Minutes June 2021
The sixth digital NCC meeting of the year capturing community highlights and on-going issues. Gareth Davies informed the meeting of Midlothian Council’s latets position regarding the village Masterpland, Newtongrange Church restoration and the large Springfield development proposal was once again central to discussions, after the second virtual consultation. Welfare Park improvements also discussed. Latest developments for Community Development Trust, rollout of the second issue of the Newtongrange Flyer and Police and Councillor report tabled.
|Members Present||In Attendance|
- Welcome and introductions –
- Apologies on behalf of Clr. Muirhead, Connor Wright, Andrew Marshall, John Muir and Rebecca McCosh
- Jeremy informed meeting of potential changes in the future regarding his ability to continue will all NCC responsibilities.
- Ross read out handwritten message from John Muir (Treasurer) 1) Bank balance 20/06 £3,261.15 2) Planning Applications: A proposed change of use at the Mining Museum from yard to retail area. 2 house extension applications & (Springfield Development) EIA Application No.21/00515/SCO. RA to ask John for further details for next meeting.
- JA welcomed Gareth Davies regarding the next steps regarding Newtongrange Masterplan.
- Actions from minutes – Suggestion from Gareth Davies to Clr. J to use GPS function on phone while taking photos of blocked drains to create map as previously done in Gorebridge. LA, JR & Clr. J had further discussions with Justin Vernon regarding park. £200 from the COOP towards new park noticeboard. JA waiting on content from NDT for next issue of Newtongrange Flyer.
- May Minutes – formally accepted (proposer JR) (seconded LA):
- Police Report – N/A
- RA to make further request for report asap and send it when made available.
- RA to also contact PC McFarlane regarding a Community Police participation at ‘The Pool’.
- Newtongrange Masterplan Update – Gareth Davies informed meeting of continuing discussions with Gary and Gayle regarding Newtongrange Church development. Needs, People, Place & Partnership – key aims for the new building. MC looking into possibility of relocation of a new library building as first phase of development (this is only at internal stage) with own entrance, book-drop system and shop front but also internal connections to the church building – this decision is with the Council, church to continue with project in the meantime. This activity is not critical to the church development, but seen as a great opportunity for sharing services and intergeneration benefit. The idea would be for the library to have cafe and public toilet facilities. Help get footfall and greater use of new church facilities. GD said that the current library would remain open until new building was operational. That site would likely be housing for older and independent living, with max height of 2 1/2 stories tall. The council are still developing plans and costs but will come back to NCC with regards public consultation. JA also continues his participation with ‘codesign’ group. With regards to planning as library is not a listed building, MC could move faster than church. Potential relocation of Miner statue in front of new library/church buildings. GD mentioned two new Joint Heads of Development at MC Fiona Clandillon and Andrew Whin now involved in looking at what positives can be made from pandemic. The Masterplan seen as part of that ‘building back better’ objective. ‘The Pool area’ and ‘Park’ MC considerations are at an earlier stage. LA asked about the ‘retail’ plans for ‘The Pool’ side. GD mentioned the idea was for small ground floor retail, council office space and the rest residential. GD also discussed his preference for having a community building inspired by green-powered park. principles. The idea would be to have a flexible heat efficient community space with cafe and toilets. Old community buildings such as Gardiner’s Place are no longer energy or cost efficient. No massive carpark, instead promoting the 20 minute community and Active Travel (walking, running, cycling) ideals. JR highlighted that we do not want to lose any green space in the park. Fiona Horne NC1 enquired about restoration of the bowling pavilion for community use possibly dance studio but due to damp & state of repair it would be very expensive £60,000 approx. according to quotes from Terry Healy etc. The library and other new buildings will help with council having visible presence in Newtongrange, not solely Dalkeith. Connect with Main Street, home workers and offices.
- Springfield Development
- JA/AM continued action to update page to keep it live.
- NCC had meeting with two Springfield representatives on 18/5/21. JA felt Springfield showed they want a quality, not-generic development. Trying to keep the identity of the three villages, maintain sense of place.
- Action to keep on agenda and for AM to lead on latest development discussions in August meeting.
- Due to covid restrictions the first public consultation was on on Wednesday 28/04/21 online (second 26/05/21) . AM revisited what happened on Wednesday 28th April. Two reps talked through the proposals The two consultations are for the community to make comment which will enable developer to consider and then submit the planning application with full drawings & number of houses etc. Full details here
- Note after consultation on 26/05/21 developer is expected to address all comments and take on board what they can do & what they cannot. The developer needs to be held to account throughout consultation and in the end have a bespoke plan, not generic that really understands local communities need. After June 12th the project will move to MC council and planning department Aug/Sep 2021.
- Clr J could not comment on Springfield development. Councillors would welcome any public email/letters of concerns or support and if sent to Clr’s J&M used in deliberations.
- Newtongrange Development Trust (NDT)
- Next “The Pool” event Saturday 10/07/21. This monthly table-top session. Helps keep in-touch with vulnerable, addresses poverty issues with surplus food provided by CO-OP, Tesco, Morrisons and Tesco.
- RA to ask Victoria Robb, NMMS Education Manager and PC McFarlane about attendance for future ‘The Pool’ events.
- Clr. J informed NDT to get in touch regarding Environment funding for shipping container. RA to contact Pat after meeting.
- 2020-21 Year Aims for NCC– On agenda for reference during wider discussion
- Protecting and improving services:
- Noticeboard – JA has been assured that Midlothian Council will help install noticeboard once made available. Keith to run power throughout. Think about how we could help with park welcome, possible “history of the park” notice. Action JM to check availability & MC will help install once it has been delivered/collected.
- Welfare Park – JR mentioned that general consensus was that people are delighted with lighting going in. Still public disappointed about prominent position of a proposed new container (football changing room facility for Dalkeith Thistle F.C youth teams) location adjacent to Abbey Lands football pitch. Clr J suggested NCC member to look around other Midlothian Parks and take photos of similar local containers.
- Newtongrange Park Life litter pick next one is Saturday 31/07/21 10AM-12PM.
- LA/JR informed meeting that to clean/repair the tennis court astro-turf was £5,000. There must be a cheaper alternative?
- Village Voices group announced that thanks to Margaret Evans has secured £1,000 of funding for paint via the Enabling Neighbourhood & community Fund. JR action to get in touch Stuart Pratt, Community Payback Officer regarding type of paint & manpower for Welfare Park fence repaint.
- JA mentioned that he met and thanked on NCC’s behalf a parking inspector outside the school at the appropriate hour. The inspector was clearly a ‘deterrent’. JR hopes it not simply a tokenistic gesture and they have a presence next school year.
- JA/RM had meeting to get ‘Todd the Snake’ incorporated into the school vicinity.
- The Newtongrange Masterplan: ensuring community development remains at its heart and engaging business and the village in its progress
- JA to keep in contact with Gareth Davies regarding next steps
- Engaging the community: positive solutions for inclusivity, village pride and achievement.
- Wheel painting – Rebecca to get in touch with David Bishop & Derek Oliver.
- Newsletter – JA previously shared draft of newsletter with members and looks to get published soon. Waiting on NDT content.
- Guerrilla Gardeners – Rebecca to contact Bryan Pottinger regarding ScotMid grant. The library area has been transformed and a large number of the planters have been cleared out & new plants added. JA to acknowledge the gardeners with conduit of thanks.
- Zebra crossing – Clr.J action to .check what response she received regarding crossing.
- Welfare Park fence painting – JA to extend thanks to Margaret Evans who is taking lead on sourcing paint once specific type is confirmed. Stuart Pratt and Community Payback team has five years to get project done. Clr J suggested community weed removal & bulb planting project along fence at Abbey Grange. To compliment fence painting.
- Protecting and improving services:
- Councillor’s – Clr. J gave verbal report. RA shared word document with members.
All council meetings, seminars and briefings are still being done digitally and likely to remain so. Although I am not holding any formal surgeries just now people are contacting me by telephone, email, letters, Facebook or other social media and some people have knocked at my house. Possibly start to do surgeries in the libraries after summer recess. The enquiries are the usual mixture of housing enquiries, school placements and appeals, potholes, parking issues at Gladhouse and some business enquiries relating to grants.
The Council is still operating critical services and there are restrictions in place about some workers or trades people entering into homes – unless for emergencies and some other services. We are now well on the way to loosening up many restrictions in council and in the community. At Group Leaders meeting we have agreed a return to the normal cycle of meetings – and which started a few weeks ago.
Full council meeting was today weeks ago and there were one or two things of particular interest.
- Digital Midlothian
- Gaelic language
- Denominational School Review
- Instrumental Music
- Building Rationalisation in Dalkeith
The council house site at Morris Road, Newtongrange is making good progress.
Work has started on a new junction and layout at the Auld Toll and Shell Garage (A7 and B704). There will be pedestrian crossings etc. Cllr Muirhead and I have been pressing for this for quite some time. The work should be completed by end of June. There is significant delays at the junction for now.
Newbattle Community High School is still operating as the schools testing centre, and Edinburgh College at the Dalkeith as the ‘ordinary’ or symptomatic testing site, Easthouses, Newtongrange and Newbattle Church (Mayfield site) was operating as the local asymptomatic testing centre and will closed two weeks ago, the new asymptomatic testing centre will be opened in Ladywood, Penicuik. Ramsay Croft, Dalkeith will be operating as a walk in testing site shortly. Gorebridge Leisure Centre opened on 18th March 2021 as a mass vaccination centre, letters continue to be sent out for confirmed appointments there. All reports I have received are that the centre is working very well and it is the Moderna vaccination that is being used. For the foreseeable future people here will receive two doses of the same vaccination. The LC will continue for some time to be used as a MVC.
Gorebridge MVC was operating as a drop in session for anyone over the age of 40 for Astra Zeneca first dose or second dose if you had the first less than 8 weeks ago. There are other drop in centres for Lothian – Bathgate and Ingliston. It operated on a first come first served basis for 10 hours each day.
We need to take special care just now as Covid numbers are on the rise. Public Health Scotland, NHS Lothian and the Council are working together to try and contain the spread and keep the numbers down. The numbers in schools is rising steadily and there is over 200 children isolating, I do not know if there is any serious cases. The BBQ beach party arranged by pupils from Midlothian and East Lothian is a huge factor in the cases – this was not an educationally arranged outing, the pupils arranged it themselves. I am advised this happens annually.
Due to Gorebridge leisure centre being closed for its usual activity and Newtongrange leisure centre being used for aging well and MAC Jim and I have been working with some community groups to get alternatives up and running, so that the groups normally resident in the LC can have a temporary home. We have taken this forward for officers to liaise, discuss etc with private facilities and have some kind of partnership arrangement in place. We are still awaiting an update – I may have an update for the meeting.
The proposed Springfield development (Gowkshill, Gorebridge, Newtongrange and Mayfield) is attracting a lot of attention and I am getting a lot of emails about it. Unfortunately I do not wish to comment due to regulations to keep impartiality and to ensure I can take part in the planning meeting. However, I am encouraging people to lodge their comments in the planning department’s portal and/or to write me an email detailing their comments.
The pot holes and clogged drains in the ward are now in a serious condition (and county wide) – flooding is the major side effect which in turn causes the pot holes and the issues these cause to get worse. The council is working on a reactive basis only so now my daily walks are located round the blocked drains. I pick a street and walk both sides, take photos and send them on for attention. I could do with a bit of help to do this – any offers? Last month June and I walked up the Main street and we have reported all the blocked drains and which are now on the list for attention.
Jim Muirhead and I have discussed how to spend our environmental funds, and are keeping up to date with one another on this to avoid duplication or to share the cost.
There are a few litter picking groups starting up and if you wish one to start here the Council Offices can provide pickers, hoops, bags from email@example.com and a pickup of the litter to advise firstname.lastname@example.org of place bags have been deposited.
Newtongrange does have a few groups and we are keeping in touch.
Take care and stay safe and remember FACTS – the vaccine programme is going smoothly in Midlothian and a more normal life can be a real prospect in the very near future. Try and make sure you attend at the requested time or make alternative arrangements, please don’t be a DNA (did not attend).
Have a wonderful summer.
- Treasurer – see 1d.
- MFCC – N/A
- Planning Applications – see 1d.
- Councillor’s – Clr. J gave verbal report. RA shared word document with members.
- Correspondence – N/A
- Date of Next Meeting – Tuesday 31st August 2021 at 7.00 pm Zoom TBC – register here