Thursday, June 27, 2013

Off Air

Summer recess is here :-)

No more blogging for a few weeks; I'll also be leaving (metaphorically speaking!) twitter, facebook and blipfoto alone ...

... e-mails won't be read directly by me; but my mobile will be on in case anyone needs to get me by phone/text urgently.

Normal service will resume by Monday 22nd July latest.

Wednesday, June 26, 2013

June Council Meeting webcast at 10am tomorrow

June Council Meeting at 10am tomorrow morning - and as usual you can watch the meeting live via the Council Webcast and/or catch up on it later, once its archived.

And a reminder that all of the Full Council Reports are also available on-line ... you can see the Main Agenda here; and the individual reports are all accessible via this link.

And yes - it's the last Full Council Meeting prior to the July recess and from this Friday onwards there will be complete "blog/twitter/facebook/blipfoto" silence for 3 whole weeks!

Tuesday, June 25, 2013

More schools leavers than ever in Edinburgh move into work education or training

Very, very good news for the Edinburgh Guarantee programme today, as Scottish Government figures have confirmed that more Edinburgh schools leavers than ever are moving directly into work education or training.

Relevant News Release follows below:

Published Tuesday 25 June 2013
More school leavers than ever in Edinburgh are moving into work, education, or training.
This is thanks to the strong partnership that has developed between the public and private sectors through the Edinburgh Guarantee.
Figures published by the Scottish Government today show that the success rate of school leavers in Edinburgh achieving and sustaining a positive destination are at the highest rate ever in Edinburgh. The figure is up 3.3% on the same time last year and is now at 89.8%.

The figures in some areas have gone down, while Edinburgh's figure is now above the national average.

A positive destination is defined as a place in Higher Education, Further Education, a job, paid apprenticeship, or work-focused training. At a snapshot taken in March of this year only 8.3% of recent school leavers were recorded as seeking a destination.
The statistics show that more school leavers in Edinburgh are getting into jobs compared to September 2012 with over one in five of school leavers in employment at the snapshot taken in March. Just under 40% are getting into and sustaining places in Higher Education while almost a quarter of school leavers opt for Further Education.
Comparing schools, 15 secondary schools working with their partners have improved their performance since September 2012. One school, Queensferry High had six school leavers still looking for a job or training in March and now boast an almost 100% success rate with every school leaver except one placed.
This success has been underpinned by the active support of the city’s employers in recruiting young people into their businesses, with 120 opportunities offered since April.
Cllr Paul Godzik, Convener of the Children and Families Committee, said: “Whether it’s employment, apprenticeships or training, young people need to move out of school and into a positive destination quickly. It is really encouraging that there has been such an improvement in the figures this year as moving on to make a new start in life is the boost young people really need to raise their self esteem at this critical point in their lives.”

Cllr Frank Ross, Convener of the Economy Committee, said: “Ensuring that Edinburgh’s young people have opportunities is vital for the economic success of our city. These figures show that focused collaboration through initiatives such as the Edinburgh Guarantee are making a real difference to many young lives. I am confident that with sustained investment we’ll continue to see future improvements in the number of young people moving to a positive destination after school.”

Monday, June 24, 2013

"Vision, Policy and Partners" conference event

Spoke at a Mackay Hannah event in the City Chambers earlier today ... focused on how the Council is (trying!) to 'do things very differently'; and the importance of partnership/s between the public, private and voluntary sectors for the wider-good of the city.

Had quite a few requests for a copy of my speech notes - so, in the spirit of openness and transparency, here they are ...

... I may have deviated slightly from the text, here and there, for the observant amongst you who were in the hall!

I'm now very much looking forward to the October/November events, later this year, that I reference towards the end ;-)


24th June 2013

Cllr Andrew Burns
Leader of the City of Edinburgh Council

Thank you Graham (Chair) and thank you Cabinet Secretary ...

… and can I personally welcome you – and all of today’s delegates - to the City Chambers in Edinburgh for what is already shaping up to be a fascinating and full day of discussion and debate.

The title of today’s event is ‘Vision, Policy and Partners’ and in my contribution – for the next 15-20minutes – I want to focus on the pivotal role that I believe the Capital City’s Local Authority has in ensuring that Edinburgh maintains its position as ‘THE’ place in … not just Scotland – but across the whole of the UK – to live, work and play.

But I also know – as Council Leader – that we, as a Council, need to continuously renew and refresh our working partnerships across not just the public sector, but also with the private and voluntary sectors.

And I’m very optimistic that , looking at the line-up of contributors, that today’s event will help us do just that … renew and refresh our partnerships.

For me - it would, frankly, be fatal to Edinburgh’s long-term prospects if all that prevailed was ‘business-as-usual’ --- and I certainly hope to convince you in the next 15-minutes that this Council is already ‘doing things very differently’ and has every intention of continuing in that vein for the next 4-years of this elected-term.

And the focus earlier from the Cabinet Secretary - on the diversity of our population and the demographic changes taking place in Edinburgh - is a welcome one …

… and one which I hope to be able to build on within my own contribution.

I want to focus on what we have in common across the sectors, professions and political parties --- and on working in partnership and co-operation, with city stakeholders, and the wider Edinburgh public.

Indeed, one of the main reasons we in Edinburgh have, what I believe to be, a very focussed local coalition is our ability to rise above what divides us, identify commonality of purpose; and to work together on our vision for a successful city.

And last May, after the Local Council Elections, the newly formed Labour/SNP Capital Coalition started with a clear focus on partnership working - by developing a partnership vision.

We acknowledged and expressed - very openly - that we thought that the trust between citizens and the Council was badly damaged.

It’s not a malaise that just affects Councils, or is unique to Edinburgh, but I believe it has to be openly acknowledged.

That’s why the Capital Coalition put ‘co-operation’ at the heart of our ‘contract with the capital’ – our Coalition Agreement.

And, uniquely as far as I know, we immediately published the full details of that contract on the Council’s website.
In essence, Edinburgh’s Capital Coalition wants to radically transform the way that services are planned, managed and delivered; and move Edinburgh towards being a truly Co-operative Council.

We want Council services to be transformed by shifting power; so that the Council is working much more ‘in partnership’ with the local people it is ultimately here to serve. Working “with people” and not doing things “to people”.

That won’t happen overnight and it won’t apply to all of the Council’s services … but as evidence from elsewhere has proven, small beginnings can lead to a major transformation in service design and delivery …

… and, crucially, can lead to a real transformation in the relationship between the electorate and those elected and employed, to serve them.

We have also put accountability and openness at our core and to that end we made specific commitments to the electorate and to stakeholders that we will be measured against, and ultimately judged on.

I am not aware of any other Council in Scotland that has done this in such a transparent and open manner.

We have made some 53 specific commitments in our Contract with the Capital, as I indicated, the whole document is available via the Council’s website and referred to in nearly all of our communications with the public.  

But the delivery of those promises can’t be a one way street, there has to be an ongoing two way dialogue with the citizens of Edinburgh and our city stakeholders and partners, many of whom are here today.

I was struck, when looking at the detail of the sessions today, and at the range of contributors and participants, that we have some of the foremost policy and decision makers... from across the sectors... in this room.

So, today does provide a great opportunity to take our commitment to collaborate and work in partnership, with others, to the next level --- and I want to thank MacKay Hannah for making this event happen.

So, as mentioned, we want to radically transform the way that services are planned, managed and delivered

… what have we achieved so far after just over a year in office?

In terms of ‘doing things very differently’; I’ll mention just 4 issues, from amongst many, which I hope give you a flavour of how things have quite radically changed over the last 12-months.

1.   We committed to establish the first Petitions Committee, and petitions process, here at the City of Edinburgh Council – and in October last year we launched the new Committee and it has already heard several valid petitions. This has enabled local residents to have an additional channel to raise issues of concern, with their elected representatives, and directly with the Council. And, it’s worth underlining that its Chaired by a Member of the Opposition; and I think it’s fair to say that the Committee’s subject matter is often of a politically challenging nature

2.  We committed to a completely revised budgetary process, which meant the publication of a full 5-year draft budget – for the first time in decades - here in Edinburgh. For our first budget, we published that draft in November 2012, for decision in February 2013. And this year, having listened to the feedback we received, we’re publishing the 4-year roll forward in September 2013, for decision in February 2014. This will allow 5 months of detailed debate and scrutiny before we finally set our 2014/15 budget next year.

3.  We also committed to a renewed focus on neighbourhoods and communities within our decision-making structures ---  and, we’ve delivered on that through our new Communities and Neighbourhoods Committee, and the further development of our 12 Neighbourhood Partnerships will be put before the Council for debate and decision later this year at our October Full Council Meeting.

4.  We also committed to, and have now established  a new Governance, Risk and Best Value Committee, also Chaired by an Opposition Councillor.

Those structural alterations, alongside other simple – but relatively radical – changes to how business is conducted in this Chamber every month … like the web-casting of our main monthly meeting … are providing a renewed framework for our detailed pledges to be effectively monitored and delivered.

And, as I referenced earlier, we committed to 53 specific pledges --- all within the following six themes:
o  Ensuring every child in Edinburgh gets the best start in life
o  Reducing poverty, inequality and deprivation
o  Providing for Edinburgh's prosperity
o  Strengthening and supporting our communities and keeping them safe
o  Ensuring Edinburgh and its residents are well cared for
o  Maintaining and improving quality of life.

And - so far we have;

·       Introduced a living wage of £7.50 for all our staff – this will plough extra resources into the local economy as this money will be spent locally
·       Created a new Transport Forum to help develop a vision for how we all get around the city in the future
·       Lodged a bill with the Scottish Parliament to pave the way toward creating a much needed high school in Portobello
·       Helped more young people into work through the Edinburgh Guarantee

We are also tackling other very challenging issues facing the Council.

Ø The Property Services allegations are being investigated and we have launched the new Shared Repair Service with a refreshed staff team. This was done within a year of taking Office. The service is now being further developed in consultation with users.

Ø The tram project is making good progress against the revised timetable and budget and we will be making a formal decision at Council later this week on who the tram operator will be.

Now - I don’t think I’m highlighting anything new when I say there are likely to be serious and difficult economic challenges ahead for Edinburgh in general and for the Council in particular.

We, in the Council are operating against a backdrop of real and intense pressure on public spending; whilst dealing with an overall increase in population as well as an increase in the number of elderly and vulnerable people who need our support and a population whose expectations (rightly) are higher than ever.

This is undoubtedly a difficult challenge for us – but it is also part of our motivation to do ‘business very differently’ AND to do it better.

Public service reform - against this backdrop - is already gathering pace and our Chief Executive Sue Bruce will go into this in more detail in session two.

I certainly don’t wish this contribution to come across as gloomy or negative in any way --- but I do believe that acknowledging challenges, is often half the battle to dealing with them.

Edinburgh has in fact been bucking the trend of the rest of the country in many ways ---  due to a number of factors --- and has, partly because of these factors, the genuine opportunity to make further progress.

Ø We have a cultural and heritage offering second to none and we must do more to protect and enhance it.
Ø We have academics and experts in a wide variety of fields and a particularly well educated population.
Ø I believe we have innovators and established business expertise in abundance.
Ø We still have opportunities for development and improved infrastructure.
Ø And we are developing a culture of co-operation within and across the sectors.

And we, as a Council, have much to continue to do, so that Edinburgh can remain prosperous and successful, for as many of its residents as possible.

We need to continue:

      Investing in key services
      Investing in prevention and early intervention initiatives
      Ensure best use of our resources
      Achieve this at a time of increasing demand
      Transform what we do, look at where we can increase our income, prioritise our services, work with partners to provide services in a more effective and cheaper way.

And the wider Edinburgh public do need to be able to judge how successful we are and so – in addition to our real-time monitoring of our specific pledge delivery (via our website); I can confirm this morning that we will publish an annual report on ‘ The Co-operative Capital – one year on’ in November of this year.

There will also be a preparatory event for ‘city partners’ in October this year;

·       to assess progress to date
·       to provide a chance to input into the November document
·       and to agree shared-challenges for the following year ahead.

So, I do hope I’ve given you a flavour of just how ‘very differently’ business is being conducted by the Council - and how it will continue to be so …

… I know many of you have been involved in delivering those changes already made, and I look forward to your on-going participation in what has to be a joint-effort across all the sectors --- public, private, voluntary --- if we’re to ensure Edinburgh’s continued success.

Many thanks for listening, and I look forward to any questions – but also to the rest of today’s event.

Thank you.

Sunday, June 23, 2013

Full Council reports now all on-line

The Full Council Reports, for the meeting this coming Thursday 27th June, are now all available on-line ...

... you can see the Main Agenda here; and the individual reports are all accessible via this link.

And don't forget - if you're so minded! - you can watch the meeting live via the Council Webcast and/or catch up on it later, once its archived.

Last Full Council Meeting prior to the July recess, and a bit of family holiday-time :-)

Friday, June 21, 2013

#ROBSON1 elected :-)

Massive thanks to all who helped secure election for Edinburgh Labour's candidate, Keith Robson, in the Ward 16 by-election.

The full results can be accessed here.

As Keith said in his acceptance speech, this was a by-election that no one wanted; and I certainly want to pass on my own personal 'thank you' to all of the candidates, for the constructive tone in which the campaign was fought.

Final thanks, to all those who voted - no matter who you supported. It matters.

And here's a nice moment, from a special day, as Keith signs his official declaration watched by his wife Gillian :-)

June Full Council - Leader's Report

June 2013

Back the bid


Andrew Burns I am urging everybody I can to get behind Edinburgh’s bid for the National Performance Centre for Sport (NPCS). Sir Chris Hoy recently pledged his support for ‘Go Edinburgh 2016’ – the campaign to bring the NCPS to the capital - led by Heriot-Watt University in partnership with the City of Edinburgh Council.

The 25 million pound investment by the Scottish Government will create a world class sporting facility providing fantastic opportunities for community sport and performance athletes. Edinburgh has been shortlisted alongside Stirling and Dundee with a decision expected in late summer. I would really appreciate you taking the time to show your support and back the bid on the Go Edinburgh website.
Councillor Andrew Burns
Leader of the City of Edinburgh Council

Investment in Edinburgh


We are working hard to raise the profile of Edinburgh and other Scottish cities (through the Scottish Cities Alliance amongst global investors to interest them in investing in the city and creating new jobs.

London based property investors were recently courted in a 'Sitematch' event which presented Scottish development sites to 34 London-based property investors. All the delegates said the event had encouraged them to invest in Scotland.

The event gave cities and potential investors (including RBS’ investment company West Register, Henderson Global Investors, Citygrove Securities and the Goodman Group) a chance to discuss in detail specific sites and prospects.

This is a good example of partnership working amongst Scotland’s cities adding value to each other’s assets rather than competing. Feedback from both cities and delegates has been very positive, demonstrating real interest in what our cities have to offer and giving us a clear steer for future events.

New affordable housing


There is an acute need for housing in Edinburgh, in particular affordable housing. We know we need 16,600 affordable homes over the next ten years. That is why I was particularly pleased to be asked by Dunedin Canmore Housing (a charity that owns and manages nearly 5,000 properties) to open their development of 109 new homes for shared ownership and rent in the Gorgie Dalry area where there is high demand.

The Council provided 7.54 million pounds of housing association grant to fund the development of the properties and this is a very good example of partnership working that provides affordable housing, kick starts a stalled construction site and supports jobs in the construction sector.

Tram update


The tram project remains in line with the revised budget and timeframe. Cable installation is now well underway and will continue for the next few weeks. Overhead lines are in place along York place and on Princes Street and underground cables are now being installed during overnight shifts in the city centre.

The contractor has advised us that they have found elements of work in the city centre that doesn’t meet their quality assurance standards. A programme of work to fix this is now underway. The contractor is responsible for the costs and works will not affect the completion date. Materials are being removed in the city centre but there will be no impact on the project timescale or budget.
This unfortunately is noisy work and we apologise for the disruption caused. Noisy work will be completed within ten days and, once that is done, new material will be laid while work continues to install overhead and underground cables.

Plans are still in place to remove all tram related traffic management during the course of late summer and autumn.

The development of a tram operating agreement between the Council and the operator is now well underway and a report on progress is presented to the full Council meeting on 27 June 2013. You will find a report on progress on our committee papers online system shortly.

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

Shared repair service update


Maintaining the built fabric of the city’s heritage through responding to building emergencies and helping tenement owners to address disrepair are the objectives of the new Shared Repairs Service. The new advice service has been operational since April this year and public consultation has been carried out about how it could be developed further.

A detailed workshop will take place in August to look at the many options for developing the new service further and to make sure we get the balance right between public expectation and owners’ responsibility. Whatever decision we take in August about the shape of the new service it will be the result of a thorough examination of past events, looking at what failed as well as what worked and the balance of financial risk.

Developing the service further where we get the balance right between protecting the city's built heritage, public expectation and financial risk is what will be reported to Council in August.

Edinburgh Festival of Cycling


I recently had the pleasure of helping to launch the first ever Edinburgh Festival of Cycling - the UK’s biggest cycling festival. The Council provided some funding as well as advice and support to the organisers for the packed calendar of events that runs to 23 June. This event helps us build on our already established reputation as a cycling city.

The Council has committed six per cent of our travel budget to cycling with current projects including the A90 cycle route from Haymarket to Forth Bridge and the resurfacing and widening of North Meadow Walk. Encouraging and supporting cycling is of course a very positive move in terms of sustainable transport and I would encourage all who are able to consider it seriously.

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Wednesday, June 19, 2013

Bike Breakfast success

Thoroughly enjoyed the Spokes Bike Breakfast this morning ... even though I didn't get any breakfast; well a coffee if that counts?   :-(

Convinced its the busiest I've seen it for the 14-years I've been a Councillor. Really impressive turnout ... with a good number cycling in from the Harrison Park feeder-ride, which I joined first-thing this morning (pictured).

At the City Chambers quadrangle, lots of information being handed-out/exchanged ... the East Lothian campaign for the Drem to Gullane path caught my eye. You can read further details via this link; and there's a public meeting in Gullane Village Hall on Monday July 8th at 7pm if anyone is interested? I won't be around unfortunately ... well, not really, as I'll be on Annual Leave in Germany :-))

Busy schedule tomorrow --- Ward 16 by-election day!

Tuesday, June 18, 2013

Breakfast Bike Ride - Spokes Bike Breakfast - free Breakfast :-)

Bike Week this week ... and, of course, the first Edinburgh Festival of Cycling is also currently running, with all the details here - lots of events still to come!

And tomorrow is the Annual Spokes Bike Breakfast (as part of Bike Week).

As per last year, I'll be joining the Ward 9 feeder-ride from Harrison Park and looking forward to my free breakfast in the City Chambers Quadrangle :-)

Sunday, June 16, 2013

Allotment Update!

After some #ROBSON1 campaigning earlier this afternoon (for the upcoming Liberton/Gilmerton by-election), we managed to sneak a couple of very pleasant hours down at the Allotment ;-)

It really is bursting into colour/flower now - better late-than-never! - and the weather held out for us, with no sign of the threatened-rain?

I do reckon that we're still about 3-4weeks behind normal growing schedules, but things are really starting to catch up.

The pond was particularly active, with two pretty large frogs being spotted during the time we were all there!

And, on the veg-front, all the main crops are now going reasonably well, if not a bit belatedly:
  •  potatoes
  • broad beans
  • onions
  • spinach
  • beetroot
  • runner beans
  • peas
  • & strawberries, gooseberries, blackcurrants

I can just about taste the lot right now ;-)

Saturday, June 15, 2013

June Full Council Meeting

June Full Council Meeting coming up in a couple of weeks' time: 10am on Thursday 27th June.

As usual, all the papers/reports will be available a week before the meeting (around 10am on Friday 21st June) via Committee Papers On Line (CPOL) here ...

... and, of course, if you're so inclined you can watch the meeting live via this link and/or it will be archived for future viewing ;-)

Friday, June 14, 2013

The wider City Region

I posted a few months ago about a 'City Region' event which I spoke at --- a few further details can also be found here ...

... at that event back in April, I committed to try and convene a meeting of all six 'City Region' Leaderships before the start of the July recess.

Well, I've just about managed it - West Lothian couldn't physically make it along (but were there in spirit!) as "Edinburgh, East Lothian, Midlothian, Fife and the Borders" Council Leaderships all met in Edinburgh City Chambers.

There ensued a really interesting, and wide-ranging discussion on areas wherein we could potentially cooperate - and there was broad agreement on an initial programme.

More detail to follow in the coming week.

Sunday, June 09, 2013

Corporate Policy and Strategy Committee meets this Tuesday

Corporate Policy and Strategy (C,P&S) Committee meeting this coming Tuesday ...

... the main Agenda is here, and - as usual - all the papers can be found via Committee Papers On Line (CPOL) here.

Several reports of interest, and one referral from the Petitions Committee ... first one to C,P&S I think.

Tuesday, June 04, 2013

Council's Petitions Committee

The Council's Petitions Committee met yesterday - all the paperwork/reports can be found on Committee Papers On Line (CPOL) via this link ...

... my understanding is that, following yesterday's meeting, there are now no 'live' petitions in the system?

All the details on how to submit a petition can be found here, but in essence, if you ensure the relevant criteria are met - and at the discretion of the Convener - you need only 250 valid signatories to get your issue heard at Committee.

The Committee won't now meet - I don't think - until after the July recess, so plenty of time to gather those signatures!

Saturday, June 01, 2013

Sunshine on the #ROBSON1 campaign-trail

The Liberton/Gimerton Ward 16 by-election is now only a few weeks away - polling day is on Thursday 20th June, and postal voters will be receiving their letters even sooner!

Up in the Ward again this morning, and the sun was most certainly shining on the team #ROBSON1 campaigners :-)

One can but hope that the same weather prevails on polling day itself!