COUNCIL chiefs have halted controversial plans to close Leith Registrar’s Office and ordered a public consultation on the proposal.
The move comes after a petition to save the office attracted almost 3000 signatures in just one day.
The Evening News revealed on Wednesday that the office in Ferry Road, part of the complex including the library and Leith Theatre, was to be shut as part of the council’s cost-saving property rationalisation. But Edinburgh North and Leith SNP MSP Deidre Brock condemned the move and said there had been no consultation with local people or even with councillors.
Council officials said the closure did not need to go to any committee for approval.
The office was due to close at the end of October, although weddings already booked were to be honoured until the end of the year.
But after Ms Brock launched a petition to save it, the council said the office would not close in October as planned and nothing would happen until a local consultation was carried out.
Ms Brock’s petition calls on the council to keep the office open and argues it was part of the settlement Leith got from Edinburgh when the two merged in 1920.
She said: “Council officials decided to shut Leith Registrar’s without even consulting councillors, let alone the people of Leith. That is simply not good enough.”
She said the office was “part and parcel of Leith’s identity”, marking the big moments in life for Leithers. “While there is talk of keeping a separate Leith register in the City Chambers, heading up town to register births and deaths is not the same. Communities like Leith must be protected from this sort of civic vandalism.”
One online supporter, Heather Larnach, commented: “Such a vital part of our lives in Leith. We were married there and have sat in the office to report our family deaths. It has always been a source of comfort and pride to do this near our home, the place of our heart.”
Rhonda Wallace said: “Leith Registrar’s Office is an integral part of Leith’s history and people’s identity. Too much has already been stolen from Leith.”
A council spokeswoman said: “We believe there are benefits to the relocation of the service to a bespoke office in the City Chambers. However, we appreciate the significance of Leith Registrar’s office to the local community and that further consultation is required to gauge the concerns of the community regarding these changes and the impact they will have. No changes to service provision will take place until this consultation concludes.”