Friday, October 28, 2016

Council gains Living Wage accreditation

Very good news ... relevant Release is available here, and I'll also paste the main text below for ease of reference:

The City of Edinburgh Council gains Living Wage accreditation

The City of Edinburgh Council introduced the Living Wage for its employees in 2013 and has now gained accreditation through the Scottish Living Wage Accreditation Initiative.
As part of the accreditation process the Council has now adopted the Scottish Government’s guidance on fair work practices relating to procurement, which means the Council can take into account the way in which prospective suppliers treat their employees when it comes to awarding contracts.

The accreditation process is the subject of a report(external link) which will considered by the Finance and Resources Committee on Thursday, 3 November.

Councillor Gavin Barrie, Economy Convener, said: “Accreditation from the Scottish Living Wage Accreditation Initiative is positive evidence that we value both our employees and those who provide services through contracts and grant funding. It also supports the Capital Coalition’s pledge to promote Edinburgh’s economic growth and prosperity.

“Research has indicated that the living wage leads to improved staff attendance, greater efficiency from workers, better staff loyalty and increased retention rates. I for one am delighted that thousands of Council staff have been benefiting for the past three years since we introduced it.

“By also adopting the Scottish Government’s guidelines on the Living Wage and procurement we are encouraging other organisations to show a positive approach to their workforce and demonstrate their commitment to fair work practices.”

Peter Kelly, Director, The Poverty Alliance, said: “With over a quarter of a million adults living in in-work poverty in Scotland, it is clear that the traditional route out of poverty, work, is not working.  Paying a real Living Wage is a crucial step to addressing these unacceptable levels of in-work poverty.

“I hope that other employers across the public, private and third sector follow the lead of the City of Edinburgh Council and join the growing Living Wage movement in Scotland.”

The City of Edinburgh Council introduced a Living Wage for all employees on 1 January 2013 and continues to pay a Living Wage to all relevant staff as part of the agreed overall pay settlement for Local Government employees. The current rate Living Wage rate is £8.25 an hour. A new rate will be introduced on Monday, 31 October, and organisations have six months to implement this.

Further information

Living Wage Week(external link) is a UK-wide celebration of the campaign for a real Living Wage that meets the cost of living and the network of Living Wage employers.

* It takes place each year during the first week of November. This year it runs from Sunday 30th October to Saturday 5th November. The new UK and London Living Wage rates are announced every year on the Monday and rates are announced simultaneously in cities around the UK whilst the London rate is announced by the Mayor of London.

* The calculation of the independent Living Wage rates is overseen by the Living Wage Commission(external link), based on the best available evidence on living standards in London and the UK. The Commission was set up in January 2016 and is appointed by the Living Wage Foundation. It is drawn from leading Living Wage employers, trade unions, civil society and independent experts.  

Thursday, October 27, 2016

can you support the 'City Observatory' redevelopment?

Work begins on City Observatory

Yesterday (Wednesday 26th October) saw the foundations being laid for Edinburgh’s new world-class contemporary visual arts space on Calton Hill.

By the end of 2017, under the direction of Kate Gray of the Collective and the City Observatory and in partnership with the City of Edinburgh Council, one of Edinburgh’s most iconic locations, will become a landmark destination for visitors and a space where national and international artists can exhibit their work and be inspired.

The £4m restoration project will include conservation of the Observatory’s original 19th century William Henry Playfair designs, its original telescopes and astronomical instruments and its grounds; the creation of a subterranean gallery, and the building of a new restaurant with enviable views across the city.

The Collective, which was founded in 1984 is internationally praised for its work with emergent artists and many world-class artists including Martin Boyce, Jeremy Deller, Claire Barclay, Moyna Flannigan and Callum Innes.

When the Collective moved to their present site on Calton Hill in 2013 they became custodians of the City Observatory complex, which was in a state of serious disrepair and on the Buildings at Risk Register. Thanks to the support of various trusts, foundations and private donors, their vision to create a world-class destination for visitors to the City and a major international centre for contemporary art will soon become a reality.

The Collective’s new contemporary art space is scheduled for completion and to be fully accessible to the public for the first time in history by the end of 2017.

Councillor Richard Lewis, Culture Convenor for the City of Edinburgh Council, said: “The redevelopment of the Old Observatory on Calton Hill could be one of the most significant cultural and heritage projects to take place in Edinburgh. Known as the birthplace of astronomy and timekeeping, and situated with breathtaking views in the heart of the Athens of the North, the Observatory will be reinstated to the original William Playfair designs. This is a major step forward and the Council is proud to be working with Collective to realise this ambitious project. Soon, Calton Hill will once again be home to a creative hub of history, art and science for residents and visitors to enjoy.”

Kate Gray, Director of the Collective, added: “We are thrilled to be at this point in the project and are now able to see our vision becoming a reality. This innovative project is the culmination of five years of work and would not be possible without the huge amount of support from artists, individuals and funders we have received. We are very excited to see our plans progress over the next year and we look forward to welcoming people to a new kind of City Observatory when we open the site freely to the public for the first time in its history.”


You can find out more detail on how to potentially support the 'City Observatory' redevelopment via this link.


Friday, October 21, 2016

October Leader's Report

October 2016


Andrew Burns
What's great about Edinburgh? What could be better? What should the city be like in the year 2050? These are the questions we've been asking as we develop a '2050 Edinburgh City Vision'.

We have much to be proud of here in the Capital but we do need to start thinking seriously about what we want Edinburgh to look like in 10, 20, even 30 years' time.

It's important to note that this will not be a Council vision; rather officers' role will be to facilitate and support citywide collaboration and debate.

Already, people from all corners and sectors of the city have been having their say. Our launch event at Cortex HQ, attended by more than 100 guests, has been reported widely in the media and continues to be hotly debated on social media. Indeed, #edinburgh2050 trended on Twitter, reaching more than a million people!

If you haven't already, please have your say by answering our three simple questions at and on social media @edinburgh using #Edinburgh2050.
Councillor Andrew Burns
Leader of the City of Edinburgh

Play your part in improving our services

Please help us to improve our services by playing your part in our public engagement, which runs until 18 November. You can do this by completing our survey and/or contributing your ideas via our dialogue page.

Thanks to your previous feedback, we have already agreed draft spending and saving plans for the next three years and this year's engagement is focusing on three themes, namely: new ways of working, lean and agile services and working with partners.

Following the success of previous years, we are running another 'Question Time' event on 10 November in the City Chambers. This is designed to give you the opportunity to quiz our panel of senior councillors on the Council's budget proposals for next year and beyond.

The proceedings will be chaired by Evening News, Scotsman and Scotland on Sunday Deputy Editor, Euan McGrory. It will also be broadcast live via the Council website. If you would like to put a question to the panel, or just come along and be part of the audience, please register online by 7 November.

Billion pound boost

I'm delighted that work is under way on the £1bn Edinburgh St James development.
Our staff worked extremely hard at Festival time to keep the city litter-free and our specially branded Our Edinburgh bins collected 60% more litter during August, showing that the public are definitely doing their bit to help Edinburgh look her best.

The Council and the Scottish Government both played a crucial role in helping the developers reach this major milestone for the project, which will transform the East End of Princes Street when complete in 2020.

The investment will provide much needed premium retail space and leisure facilities, a world class 5 star hotel as well as new homes in the heart of the city. This will create thousands of jobs and contribute millions to the Scottish economy each year.

A new centre for Pennywell and Muirhouse

I was excited to see the plans for the new civic centre for Pennywell and Muirhouse, which will be considered by councillors on 27 October. The £26m proposals include the construction of 160 energy efficient homes, a new shopping centre, new office space for local services and a new civic square and public realm.

This forms part of one of Scotland's largest housing-led regeneration schemes, which included the building of Craigroyston Community High School back in 2010. Construction of over 700 new homes and an NHS led partnership centre are already well under way and, over the next six to eight years, the area will be home to around 2000 new residents and over 180 staff.

The consultation on plans for the civic centre is continuing and local people can share their thoughts by popping into Muirhouse Library, the Community Shop on Pennywell Road, the Local Office on West Pilton Gardens or on the Council's Consultation Hub until 28 October.

Solar Co-operative success

Earlier this month the Edinburgh Community Solar Co-operative celebrated the completion of a project to install solar panels on 24 Council-owned venues. This will deliver cheaper, more sustainable energy to the buildings involved.

Now, I'm delighted to see the initiative has been shortlisted for the Best Community Project Award in this year's Scottish Green Energy Awards. This recognises close partnership working between the Council, the Co-operative, local people and organisations, highlighting their contribution to the renewable energy industry.

Involving the community and partner organisations to shape the way we deliver services is exactly the kind of collaborative approach we envision for Edinburgh's future. I wish all those involved the best of luck for the awards in December.

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The City of Edinburgh Council

October Full Council Meeting

October's Full Council Meeting is now approaching fast - it takes place at 10am next Thursday (27th) ...

... 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!

Thursday, October 13, 2016

new Boroughmuir High School: Update ...

Deeply disappointing news about the new Boroughmuir High School ... as indicated within the News release below, the Council will be seeking compensation in line with contract terms:

August opening set for new Boroughmuir High School

Following a review of progress on construction, it has been agreed that the new Boroughmuir High School will now open at the start of the new school year in August 2017. 
The City of Edinburgh Council had hoped that the school would be completed in time for a January opening, but after discussions this week between senior Council staff, including Chief Executive Andrew Kerr, and contractors O'Hare & McGovern about the outstanding work programme, the new opening date of August has been set.   

Work is now due for completion by April 2017, however pupils and staff will not begin using the new facility until after the summer holidays, to avoid any disruption in the run-up to exams. This timing will also allow the school to run orientation visits for pupils and staff to the new school before the end of the summer term.

Councillor Paul Godzik, Education Convener, said: "This is understandably disappointing news for the whole school community and we certainly share their frustration at this fresh delay. We have made clear our displeasure at the way the project has progressed to date and will be seeking compensation in line with the terms of the contract.
“By postponing the opening until the start of the next school year, we can ensure pupils can sit their exams without the upheaval of moving into a new building.

"When staff and pupils return for the new academic year next August, they'll be embarking on an exciting new chapter in Boroughmuir's history, with a fantastic new teaching and learning environment to continue the school’s first-class academic track record."
The Council will be seeking compensation from the contractors in line with the terms of the contract.

Sunday, October 09, 2016

Allotment Update :-)

Rather embarrassingly, I haven't posted an update from our Saughton Allotment since the middle of August ;-)

... well, we managed to catch a few hours there this evening, and cropped a huge amount of:
  • potatoes
  • spinach
  • runner-beans
  • apples
  • raspberries
  • not to mention endless flowers ...

Monday, October 03, 2016

October's Corporate Policy and Strategy Committee

All of the Reports are now published for October's "Corporate Policy and Strategy" Committee; it meets at 10am tomorrow, Tuesday 4th October.

The relevant paperwork is now in the public domain: a full set of Reports and the main Agenda can be found here.

And individual Reports can also be accessed via Committee Papers on-Line (CPOL) as linked from here.

Some of the Reports that may well be of interest:

And, of course, as usual the "Corporate Policy and Strategy Committee" meetings are all webcast live - and thereafter archived!

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

Sunday, October 02, 2016

2017/18 budget engagement

I know it's only the start of October, but as per previous years, the Council is now seeking views on the draft 2017/18 Budget (which should be set in early 2017) ... further information, and relevant details as follows:

#Playyourpart improving council services

Edinburgh residents are being asked for their views on reshaping council services as part of public engagement on the 2017/18 budget, which will be set early next year.
This year people will get the chance to contribute ideas of their own on how city services are provided, by having meaningful conversations online with other residents in their local area. Residents will also be able to see the suggestions of others in their community and rate those ideas.

The Council has agreed draft spending and saving plans for the next three years and is now looking for residents’ views on how best to change the delivery of some services.

A seven-week engagement period, beginning today (Friday, 30 September), will run until Friday, 18 November. It will focus on three key themes, new ways of working, lean and agile services and working with partners.

The online survey will ask residents to think about how the changes below could affect them, their community and the city as a whole as well as what challenges and opportunities they present for the Council.
  • Supporting individuals and community groups to become more involved in delivering library services. 
  • Developing the ways customers do business with the Council to include more online tools which are accessible and respond to customer needs so that services are delivered right first time.
  • Working with Edinburgh Leisure to maintain access to quality facilities and programmes whilst achieving savings and efficiencies.
The Council will also be working closely with communities, equality groups and partners over the coming months by running workshops around reshaping services, working with communities to agree how local budgets should be spent and creating a city vision for Edinburgh for 2050.

A Question Time event will also be webcast from the City Chambers on Thursday, 10 November to give members of the public a more personal opportunity to ask questions about changes to services. 

Councillor Alasdair Rankin, Finance and Resources Convener, said: “We have an increasing population, inflationary pressures, decreased budgets and greater demand for our services so it is really important that we get residents’ views on how we can more efficiently deliver services.

“In previous budget engagements residents told us to protect education, care for older people, culture, and services for vulnerable children and adults. These continue to be our priorities.

“Using our online engagement tools, we’re making it easy for people to contribute their views and ideas, and to understand the different challenges there are reshaping our services.

“We are improving our engagement tools this year by allowing people to speak to other residents in their local area about issues which specifically affect them. This will give us quality feedback on how people would like their services delivered in the future.”

Councillor Bill Cook, Finance Vice-Convener, added: “Everything you say will be taken into account when we draw up the final budget to be considered by Council in early 2017, so we are extremely interested in hearing your views. Whether it’s via the online survey, dialogue page, phone, letter, email or social media we welcome all feedback.”

At a meeting of the Finance & Resources Committee on Thursday, 29 September, councillors approved a report on the draft budget.
Further information on other ways to give your views -
  • Phone on 0131 200 2305 (8.30am to 5pm Monday to Thursday, 8.30am to 3.40pm Friday)
  • Writing to Freepost, RSJC-SLXC-YTJY, Budget, Council Leader, City Chambers, High Street Edinburgh EH1 1YJ
  • Speaking to your local councillor