Incorporating Cramond, Barnton, Cammo & Quality Street (West)

Minutes of Meeting held on Thurs 20th February 2020 in

Cramond Kirk Millennium Hall

Present:  Andrew Mather (Chair), Ian Williamson (Secretary), John Howison, John Loudon, Jean Morley, Bert Scott, Peter Scott, Percy Feketey, Tom Foggo, Robert Bruce, Patricia Stott and Michael Dick.  Councillors Young, Hutchison and Work had given their apologies as had Peter Scott.   A total of 19 people were in attendance, including Councillor Lang. 

Minutes of January 2020 Meeting

The minute of the January meeting was approved.

Police Report

As for the previous month, the crime statistics for January were particularly low.  Apart from a few housebreakings involving the theft of bikes from garages on Strathalmond Road and a couple of ASBOs, there was little to report.   Some concerns were raised about the speed of traffic on the Maybury Road where despite the recent introduction of a 30 mph limit and the presence of roadworks associated with the Cammo Fields development cars continued to be driven at excessive speeds – of up to 50 and 60 mph.  There had been some handheld speed checks, but it was suggested that perhaps more were required especially in what was still the early day of the new limits.      

Chairman’s Report

The Chairman provided an update on the Cramond Glebe Road TRO.  The 147 objections had resulted in the need for a Public Hearing at which a Reporter, appointed by Scottish Ministers, would hear the arguments from both sides and would determine whether or not to support the TRO.  The City of Edinburgh Council had submitted its case which in turn had been shared with the objectors.  Some would choose to respond; others, including the Community Council, planned to keep their powder dry for the hearing. The CC objective was to present a case which would see the TRO thrown out necessitating a fresh planning application from the Care company.   

An earlier attempt by the CC to challenge the continuing validity of the planning approval on the grounds of the company not having committed to works on-site by the due date had been rejected by the Council.    The Chairman also thanked John Skinner for his support with some of the very technical aspects concerning the TRO.  John went on to elaborate on two particular points he had been pursuing more recently one concerning an FOI approach made to the Council concerning the site and archaeological surveys. The other to flag up that the chosen Reporter had only last year found against the Council in relation to a planned development in Granton (which decision was now the subject of a judicial review being pursued by the Council).

The Chairman also advised he had pursued Dave Sinclair again about the continuing absence of yellow lines on Whitehouse Road near Cramond Vale.  Another near miss involving a child and a bus had been witnessed in recent weeks.

An update on Dowies Mill re-affirmed the Council’s continuing determination to steamroller through a proposal which would see the removal of the millpond impacting on the marine life in the river.  The Council’s preferred proposal was also scheduled to cost more than the alternative, environmentally friendly, options which FRAW had identified.  The CC and the various local groups were preparing a press release to expose this latest Council folly.  

Presentation on City Plan (and related Mobility Plan)

John Howison made a presentation on these two interdependent policy papers which were currently the subject of an intensive engagement process by the Council.  Together they combined to shape the future vision for continuing residential and commercial growth and at the same time tried to address the transport consequences and set the vision for the next twenty years. 

On the Mobility Plan, he commented that the vision was in many ways admirable but delivery more questionable.  The Plan was predicated on a transport hierarchy starting with Active Travel (comprising walking and cycling) down through Public Transport, Shared Transport to Private Cars.  The determination was to create a future where cars were not required to live and thrive in Edinburgh.  The document was, however, very light on the issue of the origins and destinations of transport from the periphery of the City. In addition, it represented a vision entirely more deliverable for the younger, fitter, more ambulant age group but offering little for those that did not fit into that demographic.   Some transport actions were laudable, but there was a dearth of commitment to maintenance and preservation of city streets and highway network.  

The current roads degradation was especially harmful to cyclists and public transport (an issue which has since the February meeting been the subject of media coverage).   The absence of a fully-funded asset management plan was a fundamental concern.  The maintenance of roads capacity for private road traffic was critical to enabling cross arterial trips and where there is a diversity of trip origins and destinations requiring to be sustained.    The vision for more park and rides capacity was to be welcome but what was proposed was woefully inadequate if there was to be a real impact on commuting and congestion.    Trams should not be seen as a panacea; they lack flexibility and failed to achieve the speed capable of being achieved by, for example, express buses.  There was a fundamental concern at the loss of road capacity at the expense of the further pursuit of support for active travel.  And there was concern that replacing general on-street parking policy with more restricted parking for residents may be ineffective in countering thrombosis on some arterial roads.

On the City Plan 2030, there were four key objectives and from these 16 aspects.  Much of the ensuing detail in the Plan did not relate to NW Edinburgh, and John went on to focus on those elements which did. In relation to underutilised open spaces, there was a concern that moving to a more permissive regime may be exploited by developers. The preference would be to continue with a presumption against development unless the specific site justified the more permissive policy.   It was argued that the proposed building densities might lead to the cramming of suburbs and loss of smaller, more intimate green spaces.  The design and layout policies for roads to further support the active travel policies risked a further loss of usable transport capacity for public and private transport.  The scale of the policy and planned implementation of park and ride capacity was inadequate in relation to the volume of traffic entering the City.  It lacked vision and imagination.  With the current level of development commitment at Cammo and around the Airport, the prospect of further loss of green belt between and around these developments was considered untenable.        

There was little by way of dissenting voices against the themes which John outlined as the basis for his proposed draft response to each of these two related documents.  He agreed to pull together a response which would capture these points.   The Chairman and members thanked him for his considerations and his presentation. 

Secretary’s Report

The issue of capacity and demand planning for Older People and the exchange which had taken place with the Edinburgh Health and Social Care Partnership (EHSCP) was discussed.  The discussion re-affirmed that a commercial determination to progress a care home development (notwithstanding the fact that there may be a needs assessment suggesting that more local provision was not required) would enable the planning committee to support the development (assuming other planning considerations met.   The EHSCP assessment cannot block the development if there is a commercial determination to proceed; they can merely encourage, but not curtail.  The discussion revealed no appetite to challenge this policy. 

On bus services, the discussion was again muted on any inclination to pursue the Council on its handling of the current round of subsidised services considerations.

On the response received about the resurfacing of the last section of the Whitehouse Road (from the Burgess to Queensferry Road), there was support for a further follow-up.    That decisions to include roads projects in a forward programme could be approved by Councillors at Committees and then set aside without recourse back to Councillors was considered unacceptable in terms of governance.  

Councillors Reports

Councillor Lang reported on what he considered to have been an extremely trying day in the Council Chamber.  Earlier in the afternoon, the budget for 2020/21 had been before the full Council. He had found it a terrible experience watching budgetary decisions being made that were to result in the complete removal of funding for community policing, all qualified nursery teachers (130) would be lost, the funding to sports centres reduced and librarians to be removed from libraries.  The Lib Dems had offered a costed budget which was not supported.  For example, the Council was continuing to expend £1m a year on jobs which had ceased some years ago; the cost is because of its policy of no compulsory redundancies.   In his view, a terrible budget had been voted through by the administration. 

Other Business

Michael Dick mentioned an event proposed for Lauriston Castle which was generating much opposition (further details not required as the info came through within hours of the meeting to confirm the event would not be going ahead at Lauriston Castle)   He also reminded those present that AMA had until 9 April to complete the sports ground requirement attaching to the original planning permission. 

The next meeting set for 19 March was subsequently cancelled owing to the developing Coronavirus situation and the risks attaching to gatherings, especially for older people.   This minute was approved following circulation to members.    

Date of Next Meeting

  • Due to Covid-19, all further meetings are currently suspended.