Plan to split Colinton in two

Councillor Jason Rust, left, with Mike Scott, David Bewsey, Bill Alexander and Pam Wardell. Picture: Lesley Martin
Councillor Jason Rust, left, with Mike Scott, David Bewsey, Bill Alexander and Pam Wardell. Picture: Lesley Martin
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LOOKING for Colinton Parish Church? Or trying to find Colinton cemetery? You might think the obvious place to start is Colinton – but not for much longer, if officials have their way.

Under controversial proposals for boundary changes in the Capital, a whole series of Colinton landmarks – including the Robert Louis Stevenson statue, war memorial and the offices of the Colinton Community Conservation Trust – would no longer officially be in Colinton.

Even the “Welcome to Colinton” sign would be moved into the neighbouring ward.

Residents and community leaders have launched a campaign against the changes 
proposed by the Local Government Boundary Commission for Scotland, which would come into effect for the next council elections in 2017.

The changes would transfer the Hailes and Spylaw areas of Colinton from the current Colinton/Fairmilehead ward into Pentland Hills next door, which includes Clovenstone, Wester Hailes and Juniper Green.

Mike Scott, of Colinton Community Council, said the commission proposals went against 900 years of history by using the Water of Leith as an arbitrary boundary, splitting the conservation village in half.

He said: “This community grew up over all that time around the Water of Leith. To use that same piece of water as a way of dividing the community seems perverse.”

He said the approach seemed in conflict with the council’s emphasis on “natural neighbourhoods”, used to plan services and shape policies.

And he said it was “bizarre and daft” that the parish church, cemetery and war memorial would no longer be in Colinton.

The proposed boundary changes are part of a shake-up which will also see the number of councillors in Edinburgh increased from 58 to 63. Rather than create extra wards, some of the existing wards will elect four members instead of three.

Jason Rust, Tory councillor for Colinton/Fairmilehead, said people were angry about the proposed split.

“There’s incredulity at the idea Colinton Parish Church would no longer be in Colinton,” he said. “And if the ‘Welcome to Colinton’ sign in Gillespie Road was not officially Colinton either it would just cause a lot of confusion.

“The Robert Louis Stevenson statue, which was erected as a result of RLS’s association with Colinton and Swanston, and part of the RLS heritage trail championed and largely funded by Colinton Community Conservation Trust would also both be removed from the Colinton/Fairmilehead ward.”

He said the strong reaction from people on either side of the Water of Leith underlined how much of a community the area was.

“Colinton is a neighbourhood and community with a proud tradition and has a completely different feel to it from Clovenstone and Wester Hailes.

“There is a great deal of concern in the local community regarding this proposed split.”

Isabel Drummond-Murray, secretary to the commission, said a number of responses had been received about the way the boundary proposals affected Colinton.

She said: “We aware of these concerns and at the end of the consultation the commission will consider the responses received.”

ian.swanson@edinburghnews.com