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

Minutes of Meeting held on Thurs 21st January 2021 via Microsoft Teams

Participating: John Loudon (JL, acting Chair) John Howison, Vice-Chair, Ian Williamson (Secretary), John Loudon, Jean Morley, Bert Scott, Peter Scott, Percy Feketey, Tom Foggo, Robert Bruce, Gena Wylie, Kit Campbell and Michael Dick. Councillors Lang, Hutchison and Work were also in attendance (Councillor Hutchison joining around 7:30pm). Apologies had been received from Councillor Young and Patricia Stott. Some seven members of the public also participated in the meeting.

JL reported that the health of Andrew Mather remained fragile but that more support was now being provided at home. The thoughts of all present were with him and his family. Despite the continuing challenges facing the CC in terms of meaningful engagement with the Edinburgh Council membership was at a high with all 15 places available for elected members currently filled. There was a need for all to be prepared to help better share the workload. JL stressed how much Andrew had done for the Community Council over many years and that he was owe a great deal of thanks.

The AGM and Meeting minutes were approved, and the Secretary confirmed that the Annual Accounts and Annual Report and covering letter had been sent to and received by the Council. The nomination and appointment of Kit Campbell as a new co-opted member had been noted by the Council.

Police Report

The new style Police Report aggregated to the Almond locality area was noted and the Secretary undertook to write to advise that it would remain our expectation that if there were any particular episode(s) of criminality in the CC area that the report would feature these.

Kit Campbell spoke to the Cramond Car Park paper which had been circulated. He reminded people of the background to the considerations about what improvements residents and visitors to Cramond would wish to see progressed. The vision for the car park was at a very early stage and wider consultation through the Collaborative with the various local groups would be required before further progress could be made. JL signalled his support for the concept which also had the support of the Chair and the Secretary and would have been shared before but for Covid.

Responding to concerns about the ability of any third party being able to take over and charge for a Council owned car park Councillor Hutchison cited the Castle Terrace Car Park as an example of such an arrangement (albeit one with a commercial operator). The prospect of charging raised concerns about the risk of displacement of drivers unprepared to pay to other on street parking opportunities and other car parks nearby – such as at School Brae and Cramond Kirk Car Park. It was noted that this had been a particular issue during lockdown, including locally during a period when the Cramond Car park was closed and Cramond Glebe Road itself was closed. Against this the status quo was not working and the many much needed improvements to the car park were unlikely to be funded by the Council. Some limited work to try to establish the views of car park users on charging had indicated a greater willingness to pay where the money was seen to be being re-invested in the local area – but not if it was going into Council coffers. There remained significant issues to be considered.

Planning Report 

Peter Scott spoke to the Planning Report which had been circulated and which is attached as an Annex to the minute. There was discussion about the Brighouse application with much of it again reflecting the frustration about the recurrent ability of AMA to renegue on its commitments and the state of the former playing fields. (This issue was the subject of further discussion later in the meeting as part of the Councillors report back). Reference was made to the Community Council’s pre-application comments to Juniper Residential regarding the proposed over-55s development on Barnton Avenue West.

The CC’s concerns include the visual impacts of some apartment blocks, parking issues and the single entrance to the 33-apartment building, which would restrict social distancing at the entrance/exit and in long corridors in a continuing or future period of virus infections. Proposals to run drainage along the boundary of the golf course will overcome previous issues of site drainage.

That the CC has decided to suspend the engagement on the CPR concerning Cammo Walk and the Barnton Junction was regrettable but unavoidable against the failure by the Council to treat the process seriously – neither fielding all appropriate officers nor identifying solutions.

Secretary’s Report

Ian Williamson spoke to the Secretary’s report (again in Annex). Despite further chasers to the responsible official no response had been secured on the Council’s promise to provide access protection markings across various driveways on Whitehouse Road between Cramond Place and Fair-a-Far. A wholly unsatisfactory reply had been received from the Scottish Government on the issue of Samuel Smith’s policy of not offering a cashless/contactless payment method at the Cramond Inn during the pandemic.

Again, despite a commitment from a Council official no follow-up had been received to the commitment to develop an action plan covering access to Cramond Village and various related matters concerning the car park and the promenade. With the imminent prospect of the long awaited hearing into the TRO promulgated in support of the planned new Care Home there was a sensitivity about pressing on this matter at this time. The problems had been endured for many many years – another year was arguably a small price to pay.

Finally, the Secretary reported on the approach from the Evening News which had gone to all CCs in Edinburgh seeking a reaction to the FoI reponse from the Edinburgh Council about how many formal complaints it had received regarding the Spaces for People schemes. The Council had advised the News of 2 such complaints. The CC had advised of the inputs it had offered and of the general sense of incredulity at many of the schemes which had been implemented. The pretence of engagement had also been a source of particular frustration.

The City Councillors reported on their engagement with Juniper Residential about its application, and about their shared concerns regarding grit bins and other Winter services. Shortage of key staff was the reason they were getting from management although conflicting answers were being received about where the shortages lay (in which department). Pavements/walkways and residential streets were low in the priority for gritting – albeit the Council did now have purpose-built vehicles for pavements and walkways and had sophisticated GPS based systems for prioritising and managing their operation.

Concerns were expressed about ice hazards on Silverknowes/Cramond promenade. The AMA site was a matter of renewed concern following the identification of the level of waste that had been found on the site. Concerns about possible flammability and toxicity of some materials which had been identified had resulted in the Council instructing Environmental Wardens to visit the site and access storage and canisters. The Health and Safety Executive had also been called in. Councillor Lang said that the papers for next week’s Development Management Committee meeting were out and that, to his surprise, the AMA case was not featured. The CC requested that our Councillors seek a site visit and hearing by the Development Management Meeting. Accountability needed to be established. A review was being conducted into the effectiveness of the Airports Noise Advisory Board and the CC would have an opportunity to input.

Any Other Business

Under Any Other Business a report was provided on the CC’s Facebook page. Good progress and activity was reported, but scope for improvement in the CC responding to comments. The Joint Community Participation Request which the CC and other neighbouring NW Edinburgh CCs had progressed had made it clear to the Council that the current structures for engagement were not working.

This was entirely at the door of the Council with the shortcomings going to the heart of the organisation. The culture was flawed, there were significant capacity challenges, staff shortages and churn and structures which changed so frequently that none could command the buy-in or respect of managers.

Finally, John Howison reported on the Nights Flights consultation that was in progress. The paper was exploring the scope for extending the restricted airports beyond the three London airports and while airports were now a devolved matter the fact that the policy of requiring more to come under regulation was not been explored meant that the Scottish Government could not consider the implications for Scotland.

Apologies were given for the technical issues which delayed the start of the meeting reported above.

Date of Next Meeting

Thursday 18 February 2021 at 7 PM via MS Teams