Stockbridge Colonies Residents’ Association AGM 2024

All residents were invited to attend the Residents’ Association Annual General Meeting on Thursday 21st March at 7pm at Tanfield Bowling Club.  Guest speakers were Councillors Hal Osler and Max Mitchell who talked about their vision for our area.  It was the perfect opportunity to raise matters of concern with the councillors as well as meeting other residents.

Minutes

Stockbridge Colonies Residents Association Annual General Meeting, Thursday 21 March, 7pm – 9pm at Tanfield Bowling Club

27 residents in attendance

1. Chair: Caro Tulloch

Minutes: Irene McGowan

2. Apologies: Jule Bandel*, Amanda Bennett, Keith Bennet, Ann Kelly, Anne Liddle, Chris Lumb, Christine McLaren, Jane Wood

3. Minutes of 2023 Meeting – accepted

4. Election of SCRA committee – re-elected for 2024/25

5. Election of SCRA street contacts – re-elected for 2024/25 with possible vacancies in Collins Low/Balmoral High and Avondale upper/Teviotdale lower.

6. Annual Reports – Accounts 2023/24 were tabled and are shown below. The Quiz Night was very successful and enjoyable. The Ceilidh although the numbers attending were down everyone enjoyed it. There was a slight loss of income on the Ceilidh. The Audited accounts were tabled by Gus.

7. Note of Thanks: Thanks to Jane Wood for the Yard Sale. Thanks for continuing to look after and cultivate the Community Garden to Amanda, Helen, Helen Ford and Mark. Thanks to Geoff for the being Quizmaster. Thanks to Gus for Accounts. Thanks to Amanda and Be for the Christmas Carol Singing. Thanks to Jane and Ian Chard for managing the Grapevine and Website. Thanks to Rose Pipes and Ian Mclean for their very helpful work advising on repairing and replacing windows in the Colonies to make them more energy-efficient. Thanks to Ian also for his comprehensive work on Short Lets.

Speakers: We welcomed Hal Osler (Liberal Democrat) and Max Mitchell (Conservative). Max spoke of the delay to replace the setts in Reid Terrace. Presently, funding is not available though patching requests are made regularly. Speed reduction rumble-strips are to be installed for Glenogle Road to be tested and data will be collected and analysed. Max reported that the Flood Team had carried out tests last summer and expressed a view that the Flood Team could be a bit more proactive. He said that there is a longer term project for improvements for Inverleith Park and that the public toilets should be open by the summer this year.

8. Hal Osler: Hal expressed her and Max’s gratitude to be re-elected in 2022 and spoke about the issues around Short Lets. She explained that there is a zone within the city and that Edinburgh is a test case for the rest of the country. She said that short lets have become uncontrollable and therefore legislation is needed and safety regulations for Short Lets are vital. Buying to let is not allowed under legislation. In December 2023, in judicial review proceedings brought by the Association of Scotland’s Self-Caterers, Edinburgh Council’s application of the Scottish Government’s STL legislation was found to be unlawful in particular the retrospective nature of Edinburgh’s Control Zone, in that it applied to STLs already in operation on the commencement date of the Zone in Sept 2022. Since then hundreds of Short Let applications have been submitted to the Council’s Planning portal both retrospective and new applications. A large number of these applications are still pending assessment by the Licensing Committee. Hal acknowledged that there are concerns about increasing numbers of Short Lets across the City and in the Inverleith Ward and this concern was expressed by several people in the discussion that followed. There was a general concern that areas such as the Colonies would attract a high number of buyers wishing to run Short Lets which could impact on the community of the Colonies. Hal said the areas in the City with Short Lets are Stockbridge, Comely Bank, Morningside, Dalry Road, Inverleith. Ian McLean asked if Hal and Max are satisfied with the current legislation. Planning issue and numbers are different things. The Zone element relates to the Planning side of it. Each STL case is judged on its merits. Hal explained that the Certificate of Lawfulness is for the building not the person. The Legislation side of it has potential to be changed but the Planning legislation cannot be changed. Licensing Board gives residents avenue for complaint. Hal and Max explained that Councillors must work within the framework that that been put in place by Scottish Government.

Hal congratulated Rose and Ian on how they tackled how we adapt our older buildings for energy efficiency and for climate change and the work they have done on this on producing guidelines for windows. She said we need to look at how we make older buildings habitable as we go forward eg the issue of noise of heat pumps and air conditioning in older buildings. Reid Terrace Setts: Be asked if they will be replaced. Max said the Road Budget has gone up in last year and may be increased this financial year. Reid Terrace setts will be in the ranking of works. Net Zero – transport is there anything happening in this Ward? Hal reported that there is a high theft rate of bikes. Cycle hoops would need parking permits. Less well-off areas are being prioritised for cycle hoops/hangars. Rose pointed out that Glenogle Road floods regularly during rainfall and that this is a-camber issue. Rose is to email Hal about it. Andy asked if the Council has looked at on-street charging for electric vehicles. Hal said there is very slow progress on this facility and it is nowhere near sufficient for the City. Geoff pointed out that Car Club costs have increased. Hal said this was due to increased costs at other points in the system. Council Online Reporting System: there are problems with this not accurately recording issues. This is a service issue. Hal said residents should contact your Councillors with problems about this and they will look into it. Bin Hubs: Many complaints have been received about the placement of some of these across the City. Hal said the glass banks on Glenogle Road will remain there. Dampening methods to be introduced to reduce the noise of bins. Speeding on Gleonogle Road – Andy mentioned staggered parking as ECC wanting to reduce car use. Hal said this had been tried but had not proved to be successful.

9. Caro thanked Hal and Max for their helpful contribution and for the lively discussion.

10. Meeting ended at 9pm.

*Jule Bandel (Green Party) was unable to attend due to illness but sent in these notes: Please feel free to email Jule any questions at cllr.jule.bandel@edinburgh.gov.uk

“One of my major interests is sustainable transport, especially better spaces for walking, wheeling (what we mean by that is usually using a wheelchair or a buggy) and cycling and as the current Transport lead for my group, I’ve been working a lot on making it a priority to widen pavements, put in more dropped kerbs, narrow crossings, and other ways to calm traffic and improve road safety. Raeburn Place in particular needs wider pavements and I was very pleased to see the proposal at Stockbridge and Inverleith Community Council from your very own Geoff Calder to apply to a council fund to start widening pavements on that at least on some stretch on the southern side of the street. We certainly need more of that and the Council already has plans to transform the city’s town centres, which includes Stockbridge, and make them more pleasant places to spend time and do your shopping. I’ve seen how well the Council team is working with the communities in Dalry and Niddrie at the moment to identify what people’s problems are, where they feel unsafe, and how a space could be made more enjoyable etc., so I can’t wait for them to get started with that in Stockbridge (although I’m afraid this might still be some time away).

I’ve particularly enjoyed working on expanding the secure bike hangar scheme – you might’ve seen some of the units around in the area. Bike hangars have been incredibly popular (I believe St Stephen Street has the highest oversubscription of any hangar in the city) and the council can’t keep up with the demand for them at the moment. I’ve been pushing to expand it for a while and also got agreement from committee that bike parking should not cost more than car parking, so now we are working out how to make it cheaper so that everyone in the city who wants to have a bike hangar can have access to one.

Just quickly on the tram because I feel like its shadow is looming over me: I’m very excited about the tram extension that is planned through this ward although I also feel some trepidation about the route options that have been presented to us. However, the project is still in its very early stages of development and so I feel hopeful that getting views from residents and getting more info from the technical experts on the implications for nature and active travel and public transport will give us a good steer when it comes actually making a final decision on the route.

I also feel very passionately about making our public spaces more attractive and create places that people want to spend time in which I think really helps to build that sense of community. Inverleith Park obviously presents a big opportunity here, and I’m grateful to my ward colleagues who have been working on issues such as getting the park proper public toilets on Culture and Communities Committee, as well as to everyone involved in coming up with a Masterplan for the park. But our streets are public spaces too and we should be considering adding shrubs, street trees and other greenery as well as places to sit and take a rest as part of every opportunity – not only because they make places more pleasant but also because of their positive impact on climate adaptation and nature and biodiversity which as you can expect is really important to me. There is already some good work in the pipeline, for example on the Craigleith Catchment Green Blue Network which includes a number of projects to improve drainage and prevent flooding in the area, and plans for more biodiversity in Inverleith Park as part of its Masterplan. I am also currently doing some work in relation to the Scottish Government’s Good Food Nation Bill with colleagues (as, I know, is Cllr Osler who brought a motion on supporting food growing and I’m very interested in the report officers will prepare in response) so I’m interested in how we can make our local food systems more sustainable and social just, including supporting community growing for anyone who don’t have access to our completely oversubscribed allotments or maybe can’t commit quite as much time to growing food.

I know that for a lot of residents, waste and recycling are big issues and as councillors we regularly get complaints about litter. There are some actions we can take reactively in response to that like reporting overflowing bins, but for me, a lot of the work on reducing litter and fly tipping starts with proactively reducing the amount of waste that is created in the first place. I’m working on two motions right now on how we can make sure that more of the stuff that is currently thrown out gets reused and people know about the options out there, for example organisations like the Edinburgh Remakery or SHRUB Coop who can refurbish unwanted or broken furniture and technology.

Last but not least, I’m very concerned about the housing crisis in this city, including the lack of affordable housing and loss of residential housing due to STLs which I know are a big issue here in the Colonies and some neighbouring streets. I’m not on the committee that makes planning decisions (at the moment!) so I don’t get to directly decide what kind of planning applications gets approved but what I can and have helped with is supporting residents, writing objections, helping them get the info from the council they need, and asking for a hearing and speaking at it. Similarly, while I don’t sit on any of the committees that deal with the STL related planning and licensing applications, I am very supportive of my Green colleagues’ efforts to push for stronger regulation of that sector and can provide some advice on how residents can help with that regulation eg by responding to planning applications, objecting to licence applications and finally, reporting unregulated STLs to the council for enforcement.”