So we had our community council AGM yesterday, which was quite interesting.
Apparently I have missed a planning application for more than 242 units on the former BT land up near the primary school, despite signing up for the planning alert and getting the weekly list of planning applications. Luckily enough a member of the local housing association has noticed it and the association will dispute the application. Over the last years our former “Trainspotting” area has been discovered by private housing developers for a quick buck; and whilst our multi-storey council houses got demolished to make way for new buildings intended to lead to much less density of people living here, the private developers have built crackers of “luxury apartment towers” before we had the community councils and when it was more difficult to actually see the list of applications and documents.
Despite the demand rising for affordable housing for families with kids and or/more than 3 bedrooms on ground level, garden, ( see council website where hundreds of people apply just online for one vacant property) all we seem to get build here are towers and towers of 1 and 2 bedroom(s) ridiculously priced “luxury apartments”. Whilst looking at the planning application, I could not see anywhere that the developers want to built over two hundred units on that little piece of land, maybe because I could neither see the map nor the associated documents.
Another issue which got me exploding yesterday – despite the fabulous selection of fruits and sandwiches – were the steep funding cuts of local projects in the education sector. Our councillors explained it would be due to a £9 million budget hole in the education department of the Council, but I got really angry when the cuts were applied for example to staffing our local nursery and our community centres. Now we have got brandnew private-public partnership buildings but no staff to run it to its full potential – the North Edinburgh Arts Centre, famous for its children’s activities, is already nearly closed because of funding cuts, and now the community centres are left empty and even the nursery gets attacked. Especially as we are in a SIP area- lots of low or uneducated, unemployed and/or disabled people, single-mothers, minimum wage labourers and poverty around, so therefore our area is getting hit disproportionally hard because of needing more staff and funding than other areas.
But I was getting REALLY agitated when our longterm Labour councillor, Elizabeth MacGinnis (usually, but apparently not currently Enemy No1 on Pilton Sucks) started to praise the Labour policy of social inclusion, without mentioning that it was Labour in power who build up the big budget overspend before the elections this May. And I also ranted a bit against the Public-Private Partnerships- we got a lot of new buildings in this area, especially schools and community centres, but the running costs of these buildings which are indebted for a long time in the future to the private, profit-driven companies, are much higher than before, so no surprise that suddenly the local education budget seems to blast. I would rather like to investigate the impact of that policy to be able to draw more factual conclusions, time permitting.
Funny it was though how the issue came up – our local socialist Revoluzzer Wullie briefed two of us before whilst we were chewing over the sandwich bar about his forthcoming revolt proposal, which was actually then withdrawn, of cutting all communication of our little community council with officials. But even our local Labour foot folk put up a great stand against the cuts – probably because now it’s a Libdem coalition in power.