A Stand to Deliver!

Extract from a Barbara Hilliam illustration

On Tuesday we took delivery of 400  copies of “Porty Food Map, The Traders’ Stories”.  On Saturday, April 23rd they’ll be ready for collection between 10am and 3pm, just along from  the Town Hall at Keep Porty Tidy office (inside if it’s raining)!  You won’t be able to miss us, there will be celebratory bunting and a table sagging under the weight of books ready for collection. 

If, a little like me, you “meant” to get around to buying one but it never quite got to the top of your to do list – fear not.  There will be copies to buy on the day at £15 each – and, yes, you’ll be able to pay by card!  If you can make it along at about 10:30 you’ll hear from Jo and Jen who’ve been the driving force behind this brilliant venture.  So, come along, collect, or buy your copy and find out more about the plans for Porty Town Hall.

So far, we anticipate that in excess of £2,000 will be raised from sales of the book.  All the profits will go towards re-opening and refreshing Portobello Town Hall.  However, the book is about more than fundraising.  It’s about celebrating the wonderful food shops and eateries in and around Portobello High Street.  A homage and thank you to the traders who kept us going through lockdown with nurturing chat, a welcoming smile and nourishing food.  We are lucky to have a vibrant high street and Portobello Central cannot wait for the Town Hall to be part of that again.

Sally Dyson, Trustee

Heart Beats

The Contract is let, the work begins.  The community wish to have the Town Hall revived has succeeded and vital repairs to the top of the building are to begin early in June – aiming to be complete by the end of October.  The contractor is Cornhill Building Services, based in Leith, and the cost is at least the £350,000 already announced.

Booking Books

Portobello Central trustees have been in the building recently – we all have fond memories  and you know what absence does to the heart.  Now, we see there is a lot to do to make that wedding to go with a zing, those young dancers fly across a stage and the many, many voices who want to sing to have their chance.  There is a moment, standing centre stage, looking across the hall, when you really can see what it has been and what it must be for the future.  We found the records of events going back to at least 2010, hundreds of sheets hinting at fun, weddings, kick boxing, politics and more.  Our job, as a community, now is to believe that this major asset in our centre is coming back to life.

The reality for Portobello Central is the electrical log book, the maintenance records, the insurance, licences, understanding what all these switches do, the water stop taps and that’s without thinking toilets, gutters and drains.  We are not yet sure exactly what the repairs will cover but we’ve been told to expect a lot of scaffolding and a strong security fence around the whole site.  We are reasonably sure that the appearance of the building will not change as all the works are in the structure.  That shabby chic look will continue for a while yet.

We are grateful to the Council which has supported our ambition from the earliest of days.  We will be looking for help: some professional help and a lot of volunteer effort. We will have to raise money for this; we know that funders are impressed by community support.  You can make your support clear by becoming a Member, it’s free and not burdensome.

Trustie or Trustee?

There’s not a lot of difference: one is in a band of cronies plotting, the other is allowed out  to work in the fields, knowing he’ll come back. 

We are looking for Trustees to occupy vacating cells – but maybe that’s pushing the simile too far.  In Portobello Central SCIO we have 7 Trustees right now but we have space for 15.  It is tempting to write job or person specifications to ensure we get the right decisions, taken in the right way but that’s not how the present gang was assembled.  It was just that at a meeting in Bellfield in the summer of 2019 some of us got up and, instead of yelling “Protest!  Stop [something]” just said it could be better “if..”  All our “ifs” were different and the dozens of people present went home satisfied that views had been expressed and (of course) “Nothing will be done”.

Then a blurry Zoom-ridden couple of years passed where a gang, by now a little changed, is feeling good.  Something we assembled out of the community’s ideas is on its way to release.  Independent reviewers have commended our business viability.  We were not a “designed” team, so we do have specific and tested skills and certificates in hard sums?  Do we all fill a Zoom screen agreeing vigorously?  Not at all: we all think in different ways and at varying speeds.  Some are dogmatic (for the moment I can’t think who that would be) and some are unnervingly quiet until a killer point has to be made.  The thing is we have a common goal: to put the Town Hall in the hands of the community.  (My computer has just corrected that sentence from “gaol” to “goal” – either would have done).

Today we have 152 members of Portobello Central – any of them (which should include you – have you applied?) can be elected in September to be a Trustee.  You don’t even need not to have criminal record – a “trustie” would be fine.  So reflect on your past and get ready to continue the success of Portobello Central – be a Trustee.

Geoff Pearson