Save our Stations

Kezia Dugdale MSP and I are backing the Edinburgh Evening News Save our Stations campaign in response to the news that Police Scotland intends to close eight police station front desks across Edinburgh, after Justice Secretary, Kenny MacAskill MSP ordered a review of public counter provision.  To sign the Evening News petition against the plance, follow the instructions at or print and complete this petition form:

In Edinburgh East operations at Craigmillar are due to be transferred to the new East Neighbourhood Centre and there are proposals to cut the opening hours at Portobello. Kezia is formulating a response to the review and she is seeking your comments on the plans via a survey which you can complete here:

Create your free online surveys with SurveyMonkey , the world’s leading questionnaire tool.

For further information, head to



Portobello High School Private Bill: the school must be built on the park

The City of Edinburgh Council is currently conducting a consultation to take a Private Bill to the Scottish Parliament in early 2013 to address the legal issue that currently prevents the use of Portobello Park as the site for the new Portobello High School. This Private Bill would apply only to the specific site allocated for the school in Portobello Park. It would not change the status of any other Common Good land, either in Edinburgh or the rest of Scotland.

I firmly support the Council’s proposals to build a new Portobello High School on Portobello Park, and to take a Private Bill to the Scottish Parliament.

My full submission is available here.

If you’re still to support the Private Bill, make sure you complete the online survery by 5.00pm on Thursday, 31st January at:

Portobello High School – Portobello Park Private Bill Consultation by


Report on Portobello High School public meeting: Second Update

Earlier today I sent out the following email to those who attended the recent public meeting on the future of Portobello High School. This follows ongoing concerns regarding the report on the meeting that Kezia Dugdale MSP, Councillor Maureen Child and I submitted to the council.

Dear all

In response to the criticisms of the report we produced that attempted to marshal the comments made at the meeting on 21st September, we have withdrawn the report. In addition it is no longer available on any of our websites. This action has been taken following the recognition that the methodology underpinning the way it was written up was deeply flawed, and for this we are sorry.

Our intention as made clear in the notice of the meeting and in the format of the meeting, was to have as open a process as possible. The report has made some people think this was not the case.

All three of us made it clear in statements before and after the legal judgment that we saw the Park as the best available site for a new school. We did not see it as our role to impose our views on the meeting or indeed in the report.

Whilst the primary goal must be to ensure the school is built on the park as soon as possible, we remain of the view that a Plan B must be prepared to prevent any further delay to the delivery of the new school.

We also think that the Council should look at all the legal routes to achieve the school in Portobello Park, as the best option by far, in parallel to investigating any feasible new site that might have emerged since the last search. The aim should be to deliver the best possible school in the shortest possible timescale.

It is also clear that our Report was in danger of distracting from the real task which is pressing the Council to move forward as quickly as possible, while making commitments to the building and its pupils in the short term.

Please accept our sincere apologies.

Best wishes

Sheila Gilmore MP Kezia Dugdale MSP Councillor Maureen Child

Update: You can download a copy of the raw data from the meeting here.


One very busy Friday night at Portobello Town Hall

As we were preparing the tables for the public meeting about Portobello High School on Friday evening we could hear the rising buzz of conversation from the foyer – it felt a bit like it must feel inside a shop as the doors open for ‘The Sales’!

Three hundred people packed into the Town Hall which demonstrates the strength of feeling on the subject. This was deliberately not a night for speeches, neither by party politicians, nor by ‘supporters’ of particular campaigning positions on how to achieve a new school.  The format was chosen to enable as many people as possible to contribute their views, and the buzz and engagement was very plain to see.  Some present feel ‘deja vue’ because they have been round the consultation loop before, others were new to the debate.

A few have voiced an opinion that the format was biased in a ‘pro school in the park’ direction, but I spoke to people at some of the ‘tables’ who felt that it was unreasonable to be being asked to look at alternative sites yet again.  That suggests to me that rather than being biased in one direction or the other, the evening was genuinely open to the widest of contributions.

We will now transcribe all the written comments, from sheets of paper, written on the paper tablecloths or on post-it notes. Some people who couldn’t come have sent in comments and we will include these. Then the comments will be ‘marshalled’ into headings so that a ‘sense’ of what was said can be gained. Both the full transcript and the marshalled comment will be circulated to those attending and sent to the Council. Just please bear with us as it will take us a little while to do this!

A very big thank you to those who came and contributed so much.

Watch this space!