... and Decembers Leader's Report is reproduced below:
You may have seen coverage in the media around historic practices at Mortonhall Crematorium. I wish to add my heartfelt apology to all those families affected. You can read our public statement on our website.
Since May 2011 Mortonhall Crematorium has offered families the ashes of their babies. The previous practice of not offering ashes and burying them in the Garden of Remembrance has only just come to light following discussions with the Stillbirth and Neonatal Death Society (SANDS). A full investigation is taking place into the historic practices at the crematorium which will establish the facts of this tragic situation. We will continue to work with Sands to help those families who have been affected.
If you or anyone you know have been affected by this and wish to talk with Mortonhall staff about it, please contact our dedicated phone line on 0131 200 2383 or fill in the online form on the Council's website.
First public petition heard
As promised in May this year, the Capital Coalition established a public Petitions Committee where Edinburgh citizens can call for action. The first one was held this month and heard a petition calling for improved public transport in Kirkliston and South Queensferry. You can watch this online. Although this petition received 785 signatures, you only need 500 to get heard or 20 if you are a business.
I think it is fair to say that the petitioners were happy with both the discussion and the decision to call for a detailed report on all the issues (including population projections) to the Transport and Environment Committee in March 2013, where decisions will be made on how transport can be improved in the area.
I would encourage you to consider using this new way to get things done.
I’ve highlighted already that we plan to improve the way we manage the finances of the Council. By publishing the Council's draft budget in advance for the first time you can have your say in the online survey. I hope you agree that this shows our commitment to openness and a real willingness to listen to your views.
Setting this budget is going to be a real challenge - we have less money to spend, but there is more demand for some of our most vital services. It helps us to know what you think about our various options and ideas. You can also send us your comments and suggestions by e-mailing us or following the conversation on Twitter using #edinbudget.
Moving in the right direction - trams update
Testing of the tram system between Gogar Depot and Edinburgh Airport (section B) began on Monday 26 November. This test phase will run until March 2013, at which point section B of the route will be handed over to the Council by the contractor.
Princes Street has now reopened to buses, taxis and bicycles between North Bridge and South St David Street, helping to reduce city centre congestion during the busy festive period. Bus stops that were removed during the construction work are due to be reinstated in the coming weeks.
You can now see tram tracks, overhead lines and other visible progress across the city. This demonstrates the results of a tighter management regime.
Brand new public library opened
I was delighted to see the opening of the new East Neighbourhood Office and Craigmillar Library to the public at the end of November which ties in nicely to our Capital Coalition Pledge to continue to develop the diversity of services provided by our libraries. The new library will be managed by the Council’s award winning library service that recently, due to demand from local authorities across the UK, organised a seminar on how they manage, develop and deliver library services in Edinburgh.
Be prepared for severe weather
Although last winter was quite mild, winter 2010/2011 saw some of the worst weather Edinburgh has experienced in almost 50 years. You can be prepared for whatever winter brings us by having your heating system checked, stocking up on salt from your local DIY shop, getting a good strong snow shovel, having some food stocks, talking to family and friends about childcare, reviewing your travel plans and getting your car a winter health check.
The information on service disruption, gritting routes and school closures during severe weather has been greatly improved and you can now check the location of your nearest salt bin and gritting routes on an interactive map.
Be in the picture
This is one of the best times of year in Edinburgh when you can really enjoy the whole winter experience, our Christmas programme as well as our fantastic Edinburgh’s Hogmanay events. Have fun, be safe and have a very merry Christmas.
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