Campaigners hoping to save Malta House for Lothian and Edinburgh Abstinence Programme (LEAP) handed in petitions containing over six hundred signatures to the Church of Scotland this morning. The move comes as talks over the future of the building continue between the Church of Scotland and NHS Lothian, and campaigners could know the fate of Malta House as early as next week.
In a statement issued earlier today, the Save Malta House for LEAP camapign group said: ‘Copies of the Save Malta House for LEAP petition were handed to the Church of Scotland this morning. More than 600 signatures and heartfelt comments were gathered in less that a fortnight, on-line and on paper in the Stockbridge area. Copies were addressed to the Moderator, the Secretary to the Council of Assembly (the Church’s Chief Executive), the Chief Executive Officer of CrossReach (the Social Care Council of the Church) and the Church’s Solicitor. Mary Macleod, Depute Solicitor of the Church, received the petition. She said that a decision on the future of Malta House and the lease to LEAP would not be made today, but probably early next week.
‘The aim of the petition is to secure the future of LEAP at Malta House. By 7 September, the petition and campaign had encouraged the Church not to commit to immediate sale to a developer, but to enter into discussions about potential purchase by the NHS. This in itself is a great achievement, for which we commend the Church, but we are clearly not yet out of the woods. Should such discussions be successful, it would be a ‘win-win’ situation: the Church would raise money from a sale, and LEAP would continue to lease the property.
‘If these discussions do not lead to this ‘win-win’ outcome, the Save Malta House for LEAP campaign will want to know what on earth has gone wrong. It is not clear why the Church is having difficulty resolving matters. Initially the Church seemed to have found itself in an uncomfortable and stark choice between financial gain and its social responsibilities. The current prospect of purchase by the NHS Lothian (potentially through the Edinburgh and Lothian Health Foundation) looks to offer a solution which delivers both: a way forward to the credit of all concerned.
We remain very aware of the efforts and concern of so many people on this issue of such importance. The outcome has an impact far beyond a local community, on the reputation of the Church, and on all those recognising the importance of LEAP remaining at Malta House and continuing as a beacon of hope for those facing the challenge of dependency on drink and drugs. The on-line petition is being kept open until the objective of keeping Malta House for LEAP is achieved.’
There are indications that the group and LEAP supportersmay indeed achieve their aim. In a statement on Thursday (6 September), Peter Bailey, Chief Executive Officer and Secretary of the Church of Scotland’s Social Care Council (Crossreach), told the campaigners: ”In relation to the NHS LEAP project in Malta House The Social Care Council wishes to reiterate the earlier statement that they wish to be as helpful and as flexible as possible in the current situation relating to LEAP. To this end they are now able to confirm that representatives of the organisation are in active discussions with NHS Lothian to explore a positive way forward on this matter within the constraints faced by both NHS Lothian and CrossReach. It would be premature to comment further while these discussions continue.”