Keeping the Committee on track
Until relatively recently, there were no written rules governing the committee. A draft was drawn up by the committee and approved at the 1997 AGM where it was agreed that a member could serve for a maximum of three sessions of three years and that there should be a maximum of 11 members including the chairman.
In addition to the 11 members, the Management Committee could co-opt feuars onto the committee if particular expertise was required. Although not required by the rules, co-opted members have always stood for election at the following AGM if they wished to continue on the committee.
The rules also required that the Management Committee submit proposals for major extraordinary expenditure to a general meeting.
These have been set up as and when the committee considers it appropriate from time to time. The sub-committees currently in existence are Traffic and Gardens. Not all members of a subcommittee need be members of the main committee. Feuars may be invited by the main committee to join the sub-committee for their particular expertise.
Management Committee functions
The Management Committee was formed in the 1820s and until 1958, when it became involved in the Randolph Crescent Roundabout Enquiry, confined itself to matters relating to the gardens. In 1998 the question arose again regarding whether the Management Committee should also act as representatives of the feuars in objecting to the proposed road closures. It was again felt that such activity was in the best interest of the feuars.
The dual role of the Management Committee has been revisited from time to time as new members join it. The feeling has generally been that unless the threat was clearly to the feu as a whole, the Management Committee should not take sides by lodging objections, but simply make information available to all feuars so each was able to make his own decision. This has been the practice ever since and has applied to planning, licensing and particularly traffic matters.
Major works to the Bank Garden arches
In 1989, a sub-committee organised a scheme of major works to the Bank Garden arches, the top terrace, the steps and the outer railings. The 250 m of arches to the West had been built after the major landslip in 1825 and those to the East as a result of the 1837 landslip. Work on the arches was urgently required as there were signs of structural failure and the danger of collapse. (There had recently been a spectacular collapse of a feuar’s garden wall at the east end of the arches.) The cost was around £63,000. A 60% grant was obtained from the Edinburgh New Town Conservation Committee for a major part of the work.
Two full-time gardeners, John Hughes and Melvyn Clench, are employed by the Management Committee on behalf of the feuars. They are instructed by the gardens convenor. Outside contractors, such as a tree surgeon, are used when required.