Brian Porteous and Cruz Property Management, disreputable property sharks

Warning: bitchy blog post…

In Edinburgh tenement flats are communally owned. The stair, outside wall, drains, roof and garden and all owned and maintained equally by every flat. There’s no factor or English style freeholder to take care of it. I really like the spirit of this, everyone should look after their own property and share the effort. In practice it ends up as a tragedy of the commons. Nobody bothers to maintain anything and so the garden goes to ruin and the roof and walls start to fall apart. When I was ill the winter before last I stopped sweeping the stairwell. Before long the chip packets started to build up and you had to trample through the cigarette ends to get out. Nobody has much of a community spirit alas, tenants just expect their landlord to do cleaning but most of the flats are owned by absentee landlords who couldn’t care about the state as long as the rent is coming in. Eventually the only other owner-occupier in the stair did sort out the messy stairwell, by calling a company to do it and charge everyone for cleaning. Better than nothing I suppose.

Last year I got a grumpy letter from one of my absentee-landlord neighbours saying repairs needed to be done and could we please agree to doing them. As the only person in the stair who takes and interest in his own home I got asked to show around the roofers who had been called out to give a quote, not easy when you have severe head trauma. After a while the absentee-landlord said we should just agree to the first quote and everyone else agreed but it was up to me to point out the quote was for entirely the wrong work. So I had to take up the task and find the missing quote from a roofer and hassle all my neighbours into agreeing to it. Our nice Scottish Parliament has passed a tenement act which means decisions can be taken by a majority vote so I got that and proceeded. Nobody else offered to help and I even got one neighbour saying “why don’t you just call X”, which made me grumpy “because I have a brain injury, why don’t you” was my reply.

Work done I had to hassle all my neighbours for money. Some paid quickly, some sent cheques (what millenium is this?) and some had to be hassled a few times before paying in cash. Which all left one – Brian Porteous. This absentee landlord is the worst sort, a product of the Blair government where energy was best put into not doing useful things but mortgaging the future to bring in the money quick. He never took part at all in the discussions about the repairs and there was a loud silence from him. He has set himself up as a company called BJP Properties and rented out the flat underneath mine through his son’s company Cruz Property Management. He is also the director of Berwick Rangers Football Club. After not getting a reply I stopped off at his house, it has a large electric gate that can’t be opened except with the right remote key. It has a fountain and a gnome in the front garden. Next door lives his son, Callum Porteous who had a Cruz Property Management van in the driveway. Despite owning a property management company he had never got back to me once about the repairs. Callum doesn’t have an electric gate on his house so I could walk into that one and through the gate between them to his dad’s house to knock on the door. No reply alas so I had to write a letter and put it through the post box. A few days later with no reply I posted a letter. Then at last a reply, Callum e-mailed to say he was no longer the agent and this had nothing to do with him. I replied pointing out he was the registered agent on the government database and I asked he walk next door to the owner to tell him to pay up. That even got a reply from the main man Brian Porteous. He said he’d never agreed to any repairs and I’d need to send him the paperwork and I should sue him if I wanted to.

So after many follow up e-mails and phone calls with no reply I went to the Sheriff court today to file a small claims summons. It’ll be interesting to see if he shows up to it or not.

It makes me wonder in what possible way it’s socially acceptable to own a property company and not look after the property. Brain Porteous should be prohibited from being a company director and Callum Porteous should find an economically useful business to work in.

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Coastal Navigation and Tidal Planning

This year’s SCA Club and Volunteer Conference didn’t have as much in the way of certificates as previous years but I did do the full day classroom qualifications of Coastal Navigation and Tidal Planning. I’ve been wanting to do this for a while to improve my knowledge of sea paddling theory and of maps in general. It covers what you need to know about the weather, reading Admiralty or other navigation charts as well as OS maps and planning for tide heights and currents. Our tutor was Mark McKerral from Paddle Lochaber, who was excellent.

Here’s some notes for my own reference and anyone else who cares to read.

Doing this safety course is needed for a 4 star and is part of the remit to lead a session in moderate water which on the sea means: up to force 4 winds, 2 nautical miles off the coast and a tide speed of 2 knots.

Places to get weather information are websites from the BBC and the Met Office. Met Office gives shipping, inshore waters, synoptic/pressure and general forcasts. Inshore waters is most interesting to us as coastal paddlers. XCweather.co.uk and windfinder are also good. Magic Seaweed website gives surf predictions and swell charts. You can also call a Coastguard and ask or listen to a VHF radio broadcast.

A weather front is where hot and cold air meet. Warm air holds moisture and cold releases it.

Anabatic winds is a sea breeze, when the land is heated by the sun causing hot air to rise and colder air from the sea to blow in. Katabatic winds is the opposite.

Sea fog appears when warm air (carrying moisture) drifts over a cold sea.

Shipping forcast on Radio 4 gives: general warnings, general synopsis then area info. Area is wind direction, wind force, sea state and visibility. Radio 4 also gives an inshore waters forcast. Rottray to Berwick is the area I care about covering the Firth of Forth. Sea State is the Douglas scale and covers wave height:calm is < 10cm, smooth is < 50cm, slight < 1.25m then moderate, rough phenomenal. Words are deceptively gentle sounding for a sea kayak. Sea navigation charts (maps) are made by Admiralty (part of the UK Hydrographic Office) and Imray (commercial company). They cover the depths in metres. 1 nautical mile is 1.8km which is close to 2km for casual purposes. 1 minute of arc of latitude (or longitude at the equator) on the earth is 1 nautical mile. nautical miles are used rather than km because on mercator maps the scale changes depending on your distance to the equator but 1' can easily be found on the scale at the side of the map. OS Landranger maps are useful too. They have a little known latitude and longitude scale on the outside of the map, it uses a different grid (skewed to OS national grid) with small blue crosses across the map to mark it. A divider is a tool like a school maths set compass which is useful for measuring distances on a map. Various places to measure a tide from: MHWS (mean high water at springs), MHWN (mean high water at neaps), MSL (mean sea level, used by OS maps), Drying Height (hight of something covered for some of the time by the tide), MLWS (mean low water at springs), CD is usually Lowest Astronomical Tide (a theoretical minimum tide level). Moon takes 24 hours and 50 minutes to go round the earth so cycle of tides is a little longer than a day. Spring tides are high & low tides when sun is aligned to the moon. 7 days later are neap tides - less high/low tides. At the equinoxes there are larger tides and at the solstices there are smaller tides. Rule of constants in tides - the difference in time between high tide at 2 spots is always the same (except when it isn't). Rule of 12th, a rule of thumb for the tide hights, 1st hour height rises 1/12th of total, 2nd hour -> 2/12ths, 3rd hour -> 3/12ths, 4 hour -> 3/12ths, 5 hour -> 2/12ths, 6 hour -> 1/12ths (a total rise of 12/12ths)

Tide Races are caused by constrictions. Overfalls are generally formed when a rock is under the water in a constriction.

Overfall at the Falls of Lora, Oban.

When wind is against the tide it makes more waves (smaller waves if wind with tide).

High baromatic pressure also makes tides less high.

Proxigean tides are when lots of factors combine to make very high tides, sprints with equinox with meterological with perigee (near moon).

Rule of Thirds is a rule of thumb for the speed of the tide. middle of 1st hour -> 1/3 full speed, 2nd hour -> 2/3rds, 3rd hour -> 3/3rds, 4th hour -> 3/3rds, 5th hour -> 2/3rds, 6th hour -> 1/3rds.

50/90 rule is another rule of thumb for tide speed. 1st hour ends at 50% of speed, 2nd hour at 90%, 3rd hour at 100%, 4th hour at 90%, 5th hour at 50% and 6th hour at 0%

A journey planner needs to know the tide current speed, distance, paddling speed.

Use guide books or nautical tables to find the tide high water/low water and resulting current speed at any point.

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