Olympic cyclist criticises Council recycling policy

Olympic Gold medallist Callum Skinner has slated Edinburgh Council’s failure to recycle wood from the Meadowbank velodrome which campaigners say has been left to rot in a corner the site.

The Edinburgh-born athlete, who honed his skills alongside Chris Hoy on the famous Meadowbank cycling track, last week told Deadline News he had created a table from wood he had salvaged from the site.

The Edinburgh-born athlete, who honed his skills alongside Chris Hoy on the famous Meadowbank cycling track, last week told Deadline News he had created a table from wood he had salvaged from the site.

He said: “Meadowbank Velodrome deserved better than being hastily and quietly demolished without letting the local cycling community save some of this historic track.

“Despite one third of the track being demolished before anyone could gain access I’m glad that following my visit many more came to take more of the track that’s so special to us all.”

Save Meadowbank campaign spokesperson Heather Peacock congratulated the cycling superstar on his initiative and agreed with his criticism of what Edinburgh Council did with the wood.

She said: “The wood for Meadowbank’s velodrome was specially sourced and should have been recycled. It is exotic hardwood worth thousands of pounds. Edinburgh Council could easily have asked salvage dealers to bid for the wood and ploughed the proceeds into local grassroots sports. That didn’t happen and what wood wasn’t taken from the site by Callum and his mates has been left to rot.

“This was a massive opportunity for Edinburgh Council to demonstrate its recycling credentials and let its citizens mourn the end of an era.

“Yet it did neither. The wood wasn’t recycled and people were given no warning the demolition was due to start.

“Meadowbank’s velodrome was one of the most successful venues in the history of Scottish sport. It produced more world champions that Hampden and Murrayfield combined yet Edinburgh Council demolished it on the fly. Compare that to the demolition of Cockenzie Power Station which was watched by thousands.

“Edinburgh Council should be ashamed at the way it acted.

“Now the site has been cleared it is a perfect location for a replacement velodrome for the thousands of people from Scotland’s capital who wish to use it.

“Build it now and have it open by 2020 which is when the Council has promised a new Meadowbank sports centre will be in place.”


Packed meeting calls for Council to consider alternative Meadowbank plan

Over one hundred people packed into Meadowbank Church last night to call on Edinburgh Council to consider an alternative plan for the Meadowbank Stadium site.

The Council intends to build a smaller sports centre with a vastly reduced capacity on half the Meadowbank site with hundreds of flats and commercial properties on the rest.

The meeting heard many concerns about this plan and ended with a call for Edinburgh Council to consider an alternative vision put forward by the Save Meadowbank Campaign group.

“There needs to be a phased refurbishment instead of a plan that will destroy much of what Meadowbank stands for,” said Save Meadowbank campaigner Heather Peacock.

“The first thing should be to retain and renovate the Stadium element of the existing design. This should be followed by a sports community and leisure hub with a new fitness course and a replacement velodrome on the site of the original facility.

“There can still be mixed development on what land that remains.

“What we suggest would improve access and retain trees. It also makes financial sense because it will generate income as each section is developed.

“Risk will be mitigated by developing in stages. The cost can be met from existing funding plus other sources the Council has failed to consider such as the Scottish National Investment Bank, sports grants, sports clubs and sponsorship including naming rights. Funding is available if only Edinburgh Council is prepared to look for it.

“We call on Edinburgh Council to consider other options instead of pushing ahead with its hugely controversial and costly plan.”

Call for investigation into award of Meadowbank contract

Campaigners have called for an investigation into how a £39 million contract for the new mini-Meadowbank sports centre was awarded without a promised discussion taking place with Edinburgh City Football Club, and how Council officials took five months to even contact the key stakeholder.

On 29 June Edinburgh Council’s Development sub-committee agreed to “work with Edinburgh City Football Club to explore the potential to increase spectator capacity”. Yet almost five months on no meeting has yet been arranged.

“We met with Council officials last week when they admitted they are proceeding regardless with their plan for a greatly-reduced sports centre on the Meadowbank site“, said Save Meadowbank spokesperson Heather Peacock.

“Instead of a 7,500 capacity grandstand the new mini-Meadowbank will have a capacity of just 499, that figure having been set deliberately as a cost-cutting measure because 500 would force Edinburgh Leisure to comply with extra safety regulations.

“Edinburgh City have consistently voiced concern at Council plans to build a ground capable of holding only 499 fans and has admitted it is highly unlikely to be able to return to the ground it has called home for 22 years.

“Councillors on the development sub-committee were very clear further dialogue had to take place with the football club and they made it a condition of granting the planning application.

“Now it emerges Council officials have carried on regardless without even meeting with the club. In fact there had been no contact whatsoever until the Save Meadowbank Campaign raised the subject early last week.

“This means a £39 million contract was agreed prior to Council officials holding discussions they had been instructed to hold by senior Councillors, including the Lord Provost.

“We call for a full investigation into how unelected officials have delayed implementing a clear decision made by Councillors, why those same officials have decided to proceed regardless without even meeting with Edinburgh City Football Club and how a £39 million contract could be awarded when a key stakeholder had not been consulted as required by the planning authority.”

A public meeting to discuss an alternative option for the Meadowbank Stadium site will take place at Meadowbank Church, opposite Meadowbank Retail Park, on Tuesday 27 November 2018 starting at 19:00.

Politicians criticised for failing to attend Meadowbank public meeting

Campaigners have criticised Edinburgh Councillors and MSPs after most have either failed to respond or declined to attend next week’s public meeting at which an alternative vision for the Meadowbank Stadium site, along with costings, will be presented.

All Edinburgh Councillors and MSPs were invited to attend. Only three have so far accepted: Alison Johnstone MSP (Green) plus two Councillors, John McLellan (Conservative) and Alex Staniforth (Green).

Not one person is willing to attend from either of the two parties who form the coalition that runs Edinburgh Council.

The Council leader Adam McVey (SNP) responded, with: “This is an automatic reply to acknowledge safe receipt of your email. I will endeavour to reply to your enquiry as soon as I can.” Nothing further has been received from him. Given that previous requests have always been declined this is doubly disappointing from the City’s senior politician.

Neil Findlay (Labour) replied with “The Lothian Labour MSPs work as a team, Kezia Dugdale MSP will reply on our behalf”. Ms Dugdale has not yet responded.

“Edinburgh’s politicians are burying their heads in the sand,” said Save Meadowbank spokesperson Heather Peacock. “Edinburgh is facing a financial shortfall of up to £27 million in its plan to build a mini-Meadowbank on part of the site.

“There are cheaper and better ways to provide Edinburgh with the main sports facility it desperately needs.

“Campaigners who attended Edinburgh Council’s finance committee meeting last month were asked to share this information.

“We therefore invited all politicians to attend next Tuesday’s public meeting so they could hear at first-hand alternative plans for Meadowbank and engage with the people they claim to represent. Sadly only three of them have so far agreed to attend.

“It is a truly sad indictment of the coalition that supposedly runs Edinburgh Council when not one single councillor or MSP from either the SNP or Labour is willing to attend.

“It is bad enough that they press on with their plan to build a mini-Meadowbank for which they will leave the citizens of Scotland’s capital city with a multi-million pound funding deficit. We appear to have little alternative than to assume that they are frightened and running scared from attending this public meeting.

“That includes the Council leader who has now turned down three invitations to hear at first-hand what people think about Edinburgh Council’s second biggest building project behind the tram extension.”

The public meeting will take place at Meadowbank Church, opposite Meadowbank Retail Park, on Tuesday 27 November 2018 starting at 19:00.

What now for Edinburgh’s bonfire night firework display?

Campaigners have marked the first anniversary of the final fireworks display at Meadowbank Stadium by highlighting Edinburgh Council’s failure to organise a replacement venue for the popular event.

The annual bonfire night fireworks display at Meadowbank Stadium has been a staple of the Capital’s bonfire night offering since the 1970s but it isn’t taking place this year following Edinburgh Council decision to replace Meadowbank Stadium with hundreds of flats and a cut-down sports centre which will have a greatly reduced capacity.

“This was a hugely popular event, like many the Stadium used to host,” said Save Meadowbank spokesperson Heather Peacock. “Thousands attended each year and it offered affordable family entertainment in a safe environment.

“It is a sad reflection on Edinburgh Council that while other communities, including villages, continue to put on such a traditional event, Scotland’s capital city is now unable to do the same.

“Even if Edinburgh Council delivers on its plan to build a replacement facility at Meadowbank, it will contain just 499 seats which is far too small for events such as this that the Stadium used to host.

“The loss of this facility is being felt all over Edinburgh, including those families for whom the annual Council-run firework display is now just a memory.”

Meadowbank tree cull “an outrageous act” – according to Council’s own forestry service

Edinburgh Council has been slated by its own forestry service team over the plan to fell up to 166 healthy trees at Meadowbank, calling it an “outrageous act” which shows a “definite lack of understanding”.

Campaigners say it will make the destruction of over 50 mature trees to make way for a pavement in Princes Street Gardens look “small scale” in comparison.

Edinburgh Council plans to fell up to 166 trees at Meadowbank to make way for over 300 flats to fund a cut-down replacement sports centre, despite widespread opposition.

“This is environmental vandalism by a Council seemingly hell-bent on destroying every legacy it has been entrusted to keep,” said Save Meadowbank spokesperson Heather Peacock.

“There was no need to destroy so many trees in Princes Street Gardens and there is similarly no need to do likewise at Meadowbank, especially when the Council’s own planning sub-committee has ruled no work should take on any part of the Meadowbank site until a full consultation has taken place and a masterplan prepared for the entire site.

“The cull at Meadowbank will make the destruction in Princes Street Gardens look small scale in comparison.”

Campaigners have been backed by the Council’s own forestry service team who referred to this as “an outrageous act” in the response it provided to Councillors as part of the planning application process.

An unnamed Council forestry official wrote: “I object to the proposed tree removals as part of the Meadowbank stadium development.

“I am in full agreement with the comprehensive comments already provided by my colleagues. Ruthe and Paul have succinctly outlined the extreme rarity of the Wheatley elm cultivar and for this fact alone there should have been intention at the beginning of the design stage to retain and incorporate these trees into any new site design. The recommendation to remove a total of 13 Wheatley’s would mean the loss of approximately 6% of the total mature Wheatley elm stock in the city, this considered along with the fact that the global population is now estimated to be in the mere hundreds highlights what an outrageous act it would be to remove any these trees.

“I am sure I do not have to expand on the multitude of benefits street/urban trees provide, and to that effect you may have some idea of current concerns we have in relation to the serious decline in Edinburgh’s street trees. As such to remove large mature healthy trees is in direct contradiction to many of the objectives outlined in the councils own Trees in the City – Trees and Woodlands Action Plan as well as the endeavours of the Council Forestry Service team.

“I would be grateful to know why the Council Forestry Service were not given a more prominent role as to the consideration of these public trees as part of the application process? This concern is evidenced in part by the independent tree survey report commissioned by the developers which clearly shows a definite lack of understanding in respect of the existing trees, and it was only through the determination of my colleague that these Wheatley elms have been given any sort of the proper acknowledgement required.

“It has been the Council Forestry Service’s responsibility and pleasure to maintain these grand specimens on the behalf of the public for decades.

“I myself have been involved with managing the council DED containment programme, a programme that has now been running for 40 years with the primary endeavour of conserving rare elms such as these Wheatley’s for the benefit of the city and feel that considerable investment by the local authority is being completely overlooked.

“At the very least I am aware that there are 2 Planning Tree Officers and would be interested to know what involvement they have had in this application and what their opinion is as to removal of such valuable trees.”


Call for Lord Provost to either “deliver what he promised or quit”

Edinburgh’s Lord Provost should either “deliver what he promised” for the Meadowbank Stadium site or quit, according to campaigners.

When Edinburgh’s planning committee met on 29 June it agreed to withdraw all detail from the Meadowbank planning application, including the plan to build over 300 homes, leaving only a map marking the site boundary. It also agreed no work should start on any part of the site until a full consultation has taken placed and a masterplan prepared for the entire site, including the sports centre.

Councillor Frank Ross (SNP), who is the city’s Lord Provost, sat on the planning committee where he said: “Previous plans are off the table and make clear that we are starting from a blank sheet”. His colleagues were equally clear. Committee chair Councillor Neil Gardiner (SNP) admitted there had to be “effectively a red line around the site”. And vice chair Councillor Maureen Child (Labour) added: “There is a red line around this area. There will be proper consultation, going deep starting with a blank sheet of paper … Nothing is ruled out, nothing is ruled in”.

This intervention was welcomed at the time by campaigners who are now holding the Lord Provost and his colleagues on the planning committee to what they said.

“The Lord Provost should either deliver what he promised or quit,” said Save Meadowbank spokesperson Heather Peacock.

“He and his planning colleagues agreed no work should take place pending a full consultation and the approval of a masterplan for the entire Meadowbank site. That consultation is still in progress and no masterplan has been prepared.

“No approval has been given yet last week we discovered instead of the promised blank sheet, Council officials are still working from the original plan to build “more than 300 new homes” on half the site, and Edinburgh Council agreed to award a £39 million contract to build a smaller sports centre on part of the site even when it doesn’t have the funding in place.

“This is completely unacceptable. The Lord Provost must ensure officials do what they have been instructed to do. If he can’t or won’t do that then he should stand down.”

Attached: Location map for Meadowbank site as agreed by Edinburgh Council’s planning sub-committee on 29 June 2018 plus audio clips of Councillors Frank Ross, Neil Gardiner and Maureen Child from https://edinburgh.public-i.tv/core/portal/webcast_interactive/360080.