MSPs back principles of the Leith Links and Surplus Fire Fund bill

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MSPs backed the principles of The City of Edinburgh Council (Leith Links and Surplus Fire Fund) Bill during a preliminary stage debate on 21 January 2014.

Leith Links is a public park and under Section 22 of the Schedule to the City of Edinburgh District Council Order Confirmation Act 1991 the erection of monuments or statues is prohibited.

The bill aims to provide an exception to this law to allow the erection of a statue in honour of Captain of Golf John Rattray who was signatory to the first rules of golf and winner of the Open competition at Leith Links in 1744, 1745 and 1751.

Known as the "Articles and Laws in Playing at Golf", these rules were adopted by the golfers of St Andrews in 1754 and were the basis of the game that is played today.

Mr Rattray was also a surgeon, who treated Bonnie Prince Charlie.

Speaking as committee convener, John Lamont MSP said he was "satisfied the bill is tightly drawn to create an exception only for this particular statue and that no further development can take place on the site at Leith Links".

Planning permission, subject to certain conditions, has been granted and fundraising to erect the statue is continuing.

The second part of the bill relates to Edinburgh's Surplus Fire Fund.

The Surplus Fire Fund was established in 1824 to offer financial help to those who have suffered injury or loss following a fire in the city and has since grown to £2.5 million from an initial £11,000 after lying dormant.

It is proposed to make the conditions of awards more flexible and transfer administration of the fund to the charity Edinburgh Voluntary Organisations Trust from the city council.

Deputy Committee Convener Sandra White MSP said changes governing eligibility for the fund include reducing the level of personal injury sustained in fires, considering claims for damaged buildings and loss of contents which "in many cases those applying will not be insured" and award "grants to burn units caring for people resident in the city of Edinburgh council area".

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