Round the Table

Held the blog back so I could report on a virtual meeting with the Council at 4pm on the £350K PBIP grant and getting it spent. 

Was a positive meeting again. Money is to be contracted by end March 2022, money can be used on professional services but we want as little of it as possible used that way. A rule of thumb would be 10% on such services. We’re still hopeful the both Scottish Land Fund and Architectural Heritage Fund will provide money for professional services for this part of the project, as long as we get the applications lined up and in and we are tracking to do that. 

Jayne and I caught up last night to revise our budget for the SLF application. We think we’re taking a project start date on June 2021 and need a 12 month projection for that application. Put two local venue treasurers together and they get a lot of fun out of sharing a good budget spreadsheet. Sad I know but it did make us happy. 

Had a lovely walk along the prom with group member Sally whom I’d only met on line until then. That got her and I more on the same page both about the project and just getting to know each other. 

Tomorrow I’ll report back on a peek at the architects drawings in my kitchen with Geoff, me and an interested party who’s shown interest from early days and has some experience of the building. I’m looking forward to the debate. Better go clear the kitchen table before they get here. 

Jennifer’s blog #30


For anyone perplexed by my ‘three bears’ comment yesterday here is the Porty Podcast .

This was Geoff’s one back at the start of the year in January 2021 when the three bears analogy first emerged.

And then Justin did one the week after which also referenced the three bears, telling a wider story.

They were both done before this 100 days blog so worth bringing them into the record. They both stand a second listen and it’s interesting to stop and reflect how far we have come and that the plans then are still the plans now. 

Loosely The Wash House was baby bear, tucked away and needing looked after and very loved. Bellfield was mummy bear, where all the bustle was and Porty Town Hall was the big, brooding, daddy bear (who is good fun really). Stereotypes aside, we want to see them all thriving. They are all important local  community spaces, all slightly different but there are commonalities between the venues – what’s the phrase: ‘more in common’? That’s why I shared The Wash House’s news about youth workers yesterday. 

We had our weekly team meeting last night and as ever there was lots to cover but a few absences due to hols and few absences in the coming weeks. Don’t worry the fort will be held.

The bears are safe.

There is plenty work to be getting on with. 

Jennifer’s blog #29

Cranesbill Conference

Had a very pleasant catch up with Munro Allison (our architects) in Geoff’s garden on Sunday.

Most accommodating of them to see us on a Sunday. Most accommodating of Geoff and Tony to host. Their garden is gorgeous and I enjoyed the wide variety of insect life – bees and butterflies buzzing round my head as we talked in the sunshine.

The thinking seems to be that £350k is great. We need to work out how to spend it. We need a design team. It is likely to be Council led but with us at the table and we need to find out what the money can be spent on. Am hoping Geoff can have those conversations today with Council or we start them after tonight’s Monday meeting but I’m out of action on Porty Central matters till evening. Geoff likely to be talking to AHF today too.

Meanwhile the aspirational bit of the architects work, the changing of the building not just making it safe remains a funding and planning focus too.  We also need a design team for that. That is probably easily 5 years out. I need to bring SLF and National Lottery contacts up to speed on our news and understand what it means on their funding. Had hoped to do that yesterday but other stuff got in the way.

Nice to see The Wash House announcing 3 Edinburgh Council youth workers will be walking through Portobello Thursday and Friday this week from 2-4pm, starting at Joppa and making their way down to The Wash House via all the parks. 

They are looking to make contact with bored young people looking for things to do, particularly over summer.

They have funding for activities but will be led by the kids as to what happens next.  Sharing here so you can tell your young people to look out for them. Not directly Portobello Central news but positive news from one of the “three bears”.

Jennifer’s blog #28

Driving Ahead

The Committee arrives to inspect Portobello Town Hall

One significant, successful, funding award and I’m back deep into the writing of a funding application. 

This time it is Stage 1 Scottish Land Fund (SLF) and needs to be in by July 16th but I’m holidaying early July so I want it to be done sooner. It is not an onerous application, the guidance is clear and we have a supportive project worker and a team looking at it in the committee, so I can’t complain on any of those fronts. 

The tricky part is fitting all the parts together – funding pots and timescales, including aligning what we ask for in this one and what we request of the Architectural Heritage Fund (AHF) second tranche. 

We’ll need to find out if any of the £350k of PBIP money can be spent on professional fees to get us from draft architects’ drawings and a draft project viability report to contracting the construction guys to do the work or if it really is only capital works. The construction industry are busy these days so we need to get them booked soon and to get them booked there are a fair few steps and spends to happen. Discussions with the Council and architects are under way.

Tomorrow (Monday) is the regular team zoom. There will be plenty to talk about. 

Jennifer’s Blog

Move On Up

I was imprecise with my language yesterday in my haste and excitement. I said ‘we’d’ got £350K from the PBIP (Placed Based Investment Programme). Later I was careful to say Portobello Town Hall had got £350K. 

PBIP Fund is Scottish Government money awarded to Porty Town Hall. Porty Town Hall is owned by the Council. Portobello Central’s name was clearly on the paper against the Town Hall bid which was approved and I’m pretty confident the existence of Porty Central and the work we have done this far helped secure these funds for the building that would not have been secured without us. But the funds are not ours to spend. 

This feels to me very much like the Council doing the right thing by Portobello and our Town Hall and working in partnership with Portobello Central to hand the building over in a safe condition. It feels positive and mutually beneficial and I hope that continues. I suspect that soon after we get this £350K spent it’s the big bad world for Portobello Central and Porty Town Hall as we go it alone but that’s a worry/exciting possibility for a future time. 

Just to close, I’d like to thank the Housing, Homelessness and Fair Work Committee for their award. It can’t be easy weighing up these projects. We’ll do our very best to make this one a success. 

Jennifer’s blog #26

On the day he left Towerbank..

Today’s blog will be short and sweet. I’m on a half day to celebrate my boy leaving Towerbank Primary School. My Towerbank days are done and so are his.

There is a bonkers feeling of euphoria in Porty Fish Park which matches my own……..


Plenty rope to hang ourselves now! I’m dancing in the park! Chat tomorrow!

Jennifer’s blog #25

The Council and Coping

Several of us met with our Council contacts from Facilities this morning at 9am. It was a measured, calm meeting.

Peter Watton gave us the update that following a Council reorganisation he is now Service Director for Sustainable Development but our project was still under his remit.

The Council are as keen as us to get an empty building open and used and Sally’s comment in the chat when she had to leave the call was ‘glad to hear all the positivity in the room’. 

The Council have already undertaken repairs to stonework and have started work to unblock drains, both matters flagged by the architects. We spent a bit of time discussing coping stone work that could be allowing some water ingress and Peter was keen to get further details in order to sort it.

We discussed the architects’ drawings and the fact we need to settle on a design choice for the next phase of the Project Viability work in July. They were happy enough with the drawings. 

We updated the Council team on the funding applications we have in – two of which are with the council, namely tomorrow’s Place Based Investment Programme (PBIP) and Regeneration Capital Grant Fund (RCGF). They were pleased to hear about the National Lottery award. Their view was that RCGF was our best bet. 

We mentioned we expect the SCIO to be in place around Sept and aiming for an entry date of 1st Sept for us to do works was suggested. A standard Council lease and heads of terms will be sent to us. 

It felt like we were all on the same page, indeed on the same side. I’m off to work with a skip in my step. 

Jennifer’s blog #24

Photies and Stories

Portobello and our community spirit get highlighted in this Edinburgh Live article as part of the #mylandscotland campaign. I feel like I’ve seen that woman in the photo somewhere before….?

You’ll possibly remember Morag and I had the lovely Shawna from @exploringedinburgh over to visit back in early June (see blog from 3rd June). Well she’d got busy sharing stories of her visit on Instagram last night. I am an Instagram newbie but I know enough to know stories are visible only for 24 hours. Shawna had done a similar story for Bellfield a few days ago and I’d sought the skills of my 14 year old daughter to learn how to capture the stories. I called on my girl again to save Shawna’s @portobellocentral stories about Portobello Town Hall and am happy to report they have been captured in a ‘highlight’ on our Instagram page.

Who says you can’t teach an old dog tricks (if the dog has access to a digital native pup)? I’ll need to show Morag about these highlights. She’s all for embracing new technologies and has worked our Instagram since we very tentatively set it up.

I tell you, getting involved in community projects doesn’t half build skill sets! 

Have a good day. Tomorrow we (virtually) sit with the Council officials at 9am. 

Waverley Court – where most Council officers are not, currently.

Jennifer’s Blog #23

The Council works towards “asset transfer”

We had our weekly group meeting last night and it was a good meeting. 

Main update was we are booked to meet with the Council contacts on morning of Thursday 25th first thing. This the start of the official process. We’ll share the draft Project Viability  Report and Architects Drawings with them before that meeting.

We also got a very exciting email in from a different but related Council contact late last night to say that Portobello Town Hall is one of the projects being put forward in the report for Place Based Investment Programme (PBIP) funds. Porty Town Hall is Project 10 in the report, page 16 if you fancy a read.

The Town Hall from the PBIP paper

This report on allocating the Council’s share of funds from the Scottish Government “Place Based Investment Programme” is scheduled to be considered at Housing, Homelessness, and Fair Work Committee this Friday (25th) and the webcast of the Committee will be able to be watched at .

It is hoped the Committee will agree allocations this Friday. The Town Hall is one of 14 very worthy projects. The funds available are oversubscribed so inevitably some projects will not receive funding. 

Keep everything crossed for Portobello Central being part of this.

Jennifer’s Blog #22

Happy Solstice!

Were you up for the dawn at 4.25am? Maybe just catch the sunset at 10pm today instead.

Today I’m mentioning a couple of local events coming up that interest me and I think are worthy of a flag and which are the sort of things I hope will happen around and in our Town Hall.

The first is The Craigmillar & Niddrie Community Festival 2021 taking place Sat 14th and Sun 15th Aug which is to be a celebration that marks 100 years of Greater Craigmillar since it came within the boundary of the City of Edinburgh.

Sound familiar?

It will look at Craigmillar now and then; sharing the rich social and cultural history of the area, whilst also celebrating the diverse communities and cultures that make up Craigmillar today.

It is part of a revival of the famous Craigmillar Festival which has not been held since 2015, but which ran for over 40 years since the 1960s as an internationally renowned community arts festival every August.

It is to be led by local residents, with the support and involvement of local community groups, venues, and organisations. These groups have been planning the festival since January 2021, and there are plans for a range of performances, outdoor events, food stalls, workshops, wandering musicians, window decorations, exhibitions, tree planting, and more.

Sounds lovely, doesn’t it? Numbers are going to be limited and ticketed for obvious reasons but I’m watching with interest to see how it works out. I want something similar running in Porty and Porty Central definitely see Craigmillar and Niddrie as part of our 20 minute neighbourhood. You can find out more here:

#craigmillar100 hashtag on Instagram • Photos and Videos

The second event I’d like to share is a call out for participants for a performance by local artist Deirdre MacLeod as part of the wonderful Porty Art Walk in September.

Art Walk Porty – CALL OUT: Do you live in, or near, Portobello? … | Facebook

In describing the event to me, Deirdre wrote:

“Aside from the creative aspects of the project that you might enjoy, my sense from the chat we had on our walk round Gilberstoun is that you are interested in community-building projects. This project seeks to draw attention (gently and maybe poetically) to the way in which we use public spaces – who gets to use what space and how they feel, act and move in those spaces, how these spaces have changed and the possibilities for the future use of public spaces within communities. The improv. project seems, to me, to chime with the interests of projects like Portobello Central, which I think you might be involved in.”

I am powerless to resist. See you there?

Jennifer’s blog number 21