Tag Archives: Leith

Theatre company launches crowdfunder to feed and clothe Leith’s homeless

Photo Above: Edinburgh Homeless © Aiala Garcia on Flickr

Creative Electric launched a crowdfunder to support a community arts cafe in Leith yesterday.

The Edinburgh-based theatre company hope to raise £1,000 for the re:place community arts cafes project, a pay-it-forward scheme to help homeless and vulnerable people in the area.

Continue reading Theatre company launches crowdfunder to feed and clothe Leith’s homeless

Fundraising appeal to save Leith community centre #backdrbells

At the launch of the fundraising appeal to #backdrbells

Dr. Bell’s Family Centre launches an appeal to raise £25,000 by April 2017, following a 50% reduction in external funding last year.

Speaking at the launch on Monday, January 23rd, Sarah Gunn, Chair of the Board said:

“Dr. Bell’s Family Centre is a vital community hub which has supported over a thousand struggling families in Leith over the last ten years.

“We are unique in offering family support in the same location as a crèche and community cafe, meaning we provide a wide range of support: from counselling, to helping parents into employment, low cost childcare to English language skills, and offer a place to make friends and build up confidence.

“We want to do more, but to do that we need to be here, this year and in the long term.

We are calling on the local community, businesses and partners to come together to back Dr Bell’s and support our campaign.”

Former Leith MSP and Board member Malcolm Chisholm remarked on the significance of the launch by noting that there was “not many events with three MSPs” attending. He also added:

“Although the reduced services we currently provide are targeted at those who need them the most, there is a high demand for family support in Leith which we believe is not currently being met.

“Raising these funds will put us back on a secure footing to continue delivering vital support services to the local community”

SNP MSP for Edinburgh Northern and Leith, Ben Macpherson also spoke at the launch:

“For over 10 years Dr Bell’s Family Centre has supported hundreds of local children and many local families, often at difficult times. Their services provide significant, and sometimes critical, support for the local community.

“I will continue to do all that I can, working with local councillors, NHS Lothian and others, to help keep this excellent centre open for Leith.”


Miles Briggs, MSP for Lothian Conservative; Sarah Gunn, Chair of the Board of Trustees; Ben MacPherson, local MSP for Leith; Malcolm Chisholm, former MSP for North East Edinburgh and Minister for Health, now a Board Member; Alison Johnstone, MSP Scottish Green Party

The cause has drawn attention and support from across the political spectrum. Kezia Dugdale, leader of the Scottish Labour Party, said:

“The Family Centre provides some incredibly effective resources through the family support work, counselling and employability services provided by the centre and also provides crèche facilities for hundreds of children, many of which come from some of the most deprived parts of our city, providing them with a better start to life.

“I wholeheartedly support the efforts of all the staff and volunteers at Dr Bell’s Family Centre in the fundraising campaign and will continue to support the centre whenever and however I can.”

The centre was set up as a partnership between the City of Edinburgh Council, NHS Lothian and the local community in 2006 in response to a recognised need within the community for family support.

Leith Councillor, Adam McVey commented:

“Dr Bells has been there for people who needed their services, now Leithers are needed to help secure those services for the future”

Rachel King from Mental Health and Wellbeing department of NHS Lothian expressed her interest in helping students help Dr Bell’s:

“Family based support such as that available at Dr Bell’s Centre is very positive for parents mental health and wellbeing, and the centre offers a welcoming space, great food and staff who can work with the whole family.

“I would be very interested in hearing from university groups that could be involved in the fundraising for this unique family support centre”

Donate here and spread the word using #backdrbells.

“We are not closing”, says Dr Bell’s Family Centre

Community base in Leith will continue to provide services for families with young children despite the funding crisis
Community base in Leith will continue providing services for families with young children despite the funding crisis

Dr Bell’s Family Centre has put to rest claims that the on-going funding crisis could result in closure by April next year.

Fiona Clark, Centre Manager for Fundraising & Strategy, has said that they have been at risk of redundancy since March.

 “Some staff will be made redundant, redundancy is optional for everyone. Other staff will continue in reduced service from January”

However Clark has reassured the community that the centre is not closing, and will continue delivering services.

Dr Bell’s currently employs ten members of staff, with only one full-time employee.

The centre also relies on volunteer support, coming majoritively from people who have used the services in the past and now want to give back.

Clare Armstrong, Volunteer Receptionist


The centre manager sums up the importance of the organisation:

“We provide all-round family support, we have crèche for children up the age of 8, one-to-one family support, group work, counselling, trauma therapy, healthy-eating cooking classes, Mum’s group, Dad’s Worker, employability advice and tackling money worries”

The services are focused around a community café, which Clark describes as:

“Non-stigmatizing, non-judgmental gateway that encourages people to come in for some healthy-eating food and chat”

Shaani Singh, Kitchen Assistant
Shaani Singh, Kitchen Assistant

A month ago, the centre calculated that they would need £40,000 to stay open till the end of March 2016.

Concerns have been raised that the funding gap could lead to the centre’s closure by April next year.

However, the decision to reduce the services offered, alongside receiving other funding since the £40,000 gap prognosis, make it increasingly possible for the centre to continue delivering its services.

The centre provides welcoming and supportive environment for many families in the local community
The centre provides welcoming and supportive environment for many families in the local community

Dr Bell’s Family Centre is currently the only place in Edinburgh that has a free crèche in the same location as parenting support groups and other services.


The impact of the centre’s work on the Leith community is of great significance: they work with over 350 families a year, according to Clark.

“Last year 256 children came to the crèche, we supported 42 families through family support and 70 single mums through employability programme”

The centre is launching a fundraising appeal in an attempt to continue supporting the Leith community.


By Iben Revsbech and Alena Yakushova

Top 5 things to do this week

Photo credit: Andrew Hamilton
Photo credit: Andrew Hamilton


I’m sorry to disappoint, but we’re looking at yet another week of freezing weather… Since it always helps to have a reason to leave the house, here’s our top 5 things to do in Edinburgh this week: Continue reading Top 5 things to do this week

“League games more important than Cup Final” – Pat Fenlon before Dons clash

Hibernian manager Pat Fenlon spoke to our sports reporter Joe Birchenall ahead of his sides fixture tonight at Easter Road. Fenlon’s charges face Aberdeen, a side who they have not beaten in the league since May last year. However, Hibs face the Dons on the back of a thrilling Scottish Cup semi-final win against Falkirk, which saw them claim a 4 – 3 victory despite finishing the first half three goals down. Fenlon, however, is keen to push on and to focus on remaining league games, saying he is disappointed to have finished outside of the top six.

Fenlon also discusses the breakthrough of youngsters Alex Harris and Danny Handling, his reaction to Neil Lennon’s SFA woes and the imminent departure of Hibs top scorer Leigh Griffiths.

Splashback causing waves for Leith Councillors

Source: Greener Leith
Leith local election candidates faced the voters last night at the Leith Links hustings.  On the menu were crucial issues for the port  including the biomass proposal and the tram project. 

Leith Waterworld was also discussed and the closure of the family-friendly pool last January has not deterred campaigners, Splashback, from trying to reopen it. 

Edinburgh Napier News spoke to Johnny Gailey, one of the Splashback leaders.   


Update: Family says death of Edinburgh victim a “devastating loss”

The family of John Carter who was beaten and left to die in a lift in Edinburgh’s Salamander Court in February last year have said “nothing can lessen the heartache we have gone through”.

Their statement comes a few hours after Simon Brown and Paul Banks were found guilty of culpable homicide and sentenced in Glasgow High Court to eight years imprisonment each, over the death of Mr Carter.

The family described the deceased as “a vibrant, fiercely intelligent, loving man who brought countless joy to the lives of his family and friends.”

They added “his laughter, his kindness, his ability to accept individuals for who they were and his inherent sense of fairness, were just a tiny part of who he was. If John could help, he would.”

Brown, 41, and Banks, 48, left Mr Carter to die on the 26th or 27th of February last year. They dumped his semi-naked in a lift after putting handcuffs on their victim and punching and kicking him repeatedly. They put a plastic bag over his head. Bruises to the scalp, chest and wrists were found in the post mortem examination.

The victim’s wallet was found on Paul Brown when he was searched by police.

Judge Michael O’Grady said they would have received ten years each if they hadn’t admitted the charge.

“You behaved with extreme cruelty and utter indifference. No sentence I can impose can ease the ordeal of Mr Carter’s family,” said the judge.

The pair admitted culpable homicide after the charge was reduced from murder.

Energy investment creates 800 jobs in Leith

Renewable Energy creates 800 new jobs in Leith.

By: Anna Redman

Spanish wind turbine manufacturer, Gamesa, has announced their plan to create around 800 jobs at a new Edinburgh plant, which will be located in Leith.

The investment in this project will be about £125m.

Continue reading Energy investment creates 800 jobs in Leith

Leith Festival to Lose Funding

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,
includingEdinburghCity Council.

Leith Gala Day

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.

HMS Edinburgh docks for the weekend

HMS Edinburgh docks in Leith Credit: Blythe Harkins

By Celeste Carrigan

The penultimate Royal Navy 42 Type Destroyer, HMS Edinburgh has docked in Leith for the weekend. Scotland’s capital ship will be open from 1pm to the public on Sunday 27 March 2011.

The public will be able to come on board and have a look around an active Royal Navy ship.

Edinburgh Napier News got exclusive photos of the ship as it docked in Edinburgh.

For more information on this story tune into Edinburgh Napier News TV Bulletin at 3PM

Man in court following death in Merchiston, Edinburgh

by Celeste Carrigan

Victim Roger Gray

A 20-year-old man is due in court later today at Edinburgh’s Sheriff  Court. He was arrested on Wednesday in connection with the murder of Roger Gray.

The murder of Gray, a 64 year-old retired lecturer, is the third homosexual related murder in a month. His body was found in his home in the city’s up market area of Merchiston. Police broke in last Saturday morning after a suspected gas leak. A postmortem examination found that he had suffered multiple stab wounds from what is believed to  have been a “sustained attack”.

Gray’s death follows those of John Carter, 44, in Leith and a man in Pilton, who cannot be named for legal reasons. Detectives said there is nothing indicating a link between the three men but will be keeping an open mind.

For more information on this story tune into Edinburgh Napier News TV Bulletin at 3PM

A little radio on a high

by Trystan Davies

Source: BBC

Gordon Brown at the turn of the century highlighted a new idea.  That idea was “community radio” which has become, according to Ofcom the broadcasting regulator, “one of the great UK broadcasting success stories in the last few years”. The journey has not been easy and certainly isn’t over but despite recession, stiff competition and “Broken Britain” volunteers from all over the UK still want a sense of belonging and new ways to communicate.


One such community can be found in Edinburgh, the capital city of Scotland.  Its port area, called Leith, has always straggled between boom and bust both economically and culturally.  In the 16th century the royal burgh was the launching pad for Scottish Kings to set sail for war and Mary Queen of Scots started her grandiose arrival here.  The industrial revolution saw Leith as a major ship building port but the depression of the late 20th century witnessed a decline the burgh is still recovering from.  This depression became world famous in the iconic Danny Boyle film Trainspotting.  Despite all this attention Leith still remains the poor relative of its neighbour Edinburgh but its strong community spirit has looked hard for ways to improve life.  One foundation has been the annual Leith Festival, an arts celebration the origins of which go back to the beginning of the 20th century.  The festival, whose fortunes have matched the economic decline of the area, had to find something new and innovative to meet the 21st century.


Leith goes radio ga ga


Local radio in Leith was the brainchild of a man called Charles Fletcher; a former correspondent with Sky News and the BBC World Service.  Having set up a local short term broadcast with the nearby South Queensferry community, Fletcher introduced a Restricted Service Licence (RSL) in 2002 to the Leith Festival but according the Mary Moriarty, one of the committee members, it was not an easy idea;

“Charles came to us and asked if Leith Festival would like to do a week of radio broadcasts. He would approach local businesses and the whole thing would cost five thousand pounds.    Of course the Leith Festival Committee was quite aghast at that amount!  We didn’t really have that kind of money”

During 2003 Fletcher and the Festival Committee worked hard to raise the money but failed to achieve their objective.  Charles Fletcher stood down but one DJ, Tony Leech, was inspired by his adventures as a youth with a home-made CB (Citizen’s Band) radio, decided not to give up.  Luck was on their side, the money was found and the team grew.  Following a successful Leith Festival and a full week of broadcasting the RSL was repeated a year later for two full weeks.  Further success prompted the creation of Leith Community Mediaworks (LCM) to deliver community radio and TV to the people of Leith.  The venture was risky but fortunately, as Mary explains, the spirit and skills of the volunteers overcame those hurdles;

“Most the people who were involved were local, they really seemed to know their stuff about radio and the presenters were excellent.    Downstairs in the Leith Dockers Club there were lots and lots of lovely young people coming in, talking and playing their music.   There was a real buzz and it was so exciting”

People do criticise New Labour but they got one thing right in 2004 and that was community radio.  The idea, in media terms, is an old one and was hinted at in the Broadcasting Act 1990.  This Act was used and adjusted to allow Ofcom to make an announcement on the 1st of September 2004 welcoming applications for Community Radio Licences on FM (Very High Frequency) or AM (Medium Wave).


In autumn 2004 LCM decided to apply for the Leith licence but Ofcom were overwhelmed by applications so it took till February 2006 for the licence to be granted.  Leith FM was officially launched in March 2007on waveband 98.8FM and on Monday May 7th. 2007 the first full live broadcast spread across the city.    Others in Scotland had the same idea; Awaz FM, an ethnic minority station in Glasgow, progressed from being a very successful pilot scheme for the Radio Authority, and Revival FM based in Cumbernauld, North Lanarkshire serving Christian listeners was the first start-up from scratch.

Since 2004 community radio has blossomed and there are over 180 licences across the UK.  Leith FM has grown too with 150 members and 60 regular presenters.  The station hits well above its weight to meet Ofcom’s community criteria with shows in French, Polish plus specialist shows in North African and Asian music. Getting serious, local radio is recognised by the government as a source of local news and current affairs and since Christmas 2009 Leith FM has built up a news-team, giving local and worldwide news bulletins four times a week.  Politics from the nearby Parliament can be heard on Noise Up! – a programme which covers, for example, the First Ministers Question Time on a Thursday afternoon and then an interview with a local politician.  Local MP Mark Lazarowicz has been a regular guest on the show;

“It has been a good initiative for Leith.  It has a real connection with the community.  People do pick things up from the programme – people on the street and not just a few which is good.  I’ve been on air for political and current affairs based issues and you always get a pretty rigorous cross-examination.  It’s a very good radio station.”

Community radio also broadcasts the stalwarts of community information such as government advice on “How to keep warm this winter” repeated on the hour every hour during the recent heavy cold snap.  Charities have also benefited from Leith FM with the local Bethany group, which deals with homelessness, allowing those struggling with life the opportunity to take part in music shows and further their contribution to society.


Radio can be a great focus for the disabled.  The medium is all about sound and touch so many blind and partially sighted people use it as a way of accessing and performing to a wide audience. One presenter, Alan Dudley, performs Leith Talk on a Thursday afternoon using a volunteer assistant and a brail-based keyboard.  I have had the pleasure of assisting Alan “Cuddly” Dudley and his guide dog Demy on a number of occasions and it’s impressive how accommodating radio can be.

Keeping with the tradition of being a port Leithers have emigrated across the world and in this Diaspora Leith FM has found a new audience.  With evolving new media the station has a presence on social networking sites such as Facebook and Twitter.  The station manager Mohammed Bouchkal is keen to keep up with the online community;

“We do get a few international responses and we put a map, a tracking map, on the website where you can see all the red dots where people are listening from – places you think could never pick up Leith FM!”

Having formed part of one local entertainment event, Leith Festival, the station has ventured into the world famous annual Edinburgh Festival with interviews and reviews of well known and upcoming entertainers.  Past guests include Sir Anthony Hopkins, Foster & Allen and Jimmy Osmond.


The New Recruit

Rehan Yousef is a 28 year old former TV and film student who is a convert to radio.  He’s enthusiastic and very ambitious about his Asian music show on Monday nights;

“My dream is to have a show where one week we’re talking about a local issue then another week talk about an international issue but maybe something people haven’t really heard of.   We did a story on Sri Lanka and the constitutional crisis and we weren’t sure it would work but we had a wee bit of feedback, at first; ‘What’s going on? this is Leith FM!’ but after the show they were saying; ‘you know what – this is really interesting and I’ve learnt something!


Source: LeithFM






Rough air waves

Not all attempts at community radio have been successful.  Six stations failed to start while three have had to return their licence.  Charles Fletcher, who had introduced local broadcasting to Leith, failed to establish a bigger venture in nearby South Queensferry.  According to Professor Anthony Everitt, author of the 2003 local radio report New Voices, community radio is in constant fear of closure.  Everitt’s recommendations have formed the basis for government legislation but the Community Radio Fund (CRF) is well below the £3-4million he wants.  When the CRF was set up in 2005 it was £500k per year and only 14 stations, but since then very little has been done to support the boom in licence holders.  A campaign was launched in 2009 by Professor Everitt and 82 community radio leaders, media scholars and experts including representatives of 60 community radio stations.  A petition gathered over 1700 signatures and an open letter to Prime Minister Gordon Brown pointed out, amongst other issues, the fact that 150 community radio stations receive less funding than a Radio One breakfast DJ.  Looking to the continent is furthering their argument with France providing 25 million Euros annually to 600 community radio stations.


On-air and off-air life has not always been easy for Leith FM.  As with all small voluntary ventures there have been bust-ups and trouble organising everything.   In September this year Leith FM found itself on a list with fourteen other community radio stations in breach of their licence conditions having failed to submit an annual report to Ofcom on time.  The main issues have been more fundamental to staying on-air and Mohammed Bouchkal believes the stations problem is keeping the books balanced;

“We’re keeping it afloat at the moment but we do need a lot of money to keep the station going.  We do try to keep a good contact with the Scottish Parliament so they can help but I think most of the money goes to other organisations such as cancer research – more serious things than a radio station”

Freddie Roddick, presenter and scheduling Manager believes that membership is tricky;

“The big problems I’ve come across are volunteers coming and going and , especially at this time of year, trying to find new volunteers to fill positions. A lot of volunteers work during the day so trying to find people for daytime positions is a nightmare!”

And of course, says Mary Moriarty, everyone wants to be the star but not necessarily do the donkey work;

“There is a priority for people just to be presenters and, probably, that is as much as they want to do which is quite right but I think for the advancement of Leith FM it would be more encouraging if everybody took part to make it better”


The future

Things are still fresh at Leith FM with volunteers learning all the time.  The team were, along with many others, pioneers in local media and despite hardship the station has continued to sail along.  The media world changes quickly and the FM signal itself has been threatened by digital technology which, at the moment, is far less accommodating and flexible than the traditional medium.  Ed Vaizey, the Culture Minister, stated last July that the Government will not trash analogue radio once the digital switchover takes place in 2015 but it will encourage listeners to go digital as quickly as possible.   The new technology is growing steadily with 11m digital radios sold in the UK serving 24% of listeners.  Where will Leith FM and community radio fit in this new world?  It is probably too early to tell but it runs the risk of being marginalised by wealthier companies buying up the airwaves, and community radio stations lack the expensive technology to broadcast digitally.  But smaller commercial stations will face the same difficulties so community radio is certainly not alone.  Leith’s community will also change.  The area is now targeted as one of the main centres for renewable energy construction in Scotland.  Tourism will also transform the area with a growing cruise liner industry and the possible resurrection of the stalled tram project.  As can be seen in other city port redevelopments the results do not necessarily improve community cohesion and can even be destructive.

The most recent announcement from Ofcom repeats the “genuine success story” mantra of community radio.  Despite “Broken Britain” people still need a sense of belonging and this is strong in Leith.  The burgh has always been proud of its distinct, working class and community driven ideals which soak into every pour of Leith FM and flows out again across the airwaves, hopefully for a long time to come.


Let £eith Decide

By Colleen Reid

£eith Decides

A funding initiative to give power to local people, ‘£eith Decides‘ is an X-Factor style pilot project which sees local groups and charities battle it out for a share of Leith’s Community Grant. £16,600 in total is up for grabs, with the people of Leith to decide where and how it is spent.

Run by Leith Neighbourhood Partnership, the scheme is the first of its type in Edinburgh and could be rolled out across the city if successful.

The principle of the project is simple, each applicant will give a short presentation to Leith residents, which will then be voted on with a top score of five. The top rated organisations will then receive up to £1000 as decided by Leith residents.

Councillor Jenny Dawe, Leader of the City of Edinburgh Council, said: “This is a worthwhile project focusing on the local groups in Leith and is a good example of empowering communities by devolving funding decisions to a local level.”

In reality, the project seems to be a mystery to both residents and applicants alike. After contacting several of the groups and organisations who are in the running to gain funding, many were unaware of the X Factor style vote off system and this could spell trouble for the scheme.

Leith resident Emma Milne was not even aware of £eith Decides. She said: “It’s a good idea but I live in Leith and I’ve never heard of it. If it was advertised better it could work.”

A total of 29 groups and organisations are in the running for a slice of Leith’s yearly Community Grant of £48,032. The initiative has attracted a wide range of groups including Families Together in Leith, Out of the Blue Arts and Education Trust and the Bethany Christian Trust.

Dan Reynolds from Bethany Christian Trust said: “A project like £eith Decides means that smaller and local groups can put forward their own case for support and that by involving as many ordinary people as possible, it’s a chance for the community to decide what is best for them.”

The voting event is open to everyone who lives or works in Leith and will take place on the 27th November in Leith Academy. However, with the voting turnout of the recent general elections being just 68.4% for Edinburgh North and Leith compared to 73.8% in Edinburgh South, are the people of Leith likely to come and vote? Incentives such as a flat screen TV and a signed Hibs shirt are being offered in a prize draw to entice residents to participate.

Leith boys Charlie and Craig Reid from Scottish band The Proclaimers are trying to promote the project. They said: “Our very best wishes to all involved in £eith decides, and we are sure the Leithers will be astute judges.”

Leith-Factor to decide funding for local groups

by Robert McTighe

The people of Leith are being given the chance to choose where local government money ends up under an exciting new plan. The scheme called “£eith Decides” will give people in the community the power to decide exactly where their money is going. Run by the Leith Neighbourhood Partnership, the scheme has around £16,000 available for local groups.

Continue reading Leith-Factor to decide funding for local groups

Council row over say in Waterfront

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”

Biomass Plans set for Public Exhibition

Keep out! But will biomass be in?

By Tony Garner

Forth Energy are to give the public a chance to view plans for a controversial new biomass plant at the Docks in Leith.

The company announced exhibitions at the St James’ Centre, South Leith Parish Church, and Ocean Terminal on the 10th, 12th and 13th of November respectively.  The exhibitions will include panels showing detailed plans of the site and information about the company’s aim to bolster Scotland’s renewable energy sector.

A Forth Energy spokesperson said the exhibition was being publicised by flyering and advertising in local press.

But Greener Leith, a conservation group, have called into question the company’s commitment to openness.  ‘They don’t provide answers to serious enquiries,’ Alasdair Tibbit told Edinburgh Napier News.  He said Forth Energy had failed to answer the question of how long the plant would take to offset its initial carbon debt.  The Scottish Government have set a target of an 80% reduction in carbon emissions by 2020, but Tibbit claimed it would be over a century by the time the biomass plant could really be called carbon neutral.

Greener Leith are spearheading strong local opposition, including Labour MP’s Mark Lazarowicz and Sheila Gilmore, who recently tabled a House of Commons question on the issue, as well as Green MSP Robin Harper.  Campaigners object to the sourcing from Canada and continental Europe of the woodchip residue fuel which the plant needs to operate.

‘If Forth Energy were serious about doing this properly they would be co-ordinating with the Forestry Commission and Scottish companies and making long term agreements for fuel supply’, Harper said.

Both Harper and Greener Leith accept the potential of biomass as an alternative to fossil fuels, but believe the Forth Energy proposal is poorly conceived and too large for the site.  The principle of biomass energy is that trees are replanted to directly offset the carbon dioxide produced by those that are burned.  The plants start their life in ‘carbon debt’ because of the energy expended in the initial construction phase and in transporting the organic material to the plant itself.

The final plans will be submitted to Scottish Ministers early next year, with a decision expected later in 2011.  The SNP have made support for the alternative energy sector one of the key planks of their first term in Government, with First Minister Alex Salmond in Glasgow yesterday to announce a £70 million fund for renewables projects.  If the biomass plant does get the go-ahead, Forth Energy would be helped by some of these generous public subsidies.





Toddlers to be given swine flu jab

There will be a focus on administering the swine flu jab to children under fives and personal careers following advice by the chief medical adviser.

The second phase of the H1N1 vaccination programme will see more than a quarter of a million Scottish children immunised and individuals considered a high risk to their patients.

Earlier this week a child died from the bug and man in the Lothian area died yesterday.

Yesterday health secretary, Nicola Sturgeon, guaranteed that priority persons would be vaccinated before Christmas.

In response to phase two of the programme, Ms Sturgeon said: “We anticipate this will happen during December, although completion of the vaccination of young children is not expected until mid January.”

Since April, 39 people in Scotland have died from the category five virus, 142 in England, 21 in Wales and 13 in Northern Ireland.

Many groups have opposed the anti-virus jab due to side effects it may cause.

Edinburgh Napier News spoke to two mothers in Leith today to find out their views.

Leith Traders get Christmas break from tram works

Embattled traders in Leith walk won their plea to suspend  the tram works for more than a month over Christmas this week.

The decision comes after an announcement by tram firm TIE that Constitution Street is to be reopened over the festive period having been closed for over a year.

The street will now remain free of all tram work until January, although some road barriers will still remain in place, with traffic being controlled.

Susan Clark, deputy project director said: “Having consulted with the local community and taken into consideration the current stage of the works in the area, we are pleased to advice that apart from one or two sections of minor cabling work Leith walk will be clear of tram works over the festive period between the end of November and 4 January, 2010”

This has been warmly welcomed by traders in the area and Gordon Burgess of the Leith Business Association, who felt they were being unfairly treated.

He said: “We may not have a Harvey Nichols, a Frasers or a Marks and Spencer, but were still important to the city. Princes Street have had constant advertisement letting shoppers know they are still open for trade, while we have quite frankly been forgotten.”

Earlier today Edinburgh Napier News spoke with Leith florist Carolyn Design Florist, owner Sara Morgan estimates her shop has lost almost half its trade since the tram project began. She looks forward to the road opening  and hopefully a Christmas boost for her sales.

No redundancy pay for off-licence staff

EXCLUSIVE by Narelle McGowan & Gemma Haigh

Staff at eight Edinburgh First Quench off-licences face redundancy without pay, leaving them with the prospect of a long fight to claim their money.

Edinburgh Napier News has learned that some of the staff, many of whom have worked for the company for up to 20 years, will not get the redundancy payments they are entitled to.

One worker said that many staff are devastated by the news and feel it is unfair they are not getting a redundancy package.

Administrators KPMG were brought in to try to save the business, but now they are planning to close dozens of branches across the country.

A First Quench spokeswoman refused to confirm that staff will be left without pay.

First Quench, who own Wine Rack, Thresher, Haddows, Bottoms Up, The Local and Victoria Wine have 219 stores across Scotland, 53 of which face closure and of the 1,300 stores in the UK they are closing 373.

During the recession, increased competition from supermarkets as well as stock problems earlier this year added to First Quench‘s problems.

The eight Edinburgh stores confirmed to be closing by a First Quench spokesperson are:

  1. Haddows, Gorgie Road
  2. Haddows, Ferry Road
  3. Thresher, Ferry Road
  4. Victoria Wine, Leith Walk
  5. Victoria Wine, Haymarket Terrace
  6. Victoria Wine, Easter Road
  7. Victoria Wine, Newington Road
  8. Victoria Wine, Davidson Mains

‘Save Leith’ protestors take their campaign to the Council

The ‘Save Leith’ campaign moved up a gear today as protestors took over 4000 signed petitions to the council. The campaigners and their signatories object to plans by property developer Forth Ports to brand a new multi-million pound Leith development as Edinburgh Harbour.

With the backing of MSP Malcolm Chisholm, the Leithers delivered the signatures to Councillor Gordon Munro in time for a fresh set of talks between senior councillors and Forth Ports on Monday. The property giant had initially ignored pleas to change their plans but will meet council leader Jenny Dawe and Chief Executive Tom Atchison again in the wake of fresh protests.

Council leader Jenny Dawe said earlier in the week:

‘We are meeting with a representative of Forth Ports again on Monday. I think there is a way a compromise can be reached on the Leith name being incorporated. They have made their position clear but perhaps they weren’t aware of the strength of local feeling on the matter.’

That strength of feeling was apparent at City Chambers today and echoed by Councillor Gordon Munro. He said:

‘Leith has a unique identity that all Leithers are proud of and it seems silly to ignore that  in this new development. The level of support for the campaign is fantastic and I will make sure the message is delivered loud and clear to the council leader so that she can pass this on to Forth Ports.’

The campaign has also received a strong support online. Over 700 facebook users have joined the ‘Save Leith Petition 2009’ group and their names were presented to the council alongside the petition. Online campaign co-ordinator Iain McGill said:

‘I am delighted by the level of online support but also by the attention the campaign is now getting. We have cross-party support from councillors and MSPs and now coverage from national press and television. Forth Ports will have to listen.’

But Forth Ports has said there was a misunderstanding regarding the naming of the development and that Leith Docks would remain as the umbrella name for the overall project. Charles Hammond, group chief executive, said:

‘The name Edinburgh Harbour was chosen for this area of Leith Docks, which will include a cruise ship terminal, as it highlights the fact that Leith is the gateway into Scotland’s capital.’

Forth Ports has yet to be granted planning permission for developing the area around Ocean Terminal. The first two of nine “urban villages” will include 1870 new homes.