, community planning partnerships and Community Councils in the developmental phase as well as Community Centre Management Committees. DF has previously requested Andrew's attendance at SCC but he is not available. BH was optimistic about the potential of this department, and hoped they would help find clarity around the role of Community Councils and improve communication.
6.3 BH also attended the Members Board of the EACC, which took place on 18th January and concerned a Scottish Government group reviewing community planning/partnerships. The Members Board was looking to form a response to the initiative, and the deadline had passed but it was very short notice. There was another Members Board on 2nd February which BH did not attend but he shared that the report detailed the news of Andrew Field's team and how the Board might respond. BH's email circulations on these meetings have further details. BH suggested if Andrew Field can't make it to an SCC meeting, maybe one of his team can. JC agreed that if part of their remit is helping communication between CCs and the Council, they should be able to attend meetings occasionally. There was a general feeling of disappointment at their lack of enthusiasm. Action - JC to chase Andrew Field and invite him to an SCC meeting.
6.4 DF attended an event called Cosying Our Buildings for Good on 26th November organised by EVOC, attended by community building managers. There seemed to be an appetite to keep the network running and DF suggested it would be good for the Southside Community Centre to attend, though it may not be as helpful for Management Committees who are less autonomous. It was suggested that someone from the Council, such as Andrew Field, could be invited to future events.
6.5 BH attended a webinar about Community Map Scotland, which is software that allows you to map things within your local community, developed in England for use by parish councils and community groups. It is free for a year and there is another webinar coming up.
6.6 JC attended a meeting of Friends of the Meadows and Bruntsfield Links, which has lots of projects happening. Mike Shields's replacement David Kyle is in place and JC will meet him soon; he has already introduced himself by email. PP pointed out the ice cream van which has been parking badly on the bike path in the Meadows. JC has raised it before, as well as a similar issue of a shed near the playpark. DF pointed out A-frame signs are not allowed on the paths.
JC asked about an update on the Scottish Widows building. The last update had been that SRB had objected. Action - SRB to check for news.
SRB has forwarded all applications that have come in. Other than the two HMOs, there was nothing of interest. SRB is also seeking a further update on the Los Argentinos situation.
LL had raised this point, having read a report that £12 million will be cut from the city's Roads and Repair budget. Cold weather makes the roads worse and worse. JC had seen a report on repairs and there are thousands of jobs outstanding. LL expressed frustration about poor prioritisation when bad roads pose a risk to all road users. EO had written to Tim Pogson months ago enquiring about why they were resurfacing St Catherine's Place when other streets should be prioritised and received no satisfactory response. NO pointed out the Council could make money from using speed cameras and use this for road repairs. JC suggested it is a particular danger for cyclists. NO suggested the priority should be pavements, then road edges, for pedestrians'/cyclists' safety. LL had heard about a machine that repairs roads more quickly, but possibly not as effectively. EO added that electric vehicles are heavier so the issue will only increase. There is a plan to ban traffic from the City Centre but this won't be in place for several years. Action - LL to write to Scott Arthur (Transport Convenor) on behalf of the SCC.
BH mentioned that at one of the meetings he attended there was a presentation by Scott Arthur, who pointed out budgetary constraints and that quicker repairs don't last. Additionally, when repairs are contracted out, the work is not always completed to the right standard. AP asked if you can report potholes anywhere; there is a place on the Council website and it was suggested that the link is added to the SCC website. Action PM
10.1 Community Planning - BH advised there is lots going on within community planning, and he is happy to take suggestions to the EACC. He suggested the SCC pull together a list of issues to put to the Council through Andrew Field. All were in agreement that the priority should be to get Andrew Field to attend a meeting. DF raised that many Residents' Associations and CCs have folded since Covid so some areas of Edinburgh are unrepresented.
10.2 Antisocial Behaviour - JC had circulated some information about witnessing a person defecating on the street. This was a repeating issue, and JC had contacted the Police who advised to call 101 if such behaviour is observed. EO pointed out it's a symptom of organised crime and the Police should be tackling the source.
Apologies for March meeting - PP, EO.