Mike Scott: Colinton is united against split

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In England, “guddle” means to try to catch fish with your hands – something only the more optimistic anglers might try in the Water of Leith.

But, to us, a “guddle” usually refers to a state of confusion, or disorder. A person can be in a guddle. Organisations can definitely be in a guddle. “Guddling” means to work in a careless, untidy, confused, messy way. We use the word as a criticism.

The Local Government Boundary Commission for Scotland (LGBCS) is a perfect example of how the word might be used.

The guddle begins with the commission’s proposal that Edinburgh needs five more city councillors, one of them being in Pentland Hills ward. Forgive my cynicism, but doesn’t that idea fly in the face of reason at a time when all aspects of public services are under pressure, when austerity is an ever more frequently used word? Do we need more councillors or do we need more staff in our schools? You probably don’t need to think too deeply about that one.

Pentland Hills ward then needs to have extra voters to justify the increased number of councillors. LGBCS proposes to use the Water of Leith as an arbitrary ward boundary, taking part of the community out of Colinton and neatly splitting the 900-year-old conservation village in half. The commission’s proposals even move the parish church out of Colinton and into Pentland Hills ward, joining it with Clovenstone, Wester Hailes and Juniper Green.

Local residents, the community council, Colinton Amenity Association, the local history and literary societies and Colinton Community Conservation Trust are united in objecting to the proposals. Hundreds of flyers have been distributed, urging residents to object to the proposals.

Ironically, the proposals fly in the face of Edinburgh City Council’s support for what it terms “natural neighbourhoods” and the Scottish Government’s attempts to knit communities together.

The plans would mean that Robert Louis Stevenson’s historic connections with Colinton – recently reflected in a statue and poetry trail – would start in Colinton and end outside it. Going even further back, the proposals ignore the fact that, more than 900 years ago, Colinton grew up as a small community which expanded along both sides of the Water of Leith, not just one side.

Colinton is concerned. And many are writing or going online to contact the Boundary Commission and object to this guddle.

To keep Colinton a community.

Mike Scott is a member of Colinton Community Council