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March 11, 2009

Local outrage at developer’s proposal for name change

The developer who thought a name change for Leith would go down well clearly hadn’t researched his topic. Ever since 1920, the people of Leith have felt somewhat aggrieved after voting five to one in a referendum against Edinburgh’s proposal that Leith should become part of the Capital. Edinburgh chose to ignore the will of the people on that occasion but at least had the good sense to allow Leith to keeps its name

When Leithers heard of the proposals…

THOUSANDS of Leithers have signed up to a campaign against plans to name a multi million-pound development in the port “Edinburgh Harbour”.

Residents came out in their masses last week to back a campaign fighting for the retention of Leith Docks as the main title for the development by Fort Ports, which is due to begin this year.

A final push for more signatures was made at the weekend as community activists campaigned at The Foot of The Walk.

Protesters believe the name change will strip Leith of its historic identity and warn of a community uprising if the Edinburgh Harbour brand is put in place.

Some signing the petition said that if Edinburgh Harbour is used, they will campaign for Edinburgh Castle to be renamed Leith Castle to prove a point.

Cliff Lutton, 84, a retired doctor, is, along with son Ian, distributing petitions across the port, in pubs, cafes, shops and businesses, before they present the names to councillors at the city chambers.

The former Leith Hospital doctor said: “If this name is passed, councillors will live to regret it. Leithers are extremely different from Edinburgh people. They are proud of their history.”

Leith councillor Gordon Munro is one of many politicians backing the campaign, describing it as a “no brainer”.

But Forth Port officials say people have misunderstood how the development will be named.

Charles Hammond, group chief executive, said: “Leith Docks will remain as the umbrella name for the overall development project. The name Edinburgh Harbour was chosen for this area of Leith Docks, which will include a cruise ship terminal, as it highlights the fact that Leith is the gateway into Scotland’s capital city.”

Forth Ports has applied for outline planning permission for developing the area around Ocean Terminal. The first two of nine “urban villages” will include 1870 new homes.

Two weeks later…

Developers have dropped plans to re-name a section of Leith Docks “Edinburgh Harbour”.

Proud Leithers said the change would strip the historic port of its heritage and identity.

In just more than a week over 4000 people signed a petition protesting at the renaming – part of a multi-million-pound waterfront revamp.

The developers, Forth Ports, said they felt it was right to listen to the protests.

The Ocean Terminal section of the waterfront which was to have been renamed Edinburgh Harbour will now be known as The Harbour, Leith Docks.

Charles Hammond, Forth Ports chief executive, said: “We have listened very carefully to the views expressed in the last couple of weeks and, working closely with the city council, we have taken these on board in arriving at the final decision to name this part of the overall development, ‘The Harbour, Leith Docks’.”

Edinburgh North and Leith MSP Malcolm Chisholm said: “I am glad Forth Ports listened to the overwhelming voice of Leith. I do not think they anticipated the reaction they got.”

…and so the name of Leith will ‘Persevere’ for a while yet.