Monday, January 28, 2013

January 2013 Leader's Report

January Leader's Report now available online - for this Thursday's Council Meeting - you can access it on CPOL here and/or watch me speak to it, on Thursday, here ...

... and the full text (with various links) follows below:

 January/February 2013


Making gains in public satisfaction – shaping up 

Satisfaction with the Council delivering good value for money has almost doubled in the last year. According to a major independent survey carried out amongst 5,000 city residents, satisfaction rates have gone from around 30% to 60%. Acknowledging that we started from a fairly low point, I believe that confidence is increasing as people see the Capital Coalition putting our 50 pledges into action and are delivering what we said we would. 
You can see the way we measure our performance against our targets using acknowledged business management methods and this is scrutinised both by the opposition parties and external agencies. 

As I’ve said before, I’d like to think we will be judged on our record of delivering our pledges and of honestly reconnecting and repairing our relationship with the public.



Money, money, money


I have been working hard with my colleagues, Councillor Alasdair Rankin and Councillor Bill Cook, looking at how we spend money and how we make sure the public and stakeholders can give us their views. 

For the first time the Council’s draft budget was published months in advance so we could start a series of consultation meetings and carry out a survey to gauge what people thought of the proposals. Many of you chose to tell us how we could use money more efficiently and in general said you support the general thrust of detecting problems earlier and helping people more quickly to prevent future problems. We have listened and amended the proposals to take account of your views. 

Around a billion pounds each year is spent on roads, schools, care homes and a myriad of other services such as street cleaning, employment initiatives and community safety. It is important we have sound financial management and restore confidence in the way the city is managed. It is a major exercise to prioritise what is important and we feel that the opposition political groups should also have their say if we are to reach the best possible decisions. That is why we are publishing the second draft budget and will look for suggestions that we can all reach agreement on. 

We intend to publish the next draft budget even earlier to ensure more time is available for you to feedback your views.



Schools commitments 


Our pledge to rebuild Portobello High School has been a serious challenge for the Capital Coalition but Councillor Steve Cardownie, the Deputy Leader and I are 100% committed to making this happen. It is a complex situation surrounding the chosen site but we are determined to press ahead and provide what is best for children in the east of the city. 

In the budget motion for debate on 7 February I am also clear about making a commitment to building a new school in Craigmillar and want to ensure that money is earmarked now for 2017 onwards. This will go some way towards building confidence around the regeneration of that area in the future.



Leith works


It has been a frustrating time for residents and traders in Leith who have put up with disruption from tram works for a period of time. However, there is light at the end of the tunnel with essential utilities work on Constitution Street and Leith Walk getting under way from 18 February and be completed by the end of April 2013.

This marks the start of a comprehensive programme of work to improve the standard of the roads, pavements and environment of this area of the city, something local residents and businesses have long called for. Following the utilities works contractors will begin to resurface the road and replace the pavements along the entire length of Leith Walk and Constitution Street. This will be done in sections so that we can minimise disruption to residents and businesses.

To help plan further alterations to the streetscape, we recently concluded a major consultation exercise which sought the public’s views on the preliminary design drawn up by the Council’s transport planning team. The views received are currently being considered to inform a final design for the streets and they will be incorporated into the report on the Leith Programme due to go to the Council's Transport and Environment Committee on 19 March 2013. 

Even though the consultation has officially ended, we’re always keen to hear residents’ views and answer any questions about the project in general. You can find a collection of some of the questions we’ve already handled on the Council’s web pages.



Tram update


Everyone involved is pushing hard to maintain the good progress made last year. The project remains in line with the revised budget and timeframe (up and running by summer 2014) and systems testing continues on the stretch of track between the airport and the Gogar depot. By the time the process is complete around 800 individual tests will have been carried out.

There was a major drive ahead of the Christmas shopping period to improve people’s ability to move in and around the city centre - all developed in consultation with business owners and other stakeholders. This included the re-opening of Princes Street to traffic ahead of schedule and improved access for shoppers and buses around the worksites. 

I’m determined to push ahead with a refreshed strategy to support the economic growth of the city centre particularly to take advantage of when the trams are up and running. As we move through the year the situation in the city centre will progressively improve and we'll continue to work with local businesses and residents until the disruption comes to an end.

Keep an eye on the Council's tram picture gallery for the January picture update.



In the picture


This is the time of year when residents can enjoy the city without it being too crowded. Look into what is on and take advantage of some of the cultural activities on our doorstep. There are also a number of great artists performing at the Usher Hall over the coming months including Nicola Benedetti and Stereophonics. 

When you want to promote our city to customers, clients or just plain boast to friends, our latest city accolades and achievements are always a good starting point. 

Keep yourself in the picture with our news section online. If you wish to unsubscribe please email us.


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