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

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