The Waterfront project of Edinburgh is the centre of a row between two city councillors. The £84 million port development will be presided over by an executive group but how that group will be made up is an issue of concern to local councillor Gordon Munro.
Leith Councillor Gordon Munro would like to see leaders of Leith and Forth Neighbourhood Partnerships included in the Tax Increment Finance (TIF) Executive Group to represent local views. This request has been rejected by the leader of the City Council Jenny Dawe but she welcomed local interest groups to TIF meetings. Her opinion was echoed by deputy leader of the council Steve Cardownie, a Forth Ward councillor, who added that lay people would not fit with representatives of the port property owners, Forth Ports. Cllr Munro gave Edinburgh Napier News his reaction;
“”There needs to be local input into the discussion. Local representation is needed on this committee and a signal to the local community that any mortgage taken out by the city council for infrastructure developments in Leith will benefit – Leith as a whole and not just a business plan for Forth Ports. I was disappointed the council leader and deputy leader did not recognise that community concern. Leith has been railroaded off the agenda of the developer”
The TIF Group as it stands will consist of one representative of the Scottish Government, two from Forth Ports and three Officers from the City of Edinburgh Council. The group will preside over a loan, based on future business prospects, which will cover four main projects: a new link road between Seafield Road and Constitution Street, an esplanade and events centre outside Ocean Terminal, a new pier for the Royal Yacht Britannia and cruise ships, and new lock gates for Leith Harbour.
Leith Councillor and Deputy Lord Provost Rob Munn, member of the Policy and Strategy Committee who considered the Tax Increment Finance Report, defended the council decision;
“If you included politicians into that Executive Group then your politicizing the matter. The group’s task is to bring forward the projects and put them before politicians. Politicians will then make the decisions”
“In terms of the local community I talked to the Director for City Development, Dave Anderson, and organised a meeting with Leith Harbour and Newhaven Community Council in early December and the Leith Links Community Council. He is keen to do that and set up a sounding board with the local community involving the Neighbourhood Partnerships which is a cross-section including city councillors and other interested parties”