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Maureen Child Report January 2014

Dementia Aware Portobello
We are launching on 3 February in Portobello Library and looking for local volunteers to help us take this great initiative further forward. The current steering group is a partnership of public, private, charity and community members and needs people to commit just a little bit of their time and energy to help make it happen, raise people’s awareness and ensure Portobello is a generally understanding and friendly place for people who suffer from dementia. It won’t happen at all if we are not aware of how this condition affects people and know what to do to help, and what not to do. All of us will know someone who is affected by memory loss at some time in their lives. We can all help make life a little easier for those of us who might get confused or distressed on occasions, and those who care for them.

Walk the Walk
Last June a cross-Party group of 8 Edinburgh women Councillors teamed up to do the Moonwalk in Edinburgh and raised money to help those suffering from breast cancer. Seven of us walked as a team called ‘Strident’. As a result of our small efforts, I was invited to an inspirational meeting with the founder and organisers and beneficiaries of the event to hear how our money is spent. There is a fantastic relationship between our Western General Hospital, Maggie’s Centres and the Moonwalk. The money raised has enabled huge improvements in the care and treatment of cancer patients and to help provide just the kind of support they and their families and friends need. The Moonwalk in Scotland has netted over £16 million in the last 8 years for vital investments in cancer care. They are looking for people to get fit and walk but also to volunteer and sponsor this year’s event which starts at Inverleith Park on Saturday 7 June 2014. Now is the time for us to start training for the 26.2 miles or indeed the 52.4 miles walk through the night and into next day. There is also a 6.55 mile New Moon or 13.1 mile Half Moon challenge, which we find a bit more of a ‘walk-in-the-park’. Whatever the distance, let’s make the event bigger and better than ever before! Find out more on:, Phone 01483 741 430 or email

Portobello Kilns Restored
The restoration work on our historic Portobello pottery kilns was just completed last week. Our local Portobello Heritage Trust have done a huge amount of work, alongside the Council and contractors, to make sure these scheduled ancient monuments were restored, rebuilt and repaired. These landmark scheduled ancient monuments should continue to stand testimony to Portobello’s proud industrial past. The brickwork craftsmanship really is superb. To mark the project’s completion, there should be some celebration, but we have yet to know what form that will take.

Don’t Be Digitally Excluded!
The charity Third Age Computer Fun runs friendly, informal weekly 2-hour drop-in sessions at a very low cost for the over 50s. Initial taster sessions are free of charge. On Thursdays 10am-12 noon they meet at Craigmillar Library, 101 Niddrie Mains Rd EH16 4DS . It is a very friendly group. One local lady from the Portobello community council area went along with her friend and told me: “I just had to write to tell you that a friend and I have just returned from our first session at the Computer Club at Craigmillar Library.  We are just so impressed with the excellent help that is available! The tutors are so knowledgeable and friendly (as is the whole group) and have the happy knack of making ‘students’ feel eager to learn and in no way did we feel patronised about the applications we did not know about.”  The club is always keen for new people to come along.  Find out more – for you or someone you know call 0300 6666 110.

Portobello Developments – Baileyfield and Portobello Park
The Scottish Power Baileyfield Site was put on the market last year with a closing date in December 2012, well over a year ago now. I am being told informally that the sellers are closer to agreeing a sale, but it may not be the Council who are currently one of the shortlisted bidders. This site is master-planned for housing and mixed uses, but will need a lot of remediation and most of the bidders will have put in a conditional offer subject to a site investigation. It is widely expected that parts of the site will be contaminated, given its previous industrial use. This is not the preferred site for Portobello High School. The very best option for our new secondary school remains Portobello Park. The Council’s Private Bill, simply to change the Common Good purpose of the new school site, has passed the first stage in the Scottish Parliament. It was debated by MSPs and agreed by all political Parties in the Chamber. The Portobello Park Private Bill Committee is scheduled to meet again four times over this next phase of consideration but MSPs may not need all four scheduled meetings. My hope and expectation is that the Bill will become law by summer 2014 and allow work to start soon after with an opening possible for the new school term in August 2016. A report on progress will go to the next meeting of the full Council on 6 February. That report will be in the public domain by Friday 31 January.

Newcraighall Housing Development Gets the Go-Ahead
Permission was granted for 270 units at Newcraighall North site between Gilberstoun and Newcraighall, despite the objections from north and south of the site and a previous Reporter decision suggesting 140. The detailed plan was granted permission on this green field site a division at the Committee, 8 in favour and 3 against. The only addition Committee made to the planners’ recommended conditions of the consent was a request that the developer pay a sum towards the improvement of Newcraighall play-park, when the legal agreement is drawn up. I went on a wander around the village recently taking photographs, mainly of the disused railway abutment that will be removed, as part of this development. I still cannot see how this junction will work as one of the two entry/exit points to the site.

Craigmillar Primary Schools
It’s always a delight to go into primary schools to meet young people. It’s particularly fun to go with staff from the Jack Kane Community Centre. We were presenting their certificates and booklets showing all the work they did together in the ‘Agents for Change’ programme. Davie and Diane work with P6s in the area, helping develop the kids’ confidence of their place in their own neighbourhoods. Last week it was Niddrie Mill in the morning and St Francis in the afternoon. I was asked loads of great questions and they were more than able to answer mine too. I also had the pleasure of meeting a P4 class form Castleview at the bus stop in Newcraighall. They were taking part in the Craigmillar Heritage Trail, put together by a group set up by Helen Crummy, founding secretary of the Craigmillar Festival Society. Her legacy lives on at Castleview and beyond.

Helen Crummy Memorial
A sum of money from a bit of planning gain in Craigmillar has been used to commission a piece of sculpture to sit outside the Craigmillar Library. A local group of people who knew and worked with Helen interviewed and selected the work of Tim Chalk. The installation will take place soon and a date for the unveiling has been set. Family, friends, colleagues of Helen’s and also people who took part in a musical put on in 1973 are being traced and brought to the ceremony, including some people who have gone on to other great things, as well known faces in the world of drama and/or making a huge contribution to arts and education – thanks to Helen.

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