Sean Watters’ letter (18 February) about Portobello Park is misleading on several counts, not least of which is that the City of Edinburgh Council can simply sell inalienable common-good land.
He fails to mention that the council would have to apply to the courts to do so and there would be severe restrictions on the use of the land if a disposal were to be allowed.
Since 2006, many of us in Portobello have believed the council has no legal power to appropriate the park. The recent Inner House [of the Court of Session] decision supporting that belief came about after the council was dragged to court and the ruling is now accepted by the council, regardless of what anyone else might think.
We needed a new school in 2002 when Portobello High was to be included in the second wave of school rebuilds.
We needed one in 2006 when the present project commenced but in 2008 the council changed its mind about going to court to seek permission to appropriate the park.
Only in 2012 did the council vote to appropriate it, but the court declared the council’s decision ultra vires, that is, it had no power to do this.
This has resulted in a delay of four years, caused by the pursuit of an unlawful course of action by the council. We may still be waiting for certainty at this time next year, rather than going for the option of the council’s identified alternative sites.
In addition, the council’s current position to return the existing school site to open space has to be queried, as it previously rejected this option in 2010 on grounds that the site is in the wrong place and would be a waste of public money. This latest reversal is just one of many unexplained twists in this sorry saga of mismanagement.
Any private bill proposed by the council allowing it to build on all of Portobello Park cannot be used by other councils but, if it is a cheap and quick way to circumvent common-good status, as the council claims, then other authorities will follow this route and this has could affect all communities in Scotland.
West Brighton Crescent
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