Thursday, 29 January 2009

Allan Murray`s Plook & Old Town Goes Toy Town

Its official Allan"Edinburgh is all Mine" Murray grew up in a plook of a town, and the folk who reckon he is rebuilding Edinburgh to look like his childhood town,
may just have hit the plook on the head!

Today in the Eve News there is a story of someone who wants to bring a Noddy Train to The Old Town??

This is what very our own Mr Plod of Toy Town`s Planning committee has said on the Noddy Train idea- but he would say that wouldn`t he!

" Southside councillor Cameron Rose said: "This is quite different to what we currently have in Edinburgh so it is worth considering."The traffic implications will have to be carefully considered, but it does present an interesting option for growing tourism in the city, particular in areas outwith the city centre."

Yes, Mr Plod all you can think about is growing tourism, well believe it or not, there are people still alive hereand who are not on their holidays.
Perhaps you should think about the train you are riding on at the moment, ah yes that smelly brown one and ask yourself this? Is Edinburgh first and foremost for her residents or is it for tourists only , to ride about on a toy train whilst elderly/disabled residents cannot even access doctors, shops by public transport in The Old Town. Do we want a toy town where residents are a thing of the past? I know what our Glenrothes Plook would say to that...

Tuesday, 27 January 2009

January Reshuffle Jan 31st 12-6pm

January the 31st 2009 12 - 6 pm
The Reshuffle, which has been running each January for the last three years is a one day event which fills the community centre with activities, talks and workshops in a variety of community themes. More info Join in Contact: Program

Our friends in Glasgow are having their 3rd Reshuffle, come along and see what you can do to improve your life and your community.

Monday, 26 January 2009

Quality of capital`s new buildings slammed

This article appeared in last Wednesday`s Scotsman 21st January page 16 by Brian Ferguson and has the title -

Quality of capital`s new buildings slammed and was a Scotsman Exclusive, it strangely has not appeared online, although this short version appeared in their sister paper The Evening News later that day.

"Scotland`s capital is being saddled with sub-standard develpments and poorly-designed new landmarks, a leading architectural body has claimed.

The Architectural Heritage Society of Scotland (AHSS)warned that inferior schemes were being appoved by Edinburgh council in the rush to secure economic investment.

The society said a vacuum in the planning system means no-one was able to exert influence to ensure high-quality designs.

The AHSS accused the city`s design leader Sir Terry Farrell of remaining "mute" while controversy has raged over major developments such as Haymarket and Caltongate, which triggered a Unesco investigation into the city`s world heritage status.

Euan Leitch, spokesman for the AHSS`s Forth and Borders cases panel said: "There is a perception in Edinburgh that the need for economic developent over-rides the desire for good design and that the planning department must accept proposals already agreed by the economic development team.

Better design need not have been more expensive. Too often we accept inferior architecture hidden behind a thin veneer of sandstone"

Jim Lowrie, convener of planning at the city council, acknowledged improvements were needed in the way major developments were handled , but insisted action was already taking place.

Sebastion Tombs, chief exectutive of A&DS, said "We get involved with major developments at an early stage, but we always agree that our comments during those discussions remain private. Having design competitions could improve things, but they would need developers to agree to co-operate

This is from Conservative Cllr Cameron Rose`sBlog who is on the Planning Committee

"The Cowgate site which was cleared after the much publicised fire five years ago has now received planning permission for a replacement development. The full planning committee supported the proposals earlier this week and this article gives more details including a brief quote from me. 'Angular and boxish. . . ' may not be a description which slips off the tongue - but it describes the outline of part of the proposal. I welcome many modern forms of architecture but what seems to be a growing tendency to celebrate square and rectangular shapes just does not look right - especially in an historic context. Some of the Waterfront buildings which have been built in recent years exibit a penchant for geometric designs which jar with the senses. In the case of the Cowgate, the proposals were passed as a whole but certain matters were reserved for further consideration..."

So all those boxy and angular historic buildings in the city by people like Adam etc... we just ignore? (Charlotte Square, anyone?) So does that mean we need wild organic shapes to fit into the historic context? Oh my god........This former policeman hasn't a clue!

Sunday, 25 January 2009

The Canongate Burns

250 years ago today our national poet Rabbie Burns was born...............

Review of book Word Power Books Edinburgh

"Drawing on extensive scholarship and the poet's own inimitable letters, this edition offers a wealth of information on Burns's life, the hardships of his early days, his political beliefs, his hatred of injustice, and his fate as a writer too often sentimentalized by biographers and critics.

Through his poetry, and as if for the first time, we see Burns as a radical figure in a British as well as a Scottish context, the peer of Blake, Wordsworth, Coleridge, Keats, and Byron in the revolutionary and repressive world of the 1790s.

Containing recently attributed and never-before-published poems demonstrating that the poet's political sympathies were more radical than he could safely put his name to in public, The Canongate Burns also includes the sexually scandalous verses known as "The Merry Muses, " originally circulated only in handwritten copies.
This major and definitive edition offers vitally fresh insights into the irreverent spirit and the democratic convictions of Scotland's greatest poet."

Yes, if Burns was around today he would be a member of Save Our Old Town....even his greatest inspiration Robert Ferguson loves the Canongate so much he`s been immortalised here, and when we pass him everyday he says keep going with Save Our Old Town, Auld Reekie needs you!

Enjoy a Parcel O Rouges in a Nation by The Corries about the rotten burroughs and the law makers of the time, not too far removed from what we experience today

Friday, 23 January 2009

Where are they now????

This is what it says on Trevor the finger Davies, Caltongate Devottee - former planning convener - written most probably by his number one fan himself

" Trevor Davies is an honorary Professor in Urban Studies in the University of Glasgow (now contain yourself from keeling over with laughter) with a degree in economics.

From 2003 until 2007 he was Convener of the Planning Committee for the City of Edinburgh Council. Edinburgh faces substantial planning issues as one of the fastest growing cities in the UK, balancing the exceptional and large demands for development with the conservation of its unique build heritage. (Aye that will be right, they hate heritage)

In response to that challenge, Trevor appointed Sir Terry Farrell as the first City Design Champion and created the UK’s first City Design Initiative. He has extensive experience of and skills in the leadership of place making and planning policy formulation.TPS Public Affair Clients"

What it says on another former Caltongate devottee planner Spence, another one who went to Mountgrange`s champagne reception....

"Ian Spence is a highly experienced architect and town planner. He started his career as an architect in both the private and public sectors, latterly becoming design team leader. Invited to Edinburgh Council to establish an Urban Design unit. Developed urban design practice within the Council’s Planning Service – dealt with strategic development and directly processed many major planning applications. Upon local government re-organisation he was appointed Conservation and Design Manager (Assistant Director position equivalent). Ian was subsequently appointed as Development Quality Manager (with broader responsibilities – deputising for Head of Planning when necessary). " TPS Planning Clients

PPS Group Scotlandis headed up by Donald Anderson. The office has seen success in recent years and built a team of specialists that can assist on schemes large and small. They are currently involved in new settlements, city-centre mixed-use schemes, waste management projects, casinos, retail redevelopments and wind farms. Their current clients include, BAe Systems, Gala Casinos, The Junction, Land Securities, Redrow and Sainsbury's.

PPS Group motto -"Call PPS if need to undertake community consultation or if you feel your scheme may run into political or community opposition."

Now we all remember wee Donald don`t we? Another rude arrogant man who when a Labour leader of the capital wined and dined with the developers.

An Invicata Public Affairs works day out

The company PPS Group which has appeared in Private Eye about their dodgy practices he works for is none other than Caltongate developers Mountgrange PR company....which another horror Mark Cummings spin doctor of the worst kind ever, worked for, who has now set up his own spinning lair called Never Beaten...with a bevvy of beauties he`s doing his best for the worst for Scotland......
So all of the above have gone from public to private, using all their contacts and knowledge to help drive through planning applications, well knock us down with a feather..............
more on this to come...

Tuesday, 20 January 2009

President Obama and The Canongate

Well today is all about one man................
Watch an amusing video on youtube Obama Is Scottish?

Remember we told you how Obama chose the Canongate to print his book Our invitation is still open to him to visit us here in the Canongate.....

Friday, 16 January 2009

Inside the minds of Edinburgh`s Plannning Committee

In todays Evening News, they reckon that the planning committee will pass yet another Allan Murray scheme, no surprises there then???? So lets all start to go loco down in SOCO...

The Edinburgh Association of Community Councils Question Time was held in the Business Centre of the City Chambers on Saturday December 6th 2008 from 10am to 12 noon. The topic under discussion was Planning and Economic Development

In attendance for the panel were: Planning Committee Convener -Cllr. Jim Lowrie (SLD - Fountainbridge/Craiglockhart --Cllr. Joanna Mowat (Conservative - City Centre),
Cllr. Steve Burgess (Green Party - Southside/Newington) Cllr Norma Hart (Labour Liberton/Gilmerton.

The main points of the discussion were: How the Planning and Development Committee works

Here are some of the days choice pieces -

"Cllr Lowrie noted in his opening remarks that he had been a councillor for 10 years, and acknowledged that the other councilors had been council members for just 18 months."

" All acknowledged that the workload for the Planning Committee was ‘very heavy', the training was continuous and frequent, and the newer councillors described their brief as the ‘steepest learning curve' they had ever experienced. "

"Councillor Hart noted that she had been surprised to learn just how ‘constrained' the Planning Committee was by legislation."

" Cllr Lowrie further noted that despite a current popular belief that the Committee is now influenced by decisions politically, this is not the case. Councillors from one party will often express different views and vote in opposition to each other over proposed developments.

Cllr Lowrie emphasized that the Committee does not have the powers to ‘really stop developments' if they are within the national and local policies and plans. "

and on the The Caltongate Development specifically-

Cllr Hart: The Labour Group voted for Caltongate. This was not a decision taken lightly. The application was scrutinized and qualified. There was a balance needed between interests and potential benefits. In general it seems possible to strike a balance. There is a significant degree of local discontent, yet there will be a new amenity, an important green site and cycle routes.

Cllr Mowat: We will be proud of the new development. It is not the abomination that some people describe. It will create safer routes from the station through to the Parliament buildings, some of which can at present be dangerous and threatening after 4.30 in winter. Those promoting the Heritage argument asked why we would allow this proposal to go through. We felt it would add to the area. The impossible ‘fish-bone' patterns of medieval times that were proposed by those supporting the Heritage views would not have been good for the site. The plan is now above the standard of plans usually seen.

Cllr Lowrie: We were successful in significantly changing the original concept. The original application passed in 2002 wasn't exciting and didn't generate a sense of place. Now a big square is part of the plan, with cafes and walkways. The route to Parliament will be vital and lively. There will be one big arch, but generally the frontage won't vary from that along the rest of the Royal Mile. " Read and weep at full minutes here

Wow what insight they all have, I for one am so proud that those people are on the capital`s planning committee, I will sleep well knowing this....................................where is my medication?

Thursday, 15 January 2009

Caltongate Rent Scandal

Caltongate King rents 8 council flats as he admits that he can`t afford to build his own luxury ones yet....
In these uncertain economic times when there are nearly half a million bids for 2700 council homes in the capital, Save Our Old Town campaigners are demanding answers to the social injustices being committed by the council and their partner in Caltongate, London property developers Mountgrange. Campaigner Catriona Grant finally received an answer (see attachment) to a FOI to the City of Edinburgh Council which was lodged in October 2008, almost 3 months later on Friday 9th January. FOI

The answer that Mountgrange are renting these 8 flats now lying empty in this the year of Homecoming, is a slap in the face for those in Edinburgh in desperate need of a home. The descendants of past clearances are being asked to return while our own council is clearing our homes for a rich man`s benefit!
Last week a Norwich council chief was sacked for clearing out old age pensioners from their homes and putting herself, her lover and her pals in.
In last weeks Sunday Herald it was reported that Mountgrange admitted there is no cash secured to build the residential part of the Caltongate scheme, does this mean our council homes are going to be filled with Mountgrange Millionaires and their pals?

Today the Evening News printed this -

Sunday, 11 January 2009

Mountgrange say no funding in place for Caltongate

latest Mountgrange publicity photo

"A spokesman for the Caltongate development said that it might be harder to raise funding for the residential element of the project in the current climate. "

This appears in todays Sunday Herald in which it tells -

"THE £50 million extension to Dundee's premier shopping centre faces delays of up to three years as the economic crisis takes its toll on retailers."

Oops do Mountgrange really think they can get away with knocking down our homes and heritage to build a 5 star hotel for dwindling wealthy tourist numbers and offices for non existent businesses? No we don`t think so either, they just want to knock it all down and sell the land on when economy picks up. So yes, we would have a gap site for over a decade if this was to be allowed to happen.

Saturday, 10 January 2009

Royal Mile in the past

Evening News had a wee film in the paper today about the Royal Mile just photos of the past. You can see it here The Evening News made the point that in 1975 the homes and shops were demolished to make way for a development that never happened - there was a gap site there for 15 years. Let's hope the gap site in New Street doesn't lie empty for 15 years or 30 like Greenside!

Friday, 9 January 2009

Scotland the Theme Park?

Scotland`s people should be heard in the National Planning Framework

Otherwise there may be more Caltongates, unnessary demolitions, more clearances, more erosion of our heritage and culture in the name of greed and development, everyone should be listened to , not just the Manish Chandes and Donald Trumps of this world.

Look at what greed and selfishness has reaped from the last ten years....the worse is still to come. Do we want to be a sad little theme park with the natives serving the visitors as they fly into airports that used to be our farm, homes, heritage and countryside....

What is the National Planning Framework?

You may be aware of the NPF and its importance to all planning decisions.

It is the most important planning document in Scotland today because it sets out what is going to happen in Scotland over the next 20 years.

The NPF is a legal document, once it has established that there is a need for development in a certain area there will be very little you will be able to do to stop it.

All you will be able to do is to influence where it goes and what it looks like.

There are 12 national developments stated in the document. These developments are very likely to go ahead as the NPF effectively removes the ability to question the "need" for the development through any subsequent planning process.

They include airport expansion, the Beauly Denny overhead transmission line and new coal fired power stations amongst others.

So get involved, as an individual or as a group, act before Monday the 12th of January but if you can`t then send it anyway, better late than never......

How to Give Evidence to the Committee who are Scrutinizing the NPF Document Written views of no more than six sides of A4 can be sent by e-mail to

You can submit evidence in hard copy to -

The Clerk to the Local Government and Communities Committee
Room T3.40
The Scottish Parliament
EH99 1SP

The Local Government and Communities Committee are looking at the NPF document over the next 60 days (they will finish the first week of March). They have asked for people to give evidence by 12th January 2009.

They are asking specific questions these can be viewed here.

One of the key questions they ask is

‘Whether the policies set out in the NPF2 support the Government's key aims for the development of Scotland to 2030’.

You can write to them saying that the lack of consultation means that they do not fulfill one of the key aims of the strategy for Scotland ’s spatial development to 2030:

to help build safer, stronger and healthier communities, by promoting
improved opportunities and a better quality of life.

If you want to see all of the key aims see para 43 on page 11 of the final NPF document which can be found here

You can argue that the evidence found from your own experience and others does not fulfill this aim.

Community participation in the planning system is a key part of building safer and stronger communities.

People have a right to influence strategic documents and plans such as the NPF, however the NPF consultation process has not enabled people to do this.

You can quote the Government’s own guidance which states that

‘many people believe that there are barriers to engagement in the planning system, inaccessibility of documents complex procedures, lack of expertise; consultation fatigue; belief that views are not taken into account and distrust of local Government. We need to change all of this. We now have a golden opportunity to create a planning system which Scotland can be proud of- modern, efficient and above all with communities at its heart’ (PAN 81 on Community Engagement 2007)

You can ask MSPs to look at the Critique of the National Planning Framework (NPF) Consultation Process report on the way the consultation was carried out and see the evidence that it has not addressed these key barriers to community engagement.

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. "
2009 What is an SNP led government going to do?

Thursday, 8 January 2009

Caltongate not to happen?

Above a blast from the past in 2006, with our Canongate Coo in front of the Macrae tenements emptied for greedy property developer`s Mountgrange, who planted perspex cows all over the city with their name on it for the Cow Parade that year.

Word on the street is that the council are re-populating the empty council tenancies that they emptied on behalf on Mountgrange, so they could knock them down for their French run Accor Caltongate luxury 5 star hotel.

But now in these uncertain global economic times, it looks like they are listening to folk like us and housing the citys`s residents, which is their first priority, instead of pandering to London resident Manish Chande demands.

The council have still not answered a FOI request from October on the council tenancies at 221 and 227 Canongate. See Here

Tuesday, 6 January 2009

2009 Year of People & Peace

Happy New Year Folks

Lets hope it brings more peace and understanding throughout the world.

Power to the People You Tube

Heres a story from the The Evening News this year which epitomises the era of greed which is coming to an end Edinburgh Needs Skyscrapers

see more at and what you can do to help