Notes from PEDAL Open Forum on 27 November 2005

Starting point:

I feel passionate about…

  • Housing – Alastair Cameron
  • Scottish Power site – Anne Ward
  • Retention of green space and provision of sports facilities – Tommy Taylor Provision for arts workshops and cultural activities – Alison Robinson Food and health – Mary Jane Elton
  • Transport – Peter McColl
  • Energy sustainability – Stephen Hawkins Economy, Livelihoods and tourism – Diana Cairns

The two questions we asked in relation to each of the above subjects:

  1. where we’re at now and what will happen if we do nothing re oil (future scenario) – the negative angle
  2. what changes would we like to make to have a sustainable future re oil – the positive angle


  • Audit of Portobello’s affordable housing (by which we mean social rented – council and housing association – and any low-cost home ownership initiatives)
  • Scottish Power site to be given over to affordable housing
    • through housing association
    • – community trust ?

      [post-it comment: “Build council/public housing”]

  • Ecological housing – low energy consumption &c

    [post-it comments:

    1. “Perhaps only open to those without cars – to carry through sustainability theme (and condenser-type boilers as minimum)”;
    2. “Showcase examples > tourism, like CAT (Centre for Alternative Technology)”]
  • Address community safety to include those with disability/learning difficulties &c

    [Post-it comment: “Affordable shared houses; community/communal living for shared care for each other at different stages of life”]

  • Co-housing movement
  • land collectively owned
  • provision of social space

    [Post-it comment: “housing that has a workshop attached – less travel”]


PHS: 1450 pupils – anonymity and diversity.

110 staff approx.

One of the most dangerous buildings in Edinburgh.

Built in 1967, projected life 30 years.

  • do we have to have another huge school?

700 x 2 = nice communities

still too high!   4 x 350 – everyone can know who everyone is (post-it note) 1,400 = a mob

  • economies of scale? E.g. art
  • but inflexibility because of timetabling inflexibility – is there research on behaviour of 1,000 + = mob?
  • need for teacher: teacher dialogue

How can we re-create ourselves successfully- differently?

  • smaller school! (post-it note)
  • doesn’t need to be in one building or in dedicated building (post-it note)
  • Teaching kids to think
  • encouraging questioning
  • Resisting the huge pressure to shovel information
  • exams
  • Teachers learning from each other about how to inspire as well as how to impart knowledge training in conflict resolution for all staff and pupils
  • peer mediation among pupils (post-it note)
  • Learning re sustainability (post-it note)

Art dept – six specialists, diversity

Music B – 10 specialists

Recognition and use of Scots language – this is used by loads of folk in Scotland (post-it note)

Interest – aptitude – response

outcome-driven model


The only thing that matters?! (post-it note)


Suggestions can be divided into two:

  • What we would like to see on the Site (and not like)  and
  • Funding/How to achieve this

What we would like to see on the site: All or some of the following:

  • Affordable Housing / Council provided Housing / Housing Assn housing – sustainable, Car free, use of solar panels/energy for example, Energy efficient, and Good Design – good architecture.
  • Portobello High (or other) School – same principles of sustainability and design as above
  • Green space/Playing Fields/Adventure Playground
  • Eco-village Sustainability Centre
  • City Farm
  • Allotments
  • World Class Skatepark where championships could be held – or even just an ordinary Skatepark.  Could be indoor or outdoor (views varied)– low charges if any charges – if outdoor more able to be free access
  • Museum
  • MAYBE some SMALL shops – but only small ones and only a few as part of a development eg housing
  • Less Traffic
  • This is the Gateway to Portobello –  any development should be good sign/suitable and attractive as entrance to Portobello

What we definitely DON’T WANT on/because of this site:

  • A superstore
  • More traffic

Ideas for achieving these uses of the site:

  • Community produce own plan for site with architects’ drawings and have this ready for any Public Inquiry eg into any future application for a Superstore or other undesired use of the site
  • Parallel approach of putting in a community Planning Application AND
  • Lobby for Land Reform – so the community can buy out the land
  • Lobby Council to buy the land – and approach Scottish Executive/Parliament, amongst others, for money to do so, if they don’t have enough – ie the £millions that the Scottish Executive/Parliament under-spend each year, which just goes back to Central Government
  • Scottish Power should remediate land (polluter pays principle) plus suggest to Scottish Power they come on board (in return for positive publicity/to improve their image) to support Community Buyout (providing they don’t want anything else out of this that the community would object to.
  • Keep red brick buildings
  • Possible constraints of electricity sub stations/transformers? Eg should housing be not too near these? Do they have to stay and what are the implications, if any, for what can go on the site?



  • Benefits of sport for all ensuring life long health, both mental & physical. Sport draws communities together, both nationally & locally. Gives youngsters a better opinion of themselves.
  • Government policy correctly wishes to see the above.
  • Savings on health & crime could be absolutely massive!

SO. – What have we?

We have lost:

  • the Open-Air Pool.
  • Woods Park.
  • “Corsie’s” Bowling Centre.
  • Marine Gardens.
  • Tennis Courts & Putting Greens@Rosefield Park.
  • Children’s Paddling Pool.
  • Rowing Club Complex.

We have gained:

  • the Indoor Bowling Centre.
  • Meadowbank Sports Centre. (To Close)
  • Power League. (To Close)
  • Leith Waterworld (To Close)
  • Jack Kane Centre.
  • Cavalry Park.

The foregoing lists may not be complete.


  • Local sporting facilities accessible by foot,or easy bus ride.
  • Jessfield Bowling Club has a falling membership.  In the event of it folding, would the Council retain it as a sporting venue, as did East Lothian Council with Deantown Bowling Club?
  • In recent decades, the Council has a poor record in this regard, and sporting facilities have been lost.

SO. –  Outlook negative.

What can be done to encourage sporting use of our marvellous beach?

Also, slightly overlapping to other areas,provision of more allotment space, to at least compensate for that lost in recent years.

As for the idea of building on any part of the Golf Course area, once lost, gone forever.


Arts & Culture facilities.

Portobello has multi functional spaces that can be used for  art  studios but that isn’t good enough .

Some work that is happening, small groups meet informally to paint in St James Church Hall one morning & more formally on another day in the Community Centre. There is a big desire to do creative things.

Advice from the Scottish Arts Council is to start small & local & if there is a need, it will grow.

We thought this was a good way for projects to develop.

There is a perception that it’s too hard to start up a group  but it only takes one enthusiast  for it to take off.

There is an existing network of artists musicians : Portobello Open Doors.


has redesigned its rooms as small open spaces that can be booked by groups at a low cost for events, meetings, classes etc We plan to hold a meeting at EverGreen to discuss how to fulfil the needs for studios, workshops & the Arts in Porty.

The need for studio space

Already ascertained that there is a demand  (16 people replied to questionnaire at the Big Things weekend) that is real and growing, with the loss of Out of the Blue & 4 year waiting lists for Wasps studios in Edinburgh, There is no lack of would be participants in the arts.

Existing facilities

Community Centre – multi usage, not ideal

Evergreen – on a small scale

Town Hall – Are there possible spaces for studios in the Town Hall?

We would like regular ceilidhs  held there.

A suggestion was made for  International concerts with song, dance, musical instruments.

There is a growing awareness by Edinburgh Officials that there is an acute shortage of studio provision in Edinburgh.

We think that there is a real lack of arts facilities here that would only be met by a local arts centre so we want an Arts Centre on the Scottish Power Site.

How does the Peak oil issue impact on the Arts?

There is a growing need to cut down travel so the more local facilities the better.

Using new technologies – salvaged materials like plastics can be used creatively.

Art – its value to our community

By engaging people in the arts it unleashes creativity, It is an antidote to mass culture.

It adds to the reasons to stay in Porty. It attracts people, strengthens the community.

It brings new ideas & ways to express today’s themes – of  global warming -peak oil Art helps us to understand these concerns.

  • Janet  of EverGreen asks Justin to let everyone on the list who wants to be involved in the arts & culture project to get in touch with her.


The discussion started with concern about additives in food, especially in meat which can have severe effects on health.

This led to talk about the importance of local organic food which involves fewer food miles.  Practical suggestions as follows:

  • introduction  of a farmers’ market in Portobello.  Eva and Mairi Campbell agreed to look into this at the end of the meeting.
  • work with local shops and encourage use of local produce
  • incentives for local shops and schools to use local produce
  • develop scheme for sale of allotment excess through local shops
  • push for kitchens and the New Royal with a policy of cook fresh and buy local.

We felt it was important to grow more food in Portobello.  Suggestions as follows:

  • allotment security at Telferton should be encouraged and allotments should be expanded
  • council and residents should plant more fruit and native trees which would be good for wildlife and food
  • all parks should have a place for growing
  • help develop a gardeners’ partnership.

There was a call for locally based integrated health care and clinics.

  • We considered the possibility of simple medical support through pharmacists and barefoot doctor idea.
  • link up health care with child care and midwifery to make the system more joined up
  • consider simple ideas for improving health, e.g. local Portobello honey available to hay fever and asthma sufferers
  • promote greater awareness of what goes into medicines
  • get the older generation to share and remind us of simple herbal remedies etc.

Increase understanding of waste and improve disposal.

  • community compost area.  Could be collected by the council and sold back to the community
  • target/support Scotmid and persuade it to use less packaging and promote this through council targets. Improve space for trolleys and use of durable bags.


  • Collective bike and school runs  – bike trains into town, or walking/cycling to school in the morning.
  • Create local ways of living, working, and spending leisure time
  • Communal office spaces (for freelancers & others)
  • Get rid of Harry Lauder Road
  • Neighbours Club (social)
  • Local cinema: DVD projector
  • Farmers Market
  • Tramline One extension to Portobello and Musselburgh (from foot of Leith Walk
  • Consult local bus users to see if new routes could be useful, or if current routes could be improved
  • Fleet of electric bikes (like the car club)
  • Fleet of electric cars (like the car club)
  • Lift sharing scheme
  • “Get a chauffeur” campaign to encourage bus and train use
  • Bring back donkeys along the beach and High Street with carts, or to ride.
  • Re open Portobello train station
  • Bike buddies (training for urban cycling)
  • Street closures
  • Car free day in Portobello
  • Bio diesel collection from deep fat fryers
  • Use community website to promote and organise car sharing etc.
  • Free bus travel for children


  • Short term – insulation etc, education, micro-generation Long term – shortfall from renewables: wave, wind, geothermal, tidal, solar, nuclear.
  • Beyond Petroleum
  • Third world expansion
  • Opportunity of current crisis
  • “one light off” – computers
  • Energy taxation
  • “Edinburgh habit” (leaving street door open) Grants/legislation
  • Transport – taxation on chip fat (now dearer than diesel) Examples of good practice needed
  • Eco teams (post-it).


  1. most people travel away from Porty to work  which makes it a dormitory and has a negative effect on the shops,etc
    • shortage of variety of local quality jobs tourist attractions in short supply
    • money leaking out of local economy
    • heavy car use because of community lack of recreational facilities such as cinemas
  2. improve public transport
    • trams to Porty
    • boats from Fife
    • railway station
    • car sharing
    • creation of more local quality jobs
    • more recreational and tourist facilities will keep people here – less need to travel put Porty on the map – new pier?

      Yes, if it also has a point, i.e. floats on tidal generators; has an exhibition about Porty’s eco-progress (post-it note)

    • live and shop locally – keep money in local economy small industry linked to tourism (e.g. pottery) (on ex Sp site)
    • more local recreational facilities, eg. cinema
    • electrical and white goods and repair (post-it note)
    • alternative energy company called “Porty Power station 2”
    • biodiesel conversion, collection from chippies
    • wave power
    • stored batteries, drive generator
    • pedal power unit for sound systems
    • pole-lathe wood turning workshop (post-it note)
    • sustainability showcase
    • bring tourism to area (post-it note)


  • regular ceilidhs
  • neighbourhood group to organise social events – one public event per month
  • think of achievability as well as desirability; produce something small quickly to show results
  • local food initiative
  • farmer’s market – local, organic and sustainable – grass roots push
  • approach local shops re farmer’s market and about selling food from local allotments – Eva and Mairi to work on farmers’ market idea.
  • tourist information/museum
  • Portobello directory
  • put list of actions on POL or e-mail out (but include paper version as well) to get feedback and make links in order to work on things
  • tap into church network
  • core group but others can opt in and out – keep interested parties informed
  • private forum on POL or should it be public?
  • invite wider population to join forum
  • another meeting in six months or sooner
  • field trip to another community to see how they have dealt with certain issues
  • new groups to be set up to take up specific issues
  • event in New Year – not meeting but with element of consultation and feedback [Town Hall now provisionally booked for ceilidh on 11 March]
  • create clear strategy
  • specific strategy re ex SP site – unveil at ceilidh to be commented on and added to have plan ready to tap into money coming available in March 2006 for consultation/feasibility studies/technical surveys
  • set up group formally (make it legally incorporated; link with Community Council; media coverage)
  • have ballot re community buyout of the site
  • go public on site – put leaflets in shops – public response will show priorities
  • just do it and feed back to group
  • decide priorities – tally them
  • pre-empt another superstore application
  • engage now with council/parliament re land reform
  • don’t lose sight of all ideas (possible contact is the Centre for Human Ecology – possible projects for students)
  • ecological/sustainability angle could help us brand ourselves as an eco town – distinct community.

[Thanks to Diana Cairns for typing up these notes.]