2014_03 EdinburghCity 17

CCTV in Telfer Underpass – Common repairs – Lesley Hinds selected for Holyrood – Yourselfies! – Free children’s films in Muirhouse this Easter

Boyack-Telfer-Subway-web1Five new CCTV cameras have been installed in the Telfer underpass in the Dalry area of Edinburgh in a bid to improve public safety.

The cameras are now fully operational and will allow community safety officers and the police to monitor safety issues.

Chair of the Edinburgh Community Safety Partnership, Councillor Cammy Day, said: “The wellbeing of the community is of the utmost importance and cameras have been proven to help people feel safer.

“I am delighted that these cameras have now been installed and they will complement the other safety measures in place in this underpass, such as improved lighting and pre-existing CCTV on the streets in the surrounding area.

“The Coalition is committed to ensuring that residents and visitors are well cared for, and communities are supported and kept safe.”

MSP Sarah Boyack wrote this article for us in 2011 about the petition she launched to get the CCTV installed.

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Last week Ms Boyack once again called on the council to come forward with an effective replacement for the failed statutory notice system.

The call follows a debate in Parliament on new legislation to make it easier for councils to recover costs when they step in to repair defective or dangerous buildings.

Although the new legislation does not go as far as Edinburgh’s specific powers to issue statutory notices, the MSP argued that the city’s experience must help create a stronger system across the country.

Speaking following the debate, Sarah Boyack MSP said:-“Since the statutory repairs scandal emerged I’ve supported many constituents who have been badly let down by the service.

“I have long argued that the new shared repairs service does not go far enough and continue to press for a replacement enforcement service.  If the Bill in front of Parliament can learn from Edinburgh’s experience, I believe it will be more effective.

“A fundamental issue is how to take forward repairs where one owner is blocking progress or cannot be found.  We need to help owners get on with repairs and I’d like to allow the Council to be able pay and then claim back any missing shares that are preventing that from happening.

“This would empower neighbours who have come to an agreement using the Tenement Act but whose repair works have been stalled by an absent or uncooperative owner. The Council could then pursue the owner separately to recover costs.

“The maintenance of our buildings is important, not only to preserve the built heritage of our city but also to ensure people are safe from defective and dangerous properties.   I will be continuing to call for an effective system in Edinburgh that meets the needs of residents.”

There is information about the council’s system for helping you deal with shared repairs here on their website. 

The council’s Property Conservation service collapsed in 2011 amid claims of financial mismanagement and this caused considerable damage to the council’s reputation.

A new system was put in place in spring 2013 to deal with new cases of shared repairs. Edinburgh is unique in Scotland in that the council has power to impose statutory notices on property owners which they must then act upon. In Glasgow, for example, the situation of shared repairs is dealt with by a system of property factors appointed who deal with the instruction of repairs and the payment for these by all owners.

The existing revised service in Edinburgh has cost the council just over £500,000 in this financial year just ended, and the costs are estimated to rise to over £830,000 in the next financial year due to increased demand and the transfer of the system administration costs.

In March this year the Council Leader wrote in his Leader’s Report:-“The Council is acutely aware of the issues faced, and the problems caused, by the former Property Conservation Service but progress is now being made towards bringing these to a close.

The replacement Shared Repairs service that we introduced last April has been successful but is limited in scope. And, while additional features, such as the trusted trader scheme, will undoubtedly provide welcome assistance to homeowners, there is clear public demand for enforcement, particularly in the most difficult cases.

We are currently exploring how best to develop a new service, consciously balancing the council’s commitment to protect the fabric of our beautiful and historic city with the need to encourage owners to take responsibility for repairs to their own homes.”

The council report discussed at the March council meeting recommended that the council needs to be protected from the risks associated with setting up such an enforcement service, and noted that the financial implications were such that more savings would be required in the council’s budget.  There will be a further report to the Finance Committee in three months time on the progress being made in establishing an enforcement body.

There is a legacy issue here. The outstanding statutory notices issued before the Property Conservation department was disbanded still remain in place and are being worked through one by one. The council appointed Deloitte to help with this process.  A report on the progress being made with this legacy will be made to the Property Sub-Committee before May 2014.

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Convener of Transport & Environment – Lesley Hinds
Convener of Transport & Environment – Lesley Hinds

It is no real surprise to The Edinburgh Reporter that Malcolm Chisholm MSP is retiring at the next election (he told us a while back!), nor is it any surprise that Councillor Lesley Hinds has been selected as the Labour candidate for Edinburgh North and Leith for the 2016 election for The Scottish Parliament, but we do take this opportunity to wish them both well in their respective futures! (And we shall be most surprised if she does not get elected!)

However,  despite the fact that Councillor Hinds has made substantial and commendable progress with the tram project, and she has led the council’s Transport and Environment Department while it pilots timed collections of waste from traders in Rose Street, High Street and Leith Walk, it appears that not everyone is happy:-

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Get any selfies this weekend? Well if you have a photo of yourself and someone from Edinburgh who is either famous or important, or if you have a photo of yourself somewhere in Edinburgh then send Yourselfies to our storyboard over here! We would love to see them!

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This Easter the people at North Edinburgh Arts are showing films at 1.15 and 3.30. Today’s film is Alvin and the Chipmunks. If you’re in North Edinburgh and need any news about your area then have a look at the TRIM Facebook page.

This is a preview to whet your appetite!