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Maureen Child Report March 2014

Revised Local Development Plan Housing Sites – Brunstane
Scottish Government insists that Councils in Edinburgh, Lothians, Fife and Borders have to identify what is called an “effective land supply” for housing development; units of housing that can be delivered on the ground over the period of our joint Strategic Development Plan. This has big implications for land in our City of Edinburgh Local Plan. It means the Councils must find yet more sites that could be developed, even beyond those sites already earmarked. That’s beyond current brown field sites, beyond the green field and beyond Green Belt releases – including those we already ‘lost’ at Newcraighall. One of those extra sites, identified for 1100 units, is a large field, to the east of the main railway line, between Newhailes and Brunstane. This big area of land is landlocked at present, but I am advised it is physically possible to build an entrance off Milton Road East along the boundary of the Cemetery. The route would cross the Brunstane Burn and the Walkway that forms part of the John Muir Way, which was recently improved. I am already arguing that this should not be an option, but will need to come up with some other alternative that could be equally unacceptable to other Councillors and their own communities. If Scottish Government were more reasonable in their demands for land release and timescales, this level of demand for Green Belt release would not be necessary.

Brighton Place Cobbles
The major works to improve Brighton Place is scheduled to take place in 2015 with two possible schemes drawn up so far, by the central Council roads investment team. One option replaces the traditional setts and another option is to finish the surface in smooth Tarmac. The latter is less expensive but less preferable as it is not in keeping with the Conservation Area. I am pushing for more mixed options and for the scope and costings of the projects to be shared with local Councillors and the community so that we can all know more about what is possible. Meantime, small repairs can be made to the worst bits out of the small local repairs budget.

Pedestrian Crossings
The two pedestrian crossings promised for the area this financial year are to go ahead in May. Contracts have been agreed for the works at Duddingston Park South and Abercorn Terrace, the latter being one of the projects brought forward by local demand through the Neighbourhood Partnership. There has been another request for a crossing at the foot of Seaview Crescent over to the end of the Promenade on Joppa Terrace. This was due to be assessed again last year and I am checking up what the outcome was. The changes to the traffic light and crossing sequences in the centre of Portobello continue to be monitored and some adjustments have been made.

Towerbank Primary School Growing
The new classroom and nursery extension at Towerbank is being officially opened this week. The school is planning to celebrate its 130th anniversary with a week of activities in late April. Towerbank is a large and hugely popular primary school and many families are moving to Portobello with a view to sending their children there. For some three years now, the intake of P1 pupils has been around 90 and early indications show that the peak has not yet been reached.

Dementia Friendly Portobello
Thanks to a small grant from the local Neighbourhood Partnership and with support from Alzheimer Scotland and the Council, Home Instead and other volunteers are ready to go to the next stage of making Portobello a truly Dementia Friendly Community. There is an evening meeting planned for 26 April in a local venue yet to be confirmed. We have some commitment from local people to talk to groups and business locally. There will be opportunities to get involved, even in a small way. Please contact Andrew Senew by phone at Home Instead on 0131 300 0598 to get involved.

Helen Crummy’s Memorial
I was delighted to be at the cutting of the ribbon on the sculpture in memory of Helen Crummy and the foundation of the Craigmillar Festival, which has its 50th anniversary is year. The wonderful sculpture by Tim Chalk takes pride of place in the centre of Craigmillar. It was commissioned by a group of local people who had worked with Helen from the early days, Helen’s family and friends and the environment forum of our local Neighbourhood Partnership. It was a great occasion and a coming-together of people from the arts and community development world; people who started their careers in Craigmillar and jumped at the chance to come back and meet up.

Craigmillar Town Centre Plan
The refreshed proposals are for mixed use development including a new secondary school for Craigmillar, 300 new homes, a medium size supermarket and other retail is being brought forward to guide any future planning proposals that come forward. The Council’s regeneration company, PARC, is leading the consultation with community members, local interest groups and residents of all ages who want to engage in the process.

The White House Planters
It was great to see and hear first hand stories of the success of local youngsters engaged in construction projects that benefit themselves and the local community. Those who worked on Castleview Community Centre progressed to a course at Peffermill and will be guaranteed apprenticeships at the end of that year. Another group of twelve, four from Castlebrae, made planters for the kitchen garden of The White House Cafe on Niddrie Mains Road. Those young men were not engaging in formal education, but are now finding a positive way forward towards the real world of work. Lots of great success stories.

Community Council Training, Induction and Development
More than 500 people now serve on Community Councils, about 40% new to the job. 140 CC members have already taken part in two highly successful induction and training sessions. Community Councillors gave us very positive feedback and said that more sessions would be welcome on developing their role planning, ways to involve young people and communication tools to better equip them do the task they have volunteered to do.

Local Youth Gathering
I just caught the end of the Youth Gathering in Craigmillar Library last week where young people from Craigmillar and Portobello all worked together to put their views forward about various developments in their area. I met four of the youngsters who had led the process and they seemed very pleased with how it had all gone. Youngsters came from all over Portobello/Craigmillar and we got some really great feedback and ideas which will be written up and taken into account in local plans, services and changes.

Quiz Night
The staff, trustees and volunteers who run the Craigmillar Literacy Trust and Books for Babies are very friendly and positive people. I was made very welcome at their AGM last year and the work they do is really impressive. Sheila Gilmore MP and I plan to take part in the Craigmillar Literacy Trust Quiz Night which promises to be a light hearted look at literature with no heavy duty questions. There’s free entry for teams of three in the convivial surroundings of the Cuddie Brae, Newcraighall at 7pm on Friday 11 April. All welcome, just come along on the night and we hope to see you there!