Decision delayed on council funding for Corstorphine Community Centre

A decision of whether Edinburgh Council should fund the rebuilding of Corstorphine Community Centre has been delayed until after the UK budget next week.

The centre’s future has been stuck in limbo since the original building was left devastated by a fire in 2013.

Last year the hub had been assured £750,000 of funding for a new building would be made available, however a report released in December highlighted a £13.6 million shortfall in funds for repairing community centres across the city, causing plans to collapse. But further money could become available following the UK budget, which will be confirmed on Wednesday, March 11.

However, Conservative and Liberal Democrat councillors have urged that the £750,000 should be met from unallocated council cash reserves.

Jeremy Balfour, Tory MSP and former councillor for Corstorphine, told EN4 News that he was “very disappointed” with how the community has been treated following the latest delay.

“It has been an issue that’s gone on for a number of years since the building burned down,” Balfour said.

“The council gave guarantees they would help on this and money would be put aside… and now they’re no longer going to help and rebuild it.

“It is the only facility that the community can use. The community have been fundraising really hard and they’ve been let down at this very late stage.”

The decision as to whether funding should go to the community centre has been postponed until after next week’s UK budget, but Corstorphine locals are hopeful the money will be secured.

Tommy McLean, funding co-ordinator for the Community Centre told EN4 News: “We are appreciative of the council as they are trying to find the money, and hopefully after we look at the award from the government that they will be able to allocate funding. We think is a good deal for the community.”

Roadworks cause bin controversy in Stockbridge

Stockbridge residents have accused Edinburgh Council of “making excuses” for not collecting overflown rubbish bins on schedule.

The council released a statement this week explaining that the ongoing gasworks in the area have resulted in them being unable to collect the kerbside bins due to lorries being too large to fit alongside the construction work.

Local residents are disgusted by the overflow, with black bags spilling out onto the pavement in some places, and multiple reports of rats being spotted.

Overflowing bins (Credit: EN4 News)

“It’s just the council making excuses again,” said Eleanor McBride, who has lived on Raeburn Place for over 30 years.

“Other big vans and lorries can get down the street just fine so why can’t the bin lorries?”

Companies that have their rubbish collected by private companies have been largely unaffected despite using bin lorries that are much the same size as those used by the council.

Nadine Watson, manager of Holland & Barrett, whose bins are privately collected said: “Even though our bin isn’t being emptied every day now, it’s still being picked up maybe every two or three days.”

While the ongoing works have caused some disruption for businesses, the impact has not been as destructive as initially expected, some local shops have told EN4 News.

Privately owned collection lorry in Stockbridge (Credit: EN4 News)

Jennifer Feeney, assistant manager of pet store Just Dogs, explained that the company was braced for drastic losses, but that sales have been “about the same as usual for this time of year.”

The works on Raeburn Place are set to continue for another 20 weeks, and traffic will continue to be disrupted, with westbound traffic diverted for the remainder of the construction.

EN4 News have contacted Edinburgh Council regarding the issue and are awaiting a response

Loose masonry in Edinburgh is home owners’ responsibility, says local stonemason

An Edinburgh stonemason has told EN4 News that the increase in falling masonry in the city is due to home owners not doing “proper maintenance”.

The Edinburgh Evening News reported this week that there were 179 reports of falling stonework from old tenement buildings in Edinburgh last year, with the number rising dramatically in recent years. Only 33 reports were made in 2008 regarding falling masonry, however within ten years there has been nearly 1,000 cases reported.

Edinburgh based IMC Masonry owner, Iain Mcarthur, also said that there is a longstanding issue with Edinburgh Council, accusing them of being “difficult to deal with”.

Edinburgh Evening News Editor Iain Pope tweet showing areas of where falling masonry was reported.
-Source Twitter @iainpope73

– Edinburgh criticised for inaccessible buildings

– Edinburgh Sick Kids Hospital has ‘thousands’ of issues

Edinburgh Council responded to the Evening News’ story on Twitter by saying that it is the property owner’s responsibility to maintain their masonry and that they “strongly advise” that home owners get their properties surveyed.

Conservative MSP Graham Simpson explained to the Evening News that Edinburgh has the highest number of listed buildings in Scotland.’ He explained that this meant that Edinburgh has ‘probably got the oldest property stock.’

The Evening News’ story prompted reaction on social media. One Facebook user said: “Everything gets left up on roofs from old aerials, cables to satellite dishes just dumped it’s a ticking time bomb however trying to convince home owners to agree and take action especially shared repairs is hard.”

Edinburgh Council added: “Please note we will make safe buildings that are in a dangerous condition and pose a threat to public safety.”

Edinburgh Sick Kids Hospital has ‘thousands’ of issues: Local News Roundup

The building of a new Sick Kids hospital in Edinburgh has been halted after it was revealed there are still thousands of issues.

The facility was meant to open in July, but last-minute safety concerns resulted in it being delayed until next autumn. Notes taken at an NHS Lothian board revealed that there were as many as 2,000 problems within the building.

Members of the project board voiced concerns over issues such as the inability to fit adequate fire detectors in the building and a poor standard of work throughout the project.

The documents also showed that £2million was diverted from the equipment budget for the hospital and given to help the cost of construction.

The hospital cost around £150million to build, but its full price tag over the next 25 years is expected to rise to a staggering £432 million. In addition to this, £81 million was spent by NHS Lothian on enabling and equipment works at the site.

Lothian MSP Miles Briggs commented on the delay, saying: “Parents and staff will be completely dismayed at this further evidence of the poor management and woeful state of the Sick Kids hospital development in Edinburgh.”

“For there to be thousands of faults at the hospital three months after it was due to open is utterly shocking. The SNP has totally failed to get on top of this plagued building project, and, at this rate, it doesn’t look like it will anytime soon.”


The City of Edinburgh council will meet tomorrow (October 11) to discuss proposals to tackle city emissions.

A report published by the council’s Transport and Environment Committee revealed the findings of an online consultation survey for a low emission zone (LEZ) online consultation survey.

Edinburgh Council said that the survey received more than ‘2,700 responses’ and that ‘views were also shared by stakeholder groups.’

The consultation found that for the two boundaries proposed, 62% supported a ‘city centre zone boundary applying to all vehicle types.’

The initiative would see a move to build more electric vehicle charging infrastructures and ‘the phasing out of older taxi and private hire vehicles.’

There were also proposals for an inner-city LEZ which gained a 54% backing from the consultation.

However, the proposals are still in the early stages and the council has said that ‘further refinement of the two boundaries’ were to be considered more.

Transport and Environment Convener Lesley Macinnes said that the proposals were ‘bold’ and that the public feedback the council received was ‘vital to continuing to shape plans.’

She added: ‘The changes we will see from LEZs are about continuing to capitalise on our beautiful and dynamic city and making sure it has all people at its heart.’

– Edinburgh criticised for inaccessible buildings

– Loose masonry in Edinburgh is home owners’ responsibility, says local stonemason


The brewer of Scotland’s best-selling beer has invested £14million in improving its environmental impact.

As of next Spring, cans of Tenants Lager – made in Glasgow – will be packaged in cardboard, in a bid to make the production process more sustainable.

The firm is also launching a digital advertising campaign encouraging drinkers to think about the initiative to reduce climate change emissions.

The company’s pledge to improve its green credentials include a commitment to eradicate single-use plastics by 2021 and drop all plastics by 2025, installation of a new anaerobic digestion plant and carbon capture at their Glasgow brewery, and also to use energy from renewables to become carbon neutral by 2025.

The company plan to spend ‘millions’ on achieving these goals in the hope that others will follow suit.


Tenants renting in Scotland could be due hundreds of pounds in unclaimed deposits.

Safe Deposits, Scotland’s largest deposit scheme, have revealed that nearly 2,000 renters have not claimed deposits worth over half a million pounds – averaging out at £260 per tenant.

Edinburgh has topped the table with the highest number of unclaimed deposits (592), worth around £150,000.

At the other end of the M8, tenants living in Glasgow left a higher average deposit value than those in Edinburgh, £284 and £253 respectively.

It is up to the occupants moving out of a property to contact companies such as Safe Deposits to retrieve their money, but as the figures show, people are not getting money that is rightfully theirs.


A decision has been made by the parent council at St David RC Primary School to not allow kids to dress up for Halloween.

The decision has sparked controversy amongst parents who have had to let their kids down because of a decision made by two people.

St David’s is a catholic school which shares a campus, including a dining hall, with the non-denominational Pirniehall Primary School, who have allowed their pupils to dress up.

It appears that this is the only school in Edinburgh not allowing its pupils to dress up this Halloween and parents are not happy.

The response from the Chair of the Parent Council said: “It was felt that any event organised for Halloween would not be inclusive of all children at the school.”

A council spokesperson has defended the position and said: “Parent councils take account of different views when making decisions about after school activities in order to meet the needs of as many families as possible.”


A vote on whether to pass the new transport bill will be put to MSP’s this evening.

A bid to ditch the heavily debated Workplace Parking Levy was rejected by Parliament yesterday.

Transport Secretary Michael Matheson says the low emission zones provisions in the bill will see improvements to pollution in Edinburgh and that the bill will also help bus services by improving information available and push forward with smart ticketing.

MSP Jamie Greene says that there is a lot to be positive about included in the proposed bill, such as the fore-mentioned low emission zones, the addressing of pavement parking issues and bus franchising.


 

Committee approves £128m contracts for trams to Newhaven

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The trams to Newhaven project set for next week’s crucial vote as contractors appointed (Credit: Graham Millar)

Contracts have now been approved by the Finance and Resources Committee for the two contractors for the potential Trams to Newhaven project totalling £128m, should Councillors vote in favour of the scheme next Thursday.

The Committee endorsed awarding a “Swept Path Contract” to Morrison Utility Services Ltd (MUS Ltd) costing £22m and an “Infrastructure and Systems Contract” to Sacyr, Farrans, Neopul Joint Venture (SFNJV) worth £106m. However, this could soar due to the fact that contractors are currently unsure of the actual workload.

Under the Swept Path Contract, the Council is acquiring the services of MUS Ltd to clear all underground obstructions, expected to be around 1200 obstacles. SFNJV will then commence the next stage, which is to carry out the construction work for the tram line.

There were four bids for the Infrastructure and Systems contract during the tender process, however, two withdrew due to “internal governance approval for the responsibilities and liabilities” of the project.

The contracts are subject to the full Council’s final ruling on the Final Business Case next Thursday.

See our infographic video for the key points of the Final Business Case:

(Credit: Jade du Preez)

Both contractors are delighted with the prospective awards. Peter Carolan, Director at MUS Ltd, said:

“Morrison Utility Services are really excited at being approved as the Swept Path contractor and look forward to the opportunity to work with the City of Edinburgh Council and the Sacyr, Farrans, Neopul JV to deliver the Trams to Newhaven project, if it’s given the green light by the Council.”

SFN Project Director, Alejandro Mendoza Monfort, said:

“SFN JV (Sacyr, Farrans, Neopul JV) are delighted at the news to be recommended for full award of the Infrastructure and Systems Contract for the Edinburgh Tram York Place to Newhaven Extension. 

Our teams have worked meticulously through the tender process set out by the Council and we now look forward to a positive outcome at the business case review by councillors on 14 March.”

Despite the Final Business Case being published, a lot remains in the abstract which has led to uncertainty among those who will be directly affected by the potential construction work.

STEC have also called for the project to be halted until the Lord Hardie Inquiry recommendations have been published, as well as understanding the full impact of the £20m dividend from Lothian Buses which is a crucial part of the financial case for funding for the project.

Edinburgh tram extension budget rises to over £207 million

(Credit: Edinburgh Council)

The cost of an extension to the Edinburgh tram lines has risen by 25% to £207.3 million.

The proposed 2.8 mile extension to Edinburgh’s trams would go from the city centre to Newhaven. The initial estimation was for a total cost of £165 million.

After a “thorough tendering process” the operation has been allocated a budget of £196 million and with a “significant additional risk allocation” of 6%. The total budget eclipses the previous estimation,  a 25% rise.

The council claims that the project will be funded by future tram fare revenues, with the projected number of passengers for the first year being 16 million. However, the original project to reintroduce trams to Edinburgh cost twice the original estimation and is subject to an ongoing inquiry.

The final business case was tested against previously completed tram projects by the University of Oxford’s Saïd Business School and they found the project is “more likely than not to be delivered within budget” but also recommend an extra £50 million to cover all eventualities.

The soaring budget estimate has had a mixed reaction from the public on Twitter:

The final business case is to be reviewed by councillors in March following the opening of a special data room in the City Chambers today.

Council Leader Adam McVey said: “All Councillors will be taking the opportunity to examine in detail the FBC and associated documents in detail so that we can collectively make as informed a decision as possible come 14 March. If Council moves ahead with this project, we’ll be working hard to make sure we deliver this project on time, on budget.”

Depute Council Leader Cammy Day said: “A tram to Newhaven would not only provide a direct link for the people of Newhaven and Leith to the city centre and out to the airport, but would connect residents and visitors to major employment and travel hubs along the route.

Construction is planned using a “one-dig” approach closing each site only once and opening only when all works are complete. This approach reflects on lessons learned from the previous tram project.”

 

Edinburgh to introduce £2 a day tourist tax

Edinburgh ‘tourist tax’ has been backed by council and would apply to all accommodation, including Airbnb-style short-term lets. Council Leader, Adam McVey, explains to EN4 News what this will mean.

Bike storage costs rocket in the Capital

Bike storage photo

Bike storage shelters in Edinburgh.

The price for bike storage is now higher than car parking permits in certain areas of Edinburgh.

New bike storage units have been introduced throughout Edinburgh, meaning it now costs more to park a bike than it does a car in some parts of the city.

Edinburgh city council will build a total of 128 units throughout the city over the next two years, costing the average biker £84 a year to lease.

The subject was first brought to attention in November 2016 when the council proceeded with plans to introduce 20 to 30 storage units to the city over the next 3 years.

The pilot schemes proved to be successful over the years with each unit at maximum capacity with waiting lists for future spaces.

However, many have expressed anger towards the situation, claiming that the high prices will only discourage people from riding bikes.

Spokes is one of Edinburgh’s largest cycling groups. Spokesperson Ian Maxwell has highlighted certain problems with this scheme but insists prices should not be compared with car parking permits.

He said, “The price is a bit high. What you can’t do is compare it directly to an on-street parking space because you are actually having a structure built and maintained, so there is an additional cost for that which has to be paid for by somebody”

“That said, there should be a scheme to provide lower rates for people who are unemployed or simply can’t afford it. You shouldn’t be deterred from having a bike and parking it safely just because you can’t afford it”

“What we have been concerned with for a long time is the slow roll-out of this scheme and the continued delays in implementing it.”

New additions come after the council received requests for an increased amount of storage in over 200 different streets across the city.

Despite the price not being Ian’s main concern, Chas Booth, Green councillor for Leith, believes the council are not sending out the right message for sustainable and active travel.

He said, “Green councillors have very real concerns about the proposed costs of the cycle storage. Five pounds a month doesn’t sound like a great deal but when you compare it to an outer zone resident parking permit for a car which comes in at £35.50 a year, I don’t think that the price sends the right message”

“I think the council should be saying loud and clear that we support active travel.”

Travel group, Sustrans Scotland, have agreed to donate half of the project cost in order to support the councils aim for a greater amount of sustainable travel in Edinburgh.

Overall, the project is said to cost around £600,000.

 

Edinburgh Cyclists to get head start at traffic lights

Under new council plans announced today, cyclists will get a head start at traffic light junctions along the tram route.

These new traffic lights that would go green for riders before other traffic would be installed at 14 different sites along the tram route. These same lights are already in use at the Leith Walk/ McDonald Road junction.Plans follow the red cycle lanes for riders to cross tramlines more safely installed last autumn.

The tram route running down Princes Street is one of the busiest with cyclists. Credit: Calum McRobert @ Geograph.org

The work was triggered after the death of Malaysian student Zhi Min Soh, whose bike wheels became caught in tram tracks last May at the junction of Shandwick Place and Queensferry Street. These plans are also part of a public consultation which launched on the council website today and will run unitl the 11th of April.If approved the lights will be expected to be implemented towards the end of the year.

Transport convener Lesley Macinnes stated,

“With the first phase of cycle safety improvements already in place – and, according to our feedback, well-received by cyclists – and the second phase just weeks away from being implemented, we’re now looking to the public for feedback on our proposed designs for phase three, which we aim to put in place later this year.”

“Road safety is absolutely paramount and we’ve been working extremely closely with our partners to refine these designs.”

Early release signals for cyclists have been credited with reducing collisions in cities where they’re already used so these are a particularly desirable option.The council have said a fourth and final phase would involve changes to the road layout at the Princes Street/Lothian Road/Shandwick Place/Queensferry Street/Hope Street junction to improve road safety for cyclists, pedestrians and drivers alike.

 

Budget 2016: Chancellor Signalled his “Commitment to Edinburgh” said City Leader Andrew Burns today

Maria Gran

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Chancellor George Osborne has signalled his “commitment to Edinburgh” in his spring budget, City leader Andrew Burns said today.

Speaking the day after the Chancellor backed proposed funding for the Edinburgh and South-East Scotland City Region Deal, Mr Burns said the extra money would help the Capital grow its economy.

The deal will seal an extra £1bn fund from the UK and Scottish governments, which aims to allow cities and regions to grow their economies.

Councillor Burns said: “Yesterday’s Spring Budget signalled an important commitment to Edinburgh and to our neighbouring local authorities.

“Through more innovation, the development of skills and infrastructure projects and the acquisition of increased powers, we can further enhance the region’s reputation as a great place to live, work, do business and invest in, and help accelerate economic growth not just for the region but for the whole of Scotland and the wider UK.”

Detailed information on what the funds will be spent on is yet to be released, but it is believed that transport, housing and universities are among the frontrunners for funds.

The hope is that securing the £1bn fund will attract £3.2bn from private sector business, that will further boost the economy.

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