Thursday, 10 August 2017

Catering for the over 60s in Southside/Newington

Monday marks the opening of a new cafe aimed at over 60's based in Balfour House at Cameron Toll.

Named Ferns Kitchen there are plenty of opportunities for a meal or snack at modest cost:

  • Cafe opening times are
    • Mon 9am - 4pm
    • Tue  12noon - 4pm
    • Wed 9am - 4pm
    • Thu  9am - 4pm
    • Fri   9am - 4pm
  • There is a tea dance (£4.50) with music from Liz McEwan between 2pm and 4pm on Tuesday 22nd August
  • Lunch Club every Wednesday between 12noon and 1:30 (£3.50)
  • Fortnightly Fish Tea of Fridays 2-4pm
This is a social enterprise and the formal opening is on Monday 14th between 2pm and 4pm.  The cafe is aimed at over 60s!

The full address is:

Ferns Kitchen, Balfour House, 10 Cameron Crescent, Cameron Toll, EH16 5LB.  See you there?

Wednesday, 9 August 2017

Summer Events in the Meadows

Local people have been asking me about the duration and times of events in the Meadows this year. so here goes with some details.
  1. Evans Fun Fair: 10-20th August with 2 days either side for set up and derigging. Operation 13:00 - 23:00
  2. Underbelly Circus Hub: Through to 27th August with derigging thereafter.  Last show ends midnight.
  3. Woodland Tribe (near the Pavilion): 11-16th August.  Derig 17th.
  4. Learning Disability Week: 18th August only
  5. Edinburgh Festival of Chariots:  21st August only
  6. RBS Screen Machine Cinema for Sick Kids Hospital: 1-4th September
  7. Annual Freshers Fair: 13th September
  8. Annual Army Reserves: 28-29th September
Note:  Amended 090817 to correct opening hours of No 1. (Fun Fair).

Friday, 4 August 2017

New Council contact numbers

Telephoning the Council can be a trial.  Lengthy waiting times, confusing keypad choices, faulty equipment and the difficulty of finding a real person - are all trials many have experienced when contacting Edinburgh Council by phone.

I am being assured things are improving.   I will await your verdict on that.  In the meantime part of the changes involve new contact numbers.

  • WASTE: missed collection, special uplift, environmental and other waste enquiries             0131 608 1100
  • COUNCIL TAX & BENEFITS: 0131 608 1111
  • BUSINESS RATES:  0131 608 1133

The old numbers should still work for a period.

There is also a trial under way which will text council tax payers when a bill is due.

Don't hesitate to be in touch with me if the Council doesn't work for you.

Monday, 24 July 2017

East Crosscauseway death - catalogue of police call centre failures

Andrew Bow, who was 37, was found dead in his East Crosscauseway flat on 24th March last year.   Andrew, who suffered from Asperger's, and who had been taken to hospital by police in a confused state on 12th March is thought to have been alive until at least 15th March.

Between 13th and 24th March there were  three separate calls to police reporting circumstances which which needed investigation at his flat - such as broken windows.

The report by the Police Investigations and Review Commissioner (PIRC), published last week, makes damning reading about police procedures and actions at the Bilston Area Control Room (ACR).  You can read about it on the PIRC website here.

Of particular concern is the account of systematic failures in the response processes - especially the time periods allowed for different types of calls.

"Police officers and civilian staff working in the ACR stated when interviewed that it was not uncommon for Grade 3 calls, which require police officers to be sent within 40 minutes, to remain un-actioned for days before being referred to the relevant police division for action. Some ACR Sergeants stated that a significant percentage of Grade 3 incidents are not dispatched within required timescales.
ACR staff stated to PIRC investigators that there were no resources to send to the calls at the time they were received. This was found to be inaccurate. PIRC enquiries and an internal Police Scotland review showed that Community Police officers were available to attend the calls. These officers were not sent by ACR staff and it appeared that there was a significant reluctance by ACR staff to send Community Officers to calls.. . . .
Apart from the failings in the circumstances of the unexplained and tragic death of Andrew, these are damning findings about the overall processes and proceedings. This is particularly so in the light of the previous failings and police claims of improvements in procedures at Bilston.

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.

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Local resident Jim Sillars in the news

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