EGM (Updated with MINUTES) 2021

Extraordinary General Meeting 6 pm, Friday, 30th July

EGM of Feuars Responsible for the Upkeep of Lord Moray’s Pleasure Grounds

Reception Desk Opens at 5:15 Registration is Mandatory

Lord Moray’s Feuars* are invited to attend a EGM being held in Moray Place Gardens. Please enter via Great Stuart Street gate where you will be greeted by a host, registered at reception, issued with a voting paddle and name badge.

PROXY FORMS; please submit to Whitelaw Wells by 4 pm, Friday, 30th July to allow time for validation. However, if you do bring them to the EGM, they must be submitted to the reception desk no later than 5:55 pm, to ensure validation before the start of the meeting. PROXY Forms will be available to download or electronically complete and submit from 4 pm, Monday, 19th July from this website.

Please note, One Vote Per Household, only voting paddles will be counted. If there is a difference of voting intent in your household, the first name on your deeds takes the vote.

*EGM is open to only Feuars (property owners), with regret, residents (renting) are not able to attend.

Minutes Added 3rd August 2021

Minutes of the EGM of Lord Moray’s Feuars held at 6pm on30th July 2021 

in the Moray Place Garden.

Present:​​​Dr M Vail Barker, Chair, Mr M Baynham, Prof P Broda, Mr A Dixon, Mr B Finlay, Mr E Jeffrey, Mrs F Dobson, Mr K Dixon

​​​67 feuars

Proxy votes:​​21 submitted by the deadline and verified

Apologies:​​Mrs F Griffiths, Mr G Henderson

The Chair introduced herself, welcomed all to the meeting then introduced the Committee. Dr Vail Barker explained that this is the first time an EGM has been held, hence we have to charter or bye laws as to how this should be run.  She proposed therefore that we followed AGM procedures, and asked for agreement.  There were no dissentions.

Dr Vail Barker also explained that, in addition to having a note taker, the session would be audio and video recorded.  She asked if anyone was opposed to this, and there were no dissentions.

There were 2 resolutions to be discussed.  The procedure was outlined as follows:  the proposer for each resolution would speak first, then questions from the floor.  A vote would then be held.  We would firstly address resolution 1, and the process would then be repeated for resolution 2.  

Mr Robert Luther (34 Moray Place) asked for confirmation that resolution 1 would be dealt with first in its entirety and we would then move onto resolution 2.  Dr Vail Barker confirmed this would be the case. 

Introduction from the committee

Mr Ken Dixon gave a brief introduction as background to the meeting.  He thanked everyone for coming and went on to describe how much we all love the city, the gardens, and the feu.  This is a magical oasis in a haven within the city, which has even been used as a background to a costume drama.  This haven is very much alive and switched on to what is going on around it. 

We now face the proposed introduction of communal bins.  It is recognised that the city is charged with increasing its levels of recycling and has invested in a new hub to support this process.  However we are now faced with the drama of a plan to replace the existing gull bags with container hubs, and this decision has been taken by the council without due process.  We fear the detrimental effect this will have on the feu.  Mr Dixon recognised that not everyone will oppose this, but there is a widespread feeling that the proposed solution is not fit for purpose.  

Local communities have engaged via the New Town & Broughton Community Council (NTBCC), and these activities involve lobbying councillors and the media.  A meeting is held every Tuesday, and Moray Feu committee members Mr K Dixon and Dr Vail Barker are attending, as observers.  Information from these meetings has been shared with feuars via the website and facebook page. The role of the Moray Feu committee is to observe, and inform and share.  There is some confusion over the role of the committee, however Mr K Dixon stressed that this is a garden committee and has no capacity to take a view or lead on this.  The feu is unique in that it has no residents association:  this committee’s remit begins and ends at the garden gates. 

Resolution 1

It is proposed that the Feuars of the Moray Feu express their full support for the campaign led by the New Town and Broughton Community Council (NTBCC) to stop the general installation of bin hubs in the New Town and offer every assistance to the NTBCC in that campaign, including, for instance, research, media awareness and fundraising

Mr Robert Luther (34 Moray Place), proposer, spoke to this resolution:

“The request for the EGM came out of frustration that was felt by many of us at the AGM recently where we felt there hadn’t been enough time to discuss this issue of the bins. Also, we sensed the unwillingness of the committee to engage in this. I was very pleased to receive some 53 signatures in support of the EGM convened.  I was even more pleased and I’d like to thank the chair for agreeing to convene this meeting without going through the very heavy procedure of requiring signatures for that purpose, and that I wanted to place on record very clearly.

I also want to place on record my deep regret that this has led to divisions in the feu and that’s something we need to repair as quickly as possible. It’s very strange that this is an issue that should be uniting us and I believe it will unite us. On the way to unification we have witnessed some rather unfortunate divisions and differences of opinion which I regret.  I hope that this EGM will provide this opportunity to mend those fences around what is a commonly shared aim which is to oppose the introduction of these bins across the new town.  

The resolution before you was drafted entirely in that sense I was trying to draft something simple. I believe it’s a simple message we simply want to convey, that the Moray Feu in its entirety through the adoption of this resolution wholeheartedly supports the campaign led by NTBCC in order to oppose the introduction of the bins. And, I should point out, to seek viable alternatives because simply saying no is not going to work: we need to come forward with some alternatives on the basis of which we could hopefully open up a discussion with the council.   

I’d like to pay tribute to those who have contributed already to a very significant amount of progress that has been made in the campaign, and I underline how important it is we maintain this momentum. I believe it’s important and that‘s why I asked the question at the beginning on the procedural point it’s important we should deal with resolution number 1 on its own merits and make it clear that the adoption of resolution number 1 is not contingent on the adoption of resolution number 2 but it stands on its own rights whatever the outcome on resolution number 2.“

Mr Robert Hay (10 Moray Place) questioned whether it is right that there should be only 1 vote per household, saying that if your name is on your deeds then you are a feuar.  Mr Baynham responded saying that these rules have been in place long before the current committee and that this is a property issue – each property pays once, and hence gets one vote.  He suggested that if joint owners disagree then the vote should go to the person whose name appears first on the deeds. 

Mr Raab (10 Ainslie Place) stated that we could only have 1 vote per household otherwise this meeting would be invalid, because one vote per household is what was stated on the meeting notice. 

Mrs Fiona Banatvala (32 Moray Place) spoke next.  She is very much against the introduction of such eyesores and cited Liverpool as a city that ignored this kind of warnings and has now lost its world heritage status.  It is vital that we protect our landscape.  The council have tried to bulldoze this through and the Moray Feu should be standing up and saying that we disagree.  If we do not speak up then we will be faced with a distortion of our cityscape.  More movement is likely in the rest of the New Town against these hubs and we need to tell the NTBCC that we agree with them.  It is important that we step up, we are the protectors of this time. 

Mr Ian Ely-Corbett (3/3 Randolph Crescent) said he has lived here for 6 weeks and chose his property because it is in the feu and that is unique.  He asked if anyone could say that communal bin hubs are a good idea anywhere in the New Town, and asked the feuars to accept both resolutions.  

Mr Chris Banatvala (32 Moray Place) said that the Moray Feu has huge status and the committee should support the campaign.  He also commented on the previous discussion about votes per household and suggested this should be changed if people agree.  

Mr Andrew Dobson (9/3 Doune Terrace) said he would speak to the resolution.  He thought this was light on substance.  He agreed that we the feuars should support the campaign and observed that most probably already are.  However, he said he did not know what this resolution meant and described it as toothless and hollow. 

Miss Grace Durham (11 Forres Street) said it was sad that we have to have an EGM to make this decision and stated that the meaning of resolution 1 was clear to her.  She said we have a moral responsibility to support the NTBCC and urged feuars to support the resolution. 

Mrs Fiona Banatvala (32 Moray Place) suggested we should clarify what this means.  As a group we want to make it clear to the council that we are against the hubs

Mr Richard Loudon (13 Moray Place) said that there is confusion regarding what we are being asked to vote on.  The gardens committee is for the gardens.  Are we asking this committee to speak for us and change their remit?  It is not clear what we are voting for.  He then asked whether the garden committee would be willing to make the stand for us?

Mr Robert Luther (34 Moray Place) commented that there is no reference to the gardens committee and they not required to do anything in resolution 1.  There has been activity already on this issue and the committee was not involved.  The Moray Feu has been represented by 4 people at the NTBCC, with different remits. 

Dr Vail Barker then added that herself and Mr Ken Dixon, both on the committee, have also been attending NTBCC meetings.

Mr Loudon confirmed that this made the situation clear.

Mrs Frances Dobson (9/3 Doune Terrace) asked about residents who are tenants and not owners.  The bins issue also affects them; however, they are excluded from feuars meetings.  Surely,we should be seeking to include all residents regardless of tenure

Mrs Fiona Banatvala (32 Moray Place) commented that we will next need to reach out to the tenants

The meeting then moved to vote on the resolution, which was proposed by Mr Robert Luther (34 Moray Place) and seconded by Mr Ely-Corbett (3/3 Randolph Crescent).  

The vote (including proxies) was as follows:

For:  ​59

Against:  ​none

Abstained:  ​12

The motion was duly passed.  

Resolution 2

Pursuant to Resolution Number 1, the Feuars endorse and support the formation of a voluntary neighbourhood association compliant with City of Edinburgh Council requirements for a Local Interest Group.  Such an organisation will be able to represent the interests of all who live and work in the Moray Feu and surrounding streets in matters of common interest outwith the remit of the Gardens Management Committee. 

Mr Michael Baynham (18 Moray Place) spoke to the resolutionon behalf of the gardens committee.  

“Resolution 2 is submitted by the gardens management committee as a means of better taking this issue forward and involving as many people as possible. The gardens management committee was formed almost 200 years ago for the purpose of upholding and managing the gardens on behalf of the owners in common of the gardens, who are obliged in terms of the title of their property to meet the cost of so doing.  

I think it’s worth pointing out that not all the feuars of the Moray Feu fall into that category so we do not, as Bob would suggest,represent the whole of the Moray Feu. There are a lot of people,there are about 150 properties in the Moray Feu who are not part of this group at the present time.  That’s a big number of properties and Moray Feuars that we need to get involved with this.  So we are appointed by and responsible only to the property owners, whereas most progressive and enlightened neighbourhoods in the new town have established neighbourhood associations which meet the requirements and are registered as local interest groups. Drummond Place have such in place and so do Regents Terrace: the two are quite separate and work constructively together.  

The garden management committee is keen to encourage all residents and occupiers to form such a neighbourhood association: open to everyone in our community to promote and defend our mutual interests, not just the interests of a privileged few property owners. In the 2011 census the residents of over 35% of residential properties in the feu were tenants and if anything that proportion will likely have increased in the intervening 10 years. Also, all commercial properties in the feu are occupied by tenants and not feuars.  The opinions on issues affecting our neighbourhood held by all residents and occupiers,whether they be property owners, tenants, spouses, partners,parents of children, are all equal and they all need a voice and representation on issues affecting everyday life.  The garden management committee is committed to support and assist in any way they can in the promotion and formation of such a neighbourhood association. For these reasons I commend resolution 2 to the meeting.”

Miss Grace Durham (11 Forres Street) said that she had read her title deeds and there was no reference to a committee of garden management.   When she had been on the committee it was simply Lord Morays Feuars and she didn’t know how this distinction had crept in. This will cause a division; we should be looking at the amenity in its entirety.  

Mr Ken Barker (13 Great Stuart Street) said he was very much in favour.  This was the way to persuade the council to change its mind.  As Moray Feuars we are privileged and we need to speak for the heritage of this area, and hence we need to speak for everyone.  We need a proper neighbourhood association.  We can’t tell the gardens committee what to do.  He would be more comfortable with an elected body and we need this to influence the council.  He strongly recommended this resolution.  

Mr Ken Dixon (6 Moray Place) said he hates the ideas of the bins. However, this is only the start – there are other issues coming that will affect our neighbourhood, such as electric charging points, heavy rain causing issues.  We need to think holistically, about the bigger picture. 

Mrs Fiona Banatvala (32 Moray Place) said her understanding was that this was a community group and we could easily become a non-closed group.  She suggested a sub committee that informs the group and the wider community.  Regarding tenants, she suggested this group could reach out to tenants and invite them to join meetings, they don’t need to have a voting right.  

Mr Robert Luther (34 Moray Place) said he was against the resolution.    He expressed concern about the first words (pursuant to resolution number 1), as he felt this was a whole new discussion.  We have one urgent issue here.  He queried whether we have the time, money and resources needed for a local interest group, and personally he didn’t believe this was the case.  He suggested that the committee could designate a member to sit on the NTBCC and this could happen from the first week in August. 

Mr Chris Banatvala (32 Moray Place) said that a neighbourhood association may be a good idea but he doesn’t know how it would work or what it would cost.

Dr Martha Vail Barker (chair) stated a point of information:  further to the AGM she had sent out a position paper which states what such a neighbourhood association would look like.  She also pointed out that the garden committee already has representation on the NTBCC.  She expressed concern about the non-property owners who were not present at the EGM.  She stated that it would be easy to set up a new group and that this would be a more inclusive way which has already been trialled in other areas.  

Mr Andrew Dobson (9/3 Doune Terrace) expressed his support for this resolution.  The world has changed and now in 2021 we have to play by the new rules.  The council is very clear it will not engage with private membership groups such as the Moray Feuars.  We need a local interest group.  We can’t fight the battles of the future from the 60s and 70s.

Richard Loudon (13 Moray Place) said this would need to be properly thought out and budgeted, and we don’t have time.  How are we going to implement resolution 2?  Should this come to a later meeting where we could involve all households? He suggested this was put on a back burner, until next year’s AGM.

Mrs Fiona Banatvala (32 Moray Place) suggested we amend the wording of resolution 2 and remove the first 5 words (pursuant to resolution number 1)

Dr Martha Vail Barker (chair) suggested feuars thought of resolution 2 as an invitation to your neighbours.  There was nothing to stop the tenants introducing their own residents association now.  

Mr Charles Raab (10 Ainslie Place) explained why we need to foster a residents association.  He had been on the committee at the time that the Western Approach Road was introduced which had consequences for traffic flow through the feu.  He had gone as an observer to the NTBCC and had added his voice to the campaigns.  This campaign had been unsuccessful and he thought it would have been strengthened if we had a proper association.  For this reason he will be supporting resolution 2.  

Dr Vail Barker said the committee can’t amend its own resolution.

Mr Andrew Dixon (12A Great Stuart Street) said that over 1,000 people live in the feu, not just the 67 here tonight.  He stressed the need to get everyone involved and to be more inclusive.  He also commented that for the bicentennial survey he had had an equal response from owners and tenants, suggesting that tenants do want to be involved in the feu.  He stressed the need to work as a single community.

Dr Vail Barker asked for a proposer for the amendment to remove the first 5 words of resolution 2.  This was proposed by Simon Laird (22 Moray Place) and seconded by Simon Beig (DOES ANYONE KNOW WHERE HE LIVES??)

Mrs Fiona Banatvala (32 Moray Place) suggested this was delayed until next year. 

Mr Richard Loudon (13 Moray Place) stated that we couldn’t count the proxy votes if the wording of the resolution was changed. 

It was therefore agreed that no change to wording could happen, and the motion moved to a vote.  

The vote (including proxies) was as follows:

For:  ​57

Against:  ​10

Abstained:  ​4

The motion was duly passed.