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Updated: 2 hours 51 min ago

Firearms range approved in Hardengreen Business Park

Mon, 25/03/2019 - 15:12

Written by Local Democracy Reporter, Marie Sharp

An indoor firearms range has been given the go-ahead just yards from a college campus and residential housing in Midlothian.

The shooting range will be used by operators Land Warrior Airsoft to test their weapons, as well as being available for private bookings.

The company, which already operates out of one unit at Hardengreen Business Park, Dalkeith, is one of the leading suppliers of airsoft weapons and plans to open the range in an adjoining unit.

It became a registered firearms dealer two years ago and its agents told Midlothian Council planners that it expected the range to be used potentially by Police Scotland “as required”.

It will also be available for private gun owners for “testing and zeroing purposes”.

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In details provided to planners, the company said the range would operate between 10am and 9pm and expected the bulk of visits after 5pm, with an estimate of up to five customers a day during the week, doubling at weekends.

It plans to take on up to four more members of staff once the range is established.

The business park lies next to Edinburgh College’s Midlothian Campus on Dalhousie Road.

Developers told Midlothian Council planners the range would be locked from the inside when in use and all appointments pre-booked.

They added that security was already high on the site, with CCTV and a door entry system built in line with National Rifle Association guidelines.

The local authority’s planning officers have granted permission for the unit to be converted from commercial purposes to what was described in the application as a “multipurpose indoor shooting range” associated with the airsoft business.

A report by officers raised concerns about the impact of the noise from the range and odours on neighbouring businesses and residences.

However, it included conditions in its planning approval to address the issues, including demands for suitable insulation and ventilation.

Edinburgh College’s Midlothian Campus is described as one of the most advanced technology teaching centres in Scotland, including on its premises state-of-the-art facilities, including an oil production platform simulator and giant solar meadow.

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Categories: Community News

3G, Councillor Milligan, Penicuik havoc and ScotRail

Mon, 25/03/2019 - 15:02

Christine Grahame MSP writes her monthly column for Midlothian View

PAYFC (Penicuik Athletic Youth Football Club) petition for the pitch at Penicuik playing fields goes before the Council’s Petitions committee the week beginning 18th March. By the time you read this we will know how it fared. When you consider that 350 young people use its facilities with over 50 volunteers keeping the whole thing going then it should be a no-brainer for the council to replace that awful pitch.

Louise Shepherd (PAYFC’s development officer) has my full support from the outset. Add to that other young Midlothian musicians are keeping up the pressure for music tuition and may yet bring a petition forward then the council is being told loud and clear that the young people of Midlothian are on the move.

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Does anyone know if Councillor Derek Milligan has access to e-mails? Does he know how to use them?

I need to know because I have had no response whatsoever to my first asking him when he last attended council leaders’ meetings at COSLA to put the case for Midlothian funding. I have written again and hope that someone somewhere will take the trouble to answer, even if he can’t or won’t. At the very least it is impolite and at worst unprofessional because I am not going away.

Penicuik havoc. Be ready for this as Penicuik Town Centre is closing on 23rd and 24th March and again on the weekend of 6th and 7th April. This is to avoid closing the road’s on Mother’s day and impacting on local businesses although this is small comfort given all the disturbance losing parking. I have put details on my Facebook pages.

ScotRail. I am only too aware of the chaos cancellations at the weekend and the overcrowding which drives me to despair as a user and one who campaigned since 1999 for the line to be restored. I am raising the issue with the Government and with Alex Hynes Chief Executive of ScotRail.

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Categories: Community News

Borders Railway raised at First Minister’s Questions

Fri, 22/03/2019 - 10:40

Christine Grahame, MSP for Midlothian South Tweeddale and Lauderdale, has raised recent performance issues on Borders Railway with the First Minister, calling on Scotrail Abellio to be told it’s “in the last chance saloon”. This comes in the wake of multiple cancellations and delays to services recently, in addition to ongoing problems with overcrowding.

The MSP, who campaigned from her election in 1999 for the reinstatement of the line, questioned whether current ScotRail franchise holder Abellio are up to the job given the continuing issues with performance. The Scottish Government has issued two formal warnings to it since December 2018, meaning it must put remedial plans in place to resolve the issues or risk losing the franchise, although these are yet to be made public.

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Commenting Ms Grahame said:

“As one who campaigned from the moment I entered Parliament in 1999 to have the line reinstated I am furious at the failures of Scotrail Abellio. On Borders Railway there has been a service meltdown. It was a breakdown too on the Borders railway on Sunday – the cancellations have continued since then.

“The improvement notices have been issued but the second notice that was served requires that a remedial plan be delivered soon. The plan might be delivered, but it will not deliver trains—plans do not drive trains. Is not it time that the Scottish Government told ScotRail Abellio that it is in the last chance saloon? I certainly think so, and so do my constituents.

“The line can be a real asset to the area as we have seen already, but these benefits are only realised when it is functional and reliable – there must be real action on overcrowding and cancellations as a result of staffing issues. If performance can’t be improved it is time for Abellio to go.”

To view the question being asked at FMQs then click HERE.

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Categories: Community News

£12m court ruling against Midlothian Council

Thu, 21/03/2019 - 19:06

The 64 council homes on Newbyres Crescent and Gore Avenue in Gorebridge being demolished in 2016

Midlothian Council Leader, Councillor Derek Milligan said he is “profoundly disappointed and frustrated” by yesterday’s Court of Session decision to dismiss the council’s £12 million legal claim against one of two companies advising on a failed Gorebridge housing development.

Sixty four council homes on Newbyres Crescent and Gore Avenue in Gorebridge were demolished in 2016 after elevated levels of carbon dioxide (CO2) were found in some of the properties in 2014.

The council had been pursuing consulting engineers Blyth & Blyth for costs in excess of £12 million on the grounds the company had not carried out proper investigations of the site.

However, in a written judgement issued at the Court of Session on Wednesday, Judge Lord Doherty ruled as Midlothian Council raised the action against the firm in September 2018, more than five years after incurring expenditure (reference here is made to the Supreme Court ruling in November 2017, see point 14 of the ruling), the action should be dismissed.

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Councillor Milligan said: “While our focus has always been the health and safety of our residents, we have a duty to pursue the public pound and to try and recover this loss.

“To say I’m disappointed and frustrated by the court’s ruling is something of an understatement. The court’s decision effectively means that the council ought to have commenced proceedings before we knew we had grounds for doing so.

“Indeed, we had effectively run out of time to pursue an action before anyone even knew there was a problem with the design of the development. This seems very unfair.

“How could we raise an action in court before we even realised there was a problem? We feel, therefore, the court ruling is harsh. We believe that the consequences will be far reaching for those seeking redress for defective buildings.

“While we understand the legislation is currently being revised in Scotland, this comes too late to help us.

“We will be taking further legal advice on how to proceed and if we have grounds for an appeal.”

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Categories: Community News

Leadburn Junction improvement pressure

Thu, 21/03/2019 - 15:53

Written by Local Democracy Reporter, Marie Sharp

Fresh pressure will be put on Midlothian Council to improve a fatal junction after neighbouring local authority, Scottish Borders Council, backed the plan.

Leadburn Junction, which lies between Penicuik and Peebles, has been the focus of several campaigns for improvements over the last 15 years; however, calls for a roundabout have so far been resisted by the local authority.

A motion due to be brought to a council meeting next week will call for action to be taken after councillors on neighbouring Scottish Borders Council supported a similar motion last month.

The motion by Conservative Councillor Andrew Hardie calls for officers to engage with Scottish Borders Council officers to bring forward plans to install a roundabout before summer recess.

The junction lies south of Penicuik at a spot where the A701, A703 and A6094 converge.

It is estimated around 11,000 vehicles use the junction every day, many travelling to and from the Borders.

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Midlothian Council said that it reviewed accident hot spots each April to prioritise work in its area and the most recent report on Leadburn Junction said there had only been one serious injury crash and two less serious ones over a three-year period.

In 2010, a pensioner died in a two-vehicle smash at the junction, prompting calls for improvements.

The following year, a woman was left with spinal injuries after a four-car pile up at the junction.

However, the death of two people in a crash near the junction in 2016 were ruled by police not to have been connected to the road layout.

The local authority has introduced a series of improvements at the junction in recent years, including reducing the speed from 60mph to 40mph.

Responding to calls for improvements to the junction in January, a council spokesperson said:

“Midlothian Council will continue to monitor this junction and report any adverse changes, including any potential actions to elected members if required.”

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Categories: Community News

Midlothian funding down 4.4%

Thu, 21/03/2019 - 15:47

Figures from a new report from Audit Scotland has highlighted significant challenges for Midlothian Council including deprivation and core funding.

The ‘Local government in Scotland: Challenges and performance 2019’ highlighted changes in core funding for Scotland’s 32 local authorities and highlighted that ring-fenced funding, such as for social care and education, now makes up 69 per cent of council net expenditure which has squeezed output on other services:

“As a result, as we have previously reported, councils have made larger reductions to services other than education and social work. These include economic development, waste management and planning services, which are still important for maintaining the health, safety and wellbeing of residents.”

Particularly concerning was the report’s analysis of core funding in Midlothian Council which it highlighted had seen a 4.4 per cent reduction since 2013/14.

The analysis also underlined that deprivation remains an issue for Midlothian and noted that its non-working age population has risen.

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South Scotland MSP, Michelle Ballantyne, expressed her concerns with the report and highlighted that decreases in core funding impacts the provision of public services.

Michelle Ballantyne MSP commented:

“Despite being one of the fastest growing areas in Scotland, the SNP Government has cut core funding for Midlothian Council over the past five years.

“With our population growing, Midlothian needs more support from the Scottish Government to ensure that our public services are not hurt. Sadly, this has not been the case.

“This report underlines that core council funding has fallen by 4.4 per cent, which has had a significant impact on the provision of local public services.

“Ring-fenced funding for social care and education increasing is part of the issue, despite being ‘a priority’ of the Scottish Government, its allocated funding does not seem its public ambitions, leaving councils to pick up the pieces.

“The Scottish Government needs to take a new approach in order to ensure that local residents get a fairer funding settlement.”

The full Audit Scotland report can be read HERE.

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Categories: Community News

Midlothian’s best places to eat and drink

Wed, 20/03/2019 - 12:19

More than 30 businesses across East Lothian and Midlothian are celebrating after reaching the finals of the esteemed Mid & East Lothian Food & Drink Awards 2019 following applications across all categories.
Organised by the Mid & East Lothian Chamber of Commerce, the awards are open to food and drink outlets, providers and producers in East Lothian & Midlothian.

East Lothian and Midlothian have an excellent base for growth in food, drink, agriculture and seafood, with its wide range of primary produce, new businesses, big name brands and international connections. The food, drink and agriculture sector is a significant part of the region’s economy.

This year’s award categories include Best Eatery in a Visitor Attraction, Takeaway of the Year, Café / Tea Room of the Year, Pub of the Year, Restaurant of the Year, Excellence in Customer Service, Most Innovative Product, Local Producer of the Year and Commitment to Developing Young Talent.

The awards ceremony will be held on Wednesday 27th March at Eskmills Venue, Musselburgh. Ticket is £54pp including VAT and can be purchased online at HERE

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Chamber Chief Executive, George Archibald said: “The quality of entries to this year’s Midlothian & East Lothian Food & Drink Awards was incredibly high, which made the judging process challenging, but enjoyable.

“It was great to see the strength and diversity of businesses flourishing across the two regions and we believe the finalists reflect the very best East Lothian & Midlothian have to offer. Congratulations again to everyone that entered and I’d like to wish all the finalists the very best of luck.”

The full list of finalists are:

Best Eatery in a Visitor Attraction (sponsored by Royal Bank of Scotland):

  •          Archerfield Walled Garden
  •          Bistro at the Brunton
  •          Saltire Hospitality at Roslin Chapel – The Chapel Café
  •          Restoration Yard
  •          Secret Herb Garden

Takeaway of the Year (sponsored by Costco)

  •          The Bombay Spice
  •          Dino’s of Loanhead
  •          The Filling Station
  •          The Lobster Shack

Café / Tea Room of the Year (sponsored by Midlothian Innovation Centre)

  •          Giovanni Bistro
  •          Lewis & Clarke Artisan Kitchen
  •          The Loft Café & Bakery
  •          Soutra Coffee House

Pub of the Year (sponsored by East Lothian Food & Drink Ltd)

  •          Laird and Dog
  •          The Nether Abbey
  •          Royal Mackintosh Hotel
  •          Tweeddale Arms Hotel

Restaurant / Bistro of the Year (sponsored by Business Gateway – Midlothian)

  •          Buenos Aires
  •          The Campaign Room Bistro at Carberry Tower
  •          The Paper Mill
  •          The Radhuni
  •          Osteria
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Excellence in Customer Service (sponsored by HR Dept Edinburgh and the Lothians)

  •          Dunmuir Hotel
  •          Gigi’s Italian Restaurant
  •          Hickory
  •          Saltire Hospitality

Local Producer of the Year (sponsored by Shawfair Park)

  •          Ross’s of Edinburgh Ltd
  •          The Spice Witch
  •          Stewart Brewing Ltd
  •          William Robertson & Sons Ltd

Most innovative New Product (sponsored by CATAX)

  •          Aye Pickled
  •          MaRobert’s
  •          The Old Curiosity Distillery
  •          The Rocketeer Restaurant

Commitment to Developing Young Talent (sponsored by DYW Edinburgh, Midlothian & East Lothian)

  •          Borthwick Castle
  •          Carberry Tower Mansion House & Estate
  •          Nether Abbey Hotel
  •          Stewart Brewing Ltd

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Categories: Community News

Penicuik Athletic boss makes plea for pitch

Tue, 19/03/2019 - 15:49

Tony Begg, Penicuik Athletic and the youth club’s development officer Louise Shepherd

Written by Local Democracy Reporter, Marie Sharp

An investment of just 24 pence a day is all that is being asked to support the health and fitness of children in Penicuik, a football chief has told councillors.

Tony Begg, manager of Penicuik Athletic, was speaking as he backed the club’s youth movement’s demands for their pitch to be recarpeted at a cost of £250,000.

The campaign to have the pitch, used by Penicuik Athletic Youth Club, resurfaced has already drawn support from Scotland international Claire Emslie, who grew up playing there, local politicians, Police Scotland and the town’s medical centre.

Mr Begg revealed that the adult teams at the club no longer played on what had been their training grounds because they had “lost confidence” in the surface.

They now travel to Peffermill in Edinburgh to train before their weekly matches.

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And he warned the youth teams, who still currently use it, would also have to move further afield or see their numbers fall unless urgent actions is taken.

He told a meeting of Midlothian Council’s petitions committee “the pitch is done”.

Mr Begg urged councillors to find the money to recarpet the surface pointing out that a recentUEFA report had estimated grassroots football investment in Scotland brought a return of £1.25billion to society and over £762million in health benefits.

He said: “There are 350 players under the age of 18 from our town. A £250,000 investment over eight years is £89 per year for each of these children and equates to 24 pence a day.

“I am asking if you are prepared to invest 24p per day in the children of Penicuik to keep them healthy and active.”

And he pointed out that current charges for using the pitch, which are about gto increase, brought in an annual revenue of £33,000 so the investment would “wash its face”.

A petition calling on the local authority to resurface the pitch, which is 12 years old, was launched by Penicuik Athletics Youth Club (PAYC) club development officer Louise Shepherd.

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At the meeting yesterday councillors were told it had received nearly 600 signatures on line and 88 on paper.

Among those backing the petition is Scotland international Claire Emslie, who grew up playing on the pitch, which is across from Penicuik High School.

The council’s own facilities manager Garry Sheret confirmed the pitch needed to be resurfaced.

He said: “It is compressed to the point that it is hard and some areas are bare of turf.”

The committee agreed to pass the petition to its director of resources to look at funding again and report back to council before it breaks for recess in June.

They also said it would be included in next year’s capital budget as a proposal.

Following the meeting Mr Begg said: “It is encouraging that the councillors recognise the value football has to the wider community and that they are going to inlcude it in the budget for next year.

“It is all about keeping the pressure on.”

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Categories: Community News

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