Heritage campaigner to step down

Marion Williams is stepping down. Picture; contributed
Marion Williams is stepping down. Picture; contributed
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THE director of Edinburgh’s heritage watchdog is stepping down after seven-and-a-half years in the job.

Marion Williams will leave the Cockburn Association next month to take up a new job in charge of fundraising and communications for Newcastle-based charity Children North East.

Ms Williams, 59, was appointed to the top job with the Cockburn in November 2009 after two-and-a-half years as development manager with Edinburgh’s One City Trust.

She said she had enjoyed her time in Edinburgh and was sorry to be leaving with the controversy over the future of the old Royal High School still unresolved.

But she said she would continue to be involved with the Ross Development Trust which is leading the bid to replace the Ross Bandstand in Princes Street Gardens and get the Ross Fountain flowing again.

She said she had been “really thrilled” to help secure the return of the ornate Forsyth sphere to the roof of Topshop on Princes Street.

She said: “I look up and see it glinting in the sunshine.”

She said the director’s job had been “all-absorbing”.

The Cockburn Association is responsible among other things for the annual Doors Open Day which sees thousands of people visiting buildings not normally open to the public.

“It’s a wrench to leave,” she said. “But it’s time.

“There are quite a few challenges I’m leaving for someone else to pick up – like the assault on the green belt and the kind of housing we’re getting. What we need is housing for young couples and people who, like me, cannot afford the rents in Edinburgh.

“But instead developers are being handed a charter to build what they want, where they want, to get their money.

“The heritage of the city is being lost with new buildings that could be anywhere in any part of the world. If they continue along that route Edinburgh will lose its unique value.

“The Cockburn has been around for about 140 years and it’s got another 140 and more ahead of it. The civic voice is incredibly important and the majority of people have some respect for it. It has been quite special to be doing that for seven years in Edinburgh.”

ian.swanson@edinburghnews.com