Minutes February 2023
The February NCC hybrid meeting @ The Dean Tavern, The ground fall Meeting Room & on zoom captured community concerns and on-going issues. Councillor’s reports were offered and discussion regarding Midlothian Council proposed savings & further updates given by our Midlothian South, ward Councillors.
- Welcome and introductions –
- Apologies Cath Johnstone and John Muir
- Previous minutes – November 2022 needed approved: proposed LA – seconded JR. January 2023 minutes : proposed JR – seconded LA
- Councillors report verbal & written) – Clr. B emailed report prior to meeting & was shared with NCC members. Clr B chased up Justin Venton regarding the sensory garden. The planting in the rondel will commence by the end of March 2023. The area needs to be firm and dry before work can commence. 1st stage March and the 2nd Summer 2023. Clr B. in dialogue regarding the state of the land which is an eyesore at Morris Road garages which belong to Lawfield Estates and are supervised by David & Robertson. Three ward Councillors held meeting with Fiona Clandillon regarding Old swimming pool site and has visited site with Councillors. It is nearly five years since the pool was flattened leaving a big hole in the centre of Newtongrange off the Main Street. Some improvement is needed but JA warns there should not be a knee-jerk reaction, but it may be many more years before this area is built upon. FC stated there would be no more money spent on rubble area prior to Masterplan building, new hoarding in consideration. According to Clr. S the levelling/grassing over of site according to FC was not seen as good use funds and was not looking to employ a Quantity Surveyor. Clr D stated figure around £100k. JR noted that the pop-up park was not worth £83k. AM has been leading on possibilities for the area. This inertia cannot continue. Clr D. stated the need to progress with area improvement. JA asked for correspondence to be shared with NCC. Projects need full consultation. Concern about 3 storey buildings facing Dean Park original housing. The first Masterplan devised by Gareth Davies (COOP transfer, Leisure Centre knocked down) in this area there was provision for an open community space (piazza), residential at back of square. Masterplan development has various phases. The old pool site is a later stage of project. The Library/Church side of Main Street is an earlier stage. Clr D stated that the people of Newtongrange feel that they have been forgotten about and we require a timeline that has been requested at Clr’s meeting with FC. There is a real need for another consultation with Newtongrange community properly consulted. NCC want to be involved in the planning and process in the form of a full community consultation. The meeting understands the pressure on Midlothian council in building new properties. AM stated that at least the council are looking at the centre of Newtongranger once more. Work has started in the creation of the Community garden spearheaded by the Newtongrange Guerrilla Gardeners next to the Leisure Centre. Clrs. have been involved in the purchasing of planters and equipment. Roads & Transport – 20 mph restriction plan has been delayed. Proposals will be heard in March. Clr B meeting with Lothian Buses regarding re-routing buses with ambition to improve public transport routes. Clr. B discussed at cabinet the current inability to pay for Midlothian Council services over the phone. The issue is with inability to allocate to correct budget account. The council are looking at ways to solve issue. One solution would be the NCC recommendation to have accessible pay points in the local libraries this avoiding wasted journeys to closed HQ in Dalkeith. JR noted that regarding Clr B’s action about having council employees cleaning streets in Newtongrange. There had been two men working down Newbattle Road and wee visibly council staff. JR also raised that there has been recent fly-tipping in the old pool site. Lorna Leslie mentioned dumping issues at recycling point by Leisure Centre car park. Off cuts of linen & clothes and even bottles left. Action for Clr. Scott to email environmental warden to check out these areas to avoid rats?
- Matters arising – Clr. D asked Clr. Margo Russell about microfiche machine in Dalkeith Library now budgets have been set. RA asked if there is a deadline for prioritising damaged roads (action from last meeting for JM to compile list from members) JA. JA has shared with Derek Oliver the issue regarding St David’s vennel dip. JR informed meeting that vehicles were not parking on the grass verges during latest Sunday morning football in park.
- Police report –
- PC Jason McFarlane emailed RA who circulated to members.
- Police confirmed their attendance at hybrid in person meeting with Zoom is allowed. NCC would struggle to use zoom alternative due to cost etc.
- Avoid having vehicle keys in close proximity to front doors. Thieves are looking out for high value vans, cars and bicycles in and around Midlothian. Action to do social media post regarding item security and ask about DNA spray in tagging items.
- Midlothian Council savings meeting & how it will affect Newtongrange discussion – AM introduced item announcing 5% Council Tax rise & CUTS – 1% Education budget cut, Brown Bin rise of £5 to £40. Loss of cleaning jobs – current vacancies frozen, revisiting loans & finances, Communities Lifelong Learning and Employability (CLLE) cuts. Closure of public toilets. Closure of PPE Schools in Summer saving of £30k (7 Primary Schools). Clr. S looking at options for Gorebridge After Hours School Provision. Issues like Library services and staff cuts, Newtongrange Leisure Centre closure are to be looked at again in June 2023. Has the agreement already been made? Bill Hunter aalso sked about the cost of PPE schools to Council finances. Clr Scott stated that the school will still be returned to the Council. When PPE is finished in 20 years the money will drastically reduce. Clr D reassessing PPP will give breathing space but we require fairer funding deal. AM asked if any cuts to services have been taken off the table or just left till June review? What about the Early Years review £500,000 briefing? Organisations are dependent on this money. Clr S mentioned the drastic difference in conditions of the Midlothian library buildings. Can we use them for effectively and bring other services through libraries? This something NPS has thought for some time. Clr D re-affirmed that Midlothian Council have a huge budget gap and with trying to ring-fence Place, Health, Children, Young People services it is going to be hard to bridge gap. Therefore, everything will come back unless the Flora mechanism is reassessed by Scottish Government/COSLA. Lorna Leslie asked about all the money the council is getting from new house council taxes and increased council house rents. Only 23% of Midlothian Council funding comes from Council Tax (All council tax raised in Midlothian does not cover the Teaching bill. 77% is Scottish Government block grant. Clr Scott mentioned Midlothian Council staff are still able to work a hybrid model. JR feels the Midlothian Council staff needs a kick up the backside. Remember the positives, effective working during Covid. Having to look at different ways of doing things. Including such ideas as Post Office in libraries and Councillors are trying to work together to find these opportunities. JA said to Clrs to keep positive & open.
- Protecting and improving services:
- Newtongrange Primary School Playground – NPS PTA sub-group met with Clr. Drummond to discuss playground improvements and have received £4k education funding to revamp a zone within the playground but there is “a big way to go”.Clr D stated it was obvious the school did not have the soft play features that can be so enriching.
- Community Garden – NGG started work in the space next to the Leisure Centre this month. Laura approached Councillors regarding environmental funding for garden.
- The Pop-up-park – Council have previously said they do not have the money to sort rubble area. It has been over four years now since swimming pool came down.
- Noticeboard– LA contacted Wayne Clark regarding lighting up noticeboard in park. Needs Connor Wright to source LED lights and install in the noticeboard and Chris King can get it connected. Linda has keys to the noticeboard. Action for LA to proceed.
- Medical Centre alarm – JA made contact with Medical Centre on St. David’s with regards to their alarm.
- 5-11 Murderdean Road, Newtongrange derelict building and speeding issues update – New fencing has now been added and owner has been contacted regarding the property.
- Newtongrange Park – Cars parking on grass- JR noted improvement.
- Newtongrange Park – Sensory Garden & paths – Clr. B sent an email reminder to Justin Venton last month. Work will start late March.
- Midlothian Climate Action Network – JA to recirculate email regarding rep position. Laura Joyce might be interested. Action for JA to give details.
- Midlothian Council Joint Priorities – Ongoing Action for John Muir to pull together list of road/pathways improvements. Members to think about what are “WHERE IS THE AREA MOST IN NEED”. (*Vennels & Coal-lines are not adopted by the council). Pot holes at Bryan’s Road, Lady Road and Reid Drive were discussed. Laura mentioned dangerous area on Dalhousie Road near Tesco. Action for Laura to add a three word tag and Jeremy will send to Derek Oliver.
- NMMS unaccessioned objects – JA met Nicola Moss, NMMS curator regarding forging closer ties between museum and village. One idea is to have outdoor exhibits moved to community spaces. This combined with utilising Landscape Legacies of Coal Mining app for village. LA also mentioned the museum memory boxes from 1930s-60s which are very popular with local groups. LA also promoted the Friday talks with “Traquar House” the next talk.
- Newtongrange Star – JA/RA/AM to meet with Archie Lockart, President of The Star Football Club.
- Newtongrange Library development – Clr. B stated the current position is that the churches planning application is being considered. The Church is anxious to get on and do the work. There is still no date for the library building proposal to go to full council.
- Dalkeith Library microfiche machine – Clr D followed up with Clr Margo Russell.
- Community Tourism Roadshow – JA and Sheryl Skelton did not make Roadshow but was able to watch recorded webcast of event.
Councillor’s Report – written
- Playground improvements for NPS.
- Nearly visited all Midlothian schools. Such contrast in conditions Mayfield, St. Luke’s and Rosewell highlighted. All schools “nurturing and happy places”. With staff obviously tring to give the child the best they can.
- Springfield received pre-planning go ahead in principle. 1,000 houses = amazing amount of children. Need a new High School in area, Cannot simply extend Newbattle High School. Julie Mair/SH noted the farmer had ploughed and sprayed the file and looks like they are putting in crops this year.
- £2,100 of environment funding towards Newtongrange Community Garden to help with mini-digger. Rob will send a list of the plants which NGG can move around if required.
- Ron to create sign for Newtongrange Primary School East Gate. JA asked NCC what should the font design be for the school sign?
- Treasurer – Financial statement is £2,002.60 in bank. JA & JM to work on two sets of accounts for 2020/21 & 2021/22 for February AGM.
- MFCC – Thanks to Brian Farrell who represented MFCC at Midlothian Council 31/01/22 Special Meeting.
- Planning Applications – Springfiled
- New Primary School Catchment Area Consultation. JM mentioned live consultation for Easthouses Primary School and High Schools. Mainly affets East of Bryan’s Road to Easthouses.
- A.O.B – RA to take a table at Volunteer in Midlothian event 04/03/23 11am-1pm, MM mentions lack of 48 Lothian buses – Clr S will take this action. AM to contact Derek Oliver regarding Murderdean Road bins. Good attendance at Newtongrange Park Life.
Still to be resolved
Laura – Newtongrange Primary School mail sent to No.43 5th Street which is a residential property. The school is listed as No.43 on Google. This needs addressed. Laura also asked about who to
- Date of Next Meeting – Tuesday 28th March 2023 at 7.00 pm, Dean Tavern Ground Floor Meeting Room and Zoom – register here