Wednesday, March 22, 2017

Residents continue to be satisfied with life in the Capital

'Edinburgh People Survey' results

Residents continue to be satisfied with life in the Capital, the latest Edinburgh People Survey has shown.
The City of Edinburgh Council’s annual study, which is the largest of its kind in the UK, found 94% of the 5226 respondents are satisfied with the city as a place to live, while two thirds said they are happy with the way the Council manages the city.

Survey participants also reported feeling secure in their communities - around three quarters don't believe vandalism, anti-social behaviour or alcohol-related disorder to be a problem, while 85% feel safe after dark.

Feedback showed an increased perception of diversity and inclusiveness too, with 86% agreeing their neighbourhood is a place where people of different backgrounds get along – up from 81% in 2014 – and 94% agreeing Edinburgh is welcoming and accessible to people of all ages.

Councillor Andrew Burns, Council Leader, said: “There is a lot to be pleased about in this year’s Edinburgh People Survey results – despite an increasingly challenging financial climate and demand for services, we continue to see a high level of satisfaction with life in the Capital.

“What’s also clear is that people feel safe, welcome and included in their local communities, regardless of their background, which certainly adds to the quality of life here.

“While we are encouraged by positive feedback, the survey has allowed us to take stock of the areas the public feel we need to improve too, and this will help inform our priorities moving forward.”

Councillor Frank Ross, Depute Council Leader, added: “Every year the Edinburgh People Survey gives us an insight into what the public feel we are doing right, and the things they want us to do better.

“It’s great to see such high satisfaction this year with services like public transport, parks and our calendar of cultural events, but we also acknowledge the areas that scored lower, and intend to act on these concerns to improve the city for everyone.”

Despite ongoing budgetary constraints, almost half of residents believe the Council offers good value for money, while there was a rise in the proportion who agree that the Council displays sound financial management – 33%, compared to 24% in 2014 and 29% in 2015.

There was recognition, however, that this figure could be improved and that the survey offered the opportunity to focus resources on the areas that matter most to people. Other areas for improvement include street cleaning, roads maintenance and cycle safety.

A number of new questions added to the survey, which is now in its tenth year, highlighted residents’ travel habits, revealing the most common form of transport to be bus – 68% had used the service in the last month. Respondents travelled on foot most frequently—on average 5.2 days a week compared to 4.6 days a week driving.

Key findings in the Edinburgh People Survey 2016 include:   
  • Residents continue to be happy with life in Edinburgh, with 94% of participants satisfied 
  • 89% of respondents are satisfied with their neighbourhood as a place to live – the same as last year
  • 46% think the Council keeps them informed on spending and saving proposals – an increase of 50% since 2014 (when the proportion was 30%)
  • Over two thirds of respondents – 71% - think the Council cares about the environment
  • More people than ever are using online library services – 24% compared to 16% in 2014
  • 59% said they supported the new 20mph speed limits being introduced in Edinburgh
  • Residents generally believe the Capital’s programme of festival events makes the city a better place to live – 80% agreed, rising from 72% in 2014
  • Almost two thirds of those who answered this question – 64% - were satisfied with facilities for young children, with 59% satisfied with teenagers’ facilities
  • Satisfaction with street cleansing was 58%, down on its long-term average 
  • 50% were satisfied with road maintenance – broadly in line with other local authorities in Scotland
Information gathered by the survey is used throughout the year to inform work with services, while identified areas for improvement will be addressed, with updates on progress fed back to committee mid-year.

The survey is undertaken through face-to-face interviews with residents across the city’s 17 multi-member wards each year, conducted in the street and door-to-door.

Members of the Corporate Policy and Strategy Committee will consider the survey results on Tuesday, 28 March.

Growing popularity of city allotments

New allotment strategy recognises growing popularity of city plots

The City of Edinburgh Council is set to improve access to and management of allotments in the Capital in recognition of their social, environmental and health benefits.
Members of the Transport and Environment Committee approved the Council’s third allotment strategy - Cultivating Communities: A Growing Success 2017 – 2027 yesterday (Tuesday, 21 March).
Since the first strategy was implemented in 2002 allotments have surged in popularity – there are now 1488 plots across the city, compared 1065 plots in 1998, with the current provision comparable to that of the 1960s.
Amongst the strategy’s objectives is the intention to ensure adequate provision to allotments by investigating potential new sites, encouraging people to develop and manage plots on Council-owned land and the creation of allotments as part of the planning process for new developments.
Transport and Environment Convener, Councillor Lesley Hinds, said: “The popularity of allotments has soared over the last couple of decades, as people recognise the many benefits allotment gardening can offer in terms of healthy eating, relaxation and social interaction.
“In response to this our third allotment strategy aims to improve and increase accessibility to allotments. As well as investigating new sites ourselves we are keen to see communities take on and cultivate allotments on Council land, which we would fully support to help alleviate demand.”
Over the last 15 years Council has increased the number of plots by more than 400, improving the quality of existing sites, giving more people access to allotments and promoting food growing initiatives citywide.
More recently, the Community Empowerment (Scotland) Act 2015 placed a requirement on local authorities to provide and protect existing allotments. The latest strategy aims to support this through four objectives – to ensure adequate provision, develop robust management, improve customer experience and adopt revised regulations.
Stuart McKenzie, President of the Federation of Edinburgh and District Allotments and Gardens Associations (FEDEGA)(external link), who are represented on the Allotment Strategy Steering Group, said: “FEDAGA welcomes the adoption of this strategy to empower Edinburgh communities to fund, build and manage their own allotment spaces whilst also ensuring every inch of our precious allotment stock is used effectively. We look forward to working alongside the Council Allotment service to achieve these strategic objectives.” 
A series of actions linked to each objective have been drawn up following consultation with stakeholders and allotment-users. As well as investigating a list of potential new sites for allotments, the strategy aims to ensure plots are accessible to all and to promote biodiversity on new sites. A key focus of the new strategy is to engage the community to take ownership of their own sites, in collaboration with the Council.
Guidance for plot inspections to enhance quality and a proactive approach to the allotment waiting list will help achieve the robust management of allotments, while a website and the use of social media are proposed to improve the customer experience. Plotholder training, in partnership with the Royal Caledonian Horticultural Society, The Orchard Project and Scottish Rural University College, will also be on offer to new plotholders.
Find out more about Cultivating Communities: A Growing Success 2017 – 2027 on the Council website.
Allotment facts
  • There are currently 1488 Council-managed plots in Edinburgh, with a waiting list of 2510 people
  • The turnover for allotments is currently 8% a year
  • The second allotment strategy - Cultivating Communities - A Growing Challenge – saw allotment provision rise by 19%
  • There are currently a total of 44 allotment sites across Edinburgh with a variety of plot sizes
  • A Council allotment officer is responsible for most of the allotment sites 
  • 60% of allotment plot-holders live within two miles of their plot. The demand for an allotment plot is greatest in the traditional tenement flat areas of the city
  • Half plots are becoming increasingly popular amongst residents

Tuesday, March 21, 2017

Edinburgh Labour's vision for the Capital

One City: Our City; a European City to be proud of ...

On Thursday 4th May, the residents of Edinburgh will elect City Councillors for the next five-year period. Our vision for Edinburgh is set out in our local government manifesto "One City, Our City: A European City to be proud of", available to download below.

Back in November 2016 we published a ‘draft manifesto’ in preparation for the next Local Government Elections in May 2017. This document represented our initial ideas, but we sought your input and used this feedback to adjust this draft document before launching our final Manifesto on 21 March 2017.

This manifesto is the result of a consultation process which has seen submissions from citizens, community groups, business, trade unions and events such as the Side by Side Conference in North Edinburgh.

We received over 1,000 submissions and re-drafted our final Manifesto as a direct result of that feedback.

Thank you for contributions and hopefully you will see that this has substantially revised the draft document which sought views last year.

Contact Edinburgh Labour:
0131 667 8538

Edinburgh Labour Party
78 Buccleuch Street

Or visit our candidate page to contact your local Labour candidate.


Monday, March 13, 2017

16 and 17year-olds eligible to vote in the Scottish Council elections for the first time

Pupils get ready for first vote in Council elections

On the day the formal notice was published ahead of the local government elections on 4 May, a group of 16 and 17-year-old pupils in the Capital today found out more about how to register to vote. 
A voter registration event was held at Holy Rood RC High School, raising awareness among pupils about their eligibility to cast their vote in the Council elections for the first time.

Andrew Kerr, Chief Executive of the City of Edinburgh Council and Returning Officer for Edinburgh, said: "This is the first time 16 and 17-year-olds are eligible to vote in Scottish Council elections and it's a great opportunity for young people to get involved in local democracy and have their say about how services are delivered where they live.

"Registration for the 4 May election ends on 17 April and it's quick and easy to do - find out more at link) and make your vote count."
Asked why it was important for young people to go out and vote, Holy Rood High S5 pupil Jason Stewart-Evans, 17, said: "It gives me, as an individual, more of a say in my political system."
Niyoshi Dave, 16, also S5, said: "I believe it is important to vote because the laws being passed right now will significantly affect my future."
And Christy Biju, 16, S5, said: "Voting is a right we have and we should use it, especially young people because we are the future. We need to make our voices heard!"

Friday, March 10, 2017

March Leader's Report

                                                                                           March 2017

Make your vote count!

In just under eight weeks’ time, Scotland will head to the polls for the Scottish Council elections – your chance to have your say in how services are delivered where you live.

In 2012, less than half (43%) of the electorate turned out to vote and so I really would encourage you and your family to take part.

As with last year’s Scottish Parliament elections, 16 and 17-year-olds are eligible to vote on 4 May – a first for Council elections. But remember that they – and anyone else who’s eligible – MUST be registered first before they can take part. And if you’ve recently changed address, don’t forget that you’ll need to re-register to vote.

Registration ends at midnight on Monday 17 April. Visit today to make sure your vote counts.


Cooperative Capital

When we launched our Cooperative Capital framework back in 2012, we aspired to develop a new relationship with service users, citizens, communities and partner agencies across the City, with more focus placed upon ‘doing things with people’, rather than ‘to them’.

Since then, we’ve reported back regularly on progress and at our annual conference held late last year, 80 delegates from across the public, third and community sectors, reflected upon the main successes and challenges of the Framework to date.

These included an increase in the number of coops and social enterprises; improvements in community engagement through Neighbourhood Partnerships, such as participatory budgeting; asset transfer projects; more transparency in council decision making; and the implementation of the living wage.

I am delighted with the progress we have made over the past five years – and sincerely hope it provides a platform for the Council to continue to ‘do good things’ with the people of Edinburgh in future.


Our Edinburgh

We all know how frustrating dropped litter, fly-tipping and overflowing bins can be, that’s why we’ve been making every effort to address issues like this through our Waste and Cleansing Improvement Plan, which is already making progress.

As part of this, we’ve seen the innovative Our Edinburgh campaign make great strides to generate pride in our surroundings amongst the public, discouraging things like littering, dog fouling and the misuse of communal bins with bright posters, online videos and community engagement.

That’s why I’m very pleased to hear the campaign has been shortlisted as a finalist for both ‘Best Campaign’ and ‘Programme of the Year’ at this year’s Keep Scotland Beautiful Awards, recognising efforts to improve the cleanliness and quality of the environment for the public. Good luck to all those involved!


Award winning designs

More positive news for our schools building programme as James Gillespie’s High School scooped two awards at the recent Scottish Property Awards winning both Public Buildings categories in the Architectural Excellence and Development of the Year categories.

This academic year has seen two new state-of-the-art high schools for James Gillespie’s and Portobello High open with more in the pipeline. The new Boroughmuir will open in August and, just this week, final demolition work started on the tower block on the old Portobello High School site which will result in a new St John’s RC Primary opening in August 2018.

With an additional £6.7m to tackle rising rolls in next year’s budget, this shows our commitment to providing our young learners with the best possible educational environment to thrive in.  


20mph rollout

Our 18-month rollout of slower speeds for residential, shopping and city streets took a big step forward with the ‘go live’ of Phase 2 in North and South Central / East Edinburgh on 28 February. From Granton to Portobello to Duddingston to Morningside, 20 is now plenty on many more of our roads, with a strategic network of streets maintained at 30 or 40mph.

We carried out extensive public consultation and research in planning this rollout, which found that most people in the Capital want speeds brought down around homes, shops and in the city centre. Slower speeds don’t just make our streets safer for everyone, they also make them a nicer place to be. 

Find out which streets have changed, and when 20mph is coming to your area, on our dedicated 20mph for Edinburgh pages. 


Leith Street works planned

Work is already under way on the £1 billion Edinburgh St James development, a hugely important project for the Capital which will create thousands of jobs and deliver millions of pounds to the local economy.

Later this month, the Transport and Environment Committee will consider a report outlining plans by the developer to carry out major essential works on Leith Street.

Provisionally scheduled to begin after this summer’s festivals, the work would include closing Leith Street between its junction at Waterloo Place down to Calton Road to cars, buses and vans for 44 weeks. Access for pedestrians, cyclists and emergency services will be maintained throughout the works.

We have been working extremely closely with the developer to identify the best way of carrying out these works safely and in a way that keeps the closure period to a minimum. We will continue to monitor the impact of the work and ensure the developer keeps the public properly informed at all times.


Supreme Court to sit in Edinburgh

Following an approach to the Council, it has been agreed that the UK Supreme Court will sit in the Edinburgh City Chambers in June. This is the first time that the UK’s highest court has sat outside London.

Several appeals will be heard during the week commencing 12 June, with at least five of the Supreme Court Justices sitting over the course of the visit. The list of cases to be heard during the visit are in the process of being finalised.

Provision will be made for extensive public seating for those interested in observing proceedings at first hand while court staff will also use the opportunity to offer public talks about its work when the Justices are not sitting. Further information will be available from their website in due course.


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The City of Edinburgh Council

March Full Council Meeting

March's Full Council Meeting is just a week away - it takes place at 10am next Thursday 16th March ...

... all the reports are now up on Committee Papers On-Line (CPOL), and you can access the main agenda directly here; and each of the individual reports separately via this link.

Of course, as every month, if you're so minded - you can watch all the proceedings live here ...

... or the meeting will be archived a few hours after it finishes for viewing at your leisure!

Wednesday, February 22, 2017

February's Corporate Policy and Strategy Committee

All of the Reports are now published for February's "Corporate Policy and Strategy" Committee; it meets at 10am, next Tuesday, 28th February.

The relevant paperwork is now in the public domain: the main Agenda can be found here ...

... and all of the individual Reports can be accessed via Committee Papers on-Line (CPOL) as linked from here.

Couple of Reports that may be of interest:

And, of course, as usual the "Corporate Policy and Strategy Committee" meetings are all webcast live - and thereafter archived!

All available via here --- it's TV; but possibly not like you've ever seen before ;-)

A Co-operative Agenda for Scottish Local Government

If you're up in Perth, at the Scottish Labour Conference, this weekend - the following fringe may well be of interest:


Becoming a Co-operative Council – A Co-operative Agenda for Scottish Local Government

Saturday 25th Feb at 5:30 pm - 6:30 pm

Buffet Available
  • Councillor Linda Gow, Falkirk Council
  • Councillor Joan Griffiths, City of Edinburgh Council
  • Councillor Frank McAveety, Glasgow City Council
  • Chair Councillor Rita Miller, Vice-Chair Scottish Co-operative Party
In partnership with Co-operative Councils Innovation Network


Saturday 25th Feb
5:30 pm - 6:30 pm
Event Category:


Scottish Co-operative Party


Norie-Miller Studio 2
Perth Concert Hall 
Perth, PH1 5HZ United Kingdom

Monday, February 20, 2017

Political culture change ...

I've got a short opinion-piece in the local Newspaper today, on the issue of 'political culture change' - for those interested, I'll reproduce the main text below ...

Coalition, cooperation and culture-change

I think you’d need to be inhabiting a wholly different world from the one I live in, not to be aware that trust between the electorate and those of us either elected, or employed, to serve that electorate, has broken down badly in recent years.

And it was clear when we formed our local Labour/SNP coalition administration in Edinburgh, following the last 2012 Scottish Council Elections, that business as usual wasn’t an option; we had to change the way we did things.

As an incoming Council Leader, I knew there was no time to waste in ensuring that we had a clear, unambiguous programme for governance.

And not just as a Council Leader, but also as a ward councillor, and a member of my local community, I understand the scale of the challenges that we are all facing locally. Many communities are disengaged from local democracy; Councils can seem like distant bureaucracies; and, as organisations, we constantly struggle to manage significant funding reductions just as local people are putting more and more demand on local services.

If Councils are going to survive in this context, and if communities are going to thrive, then we all need to start doing things differently. We need to work together, in genuine and equal partnership with local people, to make the most of the strengths that lie in our communities. Most importantly, we must drive real innovation, with local people at its core, if we are to face the challenges ahead of us.

So – back in 2012, we agreed a clear set of some 53 commitments, in a new ‘Contract with the Capital’. That contract was openly published, and within weeks, the ‘monitoring against delivery’ of our promises was live and very visible via the main Council website … and continues to be so, with six-monthly reports going to Full Council Meetings.

And yes, Scottish Local Government had already changed substantially, back in 2007, with the introduction of a proportional voting-system: STV-PR with multi-Member wards. But that change was mostly in terms of political make-up (structural change) … and deeper cultural change, in the way politics was conducted, was clearly going to take a little longer; and much more effort to instigate.

So, we also committed to becoming a ‘Co-operative Council’ – we wanted to encourage not just local communities, but our many partners and those using our services, to become more involved in how those services are planned, managed and delivered.

That meant looking at new ways of delivering services but it also meant co-operating with other agencies, other cities and crucially, the people of Edinburgh: doing things with them and not doing things to them.

And by way of example, that new approach to the way we worked, and the way we engaged with others, has included some significant actions in making the vision of a ‘Cooperative Council’ a reality:

We established the first Petitions Committee at the Council. That Committee is chaired by a Member of Edinburgh’s Opposition, Green Group. This has helped enable local residents to have an additional channel to raise issues of concern, with their elected representatives, and directly with the Council.

We completely overhauled our scrutiny function; and established a new ‘Governance, Risk and Best Value Committee’; again Chaired by a Member of Edinburgh’s Opposition, Conservative Group.

We also completely revised our budgetary process, which led to the publication of draft budgets – for the first time in decades, in Edinburgh – and further allowed several months of public consultation, each year, all prior to setting any final budgets.

And last – but by no means least – we’re now webcasting (both live and archived) all of our Full Council Meetings, and an increasing number of our regular Committee Meetings. I’m now frequently challenged about previous comments and commitments – and that has to be good for local democracy.

And I firmly believe that the co-operative principles of empowerment, equal partnership, and collective action offer a positive route to not simply survive through tough times, but to enable local communities to thrive, supported by relevant and meaningful local public services.

The cumulative impact of all these considered-changes has been fairly significant - and, I would argue, we have re-gained a renewed sense of engagement with residents. There is a new political narrative within the City Chambers here in Edinburgh; the political culture (and not just the structures) has now, most definitely changed --- and changed for the better.

Cllr Andrew Burns
Leader of the City of Edinburgh Council

Thursday, February 16, 2017

New CCIN Chair ... "How do our co-operative values continue to shine a light on today’s problems?"

My own time as Chair of the Cooperative Councils Innovation Network (CCIN) has now come to an end - and I was delighted to see that Sharon Taylor (Council Leader in Stevenage) has succeeded me ... here's an article she has posted on the CCIN web-site:


Thank you for the honour and privilege you have given me in electing me as Chair of the Co-operative Councils’ Innovation Network.  I have been involved with the Network since its earliest days and look forward to playing my part now in shaping its future.

‘The heart of a town lies in its people’

Our Stevenage motto sums up exactly why the Co-operative Council model is so right for us and the way we work with our community.

Stevenage New Town celebrated our 70th birthday in November last year, we were the UKs first post-war new town, built to deal with the acute housing shortage after the second world war.  New Towns quickly focussed on building new homes and providing the strong economies that brought good jobs.  Consequently, when the new residents moved to Stevenage they found little in the way of community services.  These early residents soon began to work together to secure the services they needed and this spirit of co-operation is woven into the fabric of Stevenage.

Seventy years later we face the greatest period of change and uncertainty that we have seen in the post-war years, the aftermath of long years of austerity that have seen public finance decimated, Brexit and the complexity of Britain establishing a new identity, a turbulent political world where the evolution of democracy and party politics seems to have been replaced by a series of earthquakes, the relentless march of technology, and a geopolitical situation which seems ever more uncertain and threatening.

So how do our co-operative values continue to shine a light on today’s problems? How are they relevant, especially at our local level, to creating places that work for the communities and people that live, work and visit them and which harness the passion, commitment and ideals of our communities to bring economic, environmental and social ‘dividends’.  We know that people respond most strongly to those things which most closely affect their daily life.   The area they live in, the health care, education, housing, leisure and quality of environment that they are able to access locally are all considered to be vital components in people’s perception of quality of life.  But the ability to influence decision-making on all of those is vital too.

We know that for decades people have felt more confident in their local council to take account of their views than they do of Westminster politicians, but we must never be complacent about that  -this was part of the driving force behind setting up the Co-operative Councils’ Innovation Network.  We want to reclaim the traditions of community action, community engagement and civic empowerment which can transform communities and which will help us deliver radical and innovative programmes that are designed, led and delivered in partnership with communities and therefore maximise the social benefit they bring.  It has also always been the purpose of the Network to share our developing good practice and to support one another in our co-operative aims and values.

The vital thing about co-operative councils is that they should, and will, look different around the country, because each place is different.  We have different challenges, histories and economies and there is no one right answer to these.  What we are doing in the network is proposing some of the characteristics of Co-operative places, people and public services.  Please let us know what you think of these, they will be stronger and more enduring if we all contribute to them.

In Stevenage we are coming to the end of our first phase of a radical innovation in co-operative neighbourhood planning and management.  We were faced with a regeneration need in the local neighbourhood centre which consisted of a row of dilapidated shops of which only two of four were in use, poor quality housing above the shops, a pub which had ceased to be viable and, although treasured by some community members, had ever-dwindling custom and a building which required significant investment.  The neighbourhood centre also housed a well-used and well-run community centre with an active committee but which also had some limitations because of the nature of the building.  As we began to consider how to tackle these challenges, we were fortunate in that the local residents group had increased in membership due to a project to refurbish three large community-use squares.  This group was keen to get involved in the planning and delivery of the regeneration project.  We also had the benefit of a local, and very active group, ‘Friends of Hampson Park’ who were helping improve the environment in the local Hampson Park.

The other happy coincidence in this project was that one of our three excellent local councillors for  Pin Green has a background in town planning and was able to help with the facilitation of the co-operative neighbourhood planning process that ensued.

It is a feature of co-operative council engagement with communities that they must be able to effect change.  The Council had envisaged that the Community Centre would stay on its original site as the regeneration happened around it.  But our community had other ideas.  They requested the community centre be rebuilt on a new site in Hampson Park and extended to include additional space and a coffee bar for park users.

So three years on from the very start of the planning and via a wonderful process that has involved so many groups, individuals and the local businesses, the area is now transformed.  We have two new purpose-built shops which face the main road (instead of being tucked around behind the pub where no-one could see them and there was no passing trade), we have delivered eight new council homes already with another twenty-two to come early this year.  The community centre has been built on its new site and is already thriving.  In addition to this the community engagement and  dedication to the park has earned Hampson Park a coveted ‘Green Flag’ status, we have been able to refurbish the children’s park and build a brand new open-access Skate Park on the site for all ages to enjoy, very significant community dividends which benefit everyone in Pin Green.

Most importantly, we have learned so much through our engagement with our community. Friends of Hampson Park, and our other community activists wanted to reach out to a much wider group of residents so they organised a huge ‘Teddy Bears Picnic’ in the summer where we were able to encourage the 700 people who attended to contribute to the planning exercise as well as enjoying the many family activities on offer.  Young parents often find it difficult to attend evening meetings because of other commitments and this was a great way to engage them as well as other residents who work shifts or prefer not to go out in the evenings.

We continue our co-operative work in Pin Green and this year we will roll out what we have learned to two new wards.  To help us manage the increased input we now get from residents about their area, we have engaged a small group of neighbourhood wardens who will work with our community and their local partners like the neighbourhood policing team, community centre manager, local businesses etc to ensure the council plays our part in getting things done.

Friends of Hampson Park, our ‘Green Space Volunteers’ have won a ‘Pride of Stevenage’ award for their work, our residents forum has won two national awards and both are now sharing their experience and the expertise they have developed to help other areas of Stevenage.

It has been a huge pleasure to participate in this project which has been the embodiment of ‘Co-operation in Action’.
Councillor Sharon Taylor, OBE
Leader, Stevenage Borough Council
Chair, Co-operative Councils’ Innovation Network