A motion will be discussed by the Council this week about the traffic issues created by the tram’s installation and the new traffic lights in the city center.
The council have said: “The council notes with concern that, six months after the start of tram operations, the combination of traffic lights between Leith Street and Waverley Bridge are still causing considerable delays to traffic.
“Further notes that this effect has greatest impact on buses and cyclists but also affects general traffic and, occasionally, trams.
“Considering that long waits for west bound traffic, even for an east bound tram which will not cross the same path, are frustrating for travelers. “
The tram of Edinburgh is a 14-kilometre line between York Place in New town and Edinburgh Airport, with 15 stops.
The line opened on 31 May 2014.
The final cost of the tram is expected to top £1 billion.
Chris Hill, from the City Cycling Edinburgh Forum said: “There are all sorts of issues related to trams – not least people falling off on the tracks, particularly when wet.
“Most concerns about trams and traffic signals have been to do with the long delays caused by the timings. “
Councilor Whyte calls for a report to the Transport & Environment Committee within the two cycles setting out a full solution to this issue.
The council have refused to comment on the issue at this time.
Edinburgh City Council’s plans to build on the capital’s green spaces typify the modern day urban conflict between environment and development. The council’s recent Local Development Plan (LDP) sets out a range of proposals for the construction of new homes across much of the city’s green spaces between 2015 and 2025. Between 3750 and 5080 new homes are planned at sites across the capital – the bulk of which are located in Edinburgh’s west and southeast.
The LDP has stated that development should be focused on four key areas – the city centre; the waterfront regeneration area in the North; west Edinburgh; and southeast Edinburgh. The city’s fast-growing population has placed greater demand on housing – development is inevitable. But the issue is where this development takes place. Duncan Campbell, member of Edinburgh’s Green belt network, said: “If you are going to develop anyway on green belt, mitigation must be of the highest quality so that impacts on the setting of the rest of the green belt is preserved.
“City planners have a tremendous challenge which is emanating from the Scottish Government through national planning frameworks which place a primacy on growth, and the local authorities have to follow that instruction. If they don’t, there are penalties.”
Edinburgh’s planning convener, Ian Perry, recently stated “we expect the vast majority of the new homes to be built on existing and future brownfield sites, such as Leith or Granton. However, we still need to find some green field sites to meet the overall need for additional housing land.” But Mr Campbell says: “It is not beyond the wit of imaginative landscape design to use green space on brownfield sites, where you would be able to have low rise developments in those areas.”
Achieving the right balance is key – and if more can be done to incorporate future brownfield sites into council plans, then environmental groups will be more willing to compromise. The danger amid the scuffles is that if insufficient land is identified where development is acceptable then the Scottish Government will take it on instead. That would mean losing control at a local level on decisions about where housing should go. Mr Perry says: “it may be time to review the whole process and revisit the question of how we handle Edinburgh’s growth and protect its green spaces.”
Edinburgh City Council’s planning department have ruled against a man who has set up his own music venue in a house in the capital.
Douglas Robertson submitted an application for certificate of lawfulness to enable a house as a live music venue, which the Council has rejected.
Robertson, a freelance photographer, rented an old grocer shop to use as a photography studio 20 years ago, and used the basement below for musicians to rehearse. Over the past two years Douglas and his wife have hosted countless local and touring musicians playing classical, folk, bluegrass, Americana and jazz. They have raised over £1200 pounds, and hosted over 100 concerts last year. Visitors are asked to pay a £10 donation, which goes straight the performers. He has a strict 11pm curfew rule every gig.
Robertson has paid some of the costs himself. He has spent £5000-£6000 on equipment over the years, and provides free soup and bred for all the musicians before the gigs.
City Council served a town and county planning legislation enforcement notice demanding that Robertson seeks a partial change of use for the house to continue concerts. This requires a public entertainment licence and installing fire and safety regulations.
Cllr Richard Lewis, Culture Convener, said: “Of course, we want to support those, like Douglas, whose enormous passion for live music already contributes greatly to the scene in Edinburgh – and has the potential to contribute a whole lot more – but this cannot be at the expense of the relevant planning legislation.”
Andrew Burns, Council Leader, adds “Planning’s conclusion was that the level of concert activity contravened permitted use for what is a house in a residential area’’.
The Council’s Planning Service contacted Robertson in early November 2012 to ask him to stop the concerts from the end of 2012. This followed a planning enforcement investigation which itself followed a complaint from a nearby resident which obliged the Planning Service to investigate.
“The vast majority of our neighbours either enjoy our concerts as guests or have no problem with them. Only one neighbor has actually complained in the last 10 years” Roberston said.
Quashing fears of community library closures,
Edinburgh City council assured the public that all Edinburgh libraries will remain open.
Across the country campaigners have been fighting to keep libraries open since budget cuts threatened to close some smaller libraries earlier this year. In response to public concerns, the council have published a libraries consultation document outlining plans to bring Edinburgh’s libraries into the 21st century. Under the mantra ‘Better Libraries, Better Lives,’ the proposals focuses on strengthening community connections.
Councillor Deidre Brock, Culture and Leisure convener, said: “obviously all local authorities are having to make big savings just now, and we are no exception. But unlike some areas, we have not closed, and will not close any of our libraries – on the contrary, we’re opening more, integrating library services within community facilities to give greater flexibility and make best use of resources.”
The consultation document was released in the same week that Edinburgh’s virtual library received a nomination for “Best use of social media” in the UK Public Sector Digital Awards.
Covering 27 community libraries, the Central Library, mobile libraries and services to hospitals and care homes, the plan aims to cater to all, from children to the elderly.
In order for the libraries to be ‘fit for purpose’ some buildings will undergo refurbishment, a measure that has already been taken in Stockbridge and Portobello. Morningside library is the latest to undergo changes and is due to reopen in a matter of weeks after extensive refurbishment.
Information Services Manager for Edinburgh libraries, Liz McGettigan explains how the library service hopes to evolve: “This is a hugely challenging time and what is set out here will evolve as we continue our dialogue across the city. It will only be through a strong partnership approach that this will be achieved. We intend to continue our innovative public, electronic, educational and cultural programmes, delivered both on-site and virtually. We are also laying the groundwork in this period for a new Central Library.”
Brock emphasized the need for public involvement in helping to shape the future of Edinburgh’s libraries: “In Edinburgh we are shaping our library service based on customer feedback, usage patterns and discussions with libraries’ staff. As we move forward, we’re looking to gauge the public’s views on our draft strategy for libraries. We invite everyone to tell us what they think – your feedback is invaluable in helping us continue to improve this vital service for the city.”
Public consultations on the proposals will take place from December 2011 into January 2012.
The Leith festival looks set to face a dramatic downsize due to public funding cuts.
One of Edinburgh’s largest and most renowned festivals, it is likely to lose many of its benefactors,
The event relies heavily on public and charitable funds, which are diminishing at an alarming rate. Edinburgh City Council is just one of the contributors which has decided not to renew their contract with the festival.
The festival has entertained thousands of people over the past 8 years and has earned a reputation as one of the cities most popular attractions. It produces a variety of events including comedy, theatre, music and dance. Festival organizers predict that in 2012, it will be stripped back, returning to its historical roots as a Gala Day and Pageant.
Speaking about the potential cuts, Leith Councillor Gordon Munro said: “We have had to reduce the festival because we don’t have finances. There has never been much money available from the Council and other sources have dried up and for the foreseeable future, I don’t see that changing.”
The residents of Leith have relied heavily on the festival in recent years to bring trade to the area and boost community spirit. Rowan Campbell, on of the festival’s board members, said: “People need to know how vulnerable we are and that it cannot go on without them. We need their help. The festival does great things for the community but there doesn’t seem to be funding available for this sort of community event, if there is we certainly haven’t found it.”
A public meeting is scheduled to be held alongside the Leith festival. The AGM is due to take place on Wednesday 7 December in the Leith Community Centre at 7.30pm. It is open to the public, and any offers to join the board of volunteers who run the festival, will be warmly welcomed.