Leith to lose Registrar’s Office in latest cuts

Actors, Una McLean and Russell Hunter at Leith Registry Office on their wedding day.
Actors, Una McLean and Russell Hunter at Leith Registry Office on their wedding day.
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HISTORIC Leith Registrar’s Office is to shut as part of a council cost-cutting rationalisation programme.

The building in Ferry Road will close at the end of October, although weddings which are already booked will be honoured until the end of the year.

The move comes as the council seeks to rid itself of surplus properties, but it did not have to go before councillors for approval.

Today Edinburgh North and Leith SNP MP Deidre Brock called for an urgent rethink.

She said: “I was surprised to learn that Leith’s Registrar’s Office is set to close this year – it’s almost as if they don’t want people to know – and I urge the council to see sense and change their mind.

“Leithers want to get married in Leith and they must remain able to do so.

“This beautiful building is not only part of the history of the place, it’s part of the 
promise made to Leithers in 1920 when they merged with Edinburgh despite the six to one vote in favour of remaining independent.

“Back then they were told that Leith would get to keep things, yet this is another assault on the autonomy of Leith which flies in the face of that agreement.”

She accused the council of trying to “ride roughshod over Leith’s unique history and character”.

She continued: “Leith Registrar’s is an iconic building which must remain open and serving the people of this area.

“People should speak out and let the council know that we want our registrar to stay in Leith.”

The registrar’s office is in a complex of buildings, dating back to the 1930s, which includes Leith Theatre, Thomas Morton Hall and the former Leith Town Hall.

Harald Tobermann, vice-chair of Leith Central Community Council, said people would feel strongly about the closure. “It will take away from that complex.”

A council spokeswoman said: “Leith Registration Office will be vacated at the end of October and the service will be relocated to bespoke, modernised premises in the City Chambers in November.

“This is part of a city-wide property rationalisation programme and will offer an improved registration process for people across Edinburgh and will be publicised in the lead-up to the move.”

She said people would still be able to register births, deaths and marriages in the separate Leith Registers, though they would have to go to the City Chambers to do so. And she added: “As per Scottish legislation, marriages can take place at any agreed location other than the registration office within the district of registration, while births and deaths can be recorded anywhere in Scotland.”

Earlier this year the council announced it was to lease Lothian Chambers at the corner of the High Street and George IV Bridge – another favourite 
venue for weddings – to the French consulate.

In future, the council said, it would have marriage rooms at the City Chambers and in council offices in South Queensferry.

ian.swanson@edinburghnews.com