Damian & Fiona

Today it’s about the weddings. Today it’s about the weddings because Porty Central’s own Damian Harney gets married to Fiona today – Friday 30th July. 

No, they are NOT getting married at Porty Town Hall! They are off in South Queensferry and we wish them a wonderful day and a long and happy marriage.

You know, a little bird who goes by the name Miss Morag tells us she had the pair of them in for a few lessons, so they’d have the moves on the dance floor. Maybe we’ll get to see a photo or even a video! 

When will we be able to take bookings for weddings in the Town Hall again? Who will be the first couple to tie that knot with us? Who knows! Today we send out love to Damian and Fiona! 

Jennifer’s blog #43. 


Am running a bit behind myself. Am sure I’ll catch up soon. Been thinking about being out and about and whether people have tickets booked for festival events. It would be that time of year – it is that time of year. Last year there was little or no Edinburgh Festival. This year there are things on I think but I’ve not got any tickets yet……what do folk recomend? 

I am going to help at and hopefully see bits of the Craigmillar and Niddrie Community Festival and am pleased that has come together with such a good programme (I shared it before but it was a bit buried in other news so I’m sharing again – here. I think the Scottish Chamber Orchestra events and the exhibition by Nihal Al Turk, local Syrian artist showing at Craigmillar Now look good.

I am glad to see Art Walk taking it’s usual place in Porty life and look forward to popping into their new temporary venue in the Baptist Church cafe

However. what could or should we be going to see in the coming months and weeks? What might tempt us further than our doorstep in the coming weeks? 

Jennifer’s blog #42

Open Wide

Marion’s View

Yesterday I turned to imagination and memories to conjure up a party. Today I’m going to have a flight of fancy about how the Town Hall might end up. 

We’ve often chatted among the group about how the Town Hall glowers like a brooding presence on the High Street. 

We’ve likened those frosted windows to eyes with cataracts, staring blindly out. That frontage, which should be a town square, an open, welcoming gathering space, appears closed and unwelcoming. 

Behind those ‘cataract eyes’ are – would you believe – actually wildly spacious toilets, if rather old-fashioned. Now I’d love for the building to be open and serving a public function, offering public toilets but I also think that service can be provided with the toilets in a different location in the building. 

If that front was opened up, what would you want to see? Porty High Street is already well served for cafes so that doesn’t seem a sensible addition but a civic space, like a gallery or exhibition space is possible. Or retail units? We know the High Street is precious and fragile and are under no illusions that changing the front units into retail units would be an easy option but what could we do there? 

We are so lucky to have as many independent businesses on the High Street so we only want to develop and add to that. What shops would you want to see? What would you want the front to look like?

Jennifer’s blog #41

Porty Party, Perhaps

The big 4-oh. Much like in life when a big birthday approaches, this 40th blog milestone has proven a hump. 

Lacking inspiration for the blog despite a Porty Central meeting as material. Most stuff covered in that meeting has been blog topics in recent days or weeks. 

Suspect what I need is a big party but they just aren’t possible at the moment.

Oh but we can dream of the parties we will hold when we can again. 

Remember dancing, laughing, chatting with friends, silly nonsense – all indoors? Setting a date? Choosing the venue? Putting together the invites? Preparing the food, the drinks list, the entertainment? The excited pre-chat, the event itself? The after party mess and clean-up? Sharing the photos and laughing again at all the silly chat? And dancing, did I mention dancing – in a group with people you love!? Oh I miss it. 

I hope we can have parties again soon. And just to link this to the topic, I hope we have Porty Town Hall full of parties again at some point in the not too distant future.

There, the hump blog is written. Imagination and memories. Thank goodness for both. 

Jennifer’s 40th blog. 

Campaign, Company, Charity, Conflicts, Creative

Realised after my post the other day that writing about my involvement with Portobello Central and Action Porty without mentioning Conflicts of Interest was an oversight. While developing as a group and still only a company ltd by guarantee, Portobello Central has little in the way of written policies (but we know the need is coming). 

Now that the SCIO is through, a wider range of policies will be needed – mandated by OSCR – one of which is a Conflicts of Interest policy. Additionally a Register of Interests needs created for Trustees. 

We’ve currently got 4 Trustees and need 5 to be quorate. The existing 4 are moving to appoint a 5th Trustee in a specialist capacity to get the SCIO operationally into existence. We’ll then set up a members register promptly, so we can open up as a member organisation and that gives us another route to recruit Trustees (up to 15). 

That arrangement will run till the 1st AGM. While there hasn’t been a conflict of interest arising yet, it is a topic we as a group are and I as an individual am aware of which is why I am very open about my roles in both organisations. 

Now, on to more fun things – Craigmillar and Niddrie Community Festival have published there events programme starting with an opening parade at 11am on Saturday 14th August. You can read about the wide range of things taking place here.  Sounds a really lovely event and some things do need booking before hand, so do bear that in mind. 

Lastly definitely not least – just wow on the creation of a new mural on Toddler Hut over the weekend by Keep Porty Tidy and local artist Dallas (@dullartist)! You can see the work here. What a fab initiative and result. 


Creative Joined-Up Porty. 

Jennifer’s blog #39.

The Inspector Calls

We heard back yesterday from our senior council contact, Peter Watton, with the output of his team’s survey of the building a week or so ago. This is the team which will be fixing up the building ready for it to move to community management when the Place Based Investment money has been used on  essential work.

We can expect the report with our architect early next week. 

That’s all well and good and I’m pleased with the progress but I’m off down the beach to watch the Grand Slam Beach Volleyball 


Jennifer’s blog #38

The Beautiful Port

Blog been getting a bit serious so today I’m keeping it short and sweet and letting the music do the talking. 

This wee ode to ‘The Beautiful Port’ popped up on a Porty site. I think it is rather beautiful.

The Town Hall gets a mention early doors so it seems appropriate as today’s offering. I’ve been in touch with the creator and they are happy for me to use it. 


Jennifer’s blog #37

Wired Wheels

Following on from yesterday’s blog on my dual position on boards of Portobello Central and Action Porty, today’s blog promotes Action Porty’s project to bring community-owned EV (Electric Vehicle) charging to Portobello.

Bellfield already has solar panels and battery storage (something Portobello Central aspire to for Portobello Town Hall). Portobello Central are also in discussion with Porty Community Energy about possibilities to reduce the Town Hall carbon-footprint, albeit the plans are a fair bit off yet without a lease to speak of, but the conversations are there. 

Like us, Action Porty are committed to tacking the climate emergency and in this instance they want to provide EV charging at Bellfield –  an area where very few people have driveways and there are no charging points.

To support this project from Action Porty and Porty Community Energy  please sign here before end July.

There is an EV charger in Portobello Townhall. It was used only for Council vehicles until the venue closed. We’re certainly investigating the spec of the charger and how it could be community-used but we think it was only ever for council vehicles because how else do you solve the issue of access over a busy high street pavement? It is also a low power connection so would need all night to charge.

Anyway, we know it is there. It is something to consider for future plans but meanwhile your climate emergency energies would be best channelled into supporting the Bellfield project. Submitting your email and so support will take seconds. Go on, you know  you want to. 

Jennifer’s blog #36

22 July 2021

A Right Pair

Portobello Town Hall

Today I’m going to muse about the odd position I hold of being a Trustee of Portobello Central and a Trustee and Director of Action Porty who run Bellfield.

I’m the only person who overlaps between the formal structures of both these local organisations, although many are members of both. The team at Porty Central has a fairly broad and deep set of experience and more info on this can be found the back of our first proposal to the Council. 

In fact, writing this blog today has made me realise we don’t have an up-to-date link on our website with the biographies and experience of all the team, so I’ll get that amended. Others have joined our group since that first proposal. 

Back to the topic, I thought it worth clarifying that Action Porty and Portobello Central are different entities. A few folk have said to me in passing in the street “It’s great that Action Porty’ have got the Town Hall”. Maybe that’s because it is me they are talking to and they associate me with Bellfield so assume it must be Action Porty involved. It’s an easy mistake to make because why would people bother with the detail of organisations’ structures? 

However I thought today I’d do a short run through of the differences. 


Action Porty was set up as a company in August 2016 and bought Bellfield from the Church of Scotland in Sept 2017 as the first urban Community Right to Buy, funded mainly by Scottish Land Fund but also Architectural Heritage Fund and some grants and loans from Foundation Scotland. Action Porty is a company limited by guarantee and a charity with a single board who can be found here . The Articles of Association of Action Porty allow them to develop into a Development Trust type organisation for the area. 

Now that is quite an important point when I say ‘for the area’. Charities have to define a geographical boundary from which members are drawn. It doesn’t mean the organisation only serves people from that area but the member boundary is an important consideration and distinction. The Action Porty boundary can be found here.

Porty Central have chosen the ward of Craigmillar and Portobello as our organisational boundary. This was to align politically but also because the Town Hall serves a wider area and in a 20 minute neighbourhood all parts of the ward can be reached from the Town Hall. Portobello Central is a much younger organisation. The company was sent up in September 2020. The SCIO application went in April 2021 and came through in July 2021. A SCIO is an organisational structure that means more or less the same as a company limited by guarantee and a charity in one body but only one set of accounts needs logged, only with OSCR. The company will now likely be mothballed. Portobello Central SCIO is formalising its structures which is why it’s been a topic of the blog a few times lately and could be why we don’t have a link to the Trustees as there was some fluidity between Portobello Central Ltd and SCIO.

A big difference, compared to Bellfield is that Portobello Town Hall is owned by City of Edinburgh Council. Portobello Central are at the table with the Council and are key partners in its redevelopment.  Put simply, Bellfield would never have been eligible for the Scottish Government Place Based Improvement Programme or indeed the Regeneration Fund we are also in the running for because they are for council projects. 

So you see the two organisations are similar but different Bellfield is a going concern, back open in these covid times and dealing with all the ensuing risk assessments and cleaning regimes. Portobello Central doesn’t yet have those issues! 

They are both member organisations. Both are all about offering community spaces to rent and both are part of enabling our lovely Portobello community. I am proud to be involved with both.

Jennifer’s blog #35

21 July 2021

Riveting Minutes

Only correspondence on Porty Central matters today was an article shared by Geoff on the importance of minute taking for charities. Here is the link:


As the article suggests, this might not be the most riveting topic but it is crucial for good governance. I have huge respect for minute takers and value the skill but not something I’m good at. I’ve been Treasurer and a Chair many times but never an organisation’s Secretary. We are going to need those functions soon so it is a timely reminder of this requirement for minute-taking. 

Jayne is pretty good at pushing for an agenda before our meetings and normally summarises them pretty well too. Who will the Porty Central SCIO office bearers be? Can the excitement possibly be contained?

Jennifer’s blog #34