September’s General Questions

I answered two General Questions in September as Minister for Community Safety.

Jenny Gilruth asked me asked me to provide an update on the implementation plan in the national missing persons framework for Scotland.

Gordon Lindhurst asked me what the Scottish Government’s response is to the conclusions of the independent review “Rethinking Legal Aid”.




Last year parts of my constituency was subjected to extreme antisocial behaviour. Residents were terrified and property badly damaged by large groups of youths. Police Scotland officers and Scottish Fire and Rescue Service (SFRS) fire officers had fireworks thrown at them.

The Scottish Government has been working in partnership with Police Scotland, the SFRS and two HM Inspectorates to ensure that services are well prepared for this year’s celebrations and can respond robustly to any antisocial behaviour.

Within my capacity as Minister for Community Safety, I recently met with local community partnership members who have been working to promote the safe and responsible use of fireworks in Edinburgh to discuss on-going preparations. I also met police officers and fire officers who have previously experienced unacceptable abuse on or around Bonfire Night.

Bonfire Night is an opportunity for local communities to come together and for families to enjoy fireworks responsibly and I would encourage people to attend officially organised displays where fireworks are controlled in a safe environment.

I have had an update from Police Scotland and I have been informed that in order to meet the challenges better this year, that from Wednesday 31st October to Tuesday 6th of November 2018, significant additional conventional resources will be deployed to support Local Area Commanders deliver their locality plans. In 2017, the majority of the disorder occurred in the North East and North West localities. In particular, the areas Muirhouse, West Pilton, Portobello and Loganlea. In response to this, and in consultation with the Local Authority, officers will enforce dispersal zones (under the terms of S.19 ASB etc. (S) Act 2004) in these areas between 1400 hours and 0000 hours each day from Friday 2nd November 2018 until 0000 hours on Tuesday 6th November 2018 inclusive. In respect of groups of two or more persons in these areas (in public), officers will be empowered to:

  • Direct persons in the group to disperse;
  • Direct those who do not reside at the locality to leave it, or any part of it;
  • Direct those who do not live in the locality from returning to it, or any part of it, for up to 24 hours from the time direction was given;
  • Arrest without warrant any person reasonably suspected to have committed or be committing such an offence;


The safety of the public is paramount and we need to ensure a selfish minority do not spoil the celebrations for others. The use of fireworks as a means of inflicting injury on individuals, including members of our emergency services, is completely unacceptable and illegal. I must stress that robust action will be taken against anyone who puts lives at risk.

I would strongly urge members of the public to report any criminal or antisocial behaviour to Police Scotland on 101 or if someone’s life is on danger 999, or otherwise you can anonymously report through CrimeStoppers on 0800 555111.

This article first appeared in The Speaker.


Edinburgh Headway Group

It was great to meet with Michelle Keenan and Lorraine Allan from Edinburgh Headway Group last week, ahead of the Group’s move into new premises in the constituency.

Edinburgh Headway Group does amazing work supporting those with acquired brain injuries as well as their families and carers. Acquired brain injuries comprise a particular challenge in terms of care, and presents a range of psychological and physical difficulties. While physical disabilities may be adapted to by varying degrees, the psychological effects of acquired brain injuries is much harder to manage. The impact on those caring for those with acquired brain injuries can be profound.

That is why the work of organisation like Edinburgh Headway Group is so important. The group provides life changing support in the form of rehabilitation activities and regular outings, and also provide Carer Support programs such as social, information and peer support events.

I am delighted to welcome an organisation like Edinburgh Headway Group to the constituency, and look forward to working with them closely in the future.

Baileyfield Objection Letter (1)

Dear Ms Carus,

As the Member of the Scottish Parliament for the constituency of Edinburgh Eastern, I write to you on behalf of my constituents, who have raised concerns regarding the proposed development of 17 Fishwives Causeway 8-9, 10, 11, 12, 25 Baileyfield Crescent, Edinburgh, EH7 6GH – reference 16/05898/FUL. The planning application for mixed use development of 483 new homes and commercial building including infrastructure, drainage and landscaping. Although I completely in favour of additional housing within Edinburgh Eastern, and indeed Edinburgh as a whole, I do believe that some of these concerns should be addressed prior to approval being granted. The main reservations regarding this development can be found below.

Density of housing.  This is 30% higher than the adjoining site: 100 houses per hectare, compared with 70 houses per hectare. There are concerns that such density will have a negative social impact and that the numbers proposed are too high.

Heights of proposed housing: They range from two storeys to four storeys, and then nine, six storey blocks, throughout the site. It will increase the overall density of population in wider area, undesirably. The plan is inconsistent with existing North West Portobello Design Brief (NWPDB), which specifies a maximum of 3-4 storeys for areas adjacent to the promenade. This is also the maximum height in the adjacent development. Again the NWPDB states “Building heights will largely derive from the general height of existing adjacent buildings and the surrounding urban grain”. The proposed buildings may be a similar height to those which are already there however, there are concerns how these new builds with fit in with the surrounding area aesthetically.

Traffic: Seafield Junction is already heavily congested at peak times and the Transport Assessment seems to reiterate this. With the addition of two extra developments, one of which is the Brunstane Development, the infrastructure for traffic in and out of the area will be under additional strain. The same assessment already indicated that it is above capacity at some times. This queuing traffic would also have an effect on the air quality of the general area.

Parking: Developers are only proposing 68% on site provision. What guarantees can be given to neighbouring streets that they will not be subject to overspill parking?

Flood prevention: Concerns have been raised that the development will be too close to the culvert and may inhibit maintenance of culvert and flood defences in Rosefield Park, these remain unaddressed. There are concerns that losing trees, including tall trees, green space and further development will impact upon water run-off and increase the risk of flooding.

Design: The proposed six storey flats have no balconies or private outside space. There is a higher percentage of two and three bedroom flats than advised in the NWPDB which states “Conventional 2 or 3 bedroom flats should not compromise more than 25% of the total accommodation provision”.

Impact on the conservation area: Concerns have been raised regarding the integrity of the local conservation area with the size and density of this development.

Lack of community space provision: The NWPDB states that community space should be included in any development for the area.  There are none in any of the recent proposals for this area.

Playgrounds and green spaces: There is insufficient provision of green space and no play areas included. Especially given that the tallest areas of the development have little or no private outdoor space.

Impact on wildlife: There are two pairs of kingfishers and goldfinches on the burn; what provision been made for their protection?

While it is overwhelmingly agreed that housing development is needed for the area and this site lends itself well to such a development, both my constituents and I would appreciate more information and reassurance prior to the development being approved.

Yours sincerely

Ash Denham MSP
Edinburgh Eastern Constituency

Baileyfield Objection Letter (2)

Dear Cllr

I am writing to further object to the proposed development at 17 Fishwives Causeway 8-9, 10, 11, 12, 25 Baileyfield Crescent, Edinburgh, EH7 6GH (reference 16/05898/FUL).

I have received a number of complaints from my constituents since Barratt Homes submitted an updated planning application. As I said in my previous objection in this matter, I am in favour of additional housing in Edinburgh Eastern. However, this housing development should address and resolve the issues below before moving forward.

First, the density of properties is still too high. Although the number of homes has been reduced from 475 to 441, this is only a nine per cent reduction. This large number of homes will also impact parking, which is already congested in the surrounding area. As the planning application currently stands, parking would only be provided for 68 per cent of the property. This will have a negative effect on surrounding streets and a nearby conservation area.

Second, the property developers did not address concerns with traffic. The current design will increase traffic in Seafield Junction, which is already close to capacity, and it will constrict traffic on Baileyfield Road and Portobello High Street. This has implications for heightened air pollution in the area as well. Additionally, there are new development proposals in nearby areas, which will further worsen traffic and discourage visitors from coming to areas such as Portobello Beach. This may also affect local businesses and services for the worse.

Third, there are still some six storey properties proposed. As I raised in my previous letter, this is inconsistent with the North West Portobello Design Brief which stipulates housing be three to four storeys. The Barratt development on the former Scottish Power site does not exceed four storeys, so I see no reason why they cannot maintain the same building height for this development.

Lastly, the developers have ignored calls for a community space in the property and have not met the City of Edinburgh Council’s provision on the amount of green spaces. A great number of my constituents have expressed these concerns, and it is critical they are resolved before the development moves forward. Thank you for your attention to this matter.

Yours sincerely

Ash Denham MSP
Edinburgh Eastern Constituency