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Maureen Child Report February 2014

More ‘Dementia Friendly’ Communities
Around 7,700 people over the age of 65 with dementia are living in Edinburgh. In the next 20 years, this is forecast to rise by 65% to over 12,000. ‘Dementia Friendly’ communities will want to make sure that there is a general understanding of the condition so that we create friendly places for people who suffer from dementia and those who care for them.  We had a very successful campaign launch event in Portobello Library inspired by Sandra Shafi who has led a similar campaign successfully in Motherwell. The Portobello steering group have successfully applied for a grant from the Portobello/Craigmillar Neighbourhood Partnership to print leaflets which will enable volunteers to take the message out to the businesses and neighbourhoods locally.  As part of our Portobello campaign, local care provider Home Instead are offering a free awareness raising training on Tuesday 11 March from 7pm to 9pm at St Philip’s Church, Brunstane Road North.  The evening will cover the causes, symptoms and different types of dementia, the importance of diagnosis, medication, diet and lifestyle and different ways to help and ensure people remain part of their community.

Edmonstone and Greendykes
Last week, Sheila Gilmore MP and I had a meeting with a Council planning officer to try and get to grips with all the proposals which have come forward historically and what proposals are current for the area of ground around Edmonstone Ridge to the South East, much of which is in the Green Belt.  Some proposals are subject to live planning applications – in one case, three for the same bit of Green Belt land.  At least I now have a map on loan from the planning officer which should help me get my bearings in future.

Central Portobello Traffic Light Changes
The traffic light sequence on the Portobello High Street/Bath Street/Brighton Place junction has changed, along with two controlled crossings nearby. I met with the officers responsible last week and fed back some of the comments I had. The first week, there was quite a back up on Brighton Place, but the timings were adjusted to give more green time to Brighton Place traffic.  A camera was placed at the junction to monitor the flow in real time at peak periods to see if it needs further tweaking. These changes were made to ensure that traffic cleared the centre of the junction by coordinating the lights at the three pedestrian crossings at peak periods.  While the two crossings at Portobello Town Hall and Windsor Place no longer change immediately on demand, there are now two phases of green light on the main junction in every cycle where there was only one before.  This all takes a bit of getting used to and has been perceived by some as less safe.  Positive feedback is that it has reduced some of the fast rat-running that used to happen in our side streets both north and south.  The green man timing is 6 seconds and indicates when it is safe to start crossing.  There is another 15 seconds of ‘dead time’ which is also designed as safe crossing time for pedestrians.  No pedestrian should wait for much longer than a minute to get a green man signal to cross. There is never going to be an ideal balance to suit everyone, but I believe we should stick with it for now.  The change is being monitored and I‘m still open to feedback on how it’s working.

Hunter’s Hall Park
The three local Councillors at last had a briefing on the proposals being developed by the Council’s culture and sport section for Hunter’s Hall Park, alongside Edinburgh Leisure who run the sports facility there. They have involved the Jack Kane Community Wing in these discussions, at my insistence, but we have been making the point, for a while now, that until the wider community are consulted on the principle of having facilities for developing cycling as a sport, there is very little point in preparing detailed plans. They are now consulting more widely, and they might not like what they hear.  The more immediate priority for local people would probably be to retain as much playable games pitch space as possible.  They may well want to complete the next environmental improvement phase of the Niddrie Burn Restoration Project, before introducing facilities for cycling – a sport they don’t currently take part in.

Be ‘Stair Aware’
The community safety subgroup of our local partnership gets regular updates from the fire and rescue service which is now centralised as the Scottish Fire and Rescue Service.  They completed 167 home safety visits in two months last year and fitted 112 smoke detectors, but there is more to do to help prevent fires breaking out.  The smoke is more of a potential killer when a fire breaks out and the service has a lot of concern about the lack of use of door entry systems and the fact that a lot of people store things in the common stair.  Even a child’s buggy or a bike can prove combustible in rare circumstances, as people in Bath Street and Ramsay Place Portobello found out last year.  The service is conducting a ‘stair aware’ campaign.  The free home safety check can be ordered at 0800 0731 999.

Two New Pedestrian Crossings Planned
Two controlled pedestrian crossings are planned for the local area.  One was flagged up by accident statistics in Duddingston Park South from Niddrie Mill over to Scotmid and Farmfoods.  The other was identified by local people and is being funded through the Neighbourhood Partnership at Abercorn Terrace near St Philip’s Church.  The latter has been a priority for local Joppa people for many years.  The local environment forum’s fund is the same share of the local roads budget we used to install traffic calming on Joppa Terrace and a crossing at Milton Road East opposite the Coillesdene sheltered housing. Anyone can nominate an improvement project that they think should have priority and we can consider it at local partnership level.

Portobello Town Hall
The Town Hall in Portobello is covered in scaffolding at the moment and you might have wondered what’s happening? The current works are:-

  • Repairs to the roof coverings which include slate work, mastic asphalt and guttering.
  •  Some investigation work being carried out on the structural movement of the property as well as potential drainage defects to the building.
  • Stonework repairs including a rake out and re-point to the east and west side elevations and to the front elevation pediment ashlar area at high level over the first floor and roof deck.
  • A de-scale of the masonry and check on all dentil fixings.
  • Above ground drainage – repair hopper heads and apply a liquid plastic type coating to the inner section.
  •  Dry dash sections – patch repairs at high level of the gable elevations.

Some Disability Discrimination Act (DDA) works are also being carried out.  They are installing an induction loop, updating the fire alarm system, and re-doing some signage and parking markings.

Figgate Burn Clean Up
I heard that fourteen wonderful people turned up in the high winds, cold and rain at Bridge Street car park last Sunday morning to clean up the Figgate Burn.  I must confess I chickened out and stomped around some tenements to deliver leaflets instead, and lost my woolly grey hat in the process. Very well done to everyone involved in the clean up.  And if anyone else wants to organise a ‘Spring Clean’ of their local area, do let me know!