Friday, October 18, 2013

Council Leaders Report - October

October 2013

Cooperative Council


Andrew Burns My Capital Coalition colleagues and I realised when we took office that we had to have a fresh think about how we do business so that we could put the public back at the centre of decision-making wherever possible.

And so, having made some pretty bold commitments 12 months ago, it was heartening to earn praise from 'critical friend' and leading cooperative consultant, Martin Meteyard, at our recent 'one year on' event.

We have made some significant strides towards becoming a 'Cooperative Capital', including the complete revision of the budgetary process to allow meaningful public input (please do take the opportunity to have your say, if you haven't already) but we do also appreciate that much work remains to be done.
Andrew Burns
Leader of the City of Edinburgh


Learning from past mistakes


The issues facing the Council's former Property Conservation service are well documented and we continue to make good progress towards closing these off.

The replacement 'Shared Repairs' service introduced in April has been successful but remains limited in scope. Moving forward, there is a balance to be struck between providing a broader service, for which we know there is clear public demand, and ensuring that we learn from previous mistakes. We will be debating the future development of the service (PDF) at next week's council meeting.

We have a responsibility to protect Edinburgh's unique built environment and the reintroduction of an enforcement service could go some way to achieving this - but not at any cost.


Economic sense


I wrapped up an excellent event marking a year into the Council's Strategy for Jobs at the Usher Hall on 11 October.

Following the announcement by my coalition colleague, Cllr Frank Ross, that funding of up to four million pounds could be secured to provide loans for up to 1000 small and medium-sized businesses - great news - we heard from Joe Montgomery, Chief Executive of the Urban Land Institute. Joe spoke very highly of the city's achievements in recent years and of the projects and initiatives we are working on to unlock future investment.

We all have a part to play in communicating Edinburgh's successes - it's easy sometimes to forget just how lucky we are to live and work in such a great city.


Tram project latest


It's been another big month for the project, which continues to progress well. This week will see the city cleared of tram works for the first time in six years - a significant milestone and a great relief, I'm sure, for local residents and traders.

Testing between the Gogar Depot and Edinburgh Park Station is now underway, meaning that nearly 5km of track is now in use. This is a crucial phase of the project, with 800 tests and checks to be carried out before we go live next May.

We will shortly begin the process of recruiting members on to the Transport for Edinburgh board. There will be representation from the Council and Lothian Buses but we are also keen to take on external expertise that can help us as we develop the city's transport network.
You can keep up-to-date with the latest tram news by following @edinburghtrams.


Speak up, speak out


We are reaching out to residents to ask them to speak out if they are being harmed or know someone who might be, as part of the city's biggest ever public protection campaign. The 'Speak up, Speak out' campaign was launched recently with our partners NHS Lothian and Police Scotland. It calls for those who are affected by abuse to come forward and find out about the wide range of support that is available to them.

I would encourage anyone who is worried to get in touch with Social Care Direct. They work with the Police, NHS and voluntary organisations to make sure that people are safe while they receive the support they need.


Edinburgh blossoms


And, finally, some blooming marvellous news to share with you. Edinburgh has won Gold in the 'UK City' category of the prestigious Britain in Bloom awards for the very first time.

I'm told that the judges were very impressed with the 'excellence, enthusiasm and ethos' that they witnessed at every stopping point and along the route - but, most of all, with the tremendous efforts of the numerous community volunteers and Friends of Parks groups that work tirelessly to support the Council's Parks and Neighbourhood teams in maintaining and enhancing our wonderful green spaces. Well done all.


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