... regular readers will be aware that Edinburgh Labour launched it's vision for the Capital City, it's Local Government Manifesto, just last week - I've a short piece in today's local paper outlining some more of the detail, which I'll reproduce below:
Building on Success – making Our City, truly One City
Back in November 2016, Edinburgh Labour launched a Draft Manifesto consultation process, to which we subsequently received over 1,000 responses from members of the public. And just last week, we became the first political Party in Edinburgh to launch our finalised vision for the Capital – the feedback we received to our earlier draft is clearly reflected in the final document, which is now available at www.edinburghlabour.com
Edinburgh undoubtedly prides itself on being a fantastic place to live in, to work in, and to visit. And over the years, Labour-led councils in our city have used their powers to help create a dynamic economy that generates jobs, encourages innovation and fosters new business. Twenty years ago, a Labour Council was farsighted enough to nurture what is now Edinburgh Park. Over the coming decade we need to work closely with our three city universities, and new technology firms, to create similar opportunities for our children and grandchildren.
However with success come challenges – and our vision for the Capital attempts to address the four main challenges facing our city.
The Challenge of Growth - Edinburgh’s population is already over 500,000 and is growing rapidly. Edinburgh is predicted to become Scotland’s largest city by the mid 2030s. So we do need to plan for: more homes and schools; better transport links; more skills training and more jobs; and increased levels of services for all age groups.
The Funding Challenge - the funding the Scottish Government receives from the UK Treasury has increased over the last few years, but during that time the SNP Scottish Government has cut
the grants it gives to Councils. Edinburgh suffers more than most councils. It gets the lowest grant of all Scottish councils - £1,928 per head against a Scottish average of £2,232.
The Challenge of Increasing Centralisation - the SNP Government keeps trying to get more and more control by centralising services. Police Scotland, which has neither saved money nor improved services, shows this does not work. In contrast Edinburgh Labour has consistently devolved power and decision making to local people, working in partnership with local communities and the voluntary sector.
The Challenge of Poverty and Inequality - we need to ensure that all our citizens can share in
the city’s success. Just under a sixth of the population (79,550) live in households whose income falls below the poverty threshold. More than half of these (42,100) are in work. Many are in jobs which are minimum wage, short term or have zero hour contracts. High house prices and rents make living in the city very hard for many. And there are also significant health inequalities across the city.
Our vision for the Capital provides specific action to address these four challenges; and these are actions that we know can be delivered upon – I’ll mention a few here, but much more detail is available via the full document:
· We will build a minimum of 16, 000 low cost homes for rent and sale over the next 10 years, through the Council and our partner housing associations and cooperatives. To meet need at least two thirds should be let at ‘social rent’ levels.
· We will improve access to health and care services by creating eight local centres where people can work on solutions to their needs with health and care professionals and voluntary groups.
· We will build new primary schools at St John’s Portobello, Morningside, St Crispin’s, Broomhills, Gilmerton Station Road, Leith Waterfront, Granton Waterfront, Maybury , Brunstane & Queensferry, and new High Schools for Castlebrae and in West Edinburgh.
· We will increase spending on roads and pavements to a minimum of £20m per year, and give local communities more say on where work is done. And we will also maintain spending on cycling at 10% of our transport budget, enabling projects such as the completion of the west to east link across the city centre , and the building of segregated cycle lanes.
· We will continue to support the city’s major festivals which generate jobs and boost local business but, side by side with this increase the funding for local festivals and events. We will also support the creation of further work spaces for artists and craftspeople.
· And we will campaign for an overhaul of the planning appeal system to make it shorter, more independent and give communities the right of appeal.
Edinburgh Labour believes that the mark of a civilised society is how it looks after its young and vulnerable citizens – and the proposals outlined in our vision for the Capital will help do just that.
Cllr Andrew Burns
Labour Group Leader &
Leader of the City of Edinburgh Council