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.