United we stand say angry Colinton voters

Colinton Parish Church is at risk of no longer being in Colinton. Picture: Lesley Martin

Colinton Parish Church is at risk of no longer being in Colinton. Picture: Lesley Martin

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CONTROVERSIAL plans to split Colinton in a shake-up of council wards has united the community in protest.

Finance worker Jenny Perry, who has never been involved in a campaign before, felt so strongly about the proposal she launched a petition in the streets around her home – and got 100 per cent support.

The 25-year-old wealth manager, who was born and bred in Colinton, said: “I’ve no political background whatsoever. I just felt really strongly about it.”

Under the proposed boundary changes, due to take effect for the 2017 council elections, Colinton would be divided, with key landmarks moved out.

Colinton Parish Church, Colinton cemetery, the war memorial and the Robert Louis Stevenson statue would all be relocated from Colinton/ Fairmilehead ward into next-door Pentland Hills.

Ms Perry and her dad John, a chartered surveyor, went round neighbours’ doors with the petition.

She said: “At first, I thought I would just do Gillespie Road, then when everyone signed, I decided to carry on and do the next one – so it went on, and 100 per cent of the people who came to the door signed it and said they wanted to remain in Colinton.

“It was such a strong result. No-one thought it was a good idea.”

Ms Perry said the proposed changes were not just about redrawing boundaries, but breaking up a community.

“Colinton is a nice place to live and there is a strong sense of community,” she said. “They all use the village shop, everyone seems to know each other.”

Ms Perry has now handed in her petition signed by 117 people from six roads.

A host of local organisations are objecting to the proposals from the Local Government Boundary Commission for Scotland.

Colinton community council said the changes would divide a “natural neighbourhood” as defined by the city council. It declared: “The people of Colinton are shocked and dismayed at this proposal to split their community apart.”

And Colinton Amenity Association warned that local ties to “all manner of community functions” would be broken if the changes were approved.

It added: “Colinton has been an identifiable community for 900 years and there are so many historical links across the community that it must make sense for all the residents of Colinton to be represented by the same city councillors.”

Former Lord Provost Eric Milligan – who has lived in the area for 40 years – has said using the Water of Leith as a dividing line is as “perverse as using the High Street to divide the Old Town”.

Colinton Conservative councillor Jason Rust said: “The petition when considered with all of the individual letters of objection from residents shows the strength of feeling in the local area against the proposed changes.

“There has been an amazing community-led campaign against the splitting of Colinton Village.

“Historic local ties and links, once severed will mean poorer representation, confusion and less effective democratic engagement.”

ian.swanson@edinburghnews.com