CRAMOND & BARNTON COMMUNITY COUNCIL
Incorporating Cramond, Barnton, Cammo & Quality Street (West)
Minutes of Meeting held on Thurs 19th May 2022 via Microsoft Teams
Participating: John Loudon (Chair), John Howison (Vice-chair), Ian Williamson (Secretary), Sally Chalmers (Engagement Officer), Hamish Barrie, Robert Bruce, Michael Dick, Percy Feketey, Jean Morley and Bert Scott.
In attendance: Councillor Louise Young, Peter Scott and Kit Campbell
Gena Wylie (Treasurer), Tom Foggo, Councillors Graham Hutchison, Kevin Lang and Louise Young.
Approval of April 2022 Minutes
The minutes were approved.
Following on from the Hearts and Minds discussion John Loudon had approached Toby Sanderson of Community Shares Scotland in an effort to persuade him to speak at the September meeting – scheduled to be held in public at the Cramond Kirkhall. Mr Sanderson was unable to manage the meeting due to holiday plans.
High Visibility Patrols would continue to be conducted across the area in an effort to deter drivers committing offences. Regular patrols will continue to try to clamp down on anti-social behaviour by drivers and groups with the Cramond area being a particular focus. The encampment at Cramond Car Park was for the Council to address although the Police stood ready to deal with any offences if they arose and the public was encouraged to report accordingly.
The main item of interest was that the Police will be targeting speeding drivers, including at hotspots in Cramond and Barnton.
Report on Jacobs Study covering Barnton Junction/Cammo Participation Request Update
John Loudon, Peter Scott and John Howison had met with CEC officials and their consultants following the receipt of three technical reports and John Howison spoke to a series of slides. These slides illustrated the emerging plans which officials had been developing in support of a two-way dedicated cycle way on the east side of Whitehouse Road between Barnton Avenue West and the Queensferry Road. Includes is a signalised diagonal cycle crossing of the Barnton Junction to continue the cycle way on the east side of the Maybury Road southwards running into the remote cycleway which will be formed within the Cala/David Wilson developments.
This will reduce the carriageway width of the Whitehouse Road from Barnton Avenue West to the entrance to the Royal Burgess golf club to a single lane in each direction. The east side had been chosen because it had no side roads and very few private houses with vehicular exits on to the road (unlike the west side). The reduced carriageway width will make on-road parking very problematical. Similarly, the section of the new cycle way running from the entrance to the Royal Burgess to the Queensferry Road would reduce the width of the carriageway from Barnton Grove to the Queensferry Road which would mean the loss of one of the two right hand lanes currently turning west towards the Forth Crossing.
The route from the Royal Burgess entrance across the front of the Barnton shops would also (according to the officials) require the loss of the car parking bays in front of the Barnton shops – although it was planned to preserve 2 disabled bays. John Howison went on to detail the changes to the lights (and some traffic and pedestrian islands) and how these would impact on traffic but improve pedestrian movements. The route of the cycle way on the Maybury Road and across the entrance into Cammo Gardens would bring with it new traffic signals at that junction on the Maybury Road, although the impact on the carriageway width of the cycle way also brought with the loss of a right turn into Cammo Gardens from the Maybury Road south bound. The CEC had explained that the proposals were only possible because they carried 70% grant funding from Scottish Government and SUSTRANS and would need to meet the tight criteria for the award.
The presentation of the plans provoked a lively exchange with most vehemently opposed to the sacrifice of lane capacity and, especially, parking spaces outside the Barnton shops. The demographic of the CC area was of an aging population (some 23% considered to be over 70) and with that the dependency on cars to get to the shops was higher than in many areas.
While not in the control of the City of Edinburgh Council the problems of parking capacity were likely to get worse with the news that the Bank of Scotland would be closing the Barnton branch – the Bank has some 10/12 car parking spaces which are regularly used by customers of both the bank – and of the shops. There was a voice of strong support for the cycle way which it was argued would enable more families with children – especially living in Cammo – to cycle in greater safety to Cramond Primary. It was however emphasised that the cycle way did not continue beyond Barnton Avenue West – its purpose being to link up with the NN1.
The junction of Cammo Gardens and the Maybury Road also provoked diverse and divergent views. The loss of a right turn from the Maybury Road into Cammo Gardens was heavily criticised with none of the resultant alternatives welcomed. A plea for traffic lights instead at the Cammo Road/Queensferry Road junction was made as the spectre of the loss of a right turn from the Maybury Road into Cammo Gardens would prompt an increase in the number of cars using Cammo Road to enter the Cammo/Strathalmond Estate. This had been raised with officials who had said that the impact on traffic flows and capacity on the Queensferry Road of such a signalised junction would be considerable and would not support the introduction of lights. There was also concerns that the provision of lights at Cammo Gardens and Maybury Road would result in more congestion at the exit to Cammo Gardens than currently existed. There is however a commitment to conduct a microsimulation model which will offer greater clarity on the impact here and at other junctions affected.
Of greater concern to both Councillor Kevin Lang and Councillor Norman Work was the fact that this was the first they, as Ward Councillors, were hearing of these detailed emerging plans. They were clear as to the likely reaction from many living in the community not least of whom would be the shopkeepers at the Barnton shops. The impact on loss of business of the recent road resurfacing had been significant. Proximity of parking was critical to the viability of these businesses. John Howison said that these proposals had only recently been shared with certain members of the Community Council under the terms of the Community Participation Request process and that there was an immediate need to get the reactions and ideas of the wider CC.
What was now being reflected back during the CC meeting very much echoed the reactions which he and colleagues who had met with the Council officials had raised. These principally concerned the loss of parking at the shops, plus the impact on traffic flows through the junction as well as the loss of a right turn into Cammo Gardens and the increased pressures on the Cammo Road junction with the Queensferry Road.
The promised detailed modelling would reveal more about likely impact. Ian Williamson added that the CPR process was very new and both officials and members of public bodies were still learning about what that meant for engagement and transparency. The CC members had been pressing officials relentlessly to reveal what was emerging from the Study. Officials had indicated that they were looking to take the proposals to a wider communication and consultation in the Autumn. The problem for the CC was that key members were now aware of what may be in prospect and not sharing that knowledge with the wider community would have been untenable.
The exchanges continued. The proposals fell short in terms of facilitating getting children to school. And they would make the issues of traffic capacity worse. The Council could not go on supporting more and more developments in South Queensferry and Kirkliston and the feeder communities to the A90 and allow more and more people to commute into Edinburgh. Kevin Lang said that good, well-located park and ride arrangements were required. He was also asked to consider the delays in implementing the speed reduction on the Queensferry Road to 30mph approved by the Council some time ago.
The need for congestion charging was raised. Access to The Royal Burgess would be compromised by the cycle way running across it. Above all the proposals should be resisted at all costs if appropriate parking arrangements for the Barnton shops could not be secured. Or were the commitments to 20-minute Neighbourhoods and Infrastructure First merely empty rhetoric.
John Howison advised that a detailed update on this was covered in the Secretary’s Report. He had more recently been invited to attend a further meeting on Air Change proposals.
Planning and Secretary’s Report
Ian Williamson referring to the planning update in the Secretary’s Report corrected the address reference to that of Barnton Avenue West. Planning permission had now been granted for the retirement complex.
Before moving off planning issues John Loudon provided a brief update on the AMA Brighouse issue. The Mediator was scheduled to have a further meeting with AMA. It was hoped an update on this could be provided at the June meeting. The process was time consuming and the prospect of impending personnel changes to the Planning Committee membership brought more uncertainty. (There has been a meeting and an update will follow at the June CC meeting).
The Secretary’s Report also detailed the proceedings at a recent online meeting which the Secretary had participated in, and which was about whether there was a need for an appeals process to be developed around the Community Participation Request process. The overwhelming consensus was that such a process was needed although the complexities of what it would look like were not underestimated. The capacity within public bodies to deal with the process had been noted.
The Secretary had also been involved in a meeting to discuss the forthcoming requirement on Councils to require the landlords running Short Term Lets to seek planning permission for such use – where to date the property is registered as for private residential use. Again, the Report covers the detail concerning this issue. The fundamental concern would appear to be the magnitude of the process and load that will be placed on an already stretched Planning Department of the Council. It was agreed that the Secretary would write to the EACC to convey these concerns.
The service 41 was to be the subject of a change of route from early June. Lothian Buses had publicised this change of route with no prior forewarning to the CC nor consultation. The response offered to the CC to an approach made to operational managers had been both derisory and patronising. That approach had sought a meeting to discuss the concerns in particular of those who were to lose the service 41 along the section of the Queensferry Road from Barnton to Davidson’s Mains. It was noted that many supported the route change and that there was to be an increase in the frequency of the 43 from South Queensferry however the withdrawal of the 41 along the Queensferry Road still meant a significant loss of service on the section.
The Secretary read from a response which had gone to a member of the community from a Senior Customer Services Adviser at Lothian Buses which response at least offered a frank explanation of the reasons for the change of route. Taking out the section on the Queensferry Road removed the main point of congestion for the service and was risking its viability. They also contended that most who got on the service at present on the affected section were destined for the City Centre which was served also by the 43.
There followed a series of exchanges about public service operations in a competitive environment – with concerns about the extent to which there existed real competition in Edinburgh; about the imperative of services being viable – and whether that meant each service had to stand or fall on its own merits; about the absence of accountability over Lothian Buses (with Edinburgh seeming content to take the dividend and ask no questions – and about public engagement.
Councillor Work explained the background to the previous introduction of the Service 43 from South Queensferry and the fact that it carried a higher fare in part reflecting concerns at the time LB took it over. Journey time was also a critical factor to the success and viability of the service – and other services and went some way towards explaining why other Fife services stopped very infrequently en route into the city. Councillor Lang had had to leave the meeting earlier and was not present for this topic. The need for the Council to work to take steps to facilitate the bus passage to the city had been recognised by the Convenor to the Transport and Environment Committee when the service 43 was announced. Given the lack of progress on this point it may be understood why LB has taken the decision it has taken on the service 41. The lack of engagement displayed by LB was seen as insensitive if not offensive. It was known that members of the public had written to both Ward Councillors and to the local MSP about their concerns. It was agreed that the Secretary should write to the Ward Councillors and to the MSP about this and seek involvement in any meetings they can secure with Lothian Buses.
John Loudon provided an update on the 4 June event. Some 1000 leaflets about the CC and its role had been run off for which we must thank Sally Chalmers and he would be seeking help from members in the distribution thereof.
Councillor Work said that the Council was in flux following the recent elections with the changes in the political make-up. There was no Lord Provost, nor Leader. Committees had yet to be formed and alliances forged – or broken.
On the Travellers Encampment he asked – and the Secretary confirmed – that notices to quit had been served on 12 April. He would pursue this again with official.
Date of Next Meeting
Thursday 16 June 2022 at 7 PM to be held online using Microsoft Teams. The meeting will be the CC’s AGM.