Tuesday, May 28, 2013

May Full Council - Leader's Report

Leader's Report

May 2013

Andrew Burns
Colleagues across the political divide were saddened to hear of the death of a well known former Councillor Ian Berry, MBE, JP whose career spanned three decades. He was a very personable individual and came across in the Chamber as calm, respectful and a very genuine representative of the people of Duddingston. He retired in 2007.

He was passionate about the area he represented and the people in it. As well as his background in Portobello, where he was a local historian, he held many honorary positions in local organisations. His style of politics, putting the interests of local people before party politics or personal interest, was certainly much appreciated.


Pledges on track

While there is still a lot of work to be done in the coming years, there's also much we can be proud of in the year since last May. A review of the pledges we made to Edinburgh residents when we formed the Capital Coalition with our SNP colleagues last year, shows that the vast majority are on track. The Contract with the Capital details 53 specific commitments that will be reported on annually.

We have introduced a living wage for the lowest-earning Council staff, created a new Transport Forum to help develop a vision for how we all get around the city and helped to get more young people into work.

We have also tackled some of the more challenging issues facing the Council. The Deloitte reports into the allegations about property services were recently published and a new shared repairs service to help homeowners began in April.

There is now a bill lodged with the Scottish Parliament that we hope will pave the way towards creating a much-needed new high school in Portobello.

The tram project is making very good progress against the revised timetable and budget and the recent reopening of St Andrew Square is just one of several major milestones we expect to reach this year.

I'm not aware of any other Council in Scotland that has made the same commitment we have to regularly and visibly report on progress on specific pledges. Accountability, as well as performance against the targets we set, is essential in fulfilling our aim to rebuild trust with the people of Edinburgh.

Full details of the performance report will be considered at the Council meeting on 30 May.


Castlebrae High School

In March this year the Council decided to back the local community by keeping Castlebrae High School open rather than closing it. We committed to look at options for improvement to ensure future success, until the new Craigmillar High School is delivered (by 2020 at the latest).

I’m pleased to report that progress is already being made to ensure parents and the wider community play a key role in the improvements, that staff are consulted and a refreshed team put in place, and new measures created to increase the numbers enrolling in the school.

One of the important measures for improvement is the establishment of a working group made up of local people, council staff and further education providers as well as a separate panel of experts. The working group will be chaired by my colleague Cllr Cathy Fullerton and is charged with developing the longer term improvement plan. I give them my full support in their efforts to develop the school and improve outcomes for the pupils who go there.


Edinburgh Services – what others think

We are very pleased with the results of the Children’s Services inspection by the Scottish Government's Care Inspectorate. It shows we currently have good services for most children in Edinburgh and our ambition is to improve further so that we have excellent services for all children. In particular, the following areas of work were identified as strengths; partnership working, keeping children and young people safe, consultation, leadership and high staff motivation and commitment. Our good practice in encouraging young people and families to stay active and eat well, along with our programmes for building self esteem and providing family nurse support for all young parents under 20 have been highlighted for particular praise.

We also won a Homes for Scotland award last week, jointly with our partners Dunedin Canmore Housing, Hart Builders and Lovell Partnerships for the Best Partnership in Affordable Housing for the regeneration project at Moredun Park and Hyvots. The total investment was more than £60 million and includes accommodation adapted for wheelchair users and a housing complex for the elderly.

This is more than just a pat on the back from the industry as the 400 new homes and refurbishment of 371 is important progress in making sure the city's people are well housed (one of our 53 pledges). Edinburgh has a housing shortage as our population and households continue to grow. We need 16,000 new affordable homes over the next ten years and that is a significant challenge. My colleague Cllr Cammy Day, in charge of housing, is working hard with Cllr Frank Ross, who chairs the Economy Committee, to look at innovative ways to help kick start the building industry in the city and encourage much needed investment in housing.


Tram update

All road and track works are now complete around St. Andrew Square which will be a welcome sight to traders, residents and visitors to the area. This is the first of the major city centre work sites to be completed in 2013, with the others on course to be finished in line with the revised schedule.

Track preparation (grinding) has been taking place over the past two weeks and contractors are currently making final preparations to install overhead and underground cabling for the city centre section of the tram line. 2013 has been a very productive year for the tram project and we’re on course for this to continue.

See the latest pictures highlighting the progress made. You can also get regular updates by following @edinburghtrams on Twitter.

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