TONY Harris, a founder member of the Grange Prestonfield Community Council, has taken up the post of chairman.
Born in Essex, Mr Harris, 82, spent his working life as a water engineer and moved to Edinburgh after retirement.
After national service, he worked first in local government in Dagenham, then for several different firms as a consulting engineer, based mainly in London, but often travelling to the Middle East, designing and managing projects for water supplies and sanitation schemes.
He retired almost 20 years ago and he and his wife, Angela, settled in Ipswich, Suffolk, where she worked as a psychologist.
They moved to Edinburgh around 2003, and Mr Harris soon became involved in the Craigmillar Park Association, a residents’ group covering an area from East Mayfield to Cameron Toll and from Mayfield Road to Dalkeith Road.
The association has a long record of involvement in planning applications and is waiting with interest to see what the future will be for the Royal Blind School buildings, which are up for sale.
Mr Harris has been secretary of the association for the past five or six years and is continuing in that post while taking on his latest role.
In 2007, he became a founder member of the Grange Prestonfield Community Council.
“We’re one of the more recent community councils,” he said. “There was a group of us interested in trying to kick it off and we did manage to get it going.
“While residents’ associations have an influence, a community council does have a statutory role in planning and that was one of the drivers, as well as trying to get involved with a slightly wider area of South Edinburgh.”
Mr Harris took responsibility for planning and transport matters on the community council, supporting the introduction of residents’ priority parking as distinct from the controlled parking zones which operate in other parts of the city.
“More recently, we have been supportive of the 20mph limit in residential streets, although I’m aware not everyone is,” he said. “And we have supported the bike corridor from King’s Buildings into the city centre.”
For the past five years, Mr Harris has been vice-chairman of the community council, but following the latest changes in membership, he took over as chairman last week.
He insists he views it as an interim appointment. “I had initially said I didn’t want to be chairman, but because there were a number of new members, I said I would do it and give them a chance to settle in and come forward later.”
Cameron Rose, Conservative councillor for Southside Newington, said Mr Harris was a stalwart of community organisations.