Portobello High in park supporters win poll

An artist's impression of how the new school in Portobello could look. Picture: comp
An artist's impression of how the new school in Portobello could look. Picture: comp
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supporters of Portobello’s proposed “school in the park” have swept the board in the community council elections.

All 14 newly elected members are understood to be in favour of the city council’s plans for a new high school in Portobello Park. A Bill is currently going through the Scottish Parliament to allow the council to build in the park following a court ruling against the authority last year.

Several prominent campaigners from Portobello For A New School (PFANS) were elected, including Sean Watters and Bob Jefferson, while former community council members who opposed building in Portobello Park lost their seats.

It was the first time an election, which saw a 14 per cent turnout, had been necessary for Portobello Community 
Council.

The biggest number of votes was polled by photographer Max Blinkhorn, an active member of the local sailing club and a staunch supporter of “the school on the park”.

Leading PFANS member Sean Watters, who was re-elected to the community council, said: “Six of those elected are involved with PFANS and I think all the members are now in favour of the school in the park. The old community council was theoretically neutral on the issue for a long time, but they made a lot of negative 
comments.”

Geoff Lynn, a new community councillor, said the results reflected the community view.

He said: “It’s a reminder if any was needed that the community is very much in favour of a new school and the majority is in favour of the council plan.”

He said some people had suggested the community council could become a single-issue body, but added: “I don’t think there is any danger of that. The people who have been elected know they are there to represent the views of the community on a range of issues.

“I would hope this election will help engender a more positive feeling about local politics.

“There have been concerns that the community council was perhaps not reflecting a positive image for the community. A lot of their representations were very negative, they were against a lot of developments. Many people would like to see a more positive thread coming from the community council.”

Two other areas also had elections for their community councils.

In Craigmillar there was a comeback for former city and regional councillor Paul Nolan and ally Patsy King, who were at the centre of a prolonged legal battle over their previous membership of the community council as appointed representatives in 2006.They were eventually stripped of their positions following a judicial review instigated by the city council and said to have cost taxpayers £60,000.

The pair, part of a wider group of community activists dubbed “the Craigmillar cabal”, were among the 16 declared elected to the community council. Turnout was 6.85 per cent.

Liberton saw a turnout of just over ten per cent in its election to choose 12 community councillors from 14 
candidates.

iswanson@edinburghnews.com