We were very disturbed to hear that on Mon 16th Sept a number of emergency vehicles – including the ambulance service – were unable to gain entry to the site – eventually having to climb into the site and break in with bolt-cutters to get to a person who needed assistance.
Apparently, some time between the hours of 8 and 9pm that evening, two dog-walkers found a person who needed help on the Local Nature Reserve and raised the alarm.
Local residents were amazed to see a convoy of emergency vehicles – including the ambulance service – turn up at the main entrance to the Craighouse site, only to find they could not gain entry.
The entrance has been blocked by the Craighouse Partnership by 7 foot plywood hoardings and Do Not Enter signs (despite the fact that the site is still open to the public).
After phoning for entry and waiting, the emergency team had to eventually cut their way in with bolt cutters and climb over the hoardings to allow the emergency vehicles to gain entry.
This has disturbed a number of residents.
Local people have been writing to us to urge that this barricade be removed. It is ugly, it is intimidating and it reduces visibility of and from the site and now it has prevented the emergency services getting quick access to a person in need.
This incident epitomises many of our concerns about what has been happening at Craighouse – and underlines the real importance of the community, regular community use and access when it comes to security and looking after the site.
It is the community that noticed water running down the buildings and moved to get it stopped. It is the community that have pushed for the site to be maintained, it is the community who are regularly taking litter off the site and it is members of the community who helped a person in trouble and did their public duty.
The Friends of Craighouse have been concerned for a while about the security arrangements in terms of fire engine access. I wrote to William Gray Muir a while ago questioning the suitability of the boarded over entrance in the case of a fire and asking about what arrangements were in place. He said:
“Contrary to your implication the present access arrangements were agreed with the fire brigade prior to the vacation of the site by Napier.”
In a letter from July he stated that “youths” had been “driving recklessly around the site at speed” and that The Craighouse Partnership made “no apology for putting safety first”. In a letter from August, I was accused of not taking seriously the safety of the security guards.
However, rather than putting safety first, the incident on the 16th shows the barricade prevented emergency services getting quickly and easily to someone in need.
The Friends care about everyone using the site along with the security of the site itself – which is why we think that the hoardings at the entrance are not working and must be looked at again.
The hoardings that have been erected by The Craighouse Partnership prevent visibility from local houses and the road and reduce easy pedestrian access in and out of the site. They should be replaced with a measure that retains proper pedestrian access – as there has been for decades – and that allows good visibility into and out of the site and better emergency access.
The old entrance system, if used properly, should have been adequate to prevent the kinds of incidents outlined by William Gray Muir, without blocking off pedestrian access and visibility to the site.
We believe that encouraging regular community use, keeping the site cared for and maintained and making sure the site is highly visible discourages vandals and is better for everyone – the public, the security guards and the site itself.
The site may be left in this state for a long period of time. If emergency vehicles cannot gain quick access, this is just not acceptable and could also increase potential risks in the case of fire.
It is clear from this incident that the present set-up is not acceptable and that the hoardings are causing more risk than they are preventing. Another solution must be found. The hoardings must be taken down and the entrance must be properly accessible to pedestrians and – importantly – allow for visibility, as it has done previously, so that the community can continue to use and look out for this very special site – as they have done, very successfully, for decades under Napier’s ownership.