Wednesday, 12 July 2017

Fitness in the Meadows

Here is a recent report of a charity, Street Fit, offering fitness sessions in the Meadows - adding to the huge range of activities taking place -  and the superb service this piece of land provides for Edinburgh.

Saturday, 1 July 2017

Bridgend Farmhouse news update

For regular followers of this blog here is a first.  The Bridgend Farmouse renovation project in in the recently added part of the ward and I am pleased to link to their latest news.

The Farmhouse is just off Old Dalkeith Road and south of Cameron Toll and their website homepage is here.

Friday, 30 June 2017

Pleasance Parking - Briefing

Dumbiedykes and Pleasance Areas Briefing Note

In May 2015 a private parking contractor pulled out of controlling residential parking spaces in a number of developments around the city. This included the residential parking spaces in; Dumbiedykes Road, Viewcraig Street and Gardens, New Arthur Place, Briery Bauks and Oakfield Place. Over time commuter and non-residential parking pressures have entered the area making it difficult for residents to park near to their homes.

At the June 2016 Transport and Environment Committee, a motion was approved which instructed officers to investigate these parking problems and recommend a suitable course of action. The motion is available on p13 of the Committee minute at:

Since then Council officers have been in discussion with residents, local Councillors and the Dumbiedykes Residents’ Association (DRA) to better understand the issues and determine a possible way forward. Residents are concerned about commuters and non-residents parking in the residential spaces during the day and preventing them from parking near to their homes. In addition, there are concerns about increased traffic in the area, inconsiderate parking on corners and road safety concerns. However, there have been numerous suggestions and differing views on what is the preferred approach that residents want the Council to take.

After much consideration and with the support of local Councillors and the DRA, an informal consultation was started to seek the views of all residents’ regarding parking and on the possible introduction of a Restricted Parking Zone (RPZ) in the area.

A leaflet was delivered to all the 880 households in the area in November 2016 asking residents to complete an online questionnaire. Paper questionnaires were also available on request or from the Braidwood Centre and local Council offices. There was a 12% response rate, as a percentage of the total households, to the consultation. The results indicated that residents found it difficult to park during the week, considered commuter parking to be the main reason for this problem and revealed significant support for the Council to take action to alleviate these problems.  However, there was opposition to the possible price of residents’ permits and there were still differing views on the preferred solution. 

Preferred Option – Restricted Parking Zone

The Council’s suggested approach is to introduce a RPZ. Similar to a Controlled Parking Zone (CPZ), entry signs would indicate the start of the restricted area and parking places would be marked out on street. Residents would be able to apply for parking permits to park in the parking spaces and the Council’s Parking Attendants would issue parking tickets to vehicles parked incorrectly, i.e. parking without a permit or paying for parking time. There would likely be a mix of: residents’, shared use and disabled persons’ parking places around the area to cater for all legitimate parking demands.

In addition, the introduction of an RPZ may provide the opportunity to provide more parking places than are currently available to residents in some of the streets thus further improving their chance of parking near their homes.  

The RPZ would provide a different look and feel to parking restrictions around this area compared to similar restricted streets nearby. While parking would only be permitted in marked spaces, the rest of the road side space would be restricted but there would be no road markings such as single yellow lines. This would suggest that parking in the area is only available for residents and their visitors thus reducing the likelihood of parking displacement to the area.

The benefits of this approach include; protecting parking spaces for residents, providing more opportunities for visitors, deliveries or trades people to park whilst preventing all-day commuter parking in the area. This approach would also improve the street environment with fewer road markings being necessary.

Other Options - Yellow Lines

The streets in question already have significant lengths of double yellow line around junctions and on the rest of the road side space, adjacent to the residential parking places. However, the residential parking places are not currently managed by the Council and as a result inconsiderate commuter parking is able to take place in these locations.

The Council already enforces incorrect parking on the yellow lines and the introduction of further restrictions is unlikely to resolve the problems experienced by residents.

Other Options - CPZ

A CPZ manages all the kerbside space, providing equal opportunities for anyone with a need or wish to park within the street.

Permit holder and shared-use parking places provide parking opportunities for those who live within the CPZ, whilst pay and display bays can be used by anyone visiting the area up to the maximum stay period, usually four hours. Other types of parking place cater for specific uses such as disabled persons’ parking bays or car club bays. All the remaining areas are restricted by single or double yellow lines providing safe crossing points, sight lines for drivers or simply to keep roads clear to improve the flow of traffic.

However, as these controls would look similar to other areas of the city centre there is a slight chance that parking pressures may move to the area and there is also a need for more signs and road markings as opposed to a RPZ.

Other Options – Mews

A mews parking area is commonly introduced as a means of providing residential parking opportunities in streets that are not considered to be suitable for parking bays to be marked out. Typically, mews areas are streets which include many garages and other entrances meaning that there are limited parking opportunities available, i.e. Dean Park Mews. Mews status allocates the entire mews as a parking place, allowing permit holders to park outside their own property. To protect mews residents from inconsiderate parking, from other residents within the zone, parking is restricted to mews residents only. It is the responsibility of mews permit holders to ensure that they park in a way that does not inconvenience other residents.

None of the streets in the Dumbiedykes area are considered suitable for mews status. This would prevent the introduction of disabled persons’ parking places and prevent parking by visitors or carers.

Other Options – Priority Parking

Priority Parking is a type of control designed primarily to address problems caused by long-stay, non-residential parking. Priority parking introduces enough permit parking places to allow residents who purchase permits the ability to find a space on-street. Restrictions only operate for 90 minutes each day, as a means of creating space that cannot be used by commuters or as long-stay parking.

Priority Parking is only feasible where parking restrictions are not currently present and as the Dumbiedykes and Briery Bauks areas are included within the CPZ this is not a possible option. Furthermore, it is not considered suitable due to the high residential parking demands or where a high turnover of space is required, i.e. near to the city centre. Priority Parking would not address residents’ concerns or improve their parking opportunities.

Zone 3 or Zone 7

The area in question is currently contained within Zone 7 of the CPZ. The Parking Action Plan, approved on 6 June 2016, proposed that the area be included in Zone 3 of the CPZ to protect the area from possible parking migration when Sunday controls are introduced. Weekend parking controls would prevent commuter parking problems in the area on Saturdays and Sundays.

The extra enforcement required to manage parking at the weekends and up to 6:30pm in the evenings results in higher permit prices in the central zones 1 to 4. However, after listening to residents’ concerns regarding permit prices and the lack of parking problems in the area at weekends currently, it is proposed to retain the section of Zone 7 within the peripheral areas as it currently stands.

The plan below indicates the part of Zone 7 in question.

Next Steps

A report is expected to be submitted to the Transport and Environment Committee in August 2017 regarding the parking problems in the area. The report will provide further details on the consultation, its results and the RPZ proposals which would address residents’ concerns and enhance their parking opportunities.

Thursday, 22 June 2017

Mosque firebomber jailed

Last September I posted on an incident at the Central Mosque in the early hours one Sunday morning.

Last month Thomas Conington was found guilty at Glasgow High Court of throwing a petrol bomb at the Mosque.

Conington has now been sentenced to a minimum of three years and nine months in prison along with a Lifelong Restriction Order.

Details along with a video of the original incident can be found here

Tuesday, 13 June 2017

Pickering's Gin moves up a gear

For several years now Gin has been produced at Summerhall in Edinburgh's Southside.  The company reflects the trend for locally produced spirits.  Now, Pickering's has secured a deal to supply Asda stores with their product.

Meanwhile another company, Ginerosity, with the tagline of 'the world's first social enterprise gin' has also secured a contract to stock Asda stores with Gin.  It is also based at Summerhall.

Growing local companies.

Monday, 12 June 2017

Did you know? Edinburgh University

Many of my blog posts share information which comes across my desk as a councillor.  So it is this morning I have some communications from Edinburgh University which is largely in the Southside and Newington ward.  Did you know Edinburgh University:

  1. has almost 38,000 students
  2. employs 13,742 staff (full time equivalent 9,531)
  3. Is the third largest employer in the city 

Thursday, 8 June 2017

Cameron House meeting complaint refuted

The Standards Commission has finally cleared Jeremy Balfour and myself of breaching the Councillors' Code of Conduct at a committee meeting over two years ago.

The accusations against me related to a key part in the process of lifting the lid on some dubious events at Edinburgh Council.  I was doing what it took to represent my constituents, to ensure that wrongdoing and malpractice was recognised and to pursue openness and honesty in the Council.

The meeting, (and I maintain my actions) led to two more in depth enquiries subsequent to March 2015, which have resulted in a finding of maladministration against Edinburgh Council and a full apology from the Council to the Cameron House Management Committee, as well as the uncovering and exposing of a range of wrong actions and bad decisions.

I regret that some saw my comments at that meeting as amounting to personal disrespect and accusations. I do not believe they were - nor were they intended to be.  They were intended to show that further enquiry was possible and necessary and in the event, the subsequent enquiries have shown very clearly that such further enquiry was both justified and essential.  I am grateful the Standards Commission has accepted that what I said and did was not in breach of the Councillors' Code of Conduct.

As some will know, there remain unanswered questions about events associated with the Council's involvement  at Cameron House Community Centre and I will continue to pursue them as is my responsibility.

Indeed, I understand there remains an ongoing police enquiry into part of the events exposed in the subsequent reports.

1. Former councillor Jeremy Balfour is now Jeremy Balfour MSP.
2. For those unfamiliar with the background a range of public articles can be found here.

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