The Inverleith Society , 45th AGM , September 17th 2019, Tanfield Bowling Club

Attending and apologies; Ian Jackson (Chair) & committee members (Ian H, Adrian C, Rona C, Marion B, Barbara A) plus 18 members, apologies were received from 3 other members and Jan A. of the committee.

Minutes of the 44th AGM 2018 were approved

1.Treasurers report.

Copies of the audited accounts were available to members at the meeting. The society’s balance as of 31/1/19 was £5233. Income in the year to then was £1233 with expenditure of £1304. It was noted that expenditure for the current year will be lower as no newsletter will be distributed in 2019. The summary of income and expenditure as drawn up by G Cook and audited by Barbara Armstrong were approved and accepted as accurate.

2. Report on the year

The chair reported that socials were held a both The Orchard Bar (Feb)and Inverleith Bar (May) as well as the now customary summer social (June)at the home of Gus Schwartz and Anna Guest. These events we generally considered to be successful and Anna/Gus were thanked for once again making their beautiful home available. No newsletter was produced this year as it’s production requires some work which the existing committee were unable to undertake this year. Volunteers were asked for to help produce one in 2020.

3. Membership report

Numbers of households that hold membership is roughly static at around 100. The vast majority are on the society’s email list.

4. Community council

The community council exists to forward the views of the community to the Council via the councillors. It meets the third Wednesday of each month (with the exception of August and December), usually at 7pm in Stockbridge Parish Church, Saxe Coburg Street. Our current councillors are Gavin Barrie, Max Mitchell, Hal Osler and Ian Whyte. Meetings follow a fairly standard format, with reports from Police Scotland, local councillors, the Chair, the Secretary, the Treasurer, and from members who cover Environment and Transport, Licensing and Planning matters.

One of the main highlights this year was the Stockbridge Summer Solstice, which took place on 23 June and is estimated to have been attended by a total of between 7,500 and 10,000 people. The event apparently generated a lot of goodwill, and there’s been a suggestion that “open street” events like this should take place more often, given the extent to which both the community and local businesses benefited from it.

Police Scotland have reported on anti-social behaviour in Inverleith Park, as well as (more recently) on speed stops that they’ve been carrying out on Comely Bank Avenue, and the handing out of cautions for people parking on the zig zags by schools.

As for Environment, recently matters have included what was said to be an inadequate response from the council to the flooding of the Deanhaugh Path as water levels were rising. We are kept up-to-speed with consultations that are considered to be of relevance, e.g. contracted events at Inverleith Park, and a Scotland-wide consultation on licences for sexual entertainment.

On Licensing, concern has been expressed recently about the use of repeated occasional licences to avoid paying for permanent licences, a process which also involves greater scrutiny.

On Planning, we are kept up-to-date on local applications, as well as on larger projects such as the city-wide plans for Edinburgh’s future, and on changes to national planning law.

Rona Carson was approved as the society’s chosen representative on the community council.

5. Website and Facebook

Adrian Cullen reported that the website has caused considerable difficulties over the year. It was off line entirely for around 8 weeks over Dec’18 and January’19. Updating the website has proved too difficult and as a consequence it’s content hasn’t been updated for some time. It was suggested that members’ opinions be sought via an emailed online survey. This would help guide how the site might be redeveloped to be both user friendly whilst maintaining its information content. FB has around 75 followers and has occasional updates posted. The aforementioned survey would cover the usefulness or otherwise of FB and the annual newsletter to members or prospective members.

6. Planning

Ian Hooper reported that its has been a relatively quiet year for new planning applications.

Canonmills Bridge development has gone ahead despite objections. The City Council exercised their discretion in allowing it to proceed despite the breeches in planning process.

The most significant item is the Botanical Biomes project. This isn’t at the planning stage but there has been extensive public consultation conducted by the RBGE. The society has limited its comments to the need for the developers to minimise disruption to locals during the construction phase. It I though that construction could be in the order of ten years duration.

The then followed a lively and wide ranging discussion on pollution in Inverleith Row from empty bus runs, the menace of electric scooters , the success of the JustEat bike scheme. On the planning side the brightness of the illuminations at Tanz studios was again raised. Councillor Osler will follow up the latter.

A member raised the issue of access to Botanics for commercial events (Xmas lights etc). The meeting was advised that for each event the RBGE are required to submit an application. The society will continue to urge that the West Gate is used for access to minimise disruption on the already busy Inverleith Row.

AOCB– Nil of note not already mentioned above.

Guest speaker

George Harris gave a delightful and often humorous account of “Inverleith at Play”. George held the room as he covered both formal sport such as early rugby internationals at Raeburn Place and the informal play such as aural histories of childhood games played in the streets of Stockbridge and Inverleith in the early 20th century. We were even treated to a sung verse of a folk song which centred on Scots enjoying themselves whilst protecting their virtue.

From the archives George reminded members that Inverleith Park which opened in the 1890s allowed golf to be played but only up until 10.00 each day, stopping at that time to avoid injury to others ! Bands played in the park but in 1906 antisocial behaviour spoilt listeners pleasure. Antisocial behaviour in the park isn’t a new thing ! George drew our attention to “increasing wonder of Edinburgh” the Royal Patent Gymnasium which was located on the site of the King George V park. Pendulum swing and self adjusting trapeze amongst other creations were available for physical entertainment.

George is to be thanked for such an entertaining and well paced talk.