Wednesday, 31 December 2008

SOOT`S New Year Message

Year of The Homecoming 2009 -or should that be Hotel?

Press Release sent earlier today -

Local residents will be on the street outside the Macrae tenements at 221-227 Canongate on The Royal Mile today from 2pm to protest against the council's short sightedness to leave 18 homes empty before they are demolished to make way for a 5 star hotel, at a time when there are nearly half a million bids for 2700 homes this year alone in the capital.

Members of the Canongate Community Forum have asked for an internal investigation into the City of Edinburgh Council
who have refused to answer Freedom of Information requests on how many council houses are empty in the Canongate and what is the loss of revenue.

Today the Canongate Community Forum received this email from a supporter in the West of Scotland

"As a Scot I'm dismayed and disgusted for the proposals in your area which will not only see the destruction of our world heritage status it will continue the fascism of the early eighties that plighted people across Scotland.

It will be a sad loss to the generations of Scots still to be born who would be able to walk these streets and absorb the surroundings enthusing not only learning but also creativity, pride and an understanding of their historic roots.

To remove such buildings and peoples is a socio-cultural crime of such significance that it should be alongside that of the Highland clearances and another indication that we are our own worst enemy as well as a ratification of a move closer to the sterile worlds written within the prophetic novels of Eric Blair and Aldous Huxley.

I wish you well in everything you do in your attempt to overt this national tragedy and hope that these proposals become only a sad reflection of past victories.

I can honestly say I enjoy visiting Edinburgh which evades me due to illness these days and I am deeply saddened by such a proposal which will destroy an area that made me feel so proud to be Scottish and that I hoped to visit again.

Catriona Grant, Chair of the Canongate Community Forum said

"The Homecoming should be about all the people living in Scotland coming home to a home!"

The Year of Homecoming 2009 must insist that homes are built in our city and that existing empty homes are opened up. It should not be used as a justification to build more hotels and more homes becoming holiday lets"

She added - "We will be out today letting the many Hogmanay Visitors see what else is going on in our city"

In September 2006 Scots writer Alasdair Gray said

"Mrs Thatcher called upon the Scots to start exploiting their natural resources, not meaning that they should learn to produce good food, clothes and housing for each other, but earn the money to buy these from tourist industries, thus becoming a nation of boarding houses, heritage trails, golf courses and summer schools, with business conference centres in some of the prettiest places, with nuclear submarine and airforce bases in others. New Labour continues this policy, while drug addiction and brutal crime grow worse in once hopeful housing schemes that are now our new slums. There may be small nations in the world with effective democratic constitutions. Scotland is not among them, perhaps not England either. "

Does the SNP now want to continue this policy, and use the descendents of the last clearances to justify this latest one??

UNESCO inspectors visited the capital in November and "criticised Edinburgh council's handling of the Caltongate development and said the demolition of two listed buildings could have been avoided"

Join us again on New Years Day from 2pm

Monday, 29 December 2008

Housing Scandal! 400,000 bids for 2700 homes

Council home in Dumbiedykes for rent - for more information see

The council cannot house the over crowded, homeless, those fleeing domestic abuse, those who just want their own home and those who may become potentially homeless of Edinburgh. There has not been a council house built in Edinburgh for nearly three decades, the right to buy has drained the council stock and housing assosiations and co-ops just don't have the capacity. The council's policy of building affordable social housing by getting homes from developers just does not work and is developer driven, it is a folly policy. Developers build housing units not homes i.e. one and two bedroom flats - there is a derth of three, four and even five bedroom homes fit for families. Many families get stuck in accomodation that is overcrowded because there are not bigger homes particualrly when their families expand.

The Edinburgh Evening News reports read here that there were nearly 1/2 million bids were made for 2700 homes in Edinburgh, yet 9 council homes lie empty on the Canongate waiting to be re-developed by Mountgrange, some of the houses have been empty for nearly 2 years. The Independent Republic raised this back on 14th December - read here This is an outrage! Even if they could not be used as permanent homes they could be used for temporary accomodation.

The council agreed at the Planning Committee in February 2008 to build social housing through Places for Places on Calton Road, yet there is no movement, not a brick has been laid. The land is not owned by Mountgrange but by the council, so where is the housing? What is the problem? The council should not be restrained by the economic problems of the developers. If the council had not sold the land where the gap site is there would be a great space to build community resources and council housing. Now we might see a gap sit for decades.

Sunday, 28 December 2008

More credit crunch conundrums

Allan Murray's empty "Cube" on Leith Street.

Britain's banks face up to £70bn of losses on commercial property loans, enough to force some of them into a further round of taxpayer bail-out.

Article in Daily Telegraph here

That is all the shops and luxury office blocks that are lying empty all over the place. Why would we need to add more to the glut? Perhaps Allan Murray won't get to build more luxury offices, shops and apartments in every gap site in Edinburgh. Do we really need Caltongate? Is there £300 million still there to invest, without the shops and offices will Sofitel mwant to go ahead? All these questions the Independent Republic wonders when they will get answered.

Will there be more Caltongate credit crunch conundrums in 2009?

Thursday, 25 December 2008

Merry Christmas

A very Merry Christmas from all the citizens in the Independent Republic of the Canongate. Eat well, be merry and remember to recycle!

Monday, 22 December 2008

Merry Christmas From SOOT

Caption reads "Damn contemporary, bullshit architecture!"

Lets hope Santa is good to us all.......our letter reads something like this

"Please Santa can you bring the Old Town the best new development for the New Street site, one that respects and is in harmony with the surrounding historic environment ( not the new council headquarters), that does not demand unnessary demolitions of homes and buildings, loss of views and has lots of family sized housing, green space and generally good things for all and not just what a few greedy people want"

love SOOT xxxxx

Saturday, 20 December 2008

Old Town on Fire Again

This building on Victoria Street in the Old Town went on fire last night, lets hope the building can be saved and does not become a possible Allan Murray Gap site. The fire in the Cowgate in 2002 is the gapsite for Allan Murray`s controversial SoCo, which writer Alexander MacCall Smith spoke out against recently.

Wednesday, 17 December 2008

Caltongate Cash Cows

Caltongate developer Manish Chande wheels his "Brave Moo" through Princes Street gardens at the launch of the Cow Parade Edinburgh in 2006.
The following article appears in the Winter edition of Edinburgh`s Southsider, out today.
In the autumn issue of The Southsider we told you that Edinburgh was to receive a visit from a UNESCO mission in November. The city is the most likely World Heritage Site in the UK to be placed on their danger list. This is due to the level of concern raised about proposed developments - Caltongate, Haymarket, St James Centre and the Waterfront and their impact on the Outstanding Universal Values of the World Heritage Site.

Save Our Old Town and others throughout the city concerned with her future believe that the main things the inspectors took away, was an understanding of the problems raised by developers drawing up master plans and development briefs for sites, and the enormous pride and understanding of the city held by her residents.

The inspectors will report back informally to Historic Scotland in February, so that they can check facts and get any responses or changes underway, and then the report will be published in time for the UNESCO summit in Seville, next summer.

Caltongate developers Mountgrange`s Brave Moo cow was placed opposite the Council`s City Chambers on The High Street part of The Royal Mile.....

Caltongate developers Mountgrange, told newspapers recently, that they thought UNESCO an “irrelevance” and that they were not interested in its view on their development.
As we have found they have not been interested in the community’s views or anyone else’s for that matter either, so why listen to an international organisation?

Now with an economy very different to the one, when the plans were first unveiled in 2005, perhaps those other views on the city and how she develops will now become relevant as they should always have been.

The days of get rich quick property developers are now over, and as TV property programmes are having to adapt and rethink their ethos so must the City of Edinburgh Council.

Perhaps presenter George Clarke from the channel 4 Home Show should be telling them
“Its time to stop seeing Edinburgh as a cash cow and wake up to the fact that – first and foremost – your city is your home”

Mountgrange`s Caltongate cow placed in Hunter Square on The Royal Mile. Showing the lovely development. All Caltongate cows proudly displayed their sponsors name.

Lets look forward to 2009, not only as the Year of Home Coming Scotland, which will see descendents of Scots visit from all over the world, but also the Year of Being Home and where being proud and involved in your town or city is seen as a positive thing and not scornfully pushed aside.

Sunday, 14 December 2008

I tell you what we need!

Hugh Fearnley-Whittingstall stares lovingly at his hen

After watching repeats of that curly hared man I always forget - Hugh Thingy Me Bob and saying "oh if Caltongate goes ahead I might as well go and grow jureseleum artichokes and look after chickens - I've had enoug of this city!"

I then thought about the ugly gap site on New Street and I think if it is not developed by the summer we need to put planning permission in to make it into gardens and allotments, I know its north facing but with the help of some polytunnels I think we could have a wee enterprise to rival River Cottage. Read more about allotments here

After all hundreds of years ago the north and south back of the Canongate were the market gardens of Edinburgh.An allotment -much more useful than a 5 star hotel, sustainable too.

Macrae tenements lying empty when there is homelessness in Edinburgh (to be demolished to make way for the 5 star hotel).

Lets do that - lets put something useful there so we don't have a big dirty hole and whilst we are at it we should demand the council opens up the council housing that is going to rack and ruin at the Macrae tenements, at approx £230 a month rent and £120 council tax a month, the council is missing out on £400 a month per flat - there's nine empty ones so that's £3,600 every month, that's just short of £40,000 a year - so much for homelessness and the credit crunch!

Check out the council's choice base letting system, here - if my maths is right there have been 8 council houses in the past year up for let from the council and 3704 people/families have bidded for them yet 9 lie empty on the Canongate alone - check the figures out for yourself - here.

Yet Caltongate scheme will demolish these 9 flats replace them with 6 council flats and 6 more "affordable housing units" at Cranston Street (where the suspected common good land is, which legally belongs to the people and not the council).

So Caltongate is bringing an addition 3 "affordable "housing units", however to get these 3 extra "housing units" we have to have 9 empty houses for months and months - soon getting into years. Is it me or is this just plan daft and uneconomical?

Thursday, 11 December 2008

Vote for Caltongate!

Our friends in the wonderful world of architecture are giving out awards, nothing new there then, we hear you say, but alas its not the back slapping ones....

Get voting.....if you need motivating then look who is number 2 in the most influential people in the world of building design ! God help us! The POWER 100 List

The Carbuncle Awards 2009

See how to Vote Here


The Plook On The Plinth Award

This award is for the most dismal town in Scotland. This year it is Coatbridge Town Centre - do you know if there is anywhere worse? Past winners include Cumbernauld and Airdrie. If you wish to nominate towns for the most dismal place award this is the criteria you should bear in mind. What sets the Carbuncles apart is that it is not about punishing towns that are ugly through no fault of their own. For any nomination there should be evidence of:
• Unexploited potential• A lack of vision and ambition by powers that be• Examples of how things are being mis-managed

The Pock Mark Award

This delightfully entitled award is for the worst planning decision. This year is Springfield Quay in Glasgow - but there are others. Have your say now by niminating below.
The criteria you should bear in mind when considering nominations include:
• The project must not yet be built – hopefully this award might at least slow the process down!• It must have a negative impact on the environment• It must fail to fill people with joy and optimism

The Zit Building Award

This award is for the worst building. Previous winners include the Glasgow Maternity Hospital at the Royal Infirmary. The criteria again requires you to use a bit of imagination.
• The building must be less than three years old• It must be perceived as a missed opportunity• You must hate the thought of having to pass or see it every day

Monday, 8 December 2008

McCall Smith going LoCo over SoCo

"Plans for a £40 million hotel in the heart of Edinburgh's Old Town have been attacked for destroying the “rhythm and elegance” of the city centre by the novelist Alexander McCall Smith and Sir Timothy Clifford, the former director general of the National Galleries of Scotland. "

So another Old Town site that Allan Murray has on his to do list is causing a stir in the toon. see Times today

So perhaps Alexander MacCall Smith will get in touch with the ladies of the Save Our Old Town No.1 Detective Agency and together ..... Edinburgh could move closer to achieving the best new additions to her heritage and the best for the people who live in the city, who we believe are called residents, the communtiy, stakeholders, voters, but are probably called other names by the powers that be.

"In a letter to The Times, Mr McCall Smith and Sir Timothy join six other eminent figures in deriding the plans for SoCo, a hotel which has been designed to rise from the Cowgate on to South Bridge in Edinburgh, on a site destroyed by fire in 2002. "

"The authors of the letter - including Alexander Stoddart, the sculptor, Douglas Rae, the film producer, and Professor Richard Demarco - describe the aftermath of the fire as the perfect opportunity to restore the symmetry of South Bridge, which was planned by Scotland's pre-eminent architect, Robert Adam, but completed by Robert Kay, in 1786. "

Saturday, 6 December 2008

Newsflash - Government to Save Canongate Buildings?

A bit of a catch up here in the many things to do...what with baking, chutney making, funfairs, santa and reindeers, woolies closing tears..its all go

So we could hardly believe our eyes when we read Linda Fabiani MSP, minister for Europe, external affairs and culture saying this in yesterday`s Scotsman in an opinion piece entitled Saving Our Heritage gosh maybe they have been listening to us mere mortals. see Caltongate Greenwash

We are also coming to realise just how important our traditional buildings are in reducing Scotland's carbon footprint. Keeping older buildings in use is very resource efficient.

The energy used by the people living or working in a building throughout its lifetime is a fraction of the energy used in its construction.

Many leading Scottish architects have drawn inspiration from past heritage. Castlemilk Stables Restoration in Glasgow, which was a joint winner of this year's RIAS Doolan Award, is, for instance, an excellent example of a contemporary design approach to adapting historic buildings for present-day community use.

In the Guardian earlier this week One of Prince Charles's allies in his battle against modern architecture has attacked the "disappointing to dismal" design of British postwar towns.

Sparking anger among architects, Andres Duany flew in from America and yesterday unveiled a 64-point litany of mistakes made by British architects and planners over the last 50 years.

He accused architects of being "infantile" in pursuing ego-driven visions and said they were "heedless of technical and social dysfunction and widespread lack of popularity" caused by their designs.

He called on architects and planners to step aside and allow a new generation of amateurs to lead development in the 21st century.

"Only architecture, confusing itself with fashion as a platform for cultural expression, continues to be avant garde, heedless of its cost overruns, social and technical dysfunction and widespread lack of popularity."

Some of Duany`s What not to do list

• Avoid fashionable architecture - buildings that are obsessively of our time will be out of date too soon

• Civic buildings should be grand and private buildings should recede into the background

Avoid many buildings by one designer - diversity is the hallmark of a great place

Thursday, 4 December 2008

Silent Walk for Justice today on Royal Mile

Today our thoughts are with the family and friends of the late Annie Jansson who along with many others are taking part in The Silent Walk for Justice today on The Royal Mile from 3pm, from Castle to Parliament.

We met Maria and Guje in May this year when one of our fellow Common Good campaigners introduced them to us during our Canongate Project. It was important for them to meet people who live and or work in The Old Town, where Annie spent the last few months of her life.

Maria and Guje are campaining to find out the truth about what happened to Gujes daughter Annie who was found dead on the shore in Prestwick 4 dec 2005.

Annie worked at the Scottish Whisky Experience (at the Castle) during the summer 2005. She loved the Old Town of Edinburgh .

Her mother Maria and friend Guje know that Annie visited shops and restaurants etc along the Royal Mile and are convinced that there are people out there that Annie spoke with and we hope to find them since they can have very important information regarding Annies last days in life.

On Friday the 2nd Dec 2005 Annie visited some friends at the Whisky Experience, no one knows where Annie went after she left her friends at the Experience. Hopefully some one will remember something.

Monday, 1 December 2008

SOOT Gathering Tues 2nd Dec 7pm

Come along to Old Saint Pauls Church Hall, Jeffrey Street mapanddirections on
Tuesday 2nd December. Next to Waverley Station, close to Princes St and St Andrews bus station.
All welcome, come at whatever time you can and stay for however long suits you.
Doors open 7pm, start meeting 7.30pm

We will be discussing the recent UNESCO visit, The Canongate Project, volunteers wanted to help finish off and collate work of the Project and new threats around the city, including SoCo, The Tron, West Port etc

Then rest of evening until late`ish will be a social get together.

A chance for you to share your news over a glass of wine and a mince pie.

Please BYOB. Glasses and some snacks provided, but do bring some more to share if you can.

Sunday, 30 November 2008

Paul de Ley - Rebel Architect and Social Regenerist - we need you!

Girl barricades herself against community building when the metro was being built in Amsterdam in 1975

Riot police come in to protect the demolitioners from the community in Nuiwemarkt, Amsterdam, 1975

In the 70s the heart of Amsterdam faced demolitions and developments however members of the community rebelled. They could not save all their homes and much loved buildings but in the rebellion there became a community buy in into planning what they wanted their local community to look like, it did mean though that there were clashes with the authorities as the resisted the wrecking balls and they were not fully sucessful.

Paul de Ley was an architect who became involved in the rebellion and protests and with the community were able to put forward a vibrant living city centre plan with homes and facilities that suited the canal sides of Amsterdam, read more here. The result was social housing and a new generation of urban planning (which sadly has faded away).

Social housing designed by the community and Paul de Ley in the 1970s

Paul de Ley meets Amsterdam councillors with his community plan in the 1970s (Paul's the one without the suit and curly hair).

Lets hope there will be no clashes with the police at Caltongate but that there is some light reflected onto the whole subject of Caltongate. The community would love to be involved in redesigning the Waverley valley and the north back of the Canongate - there are plenty architects and urban planners with the spirit of Paul de Ley in Edinburgh -if only there were given the chance..

Sunday, 23 November 2008

12 Days Of Christmas from SOOT

Its almost that time of year once again, time for a trip down memory lane........or have they privatised that now???

A SENIOR city councillor has landed himself in hot water by making an obscene one-fingered gesture to carol-singing protesters.

Remember that from December 2006?

Full story here -Councillor in One Finger Salute

Below is one of the carols adapted and sung by a group of Save Our Old Town Campaigners as councillors and other officials entered a champagne reception hosted by Caltongate Developers Mountgrange at The Fruitmarket Gallery on Market Street, close to the proposed development.

Mountgrange director Manish Chande, lied in the press in May this year (2008). He claimed that the wife of Trevor Davie had verbal abuse shouted at her from one of the carol singing campaingers . We are still awaiting a retraction of this blatent lie.Full story here

On the twelfth day of Christmas My council sent to me:

Twelve diggers digging

Eleven planners planning

Ten global chain stores

Nine builders building

Eight PR spinners

Seven legal experts

Six cows a conning

A five star hotel

Four wrecking balls

Three cheap homes

Two office blocks

And Mountgrange with a Masterplan

Tuesday, 18 November 2008

UNESCO Slams City on Caltongate

By Brian Ferguson The Scotsman Today Full Article Here

from the article -
"UNESCO yesterday criticised Edinburgh council's handling of the Caltongate development and said the demolition of two listed buildings could have been avoided, The Scotsman can reveal.
Its European heritage chief, Dr Mechtild Rössler, condemned the council for allowing the London developer Mountgrange to draw up the initial blueprint for the huge Old Town site, by Waverley Station."

"Jim Lowrie, Edinburgh city council's planning leader, admitted the local authority could be left in a "tricky position" if the council's handling of Mountgrange was strongly criticised and asked for a response."

"However, Mountgrange has launched an attack on Unesco, the world heritage body, branding it an "irrelevance" and saying it is not interested in its views on the £300 million development."

The firm said it has no intention of postponing the start of work until after next summer's World Heritage summit, in Seville, discusses Edinburgh.
A spokesman Mark Cummings of Never Beaten PR said a "dangerous precedent" would be set if a major developer had to wait until Unesco had delivered its judgment, and insisted that Mountgrange had no intention of changing its scheme, even if key criticisms were made by Unesco."

Should Unesco be more in touch with modern urban planning reality? (odd question??)
RON HEWITT Chief executive, Edinburgh Chamber of Commerce (remember Manish Chande, Caltongate Developer, is the chambers property portfolio Head!)
THE recent visit of the Unesco delegation was a welcome opportunity for the directors of the World Heritage Committee to assure themselves regarding the situation

on the ground. That Dr (Mechtild] Rössler, in summing up, saw no reason to report Edinburgh's World Heritage status being at risk is welcomed by the business community. The existing environment is a key reason why developers want to invest in our city. And if we want them to do so we must have attitudes that make investors welcome.We don't agree the city is in a polarised debate about the issue.

Whenever we meet with heritage groups we are able to have open conversations about a joint interest – preserving and developing one of the finest cities in Europe. Has this underlying commonality ruled the roost of the planning process? No! Should it? Yes! Do we need a better planning process to make applications run more smoothly? Yes! And it has arrived. It is called the Planning Act Scotland 2006 and it stipulates that community consultation should precede the hearing of applications in the council's planning committee.
It is interesting that Dr Rössler seemed unaware of these provisions. We explained the delays in bringing in regulations to implement the act are occasioned by a lengthy period of consultation – just what has been asked for all along. Dr Rössler told us Unesco has no interest in (or resources to deliver) vetting of planning applications in Edinburgh. Historic Scotland (legally) performs the function of overseeing our historic environment. We will continue to work with that organisation and other heritage bodies.
SALLY RICHARDSON spokeswoman, Save Our Old Town Campaign

WORLD Heritage status is awarded on consideration by the World Heritage Committee (a committee of member nations of Unesco) on the recommendation of the International Commission on Monuments and Sites. Nominations are put forward by national governments (in this case the UK government), often at the suggestion of a national institution (in this case, the City of Edinburgh Council). The World Heritage Centre is an admin body for the UN World Heritage Convention, to which the UK is a signatory.

Unesco was formed in a spirit of encouraging international understanding and peace, through co-operation in the realm of education, science and culture. World Heritage Sites are an important part of this, encouraging nations to understand the values that they share with others across the globe: what Edinburgh and, say, Peru's Machu Picchu have in common may not be obvious immediately, but then you begin to understand how another culture produced – or came to value – a site, and realise that how they value that place is not very different from us.

To say World Heritage Status is irrelevant to Edinburgh is to say that Edinburgh has no relevance to the rest of humanity and, if removed, that its outstanding universal value has been significantly reduced. At present, the site remains of huge international significance and interest – key to this is its juxtaposition of the organic medieval Old Town and the carefully planned and designed 18th and 19th century New Town. Those calling on World Heritage Status to be dropped, or just ignored, need to open their minds, and perhaps also their hearts, to everything that makes Edinburgh special."

Monday, 17 November 2008

Council Spin on UNESCO Visit

Good piece of reporting here STV Video Here 17th November 2008

Edinburgh councillors claim they have been given assurance that the city's world heritage status is safe, following a visit from Unesco officials last week. But campaigners fighting the capital's most controversial developments have dismissed the announcement as premature and potentially dangerous. Unesco officials are alleged to have referred to Edinburgh during their three day visit last week as a city with heritage at its heart. Councillors are now content that the capital's World Heritage status is secure, and that all its contentious developments - other than a Haymarket Hotel

Royal Mile in Edinburgh- have been given the cautious thumbs up. But there are many who feel that Edinburgh Council is both missing the point and jumping the gun. The Unesco report on the city will not actually be published until early next year, and only then can we be certain about its contents. At any rate, Edinburgh's World Heritage status largely recognises bricks and mortar more than living, breathing communities. Some of these communities are demanding an end to what they see as council spin. Change is afoot for Edinburgh's world famous cityscape. To the south, Caltongate and SoCo are

Controversy over Caltongate planset to alter the face of the Old Town. To the north, the soaring towers of the Western Harbour project dominate the waterfront. To the west the brutalist St James Centre is set to be replaced by a development many feel could not be any worse. But it is not just the look of these buildings, it is their make-up, their inhabitants and their influence on their surroundings that need to be considered. No matter what Unesco decides, the council is still under immense pressure to approve the sort of heritage that future generations will want to inherit.
BBC Coverage

Sunday, 16 November 2008

UNESCO delegation and what does it mean?

Professor Manfred Wehdorn from ICMOS ponders Edinburgh's planning process

Gosh last week was a busy week for the Conservation Mafia and the Save Our Old Townies, the Independent Republic has tried it's best to keep those who read the blog up to date. And there are just so many articles to follow. The Canongate's Sally Richardson is in the Sunday Herald today - you can see the photo on page 20 if you buy the real thing or otherwise read it here You can read what the Guardian says here

Dr Mechthild Rossler of the Unesco World Heritage Centre, and Professor Manfred Wehdorn of the International Council on Monuments and Sites, met many officals, developers, conservationists and campaigners in regards to Caltongate, St james Centre, Haymarket and Leith Docks development.

Dr Mechthild Rossler who visited from UNESCO

Dr Mechthild Rossler said "'The World Heritage Committee was concerned that the Caltongate development was approved prior to the committee looking at it more closely. That's why the mission was ordered,'

'I think we got a really good insight into the issues connected with the development projects we looked at. We also looked at the overall state of conservation which is absolutely fine. On behalf of Professor Wehdorn and myself, I can assure you that Edinburgh is not in danger of losing World Heritage status.'

It is important that those interested in the World Heritage don't see that UNESCO are the Mafiosi given diktats about what they think or say - only one heritage site has ever had it's status taken off it and that was when a bird sanctuary came up against an oil field, the government felt the oil field was more important than the bird sanctuary and could not protect it's "outstanding universal values" - alongside UNESCO it was agreed that it was no longer a world heritage site. Where issues are raised UNESCO alongside the State Party try their best to sort out their problems in partnership - this has happened throughout the world, and this is what we hope will happen in Edinburgh. Of course they are not here to take away the World Heritage Status, they were here to see if Edinburgh, Scotland and the UK are committed to protecting the "Outstanding Universal Values" of the World Heritage Sites, and what support Edinburgh may need to protect these values if they are not doing it anyway, see here .

We hope Dr Rossler and Professor Wehdorn got a good view of the city and have lots to think about. The Independent Republic does not want the World Heritage Status to be taken away as we would see that as a disaster and a red flag to developers to develop, develop, develop! We look forward to Rossler and Wehdorn's report - one way or other.

Professor Herb Stovel, Canadian member of UNESCO

Professor Herb Stovel did a fascinating lecture for the Cockburn Association about Edinburgh and it's OUtstanding Universal Values last month which the Independent Republic commented on- check that out here

World Heritage - Prof Stovel podcast can be heard here