FoMBL Newsletter No 6 January 2004

Sowing the seeds for a greener Edinburgh: One of Edinburgh's best loved green spaces is set to get greener. The City of Edinburgh Council will plant 83 trees at the Meadows in the new year as the second phase of its replacement tree planting programme.

A diverse range of tree species will be planted in an effort to protect the tree population from a single species disease attack in future years. The new trees will ensure that a multi-aged treescape is maintained in the Meadows, and they will be planted in a layout similar to the planting carried out 130-150 years ago.

The newly planted trees will replace 18 trees that need to be felled because they are over-mature, suppressed and diseased. The felling work started yesterday. This follows the first stage of tree replanting, when 75 trees were planted to replace 25 trees of poor health in March this year.

The City of Edinburgh Council maintains over 350,000 mature trees across the City. Councillor Ricky Henderson, Executive Member for Sport, Culture and Leisure said:  "The Council's tree replanting programme will add immense value to the Meadows area, a jewel in the city's green heritage.  The regeneration of Edinburgh's green spaces is an investment in the City's natural environment, not just for today but for the future."

City of Edinburgh Council press release,  19 December 2003.

February Meeting: The next meeting of the FoMBL will take place at 7pm on 2nd February 2004 at the Royal Hospital for Sick Children. The speaker will be Paul McAuley . Paul will be presenting a talk about ‘Monuments on the Meadows and Bruntsfield Links’’. This talk will be followed by a visit to the Hospital Mortuary Chapel which was decorated by Phoebe Traquair.

Signage : The FoMBL have been working together with the City of Edinburgh Culture and Leisure Department and the Paul Hogarth Company on five signs that will be placed at various places in the Meadows and links. Designers from the Paul Hogarth Company will give a short presentation of the signage plans after the talk by Paul McAuley

Annual General Meeting: This will be held on Monday 7 June at 7.30 (note later start time) at the Catholic Chaplaincy, 24 George Square. There will be a chance to tour the chaplaincy centre after a talk by Derek Christie about “Bryophytes in the Southside”.

Tree News: On 17th November all four Tree Wardens from the community groups which have an interest  in the Meadows and Bruntsfield Links met with Keith Logie, the Edinburgh Council officer responsible for the trees, for a walk around the park. The idea was for us to learn more about the trees and their problems and future. It was also a great opportunity, the first one we'd had, for all four
of us Wardens to meet up and get to know one another. Many people will know or have noticed that there are several problems with the trees, and will have seen that felling has been taking place. Especially, the large sycamore opposite Leamington Terrace has been removed along with its railings. Sadly, in August the tree was 80% defoliated, and has since died. Plans exist for it to be replaced with a large *
Quercus robur (common oak). The recent felling phase is now coming to an end, and includes the removal of tree stumps. The next planting phase is due to start in February or March. Original planting of many of the large trees in the Meadows took place 130 to 150 years ago, so some of the trees have simply reached the end of their lives, are becoming weak and hazardous and must be removed. Others are victims of disease. Hawthorn fireblight and Dutch elm disease will be recognised by most people. Removal of rings of bark that many people will have noticed is an attempt to stop the spread of disease from tree to tree via the roots, as is the removal of bark from what remains of the stumps before they are taken away. Removal of the trees showing the disease has been completed, but some surviving elms on the west links may already be infected. Sadly the human presence has caused the death of many trees with newly planted trees being broken.

 One large patch beside Warrender Park Terrace has been poisoned by a chemical someone has dumped there, and already three mature trees have been lost as a result! Mowing continues to be a major hazard for the mature trees. Strimmers can remove a ring of bark from saplings if they are not  protected, but older trees may also be damaged by mowers circling the trunk, constantly damaging the roots emerging at soil level around the tree. Meadows trees damaged in this way may look healthy but have to be removed since the trunk splits mean they can no longer support themselves. Inappropriate planting in the past has also caused problems, trees have been planted to directly under others, and inappropriate species chosen. Fortunately, many of the lost trees, and poorly planned plantings will be repaired with the new replanting phase, and the beautiful multi-aged treescape, so valued, will be maintained.

 Tim Puntis committee member

Quartermile Good Neighbours Relations Group: Representatives of FoMBL meet every two months with Quartermile and the main news is that just before Christmas, the Scottish Executive gave permission for the Quartermile development to proceed. The Quartermile Newletter will be distributed at the February meeting but anyone wishing copies can contact the Chairman at 229-0948 (evening and weekends)

Tree Labels and Bird Boxes: We hope to raise funds to label trees and help will be needed in putting up these labels once the funds are raised. Anyone interested in volunteering for this task should contact the Tree Warden, Mike Walsh at 667 1708.

Bird boxes have been proposed for the Meadows and Links and the RSPB and the Council are keen to help. The RSPB have proposed that a project for about 12 boxes go ahead, as it could then lead to a bigger project.  The FoMBL has been asked to help cover the cost of raw materials and local RSPB members, and
possibly the local Woodcraft folk would actually make the boxes. Suggestions are welcome! FoMBL. 
FoMBL Committee members and Tree Warden, Southside Community Council

Bryophytes in the Southside: At the June meeting of the Friends, Derek Christie will give an illustrated talk about the mosses and liverworts (and other things) he found in the Southside during his recent Millennium award project.

Proposed Increase in Membership Fees: At the Committee Meeting on January 9, it was suggested that the annual subscription be increased from £2.00 to £3.00 per year due to the increased costs of running meetings and producing and posting the Newsletter three times a year.

This proposal will be more fully discussed at the AGM in June but any suggestions that members may have regarding raising funds for the FoMBL are welcome!

We Welcome: correspondence, comments or articles in this Newsletter. The deadline for the next Newsletter is the end of May.


Short-Life Working Group for Meadows and Bruntsfield Links

14 OCTOBER 2003

Present:- Councillors Henderson (Convener), Cairns and Wigglesworth; Hamish McKenzie (Friends of Meadows/Links); Herbert Coutts (Director), Jim McKay Ian Hay and Ron Tulloch (all Culture and Leisure Department); Cath McKenzie (PA to Councillor Henderson) and Jane Lockhart (Corporate Services).

 The minute of the Working Group of 24 June 2003 was approved as a correct record.

 Programme of Works October 2003-March 2004

 Herbert Coutts reported that the Programme of Works for the Meadows and Bruntsfield Links described the works currently underway or about to start. There was some discussion on the replacement of chain link fencing and it was confirmed that knee-high railings had been erected at the north of the site, replacements continuing until the end of March 2004. In response to a question on tree and stump removal, Jim McKay confirmed that trees and stumps could be removed quite easily using the appropriate machinery.  He added that 70 out of the 75 trees planted in 2002 had survived the weather and other conditions and in the next two years the planned tree-planting programme would be complete. It was noted that Jim would meet Jo Scott on 15 October to discuss the proposed notice boards and it was anticipated that it would be necessary to request an extension of the grant to allow the work to be completed by 31 January 2004.  Herbert Coutts added that it was intended to investigate the possibility of adopting the style of the Meadows notice boards across the city and it was agreed that this would be unlikely to meet resistance from the Department of City Development.

Decision: To note the Programme of Works that will be carried out at the Meadows and Bruntsfield Links from October 2003 to March 2004.

 Magnet Play Area

Outline Proposals

Ron Tulloch, Technical Manager, Culture and Leisure Department, explained the proposals for a magnet play area, to serve visitors to the Meadows as well as residents, on the site of the East Meadows bowling greens. The development would comprise 3 areas, for toddlers, children aged 4-10 and older children up to early teen age and would provide a very wide range of appropriate play units to address the needs of all children, with greater play value than the play area at Saughton Park. The whole site would have level access, using rubber tiling and forest bark and would meet all the Disability Discrimination Act requirements. Herbert Coutts stressed that lengthy consultation would be carried out with users and other agencies and consideration would be given to fundraising to assist the cost of the project.  It would also be necessary for the proposals to comply with planning regulations. In response to a question on the containment and security of the play area, it was confirmed that the existing hedge barrier would remain and the old pavilion would be removed, leaving clear grass areas on the periphery.  It was confirmed that the public toilets would not be removed.

Concern was expressed that the area proposed for older children and teenagers was very close to residential buildings and it was agreed to investigate the feasibility of reconfiguring the proposals to make the area a reasonable distance from residential buildings.  It was also confirmed that the proposed play equipment would meet the standards required to ensure its safety and resistance to damage.

Herbert Coutts emphasised that the consultation process, which would last around a year, would highlight the concerns expressed.  He added that it was anticipated the total cost of the project would be £300,000, of which £160,000 was planned in the Capital Programme for the current financial year.  The extra costs could be achieved with fundraising and there was an option to carry out the work according to the financial resources available.

He added that it was hoped, in the longer term, to make changes to the existing toilet block, subject to advice from the Director of Environmental and Consumer Services. It was noted that Ron Tulloch would be willing to attend a future meeting of the Friends of the Meadows to discuss the proposals and submit the plan for their information. In response to a question from Councillor Wigglesworth on the future use of the existing toddlers’ play area to the west of the tennis courts, Ron Tulloch confirmed that the equipment had been in place for a number of years and consideration would be given to whether it should be replaced or removed completely.  If it were to be removed, the site would be returned to grass.  It was confirmed that the play area at the west of the Meadows would remain.

 Decision: To note that a further report would be submitted to the Working Group at the end of the public consultation process.

 The Clerk to invite the Director of Environmental and Consumer Services to attend the next meeting of the Working Group.

 Quartermile Development

Jim McKay reported that as far as the Section 75 Agreement was concerned, the developers had allocated £20,000 for tree planting and further discussions would take place with City Development on the matter of laying a metal ‘stencil’ to identify cycling and non-cycling areas.  The landscaping of the area from the old Royal Infirmary would include trees, resurfacing of paths, lighting and sett edging.  A landscape plan and programme of works would be prepared for the junction Middle Meadow Walk for consideration.

It was also anticipated that Quartermile would uplight columns at the top of Middle Meadow Walk/Leven Terrace and Meadow Place subject to the agreement of the World Heritage Trust and Historic Scotland.  It was agreed that it would be preferable for all the lighting columns to be of a standard design and Jim McKay confirmed that the developers would endeavour to replicate the lamps within the development to ensure consistency. He also confirmed that the development was due for completion in 2008, with an agreement that the developer would continue communication with the Council on the matter.

In response to a question from Hamish McKenzie on the provision of a kiosk, Herbert Coutts confirmed that the provision of kiosks in central Edinburgh was currently under investigation, subject to the restrictions placed upon their position e.g. Princes Street Gardens etc.

Decision: To note the current position.

Chain Link Fence Removal

Bruntsfield Links

Jim McKay reported that it was intended to remove the chain link fencing at the former putting green and the children’s play area replace it with knee-high railings if necessary.  It was also intended to remove the concrete pillars behind the Golf Tavern and instal knee-high railings in their place.  These replacements would be required to meet the recommendations of the consultant. Research had been carried out into ascertaining the type of railings originally in place at Marchmont Road, however the cost of replicating these would be too high for now.  It was, however, recognised that there was a need to replace the existing railings because of their poor state of repair. It was also intended to obtain estimates for the work required at Leven Terrace, Lonsdale Terrace and the east end of Melville Drive. Herbert Coutts suggested that the feasibility of submitting a Lottery application for the project be investigated.

Decision: To note the current position.

 Events and Parking 2004

A list of main events held in the Meadows during the summer of 2003 was tabled. It was agreed that the consistently good weather during the summer meant the site had not suffered any lasting damage. There was some discussion on the circumstances in which entertainers required to stay on-site overnight i.e. fairground operators and their families.  Touring artists, for example The Lady Boys of Bangkok, required only their security staff to stay on-site and it was agreed that leases would be amended to reflect this. Concern was expressed at the additional traffic generated by visitors to the European Culture Tent and it was agreed that sufficient steps be taken to emphasise specific areas of occupation by providing a ‘footprint’ plan. Councillor Wigglesworth stated that there was a problem with diesel fumes generated at some of the summer events and suggested that sufficient power points be provided, as was the case on the Continent.

Decision:To note that the matter be monitored.

 Cricket Pavilion

Concern was once again expressed at the increasing number of cars being parked on the Meadows, particularly at the Cricket Pavilion.  Ian Hay confirmed that all the users had been informed that only one cricket club car was permitted.

Decision:To note the latest position.

 Designated Jogging Areas

Jim McKay reported that discussions had been held with local running clubs to ascertain the best surface to be used for designated jogging areas.  He added that the intention was to lay the surface eastwards from the Cricket Pavilion.

  Use of the Meadows

There was some discussion on the criteria to be used when allowing organisations to operate in the Meadows.  A particular religious organisation was cited and Herbert Coutts confirmed that a condition of their permission was that there would be no advertising outside their tent: this condition had been complied with.  There was, however, concern expressed at the behaviour of the participants and it was confirmed that during the organisation’s one-week stay, there had been 5 telephone complaints.

Herbert Coutts reiterated the Council’s policy of being inclusive within the limit of the law and warned against taking a decision to ban a particular group as this could be legally challenged.

 Pavilion - Refurbishment

Herbert Coutts confirmed that a Confirmation Order applied to the pavilion in question, however there was a possibility that it could be painted in the short-term.

 Date of Next Meeting

Tuesday 17 February 2004 .


We Need New Members: Do you know of anyone who is interested in the Meadows and Bruntsfield Links? Why not ask them along to our meeting on February 2nd. It only costs £2.00 to join!


Proposed Magnet Play Area, East Meadows:

Play is a key element in how children learn to assess their own abilities and make personal risk assessments. The Magnet Play Area proposed for East Meadows offers a stimulating environment that is free from unacceptable risk, while providing a challenge to children and building their confidence in their physical and mental abilities.

The design offers a holistic approach to include, planting , and surfacing to complement the play experience by providing a variety of colours and textures. Seating for children and adults, including picnic facilities, is integral to the design as is open free play space. The range of play on offer includes toddler, junior and senior with challenging activities appropriate to the age group, offering a wider more specialised choice of equipment than a standard neighbourhood play area.

City of Edinburgh Council Culture and Leisure


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