Tuesday, December 13, 2016

This is your chance to directly influence our current thinking ...

I had a brief Opinion-piece, on the Draft Manifesto consultation, in the local Newspaper yesterday - direct link here, and I'll reproduce the main text below ...

Tell us what you think and we’ll deliver again

Back in late 2011, Edinburgh Labour launched a Draft Manifesto consultation process, to which we received over 1,000 responses from members of the public.

As a result of the feedback we received, we ensured that several elements of our final 2012 Election Manifesto were strengthened – and over the last Council-term we have consequently ensured that there is:

·         open live-webcasting of all the main Council Meetings, which are archived and available for scrutiny by everyone
·         a completely revised Budgetary-process, whereby a draft budget is published months in advance and fully consulted upon before final adoption
·         a Petitions Committee (Chaired by the Opposition) through which members of the public can directly raise local issues
·         a revised Audit Committee (again Chaired by the Opposition) which is able to scrutinise key Council decisions and hold those in power to account
·         an entirely renewed ‘Localities’ structure, with much more decision-making power being progressively devolved to local areas and local people
·         the use of Participatory Budgeting (PB) in ‘Localities’, wherein local residents choose their own budget priorities
·         introduction of the Living Wage for all of the Council’s workforce, leading the way for the rest of the Capital City … this benefitted literally thousands of low-paid Council employees
·         settlement for the outstanding Equal Pay Issues … again benefitting literally thousands of low-paid female employees

I think it’s fair to say that very few, if any, political Groups had undertaken such an open, and consultative, Manifesto-exercise before – and thereafter gone on to actually deliver the changes requested.

And at the end of last month, Edinburgh Labour launched our Draft Manifesto for the next Local Elections, which will take place on Thursday 4th May 2017. You can access the document via this link ...

... along with full details of how to send any feedback, a process which will be run until Tuesday 28th February 2017.

The draft document we’ve just launched has six themes; and I’ll highlight below just one pledge, from each of the themes.

Planning for Edinburgh’s Growth
Ensure the delivery of a ‘City Region Deal’ for Edinburgh, Lothians, the Borders and Fife – that deal to include significant infrastructure funding, and new Housing-powers for local Councils.

Young People and Education
There are already a number of community sports hubs across the city; Broughton High School has a school of music and dance, while Leith has a Confucius Institute specialising in the teaching of Mandarin; and other schools specialise in vocational courses or are recognised as leading in certain subject areas.

So, building on the Council’s move to localities we will set up more ‘specialist school hubs’ in; languages; science & technology; arts/creative industries; and sport ... in High Schools right across the city.

Affordable Housing for all
Committing to deliver 8,000 new affordable homes over the next ten years and encourage our Registered Social Landlord (RSL) partners to match this, bringing 16,000 affordable homes to Edinburgh in the next decade.

Care and Compassion in our Society
Deliver 8 ‘Health and Social Care Community Hubs’ across the City. These Hubs would be physical ‘one stop shops’ where people can speak directly to professionals in both the voluntary/statutory sector, about all of their health and care needs. This model is already used in other service-areas, and has proven to be extremely successful.

Jobs and the Local Economy
We need to empower our cities to play a much fuller role in serving their people and stimulating their local economies - we will therefore press the Scottish Government over the required powers, and seek to introduce the following measures locally:
·         abandon the Council Tax freeze
·         extend Council Tax banding (if the Tax is not otherwise reformed) to embrace the wealthiest in our society
·         allow Council/s full control of Business Rates
·         adjust means settlement to allow Council/s full income of taxes generated locally
·         introduce the so-called ‘Tourist Visitor Levy’

Your Local Environment
We need to do more on air pollution – as this is one of the most significant threats to the ‘quality of life’ we currently enjoy in our Capital City:
·         we will therefore consult on the implementation of Low Emissions Zones (LEZs) for the City
·         we will also lobby the Scottish Government to devolve powers to Local Authorities, allowing them to; consider the implementation of a ‘Workplace Parking Levy’; and the implementation of an ‘Emissions Surcharge’

Edinburgh Labour believe this is a radical, bold set of proposals, which – given the chance – we will deliver upon.

But we do want to have a genuine consultation with the residents of Edinburgh. We’d like to know what you think of our ideas, or give us your own ideas to ensure Edinburgh remains a European City to be proud of.

Cllr Andrew Burns
Labour Group Leader &
Leader of the City of Edinburgh Council


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