High Days and Holidays

So we have moved into  Edinburgh  trades fortnight and many of the Portobello  Central team have gone quiet as they take a well earned break, although all are at the other end of a WhatsApp, should something important comes up.   Jen’s blogs must keep going so each day will be a surprise  as to who writes it.  

Main thing to report is that our SCIO application (to become a charity) has been answered asking for clarification on certain points.   Once points are duly clarified and sent back, we hope that we will become a SCIO sooner than we had originally  thought. So things are moving forward fast.

Could you be one of our trustees?

With SCIO looking positive then our next step will be to appoint more trustees.  We intend to have a real cross-section of the community from young people to retired people and people with time & experience  to commit.

As for myself.  I continue to monitor Portobello Central Instagram, make contacts and have two Prom chats lined up with potential users later in the week.   I am squeezing that in with filming two days of ballet exams to send to the RAD examiners.  Covid has changed so much that we do and the way that we do it.

Morag x

Charity Begins…

This is my last blog before my hols. I’ll be back on Monday 19th July and will continue my count to 100.

Some good news to close on for now, OSCR – the organisation which regulates Scottish charities,  has been in touch about our application to become a SCIO. SCIO stands for Scottish Charitable Incorporated Organisation and is essentially one organisational structure with the same status as charity and company limited by guarantee but the accounts only need logged with OSCR and not Companies House. It means Portobello Central will be a charity, meeting those social enterprise aims we set out in our proposal. 

There are a few clause numbering issues in our constitution which OSCR and SCVO have flagged but because we kept all the text standard, if we sort those (and Jon has his proof reader beady eye on the document) we should hear back soon that we’ve secured charitable status.

Everything is tracking as hoped. 

Soon we’ll wind up Portobello Central Ltd to be replaced by Portobello Central SCIO. At that stage we hope you’ll join us as members on the same model as Action Porty, Friends of Porty Prom, Porty Community Energy to name but a few of those I know about. To be a member you need to live in the boundary of the organisation which is the Council ward but associate membership is available to those who live outwith that boundary and who want to be kept informed of our business. It is only members in the boundary who can vote at our AGMs and to whom the trustees are answerable.  

Just for the record, Portobello Central’s charitable purposes are:

1) The advancement of citizenship or community development (including rural or urban regeneration

2) The advancement of the arts, heritage, culture or science.

3) The provision of recreational facilities or the organisation of recreational activities with the object of improving the conditions of life for the persons for whom the facilities or activities are primarily intended.

Exciting stuff to end on, eh? 

Bet you can’t wait for an AGM?!

See you with #33 on my return.

Jennifer’s blog #32. 


Late blog today as I run around trying to tie up loose ends before my holidays. I’m going to pause the blogs for the fortnight and start again on my 100 days on my return. However there should be semi-regular blogs from other Porty Central people in the mean time. I’ll do tomorrow as my last one before the pause. 

My only real Portobello Central business was a very pleasant walk this morning along the prom with a local artist contact. She was a new contact for me and a very engaging conversation was had as the sun beamed down. The usual Porty effect was in full force with both of us bumping to people we know as we walked. Conversation was made and I hope that ideas will start to flow. 

I am in awe of and inspired by the work being done in Dumfries by The Stove Network as an arts and community organisation (other inspiring organisations exist too). While I recognise we are a long way from what they do, they have something worth watching. 

I’m also watching what comes out of the Culture Collective @culturecolsco with interest. Porty Central were part of Action Porty’s Culture Collective funding application to Creative Scotland which while it got through the first gateway, failed at the second. Be happy to share that content with any interested parties. 

Certainly today we found ourselves discussing today why there are so many creatives in Portobello and yet so little community art work in Portobello (the wonderful @portyartwalk aside of course). Suspect funding has something to do with it but money is not the whole story. Something to work on. 

Over and out.

Jennifer’s blog #31

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