As many of you may be aware, Council Officers are to recommend to the next full Council meeting that Inch Community Centre should be closed. Masonry fell from the roof last year, temporarily shutting the centre and significantly damaging the roof. Repairs to this historic building will inevitably be costly, but the price of closure will be far higher for the local community. Myself, the Management Committee and the local community have launched a campaign to save this vital community facility.
See the campaign page here
To read more about the story and sign our petition please click below.
Campaign to save Greenend Green
I have joined the residents of the Greenend estate in objecting to the planning application at Greenend Gardens. Just last week I attended a residents meeting with well over 100 people in attendance, all of whom were concerned this application would deprive the community of much used green space.
You can view the correspondence I sent to the Council here which outlines my numerous objections to the development.
You can also check out the Facebook page set up by the community to keep up to date with latest developments.
Scottish Questions (23/03/16)
I used Scottish Questions to press the Government on its bungled budget, cuts to Disability Payments and what this means for disabled people in Scotland. You can watch a short clip of my questions here.
Scotland Bill- Lords Amendments (23/03/16)
The Scotland Bill is now an Act of Parliament after it concluded its passage through Parliament and received Royal Assent. There was a debate in Parliament on the amendments that had been introduced to the Bill in the House of Lords. You can watch my brief contribution here.
Burdiehouse Extension- There are currently plans to submit an application for the land between the current Burdiehouse Extension and Lang Loan (Phase 3 of the Burdiehouse Extension). As yet no formal application has been made. You can view the consultation boards here.
Liberton Brae- The application to build 11 homes on the Greenbelt at Liberton Brae has been withdrawn. Many thanks to all those that supported Rosie Carmichael and the Liberton Association with writing letters of objection and lobbying the Council. I’m sure we won’t have heard the last of this application but, for the moment, it has been withdrawn.
Greenend Gardens- A planning application has been submitted for the green space between Greenend Drive and Greenend Gardens. I am supporting a fantastic community campaign to save this precious space. Please see the campaign section of the e-Mag for more information.
Comiston House- The old farm house is to be demolished as part of a yet to be submitted planning application. The building is not listed which will obviously make any attempt to save it more difficult. I understand a representative from the developers is attending Fairmilehead Community Council on 5th April to answer questions. I will be following this one closely.
As the Scotland Bill Fiscal Framework deal was reached and the Parliamentary process was almost complete, I took the opportunity to visit Canada to learn the lessons about devolution and inter-governmental relations. As you can see Canadian spring time is still very snowy but the -32 degrees did not stop us from learning a huge amount about how Canadian Provinces interact with the Federal Government.
You can watch my interview on CBC with Rosie Barton to find out more about the fact finding mission. She even encourages me to try the Quebec delicacy, Poutine.
I also spoke to Gordon Brewer on BBC Daily Politics Scotland whilst in Canada (did it look as though it was 5am?).
2016 Budget Debate
This month the Chancellor announced a budget that failed to meet all his targets on the deficit, debt and borrowing. George Osborne also attempted to cut the Personal Independence Payments of disabled people across the country, including here in Edinburgh South. Thankfully the Government have backed down under pressure from the Labour Front Bench. You can watch my post-budget analysis on Scotland 2016 and Scotland Tonight.
This year Scottish Labour held its one day special Party Conference at Glasgow Science Centre. As usual there was plenty of opportunity to learn about some really important campaigns. Here are just a few:
SOUTH COMMUNITY SAFETY TEAM
0131 529 5151
There was a successful Southhouse Community Initiative from 21 to 31 March 2016.
The South Community Safety Team is carrying out a two week initiative along with partner agencies in response to a number of incidents in the Southhouse area.
These incidents include racial abuse, young people congregating in stairs causing some vandalism and motor cycles being run along public footpaths.
Police Scotland, Fire and Rescue Services, Homes Scotland (housing provider in parts of Southhouse) and various council departments have got together and agreed the following action plan -;
Do you need help with?
anti social behaviour and crime
dog fouling, littering and dumped furniture or appliances
fire safety checks
rents and benefits
any other issues
How we’ll be helping your community
Visit stairs to carry out a security and safety audit
Carry out patrols to deal with dog fouling, fly tipping and littering.
Visit your home for fire safety checks.
Don’t Blame the Dog!
THE SOUTH SAYS“ENOUGH”
TO THE INCONSIDERATE PEOPLE WHO ALLOW THEIR DOGS TO FOUL OUR NEIGHBOURHOOD.
Report It 0131 529 5151
Mayfield Bowling Club- Come and Try
Mayfield Bowling Club, 12 Cobden Rd, Edinburgh EH9 2BJ is holding a ‘Come and Try’ evening for anyone, young or old, who is interested in playing bowls.
It will be held on Thursday 21 April commencing at 6.30pm. Various levels of membership are available and as well as one of the best playing surfaces in Edinburgh members over the age of 18 have access to the bar and various social events held throughout the year.
If you are interested or want further details please contact Scott on 0131 440 4130.
Meeting Wednesday 13 April, 19.00 -; 21.00 at the Steading, 118 Biggar Road, EH10 7DU.
Green Belt/Food belt (title to be confirmed)
Come and join discussion about appropriate development of our green belt so that it can be a food belt. There are opportunities to increase local food production, to increase employment and training for good jobs, and to empower communities, especially if social enterprise ventures are supported.
Details of speakers and activities have yet to be confirmed. Please check the website.
There will shortly be an eventbrite link to allow registration.
Looking forward to your participation. Johanna Carrie for Transition Edinburgh Pentlands.
Letter from Minister for Culture and the Digital Economy, Ed Vaizey regarding Superfast Broadband
I am writing to provide a further update on superfast broadband delivery in your constituency between September and December 2015. By the end of December 2015, the government’s Superfast Broadband Programme had provided coverage to over 3.5 million homes and businesses, in collaboration with local authorities and the devolved administrations.
Your constituency is located within the Rest of Scotland programme.
The programme has been allocated over £71m of government funding for Phase 1 and/or 2 of the Superfast Broadband Programme.
In Edinburgh South Constituency Constituency the current position is as follows:
· There are approximately 40,333 premises in the constituency
· Of these, 38,731 have been covered by commercial deployment*
· Under the publicly supported programme, 362 had been covered by the end of December 2015* and
· 362 of these premises were delivered between September and December 2015 (in the postcodes listed at the end of this email)
· 948** further premises are due to be covered by the public programme by the contracted end date of December 2018.
A table giving coverage data for all constituencies has been provided by Broadband Delivery UK to the House Library in January 2016.
You may also like to note that of the remaining premises in your constituency without planned access to superfast broadband, 292 can access speeds between 10Mbps and 24Mbps and 0 have access to broadband services of less than 10Mbps.
You can check the availability of superfast broadband services here, where you will be directed to available superfast broadband providers and for those who cannot currently get superfast broadband, some providers provide a demand registration service where you can register your interest.
Universal Service Commitment
May I also remind you that we have made available a subsidised satellite broadband connection to all eligible premises which are unable to access a basic broadband of at least 2Mbps. This enables all premises to gain access to a functional level of Broadband. Any homes or businesses which would like to take advantage of this offer can get further information and make an application via the local project team.
Furthermore you will wish to be aware that on 23 March 2016 we launched a consultation on our approach to implementing a new broadband Universal Service Obligation in legislation. The consultation will run until 18 April. I would encourage you to respond and look forward to hearing your views.
If you have any concerns about discrepancies with local coverage data, you may wish to follow up with your local project team. Further information is available via the project website.
POLICE SCOTLAND -; MESSAGE TO COMMUNITIES
Message from Deputy Chief Constable Iain Livingstone QPM:
Following recent events in Belgium, I want to take this opportunity to reassure Scottish communities that while the threat level for the United Kingdom has been at severe since August 2014, at this time there is no known threat or link between Scotland and these events.
Police Scotland and the communities we serve are unanimous in our condemnation of this and other recent acts of violence, such as that witnessed in Turkey this week. As Scottish communities, we stand together in defiance of such atrocities, and reiterate Scotland’s pride in being a diverse, multi-cultural society.
Police Scotland is committed to keeping people safe and whilst we understand that people will clearly be appalled and perhaps feel vulnerable as a result of recent events, I would urge everyone to continue to work together and ensure no person or group in Scotland feels marginalised or isolated. Police Scotland will not tolerate any form of Hate Crime and should anyone experience or witness such an incident, please report it.
At this time there remains no specific threat to Scotland or Scottish communities, however you may notice increased patrols in areas including our transport network. Such patrols are there for reassurance and community engagement. I ask that we all take note of the UK threat level and that we remain alert, not alarmed.
Please be assured Police Scotland continues to work with partners at home and abroad in countering the threat from terrorism to ensure the safety and wellbeing of all communities.
If you have any relevant information or concerns about suspicious activity contact the Police on 101, Crimestoppers on 0800 555 111, or in an emergency dial 999.
News update from The Friends of Polwath Canal Group
* Thank you to veterans from Whiteford House who helped maintain the canal side and church gardens during September and October. We hope to see Clark and his friends back shortly to assist us.
* Carols by the Canal on 20th December was attended by 22 people with six children present and we sang carols from the Bethlehem Carol sheet across the canal into Harrison Park. Refreshments were served and a collection that afternoon raised £44 for the ‘Embrace the Middle East’ Charity.
* Great news that Ray Howie and his gardening veterans spent three days earlier this month (175 person hours) to prepare the flowerbeds for the logo planting in the summer. They were sponsored by Glen Art, with funding from Comic Relief. We are very grateful to Glen Art’s gardening team, led by Ray Howie, and funded by Comic Relief, that this part of the vision is now becoming a reality. This money has been held in the Gardens Project money in church accounts as restricted funds. Watch this space for the completion of the garden.
* Phase 2 of the project is called Float The Boat and £843 has been raised (restricted funding) and is in the church accounts. A meeting will be called early in the Summer to form a working party, which will develop the plans and look at fund raising and bid applications.
* June 18th is a date for your diary. We are involved in the Canal Festival on that day and will host an afternoon of fun in the church gardens and on the canal decking. Planning is at an early stage but if you can offer any help we would appreciate it. Further information will be sent out once details have been confirmed with the Canal Festival group. Our afternoon will be included in their publicity. We hope to involve organisations affiliated to the church and also those which are part of our group. Again watch this space.
Edinburgh Council Initiative- Edinburgh leads the fight against mail fraudsters
A growing team of volunteers is helping to fight the fraudsters who target vulnerable Edinburgh residents through mail scams.
Crooks use scam letters and phone calls to con people to the tune of billions of pounds across the UK – but the capital’s 36 mail marshals are playing a key role in the battle against them.
Scams work by targeting individuals with official-looking documents and promises of lottery wins, psychic messages or health claims, asking for either a small order to be placed or an administration fee to be paid to release the money. Once someone has responded, their details are shared, resulting in them being bombarded with huge amounts of mail.
Mail marshals such as great gran Lynda Simpson, from Broomhall, collect the letters they receive and send it to the City of Edinburgh Council’s Trading Standards (TS) team, who then pass it on to the national TS team for further scrutiny. Around 60% of the UK’s mail marshals are based in Edinburgh.
Whilst it’s extremely difficult to prosecute the perpetrators, the scheme aims to protect victims from further crime by disrupting the system, and providing vital intelligence to help TS officers keep up-to-date with current scams. Those taking part have found that once they stop replying, the letters gradually stop arriving.
Mrs Simpson was referred to Trading Standards via the National Scams Hub, who had become aware that she was being targeted by scammers. The Edinburgh TS team then got in touch to raise their concerns and provide the necessary intervention and support. Lynda is now urging others to be aware of scams and to seek help if concerned.
She said: “I sent money because the person who had written the letter sounded so nice and kind. More and more letters then started to arrive, but alarm bells started ringing when I noticed that they were all asking for the same amount, and were all from the Netherlands.
“I used to get about 10 a day, and that’s down to about one a day since signing up. I’m not stupid but they conned me. It’s happening to people who are more vulnerable than me who don’t have anyone, and that’s really horrible.”
Councillor Cammy Day, Community Safety Convener for the City of Edinburgh Council, said: “Mail is usually being sent from abroad, so it’s difficult to target its source. It’s a heartless but very lucrative operation, taking advantage of people’s good nature and conning them out of their hard-earned money. These scams can be very clever in their presentation, and can take a variety of forms.
“People should never feel embarrassed that it’s happened to them, but be assured that it can happen to anyone, of any age or circumstance. Mail marshals are hugely valuable in helping to stop this, so please get in touch with us if you’re worried about it happening to yourself or someone you know, and think you may be able to assist.”
Louise Baxter, National Trading Standards Scam Team Manager, said: “For the Mail Marshal project to be a success, it involves all partners working effectively with each other. The work that Edinburgh Trading Standards is doing is crucial to the work of the National Trading Standards Scams Team.
“The project engages scam victims and gathers valuable intelligence for the National Trading Standards Scams Team. More importantly it provides an alternative support mechanism for victims whilst providing them with choices and the autonomy to manage their own affairs. This leads to consumer empowerment, which is our ultimate aim.”
Contact Edinburgh’s Trading Standards team on 0131 529 3030 for more information.
Ian Murray MP