Loony Quines

Started the day in a very middle aged Porty woman way with a dook in the Forth with a friend at 6am. Chill wind but beautiful. Certainly sets you up for the day.

I’m not the only one who indulges in the water and Jon caught two others (Lynn and Jayne) of our group preparing for a swim over the weekend. 

Geoff likes an early morning swim but he prefers the Commonwealth Pool (5.30am). Not sure of the swimming habits of the others. Maybe we’ll convince Miss Morag in to the sea one of these days.

So team catch up on Zoom tonight. Jayne has done her superb job, as ever, of agenda setting. We have some guests joining us and I’m looking forward to hearing what Sally and Lynn have to report back from the Comms group. 

Regeneration application was sent to our contact at the Council for his review before submission on 17 June. Geoff and I meet SLF for a Teams chat tomorrow and the risk assessment for the meeting with the architects on Thursday is being done. Never a dull moment. 

Jennifer’s blog  


This Sunday seems a quieter day on Porty Central matters but I will be spending this afternoon carrying out interviews for the post of Office Admin with the team at my other community project, Bellfield, run by Action Porty. Hopefully we’ll soon be advertising for the Porty Central Development Worker. Porty Central business will come round again with the weekly team meeting taking place tomorrow evening. 

Seems a good day to pause, reflect and share the paper Jon put together for our strategy day just after we’d got the Council decision on 20 May. It took the metaphor we’d been kicking around of having a mountain still to climb and fleshed it out. For all the work and triumph on 20 May we’d ‘only’ reached basecamp. As Jon notes, ‘it takes a lot of effort just to get to basecamp’. Most never do. However ‘the gates are still locked, the place is empty and unused.’ Can we get to ‘Camp 1’ when ‘the building can open for a trial event’? No denying ‘lots of infrastructure needs to be put in place to cross the perilous icefall and reach Camp 1’ but that is our next destination We might make it. We might need to turn back. If we do, and we get off the mountain alive, we can plan a re-ascent. I’ll leave you there to browse the document to see how and when we might reach the summit and how we have defined the summit. That can be a topic for a future blog. 

Got a mention in The National today  on the back of #mylandscotland campaign. Can’t deny I’m happy with the photo, taken courtesy of Ryan Johnston . I think he got my best side! 

Of course the article, as is so often the case when you know the story details, gets things a bit wrong. In regard to Portobello Central (which is not named) it says ‘More recently, residents of Portobello have taken additional land into the hands of the community after the City of Edinburgh Council accepted a proposal for community management of its local town hall.’ Maybe they are being prophetic but right now all that was accepted was our right to be at the table to negotiate for the right to community manage Portobello Town Hall. 

Don’t forget about The Wash House AGM on Wed 16 June – this week. Tickets need to be booked before to obtain the Zoom link .

Worth noting the 20 mins neighbourhood paper approved by the Policy and Sustainability Committee for the Council on 10th June. 

We’ll be preparing for a conversation with Scottish Land Fund on Tuesday morning and the meeting with our consultants on Thursday which might well trigger a big payment from our AHF grant. 

Exciting stuff, even on a quiet day. 

Jennifer’s blog

Keep on Running

Friday is a busy work day for me so there is not usually much done by me on Portobello Central work on Fridays but I’d passed the baton of the Regeneration Capital Grant Fund (RCGF) application over to Geoff on Thursday night.

On Thursday night sitting in my car “office” while my daughter was at athletics, listening to the Friends of Porty Prom AGM on zoom on my phone, still flying high from the Awards for All £10,000 success on Thursday, I had boldly reworked the numbers up and decided to ask for £820,000 of funding on a £1.3M project.

In for a penny, in for a pound. Nothing ventured, nothing gained and any other cliches you care to throw into the joys of funding applications. You have to be in to win?

Geoff duly did his magic on Friday and edited my long, garbled version into a shorter, more coherent version. You have 3 pages at font size 12 to answer 9 set questions in the RCGF, plus a page for the sums. We’ve settled on asking for £370,000 of urgent works to make the building safe and £450,000 to swap out the ageing boilers and replace them with an energy efficient, carbon neutral, alternative on a project of £1.3M (including revenue costs). The baton was back to me Friday night and all I really had to do was approve the changes, The application has been shared round the team today and will be sent to our council contact Sunday evening. Keep everything crossed for us. 

Meanwhile others were working away on Porty Central business; Lynn has had good funding conversations with funders of social entrepreneurs and Geoff chased up the Council for an official next step and we got a mention in the Daily Record on Friday night.

New website and podcast highlights the benefits of transforming land in Scotland – Daily Record

This is part of the launch of the Scottish Land Commission’s #MyLandScotland campaign to inspire people to think about land differently. The focus of the article was Bellfield but yours truly sneaked in a Portobello Central mention saying:

“I am lucky enough to have been involved in both the Bellfield buy out by Action Porty and in the Portobello Central negotiations to bring Portobello Town Hall under community management and ownership.”

The article was output from the day we had @exploringedinburgh visiting so although Friday is not typically a Porty Central work day for me, things worked on earlier were bearing fruits yesterday,   

Believing in People = £10,000 Grant

Woo hoo! Yesterday about midday Geoff and I got an email from the The National Lottery saying we’d secured a £10,000 Awards for All grant! 

Some good news!

I saw the email come in but was at work so no real way to celebrate this till later however I definitely had a skip in my step and a wee secret smile to myself the rest of my work day. News was quickly shared round the team. 

This is the next serious piece of funding secured (after £6,500 from the Architectural Heritage Fund). Hopefully it is the first of many and it is not everyone who gets this funding, so it is a great boost to the considered viability of our project. 

The grant is to contract someone in a Development Manager role, for perhaps 6-10 months, to take forward our designs for the building, ideally to progress the building works (if funding for that is secured) and to develop the uses and hires.   

What is really exciting is that this fund is a gateway fund to other National Lottery grants. If you don’t secure and successfully use the Awards for All grant, you have no route to the other bigger pots. It doesn’t guarantee access to those other future funding pots but if is a necessary step in that journey.

There is a job spec to be worked up now and recruitment to be done. Guess we might be recruiting as Portobello Central Ltd as there is no need to wait for the SCIO approval but we’ll need to think about financial structures carefully now as we actually go to spend more serious money. 

However before that all starts, let’s just take a moment to be celebrate this award and say well done team, thanks for the community support everyone else and thank you The National Lottery for believing in us! 

Jennifer’s blog

P.S. This is the great thing about working with The National Lottery: have a good idea, set out your case, make clear you know what you are doing and the nice people at TNL listen and understand. They also move quickly. On Wednesday, I received an email asking me to confirm my date of birth by sending photo-id. That was done straightaway. Thursday, late morning, the phone rang while I was working in the garden – all messy and hot – “grant awarded, in your bank account next week”. Momentary disbelief, asked for news to be repeated and that was that. During the call, the email arrived.

The National Lottery really does believe in people.



We’re in the news, the local news at least. The latest copies of The Portobello Reporter are being delivered and we were a front cover story! 

No word from the Council themselves on next steps which is getting to be a gie long time. Maybe it’s time for us to prod them before holiday season for really sets in and the schools break up? 

[Stop Press! Today, 10 June, the Policy and Sustainability Committee is discussing 20 Minute Neighbourhoods – a key feature of New Life for the Heart of Portobello. Geoff]

It’s interesting trying to book a meeting with our architects and consultant. It has had us scouring the Level 2 Covid-19 documentation to work out what is allowed. We get that you’ve to work from home where possible and we’ve worked almost exclusively on zoom or walking meetings but sometimes e.g. when looking at drawings, having the physical document to touch and question is necessary. To that end we want to physically meet with the architects. 

It seems 6 people from three households are allowed to meet indoors socially and then again up to 100 people can meet for events. We reckon ours is a business event and at 8 attendees from 7 households if we wear masks, social distance, ventilate the room, wash hands and wipe everything down afterwards for the next people we’ll be okay. We’re looking to hire a room at Bellfield for the occasion. What will we be presented with?

What will the Sept edition of the Porty Reporter be reporting about Porty Town Hall?

Jennifer’s Blog

The Portobello Reporter Winter 2020


There is something lovely about meeting in the garden on a cool fresh evening.  Especially if the friend brings cake!   The heavy heat of the day had melted away.  The relief of a breeze that tickled the back of my neck and shoulders and made the leaves on our sycamore crackle, was a simple joy.

Jennifer & I had a very pleasant hour, tackling my list of questions and discussing strategies.  I was also delighted to find that I wasn’t  the only one,  that had not got round to Geoff’s instructions,  as to how to attach our new personal emails.    As usual Jen got it done in 5 minutes and I followed her lead.    We felt very proud of ourselves.  

This week we made sure that all the volunteers,  that delivered leaflets for us, got a wee thank-you card.   Jen delivered to people she knew and I did the others.  The card we chose showing our fabulous Town Hall was painted by local artist Rhanna Baldwin.  Her painting is full of  energy, colour & humour.   She has captured all the activities  that the Town Hall has hosted in the past and going to do in the future, spilling out onto the pavement.  This is a lady who really ‘gets’ our vision.

I, myself, continue to network.  Making contacts within the events and promotions industries and also looking at some exciting projects such as the Traditional  Dance Forum of Scotland which promotes traditional  dance in the community and also a group that choreographs dance for people in wheelchairs.   So lots of potential for running an integrated and inclusive building.

I had to put some hours in at my day job this week, but I am finding that running a dance school and working on the Portobello Central project complement each other in many ways.

That seems to be my report of the week.   Felt I shouldn’t  leave the blogging to poor Jen and Geoff.  Though I must say I find Geoff & Jen’s blogs very interesting.

Stay safe.

Morag‘s Blog

There’s Always Something There to Remind Me

Sandie Shaw sang that in 1965 – few of you will remember that, but the idea of regular prompts of why we do stuff is a recurrent theme. Jennifer’s blog today carries a wistful tone unusual for her but she does hint at the massive exercise which is underway and will continue for months to deliver the Town Hall back to the community. Every day there is something to remind us of what the heart of Portobello means. Yesterday, our consultants found the original plans for the building, now Morag’s dance school, but then the laundry for the Christie Female Industrial Home for girls, demolished to make way for the Town Hall. Just a reminder of the way things were.


Getting a little tired of the sound of my own voice and feeling like I’m repeating myself so sorry if the feeling is mutual but the important thing is to write the blog. 

Maybe I should explain the blogs? I’ve committed to doing 100 days of blogs for Portobello Central as part of the 100 days project . I’ve done it before – 100 days or journaling but that was not for public consumption and wasn’t daily, 200 days of Gaelic on Duolingo during lock down – was daily as the app rewarded ‘streaks’ i.e. periods of consistent daily activity and in the end I started Blipfoto last April and having completed the year, only missing 5 days, I think I caught the daily habit. 

However I find myself at Day 9 feeling a bit like you’ve read enough and I’ve said it all before. Got to fight that. I’ll push on with a short entry to keep the discipline of daily practice and make sure we capture some daily musing EVERY day for those 100 days to record our journey to community management and perhaps ownership of Portobello Town Hall.

Despite our Council Regeneration Fund contact being on holiday this week (which I hadn’t realised) he gave us a really useful reply to our clarification email so Geoff and I will keep working that up. We are also booked to meet with Scottish Land Fund on 15th on Teams. 

There has been further chat on governance and structure as the output document from our ‘strategy afternoon’ in Jayne’s garden has been written up by Will. Maybe a final version will be shared at some future point. The topic of SCIO members and bringing in volunteers to work of topics they are interested in without having to know all the ins and outs of the organisation and be legally responsible trustees will need clear communication from us which needs us to understand things clearly! No mean feat! 

Jennifer’s Blog


Ready to order? When do we order our sign for Portobello Town Hall?

Our weekly discussions last night acknowledged we are in an odd place of waiting: waiting for SCIO approval, waiting for a conversation about 20minute neighbourhoods, waiting for the invitation to the table to negotiate with the Council, waiting for the output from the architects meanwhile funding deadlines charge towards us and require fully costed, fully developed plans. There was debate as to whether these next weeks over summer will have little or lots going on. I’m in the lots camp but we all have to remember this is all run by volunteers, all the team taking this on are volunteers – skilled, passionate, hard-working volunteers but volunteers all the same, usually with day jobs. Folks do Porty Central stuff cause they want to, cause we can achieve amazing stuff but there are sometimes huge expectations put on community groups. There was discussion about how to bring in wider help but to keep the structure formal.

There was a good bit of discussion about how to tap into creative community and have them see the building as theirs. We definitely didn’t solve that one but it is an on-going theme.  Any bright ideas?

That’s the high level musings.

Daily details:

The architects’ meeting is booked – 17th June – same day as the Stage 1 application for the Regeneration Capital Grant Fund  goes in.

The next nine days, but really till Monday 14th will be focused for me on refining that document along with my colleague, Geoff.

Lynn has some conversations starting with Unltd and FirstPort about supporting our social enterprise.

Seeking to finalise date with Scottish Land Fund contact, hopefully for 15th June.

Jennifer’s Blog

Wrestling with IT

Wrestling in 2015

Like any group trying to form and collaborate our IT systems are a topic for debate. We currently use Basecamp and have since our inception. It has served us well enough but is awful for document storage and for working on the same document. We are wrestling with the relative merits of Office/Word versus Google and WhatsApp has entered the fray much to the disgust of some but there seems to be no way of putting that genie back in the bottle. 

Nothing new or unique in our struggle with IT. Oh well at least my ‘work’ email jennifer@portobellocentral.org is now set up which might liberate my personal email from all things Porty Central. 

My head is intensely on funding with some important deadlines coming up. Looking forward to the team call at 7.30pm tonight to catch up. 

Jennifer’s Blog

20 Minute Neighbourhoods

A quiet day on the internal chat and communication of Portobello Central – an unusual occurrence. Guess we’ll all catch up on Monday at our weekly Zoom.

Only news item really was Geoff sharing the 20 minute neighbourhood (20MN) paper published for the Policy and Sustainability Committee on 10 June. Geoff knows how the machines of government and Council work and is fantastic at keeping on top of this sort of stuff so we keep informed.

You may recall that on 20th May when our proposal came up before the Finance and Resources Committee that our bid was recommended ‘subject to further discussions and engagement with the Council on the 20 minute neighbourhood proposals for Portobello’ so we’re reading up on this topic and are keen to know more and get stuck into conversation with the Council about this topic with regard to the Town Hall.

Jayne, in our team, has had a conversation with Ruth MacDonald, Estates Optimisation Manager for the Council about 20 minute neighbourhoods in her capacity as Treasurer of The Wash House but the Porty Central team have not had any conversations on the topic with the Council yet.

The 20MN document gives a ‘case study’ of Portobello stating:

Case Study 5: Portobello Neighbourhood

Portobello houses several community assets conveniently located within walking distance from the town centre. Within five minutes’ walk of the centre itself sits Portobello Town Hall, three Community Centres and the Library. Other Council assets within a short walking distance from the centre include Tumbles, Portobello Toddler Hut, Tower Bank Primary School and Portobello Swim Centre, all dotted along or near the promenade. We’re starting to explore the potential of whether we can use these buildings better to co-locate services.”

Wonder that the three ‘Community Centres’ are? Wash House, Bellfield and Joppa Parish or Tribe? Only Wash House is a Council asset in that list. Intriguing as ever.

What actually drew my attention in the report were two sentences:

“Point 6.2 -The Scottish Government has announced a Place Based Investment Programme, which is a capital grant based programme (replacing the Town Centre Fund). City of Edinburgh Council has been allocated £1.998m in 2021/22 and it proposed to use this funding to help deliver the 20-Minute Neighbourhood Strategy.”


A report on the Place Based Investment Fund will be considered by Housing, Homelessness and Fair Work Committee on 25 June 2021.”

Best start lobbying the ‘Housing, Homelessness and Fair Work Committee on 25th June to secure a piece of PBIF for Portobello Town Hall to fill the gap in our plans where the Town Centre Fund was……

Got the Regeneration Fund Stage 1 application to get in with Council for 17th June too.

Jennifer’s Blog