CC Members: Daniel Fisher (DF) (Chair), Philip McDowell (PM), Joan Carter (JC), Alex Alderton (AA) (Minutes), Nicholas Oddy (NO), Bob Hodgart (BH).
Councillor: Tim Pogson (TP).
Members of the Public: Lyn Blackhall (LB), Michael Calwell (MC), Stuart Collins (SC), John Lightfoot (JL).
DF welcomed everyone to the meeting.
Apologies from Betty Offerman, Philip Pinsky, Stephen Roger Benson, Liz Logie, David Wood.
2.1 Criminal Activity - LB and MC brought the issue of the rise in drugs and shoplifting in the area (further discussed in Item 9).
2.2 Lutton Place - MC mentioned illegal parking near Lutton Place with people parking on/near the pedestrian crossing frequently. He has contacted the police but they claim it is outwith their remit and MC acknowledged it may not just be a problem in Southside. LB added the issue of drivers not stopping correctly at the pedestrian crossing. Both issues have previously been raised by SCC with the police; TP pointed out parking permits etc. are a Council matter and it may be possible to ask for Parking Officers to focus on that area. There was a general feeling that it is an ongoing issue. JC and MC talked briefly about the often discussed idea of closing off Lutton Pl to non- resident, or through traffic. JC pointed out the school (Preston St Primary) is also interested in this and that discussions will hopefully be renewed soon. TP is in contact with the relevant Council department and will continue to bring up the issue with them.
3.1 Minutes - The minutes of the last meeting were approved subject to the following amendments:
3.2 EACC - BH had previously circulated amendments to the point about the EACC in the November minutes and in December the November minutes were approved without these changes. The SCC agreed it would be good to add a note to the minutes clarifying a few points as circulated by BH. Action: PM to upload amendments to website. JC clarified that BH is the SCC's representative for the EACC and has been elected as a Board member, and BH and JC are working together to cover EACC work.
3.3 Birds in Nicolson Square Gardens - JC provided an update on behalf of Liz Logie. There had been no response from the RSPB and the posters seen in North Berwick do not seem relevant in this case. LL had heard about trials of sonar technology in Elgin to stop gulls. Feeding is the real problem with Environmental Wardens not taking responsibility; the feeding comes from individuals as well as bins and restaurant waste. DF suggested in Ocean Terminal they used to have falcons coming in. JC added that peregrines live locally but don't seem to have much impact on other birds. MC suggested putting up a sign. SC expressed concern that sonar (i.e. a high frequency sound) might have a negative effect on other animals and children. LL is continuing to work on finding solutions.
TP reported that most of the period since the last meeting has been covered by the Christmas break so there has been little of note. The last full Council meeting was in December. There was a proposal passed to put together an Energy Efficiency Taskforce to look at efficiency in hard-to-heat homes like tenements, and bring together several services to focus on fuel poverty. The main focus the next few months will be setting the budget for 23/24 which will be hard due to cuts to funding from Scottish/UK governments. The indicative budget suggests an 8% cut overall, but as there are some areas that can't be cut such as education and care, the remaining areas will face larger than 8% cuts. The Council is committed to no redundancies and maintaining services, so cuts will be focused on income-generating areas such as planning/licensing, rationalising property of the Council (i.e. getting rid of spare office buildings) and sharing resources. The budget will be finalised by March with the final numbers coming from the government in late February.
DF asked about whether there would be cuts to funding that comes from the government but is implemented by the Council such as the Southside Community Grants and the No One Left Behind employability scheme. TP could not confirm but will make enquiries.
There was a general feeling that 8% cuts will be difficult to make and some key areas may be affected. TP reiterated discussions are ongoing and the Council is considering what would affect people the least.
JC enquired about the Short Term Lets (STL) legislation which has been postponed due to the rising cost of living. JC pointed out this is counter-intuitive as homes need to be freed up to create reasonably priced housing. TP explained the decision to delay implementation by six months came from the Scottish Government and the Council is unable to act prior to this. There was a general discussion around STLs and how the new legislation will affect the Festivals, people renting out their spare room (as websites like Airbnb originally intended) and the various communities in and around Edinburgh.
5.1 Secretary - SRB was not present.
5.2 Chair - DF had nothing to report except there is a community buildings heating event on at the Charteris Centre on 26th January organised by EVOC; anyone interested can contact DF. EVOC is trying to build a network of community building teams.
5.3 Treasurer - PP was not present.
5.4 Webmaster - PM has had difficulty sending SCC emails; the CC members had had various levels of success in receiving them. The issue is with the service provider so PM will contact them if there are further issues.
BH had attended the Member's Board of EACC which takes place every 2 weeks. BH had been to three so far and reported the secretary doesn't wish the minutes to be circulated to Community Councils currently. The Board has been looking at statements made in the Edinburgh Plan by the Council about the role of Community Councils and has identified inconsistencies between different documents. The Board is producing a letter for the attention of the Edinburgh Partnership to try and create consistency and clarity around Community Councils' relationship to the Edinburgh Partnership and their significance in Edinburgh. It is also working on an application for a small amount of funding to support the EACC's admin expenses, which they were previously in receipt of.
JC had also attended one of the meetings. Regarding the minutes not being circulated to Community Councils, PM thought because the EACC's meetings are not public they may not want things spread widely. BH clarified when the EACC meets in full (every month) these are open to public but the Member's Board meetings are not. TP mentioned the Health and Social Care Partnership were keen to have representative from the EACC but there had been no nomination yet.
Historical vision documents had been uploaded to the website. DF is in communication with Pam Orchard and hopes to plan a strategy day when the documents can be updated. JC mentioned they will need a lot of work as they are old and written by various individuals. It was agreed that they will be a good starting point and Pam's support will be valuable; after the documents have been rewritten priorities and goals can be agreed. PM advised having an audit once the vision is complete to ensure progress is made. There was a discussion of how to gather the views of local residents (who the CC represents); various methods had been used in the past by different groups and DF suggested contacting these groups to gain advice. It was agreed that it is crucial that the CC follows through with this project as many groups start up but do not last. TP suggested the Councillors might be able to join in the strategy day. DF will keep liaising with Pam.
MC raised that he has witnessed lots of drug use around the area particularly outside the Drouthy Neebors pub which can be distressing. DF suggested when it's outside a business the Licensing Board can look into it; TP mentioned the police can be involved too. TP attended a meeting from the Police Alcohol Partnership and the police were surprisingly engaged so would probably appreciate hearing about these concerns though they may already be aware; he will mention it. JC advised the most recent police report from December is on the SCC website and different groups are mentioned so there may be a contact in the report. PM informed those present of a consultation from the police about what their priorities should be; there is a background report of 26 pages which makes the consultation a little inaccessible. The police used to come to every SCC meeting, then quarterly, but now not they do not have enough resources and do a newsletter instead, though the SCC is always welcome to contact them. Those present agreed someone should do the consultation on the SCC's behalf. The deadline is 12th February.
10.1 Uplands Roast - SC, the owner of Uplands Roast (a coffee van on the Meadows) was present after having attended Community Council meetings in Glasgow and being impressed by engagement in local politics. He wished for people to have a face to put to the business and a contact to approach if there are any issues. He is also involved in Friends of the Meadows. SC's pitch and his neighbour's pitch come together and SC is looking to take over the license for both pitches (currently managed by the neighbour). SC reassured the CC he does not wish to reinstate the bar that was at the end of the two pitches last year, and this was not an initiative of his. TP explained that last year when the bar was applied for there was controversy and he was impressed by SC's efforts to avoid such conflict in the future. There was a general discussion around the commercialisation of public space and whilst those present accepted a need for businesses on the Meadows such businesses have not always been welcome or well-managed. SC requested feedback on the music they play in the van and there were no complaints from those present. There was a discussion around the conflicts with cyclists using the path adjacent to the van; SC has a 'slow down' sign and a barrier to mitigate this but agreed it can be problematic.
10.2 Southside Community Centre - JC had been actioned to talk to the Centre's Management Committee to invite a representative from them to attend SCC meetings on occasion. Their AGM is coming up soon. JC had talked to Jamie who said he would have a word with the Management Committee first. TP commented the Councillors attend the Management Committee meetings on a rota and he is impressed by the new energy at the Centre. DF pointed out they are looking at getting more admin support and becoming less reliant on the Council. Action - JC to contact Management Committee members to invite them to SCC meetings and see if SCC members would be welcome at their AGM or other meetings.
Apologies for February - PM