Morningside tops Edinburgh happiness league
IT'S got the shops, it's got the parks, it's got the schools - and it's got the buses into town.
Morningside emerges from the latest “happiness” survey as one of the areas of the Capital where people are most satisfied with both the city and their neighbourhood as places to live.
The Edinburgh People Survey found an overall 94 per cent of residents across the city rated the Capital a good place to stay.
A ward-by-ward breakdown shows an amazing 99 per cent of people in Meadows/Morningside and Fountainbridge/Craiglockhart said they were satisfied with Edinburgh as a place to live. And 98 per cent in both wards said the same about their own neighbourhood.
Catriona Scott, 25, grew up in Morningside and moved back to the area six months ago after some years away. She loves it.
“It’s fairly central with public transport easily accessible, but it also has lots of parks within walking distance – Braidburn Park, the Hermitage, Morningside Park – which is great for dog-walkers and people with kids. You don’t have to jump in a car to get out of the city.
“There are so many shops – and at the moment the banks and the post office, though we don’t know how long that will last – so if people don’t want to venture too far from where they live they just need to pop out.
“And there are lovely bakeries and lots of different places – it’s a reason in itself for just wandering around.”
Ms Scott, who works as a business travel consultant, went to South Morningside Primary and Boroughmuir High Schools. “They were brilliant,” she says. “I think we’re very lucky with our schools.”
And she says Morningside also has a “good mix” of people. “Even in our street there are people who have been here for years and there are a lot of young families moving in. Everyone gets on. I think there is a real sense of community around the place.”
Morningside Community Council secretary Steve Gregory has lived in the area since 1974 and says he wouldn’t want to live anywhere else.
“I love Edinburgh,” he says. “It’s a very green city – lots of green space. It’s compact - you can get pretty well anywhere you want by bus very easily.
“Morningside has all of that and also very good schools, which must be a big factor for young people with families.”
Retired insurance man Charles Black, 73, who has lived in Morningside for 46 years, lists the area’s green spaces, shops, buses and easy access to the hills among his reasons for being a satisfied resident.
When it comes to council services, he is also happy to be positive. “The council does have a difficult task – you win some, you lose some, but at the end of the day they are doing their best.”
And he says when he contacted the authority recently, he felt his inquiry had been handled well.
Melanie Main, Green councillor for Meadows/Morningside, says: “Knowing the area as well as I do I am not surprised people here almost unanimously agree that both Edinburgh and our part of south Edinburgh are good places in which to live.
“From our parks and green spaces to our fantastic buildings and community organisations, there is much to relish.”
But she points out fewer than half of residents feel they have a say over local issues and services. “With glaring examples like the trashing of Craighouse in the face of thousands of local objections, it is small wonder.”
Over in Fountainbridge/Craiglockhart, software engineer Daniel Cairns, 30, extols the Capital and his corner of it is the “ideal” place for him.
He describes how he came over to Edinburgh for a year from Germany, where he grew up as part of an army family.
“I came as a student and fell in love with the city,” he says.
“I decided this is where I wanted to live, so I did my masters in Edinburgh and I was absolutely over the moon when I got my flat in Watson Crescent.
“What I love about this area is it’s close to the city centre and all these wonderful areas – if I want to shop I can just pop round to Dalry or if I want a nice cup of coffee I can go to Bruntsfield.
“Even though it’s a city, Edinburgh feels like a town. Everyone is so friendly you immediately feel at home and of course there’s the architecture.
“I’ve had lots of friends visit from other countries and no-one ever has a bad word to say about Edinburgh.”
Council leader Andrew Burns, who represents Fountainbridge/Craiglockhart, is delighted at the survey findings.
“It doesn’t surprise me at all that satisfaction levels with Edinburgh and Craiglockhart as a place to live are so high.
“Where I live, in Shandon, is just under two miles from the city centre but it is very well connected by public transport and road routes and the canal which I cycle along every day virtually right into the city centre. So residents have easy access to all the city has to offer.”
He acknowledges disparities in the survey findings across the city, but points out even the lowest figures were extremely high – like Forth ward, where 82 per cent were satisfied with Edinburgh as a place to live and 80 per cent with their own area.
Cllr Burns says: “It is a reminder that while Edinburgh in general has a very high quality of life it does have its challenges and we need to be upfront about that.
“We do have 20 per cent of children in families who are technically below the poverty line. And in a city where there is also significant wealth that is not acceptable and we need to keep on tackling that situation.
“The figures on people feeling safe and welcome in the city were extremely high and against the background of all that has happened with the UK-wide vote to leave the EU I’m reassured to see that Edinburgh remain an extremely welcoming environment for people to bring up their families and for new residents to come and stay.”
Deputy Lord Provost Steve Cardownie, who is SNP councillor for Forth ward, agrees that even 82 per cent satisfaction recorded there is still a high approval rating. “Donald Trump would be delighted to get anything like that,” he said. “He’s getting about half of that in America.”
He says there will always be a variation between wards and always room for improvement,
“Forth is an area where there is significant unemployment and that will affect how people see themselves and their self-esteem.
“Also, Morningside has different kinds of shops and bars and restaurants and bus services that get you into town in ten minutes. It could be that living in the north of Edinburgh you feel more on the periphery and there are fewer of these small shops and restaurants.
“In Morningside there is more disposable income and people are able to participate in different aspects of the city’s life more than people in Forth who don’t have the same level of income.
“We need to look at council services and see if they can be improved, but the council is helping to provide positive destinations for young people when they leave school – training or further education or apprenticeships or jobs. We have to make sure we build affordable homes so people have the housing they need for themselves and their families.
“And we need to redouble our efforts to make sure peripheral areas do see themselves as an integral part of the city and able to take a full part in the life of the city.”
TOMORROW: what you think about public transport, 20mph, and the state of the roads