Portobello Community Council

Maureen Child Update 22/2/2017

Posted on: February 22nd, 2017

Dear All,


As you will know, Save Bellfield were successful in getting a big award – £647,500 – from the Scottish Land Fund to support their community buy-out of Bellfield Church, made possible by the introduction of the Community Empowerment Act only last April.  However, the final hurdle is still to come as the actual award of funding is crucially dependent on the success of a ballot within the Portobello area, so please do look out for ballot papers in mid-late March.  I will forewarn you!  It is hugely important you all fill in that ballot paper and return it when (and if) you get it.  Story here: http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-scotland-edinburgh-east-fife-39003871


If you are interested in finding out more about another important aspect of the Community Empowerment Act – participation -  do consider signing up for this: https://www.eventbrite.co.uk/e/community-empowerment-thinkspace-tickets-31644331046  Empowerment is not all about buildings! 


It was real pleasure to convene the inaugural meeting of a new Craigmillar Community Council (CCC) which had failed to attract enough nominations last October at the 3-year elections. This time, CCC got comfortably more than the minimum 8 Members and from a range of experience and parts of the community, several of them completely new to the voluntary role they have taken up.  We now have a group of interim office bearers who will serve until the AGM  which is likely to be in May.  For now, they will meet on the second Tuesday of the month.  One of them will be at tonight’s Portobello/Craigmillar Neighbourhood Partnership (P/C NP) meeting at 6.30pm in the East Local Office with a view to taking part in our community planning for this part of the city.  Papers here:  http://www.edinburgh.gov.uk/meetings/meeting/4129/portobello_and_craigmillar_neighbourhood_partnership#minutesDateSearchWidget 

All CCC and P/C NP Meetings are open to the public to attend.


In and around Milton Road East, SGN (Scottish Gas Networks) teams continue to prepare for the abandonment of their existing 100 year old gas mains.   A number of specialised operations are happening this week, including off-site testing.  The new main has been extended to pick up on the new smaller diameter replacement works currently ongoing in and around South Morton Street and Queens Bay Crescent. Service renewal works for properties on Milton Road East are also ongoing. As a result of the progress made so far SGN now anticipate this major works project being complete ahead of schedule.  Fingers crossed!  The replacement gas works are progressing well on The Promenade as well. Although part of the Prom had to be shut at its narrowest point to allow the work to progress, they have tried their best to keep the Prom open throughout.


There’s a coffee morning at St Mark’s Episcopal Church, Portobello High Street, on Saturday 25 February, from 11am. Come and enjoy coffee and bacon rolls, browse the books, home baking and nearly new stalls, try your hand at the raffle….. All in aid of St Mark’s Church funds and the congregation’s charities – Refugee Survival Trust, Portobello Older People’s Project and the Basics Bank. All are welcome at St Marks!


You’ll be wanting another cuppa later on Saturday and maybe another bite to eat too?  A Pop Up Cafe, on Saturday 25 February 4pm and 7.30pm in Wilson Memorial Church, Moira Terrace, will provide space for community engagement regarding the future of the Craigentinny/Telferton Allotments . They are seeking community ownership for a community purpose and hope to share ideas about how the allotments can continue to grow as a valuable resource in our neighbourhood. The food will be made from allotment produce and locally sourced food which would otherwise go to waste. There will be an opportunity to ‘pay as you feel’ and the proceeds will go to the Basics Bank which operates at Wilson Memorial Church every Tuesday, providing food to people in food crisis in our wider community. The pop-up café will be a family friendly drop in event, doors are open between 4pm and 7.30pm. The local community are welcome to attend. Everyone will have an opportunity to share their thoughts on the plans in an informal and interactive way. To help ensure minimal waste, you can confirm your attendance or email: ctallotments@gmail.com and if you’re unable to attend but want to know more, please do get in touch too.


I am looking forward to Portobello Rotary’s fundraising concert to raise money for Steka, the charity the club has been supporting to help ex-street children in Malawi learn the skills they need to support themselves as adults and also for the Thistle Foundation in Craigmillar, which supports vulnerable people from all over Edinburgh. The performance will involve the Edinburgh Police Choir (34 of them!), Tony Mitchell on guitar with Maureen Brack on vocals and also David Luhanga, a Malawi guitarist, who will play reggae and afro rhythms. It’s at the Parish Church of Portobello and Joppa (formerly St Phillips) in Abercorn Terrace EH15 2DH on Saturday 11 March, doors open 7pm for 7.30pm. The ticket price is £10, including refreshments and programme, and several businesses in Portobello High Street have tickets for sale  – Top Hat; Skylark; Salvation Army Shop; Live, Laugh, Love (Hair and Beauty). Tickets also available from Eventbrite at http://bit.ly/2k3dObH.


When should children start dance classes? At Portobello’s own Lothian Dance Academy, the school rolls are now open to girls as young as 2. The academy has been in Portobello for many years and  mothers who were pupils in the past are now sending their own offspring along today. The youngsters are very much part of the community. They stage their own shows, but also help with the Porty Panto and the Christmas Street Fest.  At the heart of the dance school is Morag Phillips, the founder of and inspiration behind the academy. Listen to Morag and other Porty Podcasters here: http://porty.org.uk/news/porty-podcast/


Many brilliant initiatives have sprung up to provide a welcome to refugees and asylum seekers across our city. As more groups are stepping forward to offer help and support – from providing bikes and language lessons through to advice on navigating the education and health system – the network becomes wider but more difficult to visualise. So how do we know about all of the good things that are available or who’s involved or what each others’ plans are? How do we signpost people to the right place or ensure that we’re using resources wisely by avoiding reinventing the wheel? As importantly, how do identify what isn’t yet happening and make collective decisions, as a city, about the best way to work together and fill those gaps? One of the ways to start answering some of these questions is to get people together and create some space and time to have a conversation about this. Which is what an emerging Edinburgh City of Sanctuary group helped to coordinate in November 2016 – an event that would bring a group of around 100 people together to map out what is already happening, consider what needs to happen next and work out the best way to develop co-ordinated approach across the city.  More here! https://edinburgh.cityofsanctuary.org/2017/02/13/mapping-sanctuary-in-edinburgh 


HOT (Health Opportunities Team) are a community-based charity – based in Queen’s Walk, near the Thistle in Craigmillar -and they work to improve the health and wellbeing of young people (aged 12-25). HOT work in partnership and put young people at the centre of everything they do. They inspire young people to reach their full potential, supporting them to make safe choices. Anything you can do to help support them? More here:  http://www.health-opportunities.org.uk/support-hot/


We have a wonderful CAB in Bath Street, Portobello but few realise that their parent body, Citizens Advice Edinburgh (CAE) is a voluntary organisation which relies heavily on the generosity of the community to enable them to respond to thousands of enquiries around Edinburgh every month. Please do consider being a supporter of Citizens Advice Edinburgh in any way you can. More here: https://www.citizensadviceedinburgh.org.uk/donate/


There’s still time to apply for funding from Firstport. This funding is available to individuals who live in the Greater Craigmillar area and have an idea for a project that will benefit the people living in their community. You must spend the funding within 4 months of receiving it. They will ask you for receipts and also what you have achieved with the funding. Complete this form before Wednesday 1 March 2017. Good Luck! https://firstport.formstack.com/forms/applyfor500


At the last Portobello Community Council meeting, a winner was selected out of the correct entries received in our community Porty Light Box competition, run by Steve Wheatley and family. The winner was Lisa Anderson with the winning answer “C” – approx 62,948 Quality Street sweets would fit in the phone box. A huge thank you to all who took part, entered and also donated to the Porty Light Box. A total of £173 was raised and this will pay for re-painting the phone box.  Photo here: https://portylightbox.wordpress.com/2017/02/15/quality-street-winner/ The next – the 345th! – meeting of Portobello Community Council will be held next Monday 27 February at 7:30 pm in Portobello Baptist Church Hall, 185 Portobello High Street.  Portobello Community Council meets again next Monday (last Monday of the month).  Link to its latest Newsletter and Agenda here:  http://us3.campaign-archive2.com/?u=2956ebe2eb9011381e70bd2da&id=32a8a37091


A reminder of the Portobello Timebank’s very own Gardeners Question Time in the Wash House Adelphi Grove on Sunday 5 March, 2-4pm.  Link here: https://www.eventbrite.co.uk/e/gardeners-question-time-tickets-31594083755?utm_term=eventurl_text  Got your tickets?  I got mine!


I was delighted to be part of the occasion to mark the 10th World Community Arts Day (WCAD) in Craigmillar.  We unveiled the first panel for a new Craigmillar Tapestry designed by Andrew Crummy who was the artist for the Great Tapestry of Scotland. Andrew is the youngest son of one of my heroines: Helen Crummy the ‘mother’ of Craigmillar Festival Society.  The story that set the seed for CFS – and WCA -  is depicted in the Tim Chalk sculpture of the boy with the violin, outside Craigmillar Library on Niddrie Mains Road. The Edinburgh Reporter covered the story here:  http://www.theedinburghreporter.co.uk/2017/02/first-panel-of-the-craigmillar-tapestry-unveiled/


From 1 March 2017, if the police catch you using a mobile phone or other hand held device whilst driving, you will receive 6 penalty points and a £200 fine.  So don’t risk it!  Also, crime prevention advice from Police Scotland after a spate of break-ins to homes, garden sheds and other property: http://www.scotland.police.uk/keep-safe/home-and-personal-property/secure-your-garden-and-outbuildings  There is a lot you can do to help prevent it happening. 


Lots of current concern about air quality and its affect on health – and rightly so.  Here’s a bit about what the Counicl and partners are doing to tackle it.  http://www.edinburgh.gov.uk/blog/newsblog/post/1137/lesley-hinds-%E2%80%98as-a-council-we%E2%80%99re-working-extremely-hard-to-improve-edinburgh%E2%80%99s-air-quality%E2%80%99


Plenty of advance notice that Edinburgh’s 3rd ‘Power of Food Festival’ is in June and registration to get involved is now open for all Edinburgh’s participating community gardens.  For a full weekend, the city’s community gardens will open to the public and welcome visitors – free of charge – to a variety of activities including informative tours, educational and fun workshops, entertainment, and food sampling, etc. Find out all about it here:  https://poweroffoodfestival.wordpress.com/2017/02/10/celebrating-community-change-makers/


The Council’s trading standards section has signed up to helping prevent scams of all kinds.  See here: http://www.edinburgh.gov.uk/beatscams


Another plug for this young learner’s Portobello High School survey: https://www.surveymonkey.co.uk/r/53WJQPQ


There is a lot of consternation and anger among small independent Portobello’s cafes, bistros, restaurants and bars about the rates review and the huge increases in bills as a result.  Reds cafe owners, Derek and Louise Wallace came to consult me three weeks ago and I have been doing my level best to help them find out why this has happened and appeal to those with the power to do something about it, sooner rather than later. Tommy Shepherd MP instantly got back to me, agreeing fourfold increases (in some case) was grossly unfair, and he has been very helpful to those most affected, including the Espy and Beach House Cafe, arranging a meeting with the Assessor.  While the non domestic rates bills are sent out by Councils, and the cash raised makes a contribution towards Council services of around 36%, Councils do not set the rules by which professional assessors make their judgements on how much should be paid.  That is the job of Scottish Government (SG) and MSPs through their decisions on the Finance Bill just passed through the Scottish Parliament yesterday. See the full front page Evening News story here:  https://printmonitoringservice.vuelio.co.uk/file/displaypdf?articleid=76570&clientname=305921_EdinburghCouncil_PRINT&filename=382588093.pdf  As a result of all this activity, the SG Finance Minister Derek McKay announced yesterday that rates bills for cafes, bars etc are to be capped (I quote) “We will therefore cap 2017-18 bill increases at 12.5% (real terms) through the creation of a new national relief scheme and to consolidate the support to the sector we will extend this to pubs, restaurants and cafes. This will benefit  around 8,500 properties and bring the average gross bill increase for hotels down to 12% and for pubs down to 2%”. I have shared the detailed briefing I got with those who led our Portobello campaign.


I like this website promoting Portobello as Edinburgh’s seaside.  It also proves tide times an helps locals know when the Joppa rock pools are free to explore or how long our sandcastles will last! Click here:  http://portobellobeach.com/


Portobello has always taken a keen interest in Edinburgh as a  Fairtrade City and Portobello is a Fairtrade Town.  I think we were in there at the very start!  Fair Trade Fortnight is coming up and some of us are going to spread the word in Morningside this year. Cone to the Eric Liddell Centre, 5 Morningside Road, EH10 4DP on Saturday 11 March 10.30am to 2.30pm.  https://www.facebook.com/events/845216895618792/


In the year they moved to a new home in the new Porty High School, congratulations to Portobello’s very own women and girls basketball teams, the KATS, who have swept the board in competitive basketball in Scotland.  Last night’s results in the Junior Women’s League confirm that the Junior girls have followed in the footsteps of the Senior Women and clinched the Scottish League and Cup Double! What a season they are having!. Congratulations to all the players, coaches Doug and Jenny, and team manager Sheena. Go Portobello High School, go KATS!


On that note, I will wish you all the very best!


Kind regards





Councillor Maureen Child | Labour Elected Member | Portobello/Craigmillar (Ward 17) | City of Edinburgh Council | City Chambers | High Street | Edinburgh | EH1 1YJ | Tel 0131 529 3268 | Mobile 07718 666 481| Twitter @MaureenChild1|  Facebook Maureen Child


p.s. My face-to-face Councillor Advice Sessions, or ‘Surgeries’, are usually every Monday at 5.30 pm in Castleview Community Centre, 76 Craigmillar Castle Avenue (Phone 661 4064) and then at 7 pm in Portobello Library, 14 Rosefield Avenue (Phone 529 5558).  Now also at Craigmillar Library, 101 Niddrie Mains Road, EH16 4DT, 1st Wednesday of the month, drop-in session 5pm-5.30pm, thereafter by appointment only up until 7.30pm. Please phone me on Direct Line 0131 529 3268 or Mobile 07718 666 481, or email maureen.child@edinburgh.gov.uk to check availability, make an appointment or request a home visit.


p.s.  Please let me know if you don’t want to receive emails like this from me and I’ll take you off my list.  Equally if you want to share it, please do.


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