Sunday, May 31, 2015

Edinburgh Marathon

I promised myself last year, given how great the crowds were, that I would go and cheer-on this year's Edinburgh Marathon runners ...

... well, I cycled from Shandon to Portobello Prom. earlier this morning, met up with a couple of colleagues, and spent the morning supporting the thousands of marathon-runners as they streamed along the Promenade ;-)

I actually arrived just in time to catch a snap of the front three as they charged (literally!) through the 5-mile mark :-)

We stayed on the Prom. until everyone had run through, and it was just great to see such a flow of people all doing something so personally wonderful :-))

Congratulations to each and every one of them!

Saturday, May 30, 2015

Gardening Scotland

I'm off for my first-ever visit to Gardening Scotland today :-)

... got some family-interest this year, with high excitement being generated after some 'Show Garden' success yesterday - more details via here :-))

Pictured here is the “Readers Imagination Garden" ...

... which has a focus on how gardens have inspired famous thinkers and writers over the years. Taking centre stage is a winged Chesterfield chair mounted on a turntable. The specially engineered spinning Chesterfield has been used in place of the rotating shed George Bernard Shaw once used to follow the sun.

Looking forward to seeing it all for real!

Friday, May 29, 2015

One year of trams

Edinburgh Trams have been fully operational for a year now ... without diminishing the seriousness of the difficulties in getting to that point, the first 'operational' year has gone well - some details in the Release below:

Almost five million use Edinburgh Trams in first year

Newly released figures show that there were approximately 4.92 million passenger journeys on Edinburgh Trams during its first year of operations, that’s around 370,000 ahead of target set before launch.

Launched on Saturday 31 May 2014 at 5am, Edinburgh Trams is also set to surpass revenue targets set out in its business model by around 3%. Concessionary card holders are currently accounting for 10.9% of passengers which is well within the Councils budget which was set to ensure that Edinburgh’s card holders get free travel on the tram.

Edinburgh Trams received a 95% overall customer satisfaction rating following an independent UK wide survey by Passenger Focus and operated with 99% service reliability. This means that reliability and satisfaction levels are among the top performing public transport operators in the UK.

Tom Norris, Director and General Manager of Edinburgh Trams, said:

“The first birthday is a very exciting day for all of us because it rounds up a hugely significant year for everyone involved. We’ve beaten our targets and we’re on the right path.  The success we’ve worked so hard to achieve is down to the commitment and hard work of everyone involved in delivering the service day in day out. 

“We were absolutely delighted with the initial surge of interest when we launched, but even more grateful that the local and visiting public have continued to give us their support.

“We have developed the service over the first year and we’ll continue to improve and adapt to keep our passengers happy, whilst being ready to take advantage of opportunities that come our way. The airport is growing, TFE is developing well, a new tram stop will link us the Fife line and our city is going from strength to strength.  We’re ready to be at the centre of that development and part of the future success of Edinburgh.”

Councillor Lesley Hinds, Chair of Transport for Edinburgh, added: “To have had nearly five million passengers on board the trams since their launch is a massive achievement – it’s thanks to the support of the public that we’ve had such a successful first year.

“Credit must also go to the team, whose efforts and professionalism ensure Edinburgh Trams provides an excellent service to passengers every day. As it continues to develop as a key element of the city’s transport offering we now look forward to its future as part of the city’s modern, integrated transport system.”

Highlights of the first year included major spikes in passengers heading to Murrayfield Stadium for a One Direction concert, Celtic FC’s Champions League match and Scotland Rugby’s Six Nations games, plus significantly increased passenger numbers during Edinburgh’s summer and winter festivals.

Edinburgh Trams has a fleet of 27 and currently employs 130 staff including drivers, Ticketing Services Assistants (TSAs), control centre operators and maintenance engineers.

Between them, tram drivers and TSAs completed 77,525 journeys over the year covering 674,467 miles up and down the route. The depot was manned for 8,760 hours by staff on a rota system.

The tram line is 14km long with 15 stops (16 once the Edinburgh Gateway is complete) and a journey from the airport to the city centre takes approx. 35 minutes. In 2014 the service contributed 3 million new passengers to the Transport for Edinburgh group with Lothian Buses also carrying an extra 3 million passengers more than in 2013. That’s 6 million more passengers on public transport in 2014 over 2013.

The service carried 21,000 passengers on its first day and 130,000 in its first week.


Notes to Editors

  • Revenue projections include discounted products, meaning that patronage does not directly compare.
  • Transport for Edinburgh is the transport group which combines award-winning bus operator Lothian Buses and Edinburgh Trams Ltd, the operators of the new tram service.
  • Transport for Edinburgh’s vision is to provide seamless and high quality transport choice for residents and visitors to Edinburgh.

Wednesday, May 27, 2015

Edinburgh Council backs renting reform campaign

Both myself, and the Council's Deputy Leader, signed up to the 'Make Renting Right' campaign earlier today ... full details in the News Release pasted below:

Council backs renting reform campaign

The City of Edinburgh Council today signed its support for a national campaign calling for fair rent for all.

Leader Councillor Andrew Burns and Deputy Leader Councillor Sandy Howat put their names to Shelter Scotland’s Make Renting Right campaign, which aims to make Scotland’s growing private rented sector fit for the 59,000 households in the capital that rent privately.

The campaign complements existing work between the Council and private landlords, which includes giving advice about what they must do by law, and how they can resolve problems with tenants. They are also legally required to register with the local authority by law and apply and comply with specific licences.

Councillor Andrew Burns, Leader of the City of Edinburgh Council, said: “The Council has given its full backing to Making Rent Right because we are committed to housing people in high quality and affordable homes, which is a vital step in our battle against poverty.

“Renters are entitled to be treated fairly and while the majority of landlords do so, too many people are still experiencing the opposite. This campaign is a great step towards protecting them.”

Councillor Sandy Howat, Deputy Leader of the City of Edinburgh Council, said: “We are delighted to support such an important and worthwhile campaign. Thousands of people rent in this city for many reasons, with many of them doing so by choice, and ensuring that they can do so safely and at a fair price is vital.

“The Capital Coalition is committed to providing affordable homes and will continue to work closely with our partners in order to do so.”

Graeme Brown, Director of Shelter Scotland, said: “We are pleased that the City of Edinburgh Council has joined our calls for a better private rented sector for tenants and landlords.

“Along with the council, we want to see a private rented sector that is fit for families and protects all tenants – a sector that provides long-term homes, not short-term housing.

“Too often we hear of people being moved on, evicted or rents increased unreasonably, forcing people into the disruptive cycle of having to move house - every six months in some cases - preventing them from ever being able to put down strong roots and being part of a community.

“In the 21st century, we need a private rented sector that is modern, stable, flexible, predictable and fair for those individuals and families that call it home.”


Sunday, May 24, 2015

Allotment peas

Managed to snatch a bit of time at our Allotment earlier this afternoon ... more planting (peas in this picture) completed - but still quite a bit of digging/clearing to be finished!

But, nevertheless - now all in:

- potatoes
- broad beans
- onions
- spinach
- peas

Saturday, May 23, 2015

May Leader's Report

May 2015

New Chief Executive appointment 


Andrew Burns
I am delighted to announce that Andrew Kerr is our preferred candidate to replace Sue Bruce as Chief Executive.

It was essential we chose the right calibre of person for this important and challenging leadership role and we ran a rigorous, competitive recruitment process with a strong field of candidates.

Currently Chief Executive of Cornwall Council, Andrew will bring a wealth of local government experience and enthusiasm at a time when we face many unprecedented challenges and opportunities. I am confident that his energy and drive will play a central role in shaping the continued success of Edinburgh as a 21st century capital city.

Following approval at next Thursday's council meeting, Andrew will take up his post later this year with the exact date to be confirmed in due course.

Councillor Andrew Burns
Leader of the
City of Edinburgh Council


Stability restored at Lothian Buses

I am also pleased to announce the appointment of several new non-executive board members to Transport for Edinburgh, Lothian Buses and Edinburgh Trams, for which the Council is majority shareholder.

While recent issues at management level within Lothian Buses have caused uncertainty, we welcome the results of KPMG's independent report, which demonstrates that the Council acted consistently and in accordance with the proper governance procedures in dealing with the situation.

I am confident that the latest appointments to the board will now allow us to look to the future of public transport in Edinburgh, building on the work of outgoing Chair, Tony Depledge, to ensure stable and effective management, and providing the first-class, integrated service the city deserves.


Election success

I want to put on record my thanks to Sue Bruce, in her final stint as Returning Officer, and her team in delivering yet another slick and efficient election on 7 and 8 May. It doesn't take a mathematical genius to work out that the smooth-running of such an event is a massive undertaking and involves a huge effort by many hundreds of dedicated public servants over a number of weeks and months.

It was a real pleasure to have the count in the EICC for the first time and I have heard many comments from fellow politicians, the media and our own staff about how impressed they were with the facilities.

My congratulations also to my coalition colleague and Deputy Lord Provost, Deidre Brock, in becoming the MP for Edinburgh North & Leith, a constituency I am sure she will represent extremely well in Westminster.


Nepal earthquake

Shortly after my last Leader's Report, Nepal was struck by a devastating earthquake followed by a second one, almost as severe, ten days ago.

Since the initial quake and the humanitarian crisis it caused, we have been working closely with our aid partner, Mercy Corps. Our actions have included a candle-lit vigil led by the Lord Provost, turning the Melville monument red (the colour of the Nepalese flag) to promote the appeal as well as work with schools and charitable street collections.

Mercy Corps' hard work continues in Nepal; focusing on reaching people in parts of the country so far overlooked and ensuring they get much needed clothing, food and hygiene supplies. You can read more about the work in Nepal and make a donation to support the ongoing relief effort on Mercy Corps' website.


Housing development sails off with top award

Well done to all involved in The Sailmaker Apartments project in Leith, which was awarded Best Partnership in Affordable Housing at the prestigious Homes For Scotland Awards 2015.

The development, consisting of 145 affordable homes, was built through the National Housing Trust scheme in a partnership between the Council, Scottish Futures Trust, Hillcrest Housing Association, Cruden and Rettie and Co.

Also commended in the same category was Merchant's Court in Liberton and the Greendykes C development in Craigmillar, both of which delivered much-needed social rent and mid-market rent properties.


Volunteering champions

Edinburgh wouldn't be the city it is without its army of volunteers, working tirelessly to support the homeless, vulnerable, young, elderly and disabled.

Every year, we get the opportunity to thank this community at the Volunteer Awards, organised by the Volunteer Centre Edinburgh and presented by our volunteer ambassador, the Lord Provost.

This year's awards will also feature our new Honour Board, a lasting tribute to those who receive the Lord Provost's Inspiring Volunteer of the Year Award each year. This will be unveiled at a special ceremony on 3 June as part of National Volunteer Week.


No place for intolerance

In many countries around the world, lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender (LGBT) people are still subject to ostracisation, imprisonment and execution merely for whom they love. Although Scotland has made progress towards equality, there remains much work to be done.

Last Monday, 17 May, was International Day Against Homophobia and Transphobia and, to mark this, LGBT Youth Scotland launched a new report on Life in Scotland for LGBT Young People (aged 13-25), focusing on their social experiences and acceptance in their families and wider communities.

While the research does demonstrate progress here, it does also show that many LGBT young people still face high levels of discrimination and experience barriers to feeling included.


Stay in the picture

Keep yourself in the picture with our news section online. Watch live full Council and some committee meetings on our webcast. Join the debate on Twitter #edinwebcast

If you wish to unsubscribe please email us.
Follow us on twitter
Watch our webcasts
Follow us on Facebook
The City of Edinburgh Council

Friday, May 22, 2015

May Council Meeting

Council business now fully back in post-election mode ... and the regular May Council Meeting is coming up - next Thursday (28th) ...

... 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 ever, 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!

Sunday, May 10, 2015

Allotment-therapy ;-)

A bit of post-election therapy at the Allotment this afternoon ...

... it's always such a haven of tranquility :-)

Pond-area starting to get going, as you can see - and contains lots of tadpoles already!

And plenty of veg. now planted:

- potatoes
- broad beans
- onions
- peas
- spinach

... and much more to go in, over coming (hopefully, quieter) weeks!

Friday, May 08, 2015

Elections 2015

Count over - we've had better nights!

--- before some sleep; commiserations to:
@marklazarowicz @SheilaGilmoreMP @henderson_ricky @cllrcammyday

--- & many congratulations to:
@IanMurrayMP @DeidreBrock @TommySheppard @joannaccherry @MichelleThomson


Wednesday, May 06, 2015

May Corporate Policy and Strategy Committee

Despite the UK General Election - Local Government life goes on ...

... and May's "Corporate Policy and Strategy" Committee is next week; Tuesday 12th ...

... and all the papers/reports are now in the public domain: the main Agenda can be found here ---

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

Several reports that may well attract some attention and debate this month:

Just click on either of the above links for access (as a PDF) to the specific report ...

... and, of course, all the Policy and Strategy Committee meetings are now being webcast live - and thereafter archived!

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

Tuesday, May 05, 2015

Commission on Local Tax Reform

General Election fever may be rife ... but important 'local government' events do carry on regardless!

And - thought I'd flag up that the 'Commission on Local Tax Reform' are now seeking evidence submissions: prior to deadline of Monday 22nd June ...

... some further detail as follows:

We're asking for your help...

We are an independent Commission that has been set up to look at ways of delivering a fairer system of local taxation in Scotland.  We want to begin our work by hearing your views about what happens now, and what the future might be.
Over the next few months we'll be using what you tell us to explore issues and develop ideas- so what you tell us now is very important.


You can take part in both, or choose the one that suits you best.  The important thing is that we hear from you by Monday 22 June.
Our Call for Written Evidence is the best way of sharing detailed information and suggestions with us. 

We’ve asked some questions, but if you'd prefer to send us other information, that's great too. 
Click here to get started
Even if you only have a few minutes to spare, you can still give us your views by using our quick online survey.  

It only takes 5 minutes to complete. 
Click here to get started


This is only our first step in listening to you.  Any information that you give us now will help start the debate, but we also want this to be an ongoing conversation. 

There's more information about the Commission and its work on our website.  You can also stay in touch by signing up to our mailing list and by following us on Twitter.

We'll also be setting up different ways in which you can meet us or tell us what you think. You may know other people who have something to say too.  Please share our details with them so that they can have their say.