Friday, April 18, 2014

Good Friday Allotment Update ;-)

Managed to spend most of this afternoon down at the Allotment ... and luckily the weather in Edinburgh today is absolutely glorious :-)

Thought everything was looking in reasonable order - as hopefully the picture on the left shows? - and we managed to get plenty done, including:

- planting-up two full beds of potatoes (two different varieties)

- and half -a-bed of white onions (next to the already-planted red onions)

I rather liked the tulip close-up that I managed to snap from the i-phone, as below, and can't resist just posting it to show what a truly lovely afternoon it was :-))

Wednesday, April 16, 2014

Pedal on Parliament

I posted up details of the South West Nieghbourhood Partnership  'New Local Community Plan' meeting yesterday ...

... I hope lots of folk can make it along on the morning of 26th April.

Sadly, I probably won't be one of them, as I've committed to attending this year's Pedal on Parliament event - with the Harrison Park feeder-ride leaving around 11am.

It's actually the first year (this being the third such event) when I've been able to get along - so very much looking forward to it ;-)

All the details - for those interested - on the poster.

P.S. Some more detail on that Harrison Park Feeder Ride:

The third Pedal on Parliament ( takes place on 26 April, meeting at the Meadows for a 12:00 start.

The feeder ride is a pre-meeting so we can cycle down as a group, taking our time and letting the children enjoy the ride rather than rushing.

Aim to leave at 11:00.

Meet on the south side of Harrison Park on the path that runs between Harrison Road and Ogilvie Terrace.


Tuesday, April 15, 2014

New Local Community Plan

The New Local Community Plan public meeting for the South West Neighbourhood Partnership will be taking place on Saturday 26th April, between 10am-12pm at Tynecastle High School.

All welcome - come along and have your say!

Advancing a Co-operative Capital

I've posted fairly frequently about the "Co-operative Capital" agenda, that the local Labour/SNP Coalition is attempting to facilitate - most recent update was probably this one ...

... I've got a short piece in today's Scotsman, about the same theme/s and indicating the progress that's being made. The article can be found here - and I'll also paste the main text below for ease-of-reference:


TWO-WAY dialogue helps to heal, says Andrew Burns

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 you don’t have to look far to find yet another expenses scandal playing out in the media.

Of course, this malaise doesn’t simply affect government or Councils, but it has to be openly acknowledged before we can successfully re-invigorate our democracy.  

It was clear when we formed a Labour-SNP coalition in May 2012 that business as usual wasn’t an option; we had to change the way we do things.  That’s why we committed to becoming a ‘Cooperative Capital’. 

If this is to work, it can’t be a one-way street: two-way dialogue is a must. We want to encourage communities, partners and those using our services to become more involved in how these are planned, managed and delivered.

The Cooperative Council philosophy underpins the Coalition’s approach to work on many levels.  It means looking at new ways of delivering services but it also means cooperating with other agencies, other cities and, crucially the people of Edinburgh: doing things with them and not doing things to them.

In a time of economic challenge, Edinburgh’s different sectors need to make real cooperative efforts to ensure this city’s high quality of life is maintained and, where possible, enhanced. There are good signs that this cooperative approach is starting to take root.

Administratively, we have sought to make the way the Council does business more accessible to people through webcasting meetings, early publication of our draft budget and developing the policy review and development sub-committees to give stakeholders more of a role in how we develop policy.

We established the first Petitions Committee in Edinburgh to enable local residents to have an additional channel to raise issues of concern, with their elected representatives, and directly with the Council.

We also completely revised the budgetary process to allow months of debate and discussion before any final decisions are made, this year publishing a draft budget in October – five months before the budget was set.  Hundreds of business and residents responded to our consultation and I’m grateful to them for taking the time to let us know their thoughts.

In September 2012, we took on board voters’ priorities and focused our efforts on promoting and establishing cooperatives in four key areas: housing, childcare, energy and social care. In the year-and-a-half since, I’m pleased to report that we’re beginning to make some tangible progress in all four.

The power of working with other sectors was recently demonstrated when Edinburgh was named as the site for Scotland’s National Performance Centre for Sport following a campaign led by Heriot Watt University and supported by the Council,  Edinburgh Airport, and nearly 5,000 individual supporters – a real victory for Team Edinburgh.

And just in case it looks like I’m being too Edinburgh-centred in my focus, the impact of a successful Edinburgh isn’t simply felt in the city itself.  The case for the cities is well rehearsed: successful cities have a huge impact on their surrounding areas and are the driving force behind the national economy.

The establishment of the Scottish Cities Alliance, the collaboration of Scotland’s seven cities, the Scottish Government and the SCDI, has been a welcome step and we are fully committed to achieving its collective aims of attracting external investment, stimulating economic activity and most importantly creating new jobs and business opportunities.

Closer to home, we have joined forces with our neighbouring local authorities so that we can work cooperatively on issues of mutual interest such as skills and training, investment and tourism, energy and renewables.

We also become the first Scottish Council, closely followed by Glasgow, to join the Cooperative Council Innovation Network. Despite its origins, the CCIN is detached from any party political structures and is registered with the Local Government Association as an independent network. It aims to enable councils to improve collaboration with citizens and communities, and strengthen cooperative practice.

Together with Glasgow, we are planning a number of seminars and a conference later on this year and I am very keen that we continue to work and them, and hopefully other local authorities, to develop more cooperative practice and to create a Scottish network.

Now more than ever, I see cooperative councils being at the forefront of innovative partnership working across sectors, tackling the serious challenges that lie ahead together and rebuilding voters’ trust in local democracy.

• Cllr Andrew Burns is leader of City of Edinburgh Council


Sunday, April 06, 2014

Half-term is here :-)


Half-term is here ... and I'm escaping for a few days, heading off down to Coniston (in The Lake District) tomorrow morning, through to Friday evening.

Managed a quick visit to the Allotment earlier this evening - just to check everything was in order - and thought our ramshackle sheds were looking simply glorious in the late evening sunshine :-))

And I know it'll be a huge disappointment - but there will now be no 'blog/facebook/twitter/blip' activity over the forthcoming week, as I make an attempt to reacquaint myself with the family!

Normal 'blog/facebook/twitter/blip' service will be resumed by Monday 14th April.

My work e-mails are being read by staff, so if you need to get in touch urgently then that's the best way to do so. I am also available on the mobile if you REALLY DO need to speak to me ...

... happy half-term to one and all.

Saturday, April 05, 2014

19-miles today & only 7-weeks to go!

Can't resist posting a very brief running update ...

... mainly because I managed to get up to 19-miles earlier today, and all is still going reasonably well - no injuries and only 7-weeks to go now!

Some gory detail over on my blip-foto account - here ;-)

And please don't forget - if you're so-minded - you can still sponsor me for the 2014 Edinburgh Marathon via my JustGiving page here --- and all the monies go to the truly wonderful Venture Scotland :-))

Friday, April 04, 2014

Margo MacDonald

I was very, very sorry to hear of Margo's death earlier today ... tribute here, and below:

Council Leader Andrew Burns pays tribute to Margo MacDonald

He said: "I'm sure I speak for everyone at the Council when I say that Edinburgh and indeed Scotland have today lost one of our finest public servants following this very sad news. Margo MacDonald was a principled and committed politician who worked tirelessly to champion the Capital’s interests at a national level.

"She was truly one of a kind, both passionate and courageous. She will be very much missed and our thoughts and deepest sympathies are with her family and friends."

CCTV at Telfer Subway

Delighted that CCTV cameras now operating at the Telfer Subway - relevant News Update can be found here ... and I'll also just cut-and-paste the main text below:

Telfer underpass CCTV

Five new CCTV cameras have been installed in the Telfer underpass in the Dalry area of Edinburgh in a bid to improve public safety.

The cameras are now fully operational and will allow community safety officers and the police to monitor safety issues.

Chair of the Edinburgh Community Safety Partnership, Cllr Cammy Day, said: "The wellbeing of the community is of the utmost importance and cameras have been proven to help people feel safer.

"I am delighted that these cameras have now been installed and they will complement the other safety measures in place in this underpass, such as improved lighting and pre-existing CCTV on the streets in the surrounding area.

"The Coalition is committed to ensuring that residents and visitors are well cared for, and communities are supported and kept safe."

Thursday, April 03, 2014

Scottish Cities Alliance meeting

Very constructive meeting of the Scottish Cities Alliance earlier this week - I did mention some elements of this work back in my June 2013 Leader's Report: here.

... and this week's meeting did pick up some early press coverage: here.

More details to follow in coming months, for sure.

Wednesday, April 02, 2014

Fantastic news for Fountainbridge :-)

Really fantastic news for Fountainbridge announced in the last couple of days ...

... some £5million worth of Heritage Lottery Funding (HLF) is coming to the local area :-)

The BBC covered the story earlier today - here.

And the relevant HLF News release is here - and I'll reproduce the main text below:

Birthplace of the ‘welly’ to kickstart regeneration thanks to HLF 

North British Rubber Company HQ to benefit from Heritage Lottery gap funding to unlock its commercial potential 

The former headquarters of the North British Rubber Company, birthplace of the Wellington boot, the modern motor car tyre, and the first ever traffic cone, is a step closer to being saved from demolition and transformed into a world class visual and creative arts centre following major support announced today by the Heritage Lottery Fund (HLF).

Castle Mills in Fountainbridge, Edinburgh, is the last standing reminder of the city’s world renowned rubber mill. Now on the Buildings at Risk register, it was famous for pioneering the use of India rubber to make wellington boots, supplying 1.2million pairs to soldiers of the First World War to help them deal with the flooded conditions of the trenches and later to become the iconic Hunter boot.

Today, through its Heritage Enterprise programme, HLF has earmarked funding of almost £5m to reinvigorate the building as a world-leading printmaking facility, a hub for creative enterprise and an arts centre with cafĂ©, bar and learning spaces. HLF also awarded a grant of £500,000 to assist Edinburgh Printmakers in developing the project to the next stage of the application process.

Built in stages between 1856 and 1897 beside the Union Canal, Castle Mills is the last visible reminder of an industrial heritage which played a central role in Edinburgh’s development and economy, and in the livelihood of its population for over five generations. At its peak, the North British Rubber Company employed 8,000 people and covered a vast 20 acre site. Even as late as the 1950’s, it was still the city’s largest industry employing over 3000 people.

Colin McLean, Head of Heritage Lottery Fund Scotland, said:  “Castle Mills was once at the heart of a thriving community but now stands empty and neglected and whilst much-loved, its restoration presents huge financial challenges. We are delighted to be able to help unlock its potential so that it can once again be a centre for new ideas and productivity and a catalyst in the regeneration of Fountainbridge.”

Edinburgh Printmakers CEO, Sarah Price, added: “With more demand now than ever before for high quality printmaking facilities and training, this investment will secure Edinburgh Printmakers’ future at the forefront of printmaking internationally. Not only will many hundreds of artists benefit from the new cutting edge facilities but an extended programme of exhibitions, talks, workshops and community-based arts projects will attract thousands of visitors each year.

“The projects’ success in attracting investment such as the Heritage Lottery Fund award and a £1.7m grant already secured from Creative Scotland, along with widespread support from community groups, is testament to Castle Mills’ incredible industrial heritage and we look forward to it once again playing an important role in the social and economic development of the area.”

Notes to editors:
  • Heritage Enterprise addresses ‘market failure’ - where buildings have previously failed to attract investment or realise their commercial potential because the cost of repair has meant that - until now - they were not commercially viable.  The Heritage Lottery investment announced today bridges that financial gap.  It will specifically help fund vital repairs and conservation works to the building, converting it into a safe, usable and inspirational space for new businesses.  By doing so, the Lottery grant helps remove one of the key obstacles currently standing in the way of regeneration by transforming the neglected historic building into a productive enterprise that will create local jobs and generate wealth.   
  • Heritage Enterprise applications are assessed in two rounds. A first-round pass is given when HLF has endorsed outline proposals and earmarked funding. A first-round pass may also include an immediate award to fund the development of the project. Detailed proposals are then considered by HLF at second-round and as long as plans have progressed satisfactorily and according to the original proposal, an award for the project is confirmed.

Further Information:

Edinburgh Printmakers: Sarah Price on 0131 557 2479 or 07882 797 064, email:

Heritage Lottery Fund:  Please contact Shiona Mackay on 07779 142 890 / 01786 870 638 or Natasha Hughes, HLF Press Office, on 020 7591 6143 / 6032. Out of hours mobile: 07973 613 820.

World Autism Awareness Day

Very good to see the Scottish Government marking World Autism Day - details can be found here ...

... Edinburgh's own Autism Action Plan, can be found via this page.

Liberton High School Tragedy

Current Council statements can be found via these links: 

... and any further updates will be posted via

Thursday, March 27, 2014

Allotment Update!

Better-half managed to spend quite a bit of time at the Allotment today ... I was stuck at various (scintillating, of course!) work meetings :-(

Think it's all looking pretty good - click on the picture for a better view :-)

Anyhow - still growing:
  • brussel sprouts
  • spinnach

And - newly planted:
  • broad beans
  • red onion sets

Hoping I might fit in a visit myself, over this coming weekend?

Wednesday, March 26, 2014

Riddle's Court and 4-6 Victoria Terrace

I've received a fair few queries about the detail of what was decided on Tuesday (yesterday) when Riddle's Court was discussed/debated  at Committee ...

... as noted earlier, you can see the Full Report via this link - and I'll just paste the actual recommendations below; followed by the Addendum that was approved by the Coalition, which thus represents the totality of the decision:

3. Recommendations

3.1 That Committee:

1) Notes the previous decision of the Children and Families and Finance and
Resources Committees to grant a 99-year lease of Riddle’s Court to SHBT at
a peppercorn rent and restates its commitment to the restoration project at
Riddle’s Court.

2) Notes that SHBT has secured Heritage Lottery Funding for redevelopment of
the property and that the area currently occupied by 6VT at 4-6 Victoria
Terrace is included in the conditions of lottery grant.

3) Further notes that the Heritage Lottery Fund has granted an extension of their
offer with a revised deadline of 31st March 2014 to meet the conditions of the

4) Recognises the value of the work undertaken by 6VT and the Board’s
preference to remain in their current premises until suitable alternative
accommodation can be secured.

5) To note the options and implications set out at paragraphs 2.4 and 2.5, and
instruct Council officers to work with 6VT to seek their relocation by 31
December 2014, ideally by mutual agreement.

6) To request officers to report to the relevant Committee on the most
appropriate mechanism to allow the resources currently allocated to SHBT to
be realigned to 6VT to support the cost of capital fit out and rent of their new

+ Addendum by the Capital Coalition


1.    Recognises the value of the services provided by 6VT and the Board’s concern about finding appropriate premises should 6VT move from Victoria Terrace

2.    Acknowledges that initial plans for the capital redevelopment of Riddles Court were clear that existing tenants (such as 6VT) would remain in situ after any such refurbishment

3.    Also recognises the value of the SHBT plans for the redevelopment of an important historical building, and that the premises at 4-6 Victoria Terrace now form part of the business plan supporting that redevelopment

4.    Agrees that any move should not impact negatively on 6VT or the services it provides

5.    Commits the Council to working with 6VT and SHBT to ensure an outcome that satisfies the needs of both parties

6.    Agrees therefore to set up a Project Delivery Group, chaired by the Council Leader and comprising:

•    The Convener and Vice-convener of Education, Children and Families
•    Two representatives each from SHBT and 6VT
•    Senior management representation from Property Services, Children and Families, and Children and Families Social Work

7.    The first meeting of the Project Delivery Group to be scheduled as soon as possible, following this Committee meeting/decision, with the aim of reaching an early resolution of outstanding issues

8.    A subsequent progress report to come to the Corporate, Policy and Strategy Committee meeting of 10th June 2014.


Understanding cycling ...

I was at a rather well-attended Spokes Public Meeting (see poster!) on Monday night ...

... was standing in for my colleague, Lesley Hinds, who had an unbreakable commitment in her local Ward.

I thoroughly enjoyed the evening; and was good to have some serious (and considered) challenge to current Council practice, alongside some acknowledgement of achievements to date.

Spokes now have a fair, and balanced, account of the evening up on their website - if you're interested, you can read it here.

I've also now received quite a high number (which is great!) of e-mails following the meeting ... I will respond to them all just as soon as feasible; and will get back to Spokes with some promised, follow-up on specific issues raised on the night.

--- and with many thanks to all of the organisers of Monday's event :-)

Sunday, March 23, 2014

York, Perth, 16-miles & 'Stress'!

Have had an extremely busy few days ...

  • ... down in York for most of Friday, visiting the City of York Council Leader and Chief Executive
  • ... up in Perth for Friday evening, and all of Saturday, for the Scottish Labour Party conference ... spoke in a variety of debates/fringe meetings etc.
  • ... then back in Edinburgh early on Sunday morning; and ran 16-miles as part of my marathon-training
  • ... recovered just in time to attend an event on - rather appropriately? - stress (see poster)!

 Back to work tomorrow for a rest :-(

Friday, March 21, 2014

Corporate, Policy and Strategy Committee next Tuesday

March's Corporate Policy and Strategy Committee is next Tuesday 25th  ...

... all the papers are now in the public domain: the main Agenda can be found here;

- and the individual reports are all up on Committee Papers on-Line (CPOL) linked from here.

Reports that may well attract debate:

Just click on any of the above links for the specific report.

Wednesday, March 19, 2014

Spring Fling - 10.30am, Saturday 12th April

Sadly, I can't make this local event in a few weeks time ... but, now being over 50, felt I had a moral-duty to display the poster up on the blog ;-)