Three things Leithers can learn from the latest parks assessment

Haar on Leith Links

Each year the council coordinates a parks assessment exercise where most city green spaces are rated on a series of indicators in seven categories spanning everything from maintenance to marketing.

Council officers work alongside trained community volunteers, and then the numbers are duly crunched and presented in a report. The 2013 report has been published recently, and you can find the full thing here.

To save you wading through it we’ve pulled out the key bits that Leithers may be interested in below.

1. The Leith area still has the worst quality parks in the city but at least they’re improving.

Leith NP Park Quality 2013

2. Pilrig Park and Dalmeny Street park are getting worse

Individual park ratings 2013

3. Leith Links doesn’t make the grade

Leith Links is designated as a premier park – that means it’s supposed to be maintained in a similar way to the Meadows, Princes Street Gardens and Saughton Park. Sadly, the council assessment shows that this still isn’t happening, despite recent investment in the park.

Another council analysis of the 2011 census data showed that the Leith Walk ward is now one of the most densely populated places in the UK outside London. As a consequence Leithers have less access to green space than most other parts of the city – and therefore it’s important that what we do have is well maintained.

If you think the council could try harder, by for example, allocating the money needed to upgraded the Leith Links play facilities, then you could consider contacting your councillor about it. We’d be delighted to hear what they have to say. And of course, if you want to help do something practical about it, you could consider joining us, or one of the growing number of Friends of Parks groups.

Photo credit: Scott Walker

Written by Ally Tibbitt

Ally Tibbitt is a member of Greener Leith. He looks after this website.

  • Michael Traill

    I wonder if part of the reasons parks & green spaces in Leith are in the condition they are, not just because of the Council as this article implies but due to the treatment of the parks & green spaces by the Leith community?

    Take a walk through Leith Links and there is graffiti, litter & sometimes dog fouling? Surely this has been done by the public? Surely the community as a whole must accept some responsibility for this? Surely the community as a community set the standards for parks & greenspaces, if they want quality greenspaces then they should show respect etc for their parks by not dropping litter, damaging play equipment or not picking up their dog foul and they will have a good quality green space. If the community decide they dont want a good quality green space then they will litter, vandalise etc

    • allytibbitt

      Hi Michael, you’ll not be the first local council officer I’ve heard who suggests that Leithers are somehow in aggregate less “responsible” than other people who live elsewhere in Edinburgh and that as a consequence they deserve to get worse quality public services. However, I don’t hold that view. The standards referred to in this post, are standards set by the council itself – it seems completely reasonable to me to hold the council to account on their own performance targets if the council is failing to meet them.

      • Michael Traill

        As you link my personal comments directly to my role as a local
        government officer, I should point out that whilst I am indeed a local
        government officer, the comments made on this blog are my own personal
        opinion. They are not intended to be representative of my employer and
        certainly don’t claim to be.

        My comments in this case related to Leithers, but only because Leith
        is the topic. I would make the same comments of Portobello, where I
        live, that its local people who set the standards of their local parks
        & green space by the way they treat it.

        Perhaps the people of Leith dont want clean, litter free, dog foul
        free parks? Otherwise why would they continually litter & fail to
        clean up after their dog? Not all, but certainly an active percentage
        of people through down their litter & don’t clean up after their
        dogs, their choice to break the law.

        I never grudge anyone for holding a public authority to account, that would go against a very fundamental belief I have.

        Again, these comments & opinions are my own and I don’t claim
        that they are representative or on behalf of any organisation that I am
        associated with.

  • Michael Traill

    Can an admit delete this comment? Ive deleted it and moved it to be a ‘reply’.


  • maxb

    It is disappointing that the
    scores for some of the Parks have gone down this year but I do not think all
    the blame lies with the Council. We set up the Friends of Pilrig Park about
    nine months ago and the Council, whilst sometimes a little slow, have been
    really helpful. They have installed new bins, match funded the installation of
    new benches, redirected children’s play equipment that was not being used into
    the play areas, supported us as we have undertaken litter picks and are now
    helping us to thin out some of the woodland areas (next clearance is this
    Saturday at 10:30am if anyone wants to come along). You can see the difference
    it has made already

    Perhaps the Council should have
    been doing this anyway, but I have some sympathy with Michael’s comments. How
    should the Council prioritise its’ finite resources? Endlessly cleaning
    graffiti of a wall in a park that is just replaced the following week or
    supporting community groups to improve their lot. I would certainly press
    for the latter and hopefully we will see the score rise next year.

    • allytibbitt

      Hi Max,

      Friends of Parks groups are clearly part of the solution, not the problem. And indeed the fact that most parks in Leith now have a “Friends of Parks” group looking after them proves my point really. There are just as many local people in Leith as anywhere else who go above and beyond the call of duty to put the volunteer hours in to improve their local public spaces, and they make a huge difference.

      Exactly for this reason, I don’t think it’s acceptable for people to explain away poor quality public services, and justify underinvestment in park infrastructure by suggesting that the users of a park in one place do not deserve it because in aggregate they are “less responsible.” Compare the quality of the play equipment in Saughton Park, or The Meadows with Leith Links – all “Premier Parks” – and you’ll see what I’m getting at.