Edinburgh Accies youths denied voice in revamp bid

Back row, Fraser Miller, Mark Latta and James Gordon; fron, Callum Jones, Daniel Tomanek and Michael Hamilton Picture: Ian Rutherford
Back row, Fraser Miller, Mark Latta and James Gordon; fron, Callum Jones, Daniel Tomanek and Michael Hamilton Picture: Ian Rutherford
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The junior wing of Edinburgh Academicals had their request to make an impassioned plea supporting a £8 million transformation of their training ground knocked back by Edinburgh City Council.

Amateur club BATs– which stands for Broughton, Accies, Trinity – had written to the city council asking to voice its backing for the redevelopment of Scotland’s oldest rugby club in Stockbridge at a key meeting on Wednesday.

But the appeal has fallen on deaf ears amongst council 
decision-makers, with time constraints and hearing protocols cited as reasons for the players missing out.

Accies chiefs and opposition groups Save Stockbridge and the Stockbridge and Inverleith Community Council (SICC) are among those given slots to present their cases at 
Wednesday’s meeting, which will decide whether the 5000-capacity ground proposed for Raeburn Place is approved.

Planning officials have recommended that committee members support the redevelopment, which will also include a function centre, rugby museum and up to nine retail units.

BATs chairman John Wright said: “We asked whether they could give their views on behalf of the youth in north Edinburgh, but we were turned down. We were told we could ask the Stockbridge and Inverleith Community Council to speak on their behalf, but they turned us down as well.

“This development will be used by a lot of the youth growing up in this part of 
Edinburgh. It was important for them to have their say.”

BATs was formed in 2005 and the club has up to 180 active junior members aged from ten to 18, with more than 3500 students involved in the youth group’s school programme.

John Loughton, founding director of youth leadership group Dare2Lead, said: “Edinburgh is lucky to have amazingly passionate and informed young people. I’m disappointed to hear that council officers have turned down the chance to hear the views of young people on such an important issue.

“This is, by its very nature, excluding the voices of the future and seems to fly in the face of the council’s efforts to be genuinely inclusive and empower young people. It seems to me only sensible that councillors will want to have another look at this.”

Mr Wright has been told he can write a summary of the BATs position on the ground overhaul for distribution to committee members before Wednesday’s hearing.

A council spokeswoman said: “We appreciate it is disappointing for those individuals and groups not able to speak to committee, but our agreed procedures limits the number of presentations we can include. Individuals and groups supporting the proposals also have the opportunity to approach the applicant to be included in their presentation.”

SICC members could not be contacted by the News.

Rules and regulations

UP to three groups or individuals outside of a community council or the applicant can be allowed to speak under Edinburgh City Council rules for hearings.

The guidance notes on committee hearings state: “If the sub-committee decides to hold a hearing, the committee clerks will invite the applicant through their agent; a representative of the local community council; a representative selection of up to three parties or individuals who have made representations – this selection will be made in conjunction with the planning case officer – and the other members for the same ward.

“At the hearing, each party will then be given a specified timeslot in which to succinctly present their case.”