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.]