Saturday, January 31, 2015

February Leader's Report

February 2015

Mortonhall Crematorium 


Good progress continues to be made by the multi-agency working group in actioning the recommendations contained in Dame Elish Angiolini's report into Mortonhall Crematorium.

We have been looking at an appropriate and fitting permanent memorial and, in line with parents' wishes, two are now being proposed: one at Mortonhall and another at a location still to be identified for those who don't want to return to the crematorium. Potential designs are now up on our website for parents to view.

Separately, we are proposing a settlement scheme for affected families, developed in discussion with their solicitors. I fully understand that it's very difficult to put a financial figure on the distress and upset many parents have experienced due to the former practices at the crematorium.

We will, of course, continue our work on the group to ensure that nothing like this can happen again and that the highest possible standards are adhered to at Mortonhall.


Twenty is the new 30 


The Edinburgh People's Survey has demonstrated widespread support for lowering the speed limit and, after a very successful pilot project in South Edinburgh, we made it one of our pledges to consult on rolling out 20mph limits across the city.

Slower speeds bring numerous benefits to local communities. As well as reducing the risk and severity of collisions, they make people more likely to spend time in an area and encourage active travel like walking and cycling.

New 20mph streets have been carefully selected according to key criteria in residential and shopping areas, including the city centre, with a citywide network of 30mph and 40mph limits maintained on arterial routes to keep traffic flowing across the city.

I'm delighted that we're now moving ever closer to becoming Scotland's first 20mph city.


Balancing the books 


I've previously said in this report how pleased I was with the response to our budget consultation exercise, which we undertook towards the end of last year. Over 3,500 people took the opportunity to have their say, more than five times the response we had last year.

The comments and results of our 'budget planner' are now being carefully considered along with all other feedback we received. This will help us to make the right decisions for our residents now and in the future when setting our budget.

We will publish our draft budget motion on the council website on 6 February, before setting it six days later at our budget meeting. I would encourage you to tune into the debate via our website, or catch up afterwards on the webcast archive.


Meadowbank Stadium 


The future of Meadowbank Stadium will undoubtedly feature in our budget discussions on 12 February.

Ever since 1970, when it played host to Scotland's first Commonwealth Games, the iconic venue has served residents and professional athletes well. And while it is still a much loved facility, with over half a million users every year, it is now close to 50 years old and its facilities are tired.

Architect plans for a brand new facility would see the existing site transformed into a brand new sports complex that would serve sporting needs locally and nationally. Should we agree to proceed and, crucially, if funding can be secured, the new Meadowbank could be ready by 2018.

My colleague, Cllr Richard Lewis, Culture & Sport Convener, has written an excellent piece for the Scotsman on the future of the venue.


New Year honours 


I would like to pass on my congratulations to all those Edinburgh residents named in the Queen's New Year Honours list 2015 - but particularly to those colleagues from here at the Council.

Our Chief Executive, Sue Bruce, was made a Dame in recognition of her 39 years of public service. From her first job as a Youth & Community Worker for Strathclyde Regional Council back in 1976, Sue has been hugely proud to dedicate herself to local government and this honour is richly deserved.
She has worked tirelessly during her time as Chief Executive, way beyond her role and the normal expectations of the role, particularly in relation to her charity work and improving the job prospects of young people across Edinburgh.

Congratulations also to Ellen Muir, Head Teacher at Pilrig Park School, who was honoured with an MBE. Ellen is an inspiration to both staff and pupils and it is fantastic to see her commitment and leadership being recognised so publicly.


Stay in the picture 


Keep yourself in the picture with our news section online. Watch live full Council and some committee meetings on our webcast. Join the debate on Twitter #edinwebcast 

If you wish to unsubscribe please email us.

Follow us on twitter
Watch our webcasts
Follow us on Facebook
The City of Edinburgh Council

Friday, January 30, 2015

February Full Council Meeting

The regular February Council Meeting is coming up - next Thursday (5th) ... not to be confused with the Special Council Meeting, the following week (12th) which will set the 2015/16 budget!

All the reports (for the 5th) 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!

Monday, January 19, 2015

January Corporate Policy and Strategy Committee

January's "Corporate Policy and Strategy" Committee tomorrow ...

... all the papers/reports are in the public domain: the main Agenda can be found here ---

--- and the individual reports are all on Committee Papers on-Line (CPOL) linked from here.

Several reports this month that may well attract some attention and debate:

Just click on any of the above links for access (as a PDF) to the specific report ...

... and, as mentioned before, all of the Policy and Strategy Committee gatherings are now being webcast live - and thereafter archived!

All available via here --- it's TV like you've never seen before ;-)

Sunday, January 18, 2015

Council Budget for 2015/16

Council Budget-setting day is now fast approaching ...

... regular readers will know that the following year's budget is set each February, and our 2015/16 Budget will be set at the Special Council Meeting on Thursday 12th February 2015.

As usual, the meeting will be webcast live, and you'll also be able to watch it from the archive afterwards - all via here.

There has been a very extensive consultation on the draft proposals - which you can still read all about here ... and the formal Report(s) for the 12th February meeting will go up on CPOL (Committee Papers onLine) by 11am on Friday 6th February.

And - as per last year, we will publish our Capital Coalition Motion (in full) on the same morning ... I will thus post it here at 11am on Friday 6th February.

You can contact me - via all the usual channels - if you have any queries; but hope this update on the process helps for now ...

Friday, January 16, 2015

Edinburgh's 20mph roll-out ...

Readers will be aware that last Tuesday (13th January) the Council's Transport Committee approved a roll-out of 20mph zones for the Capital City ...

... the full report can be read here - it's 23-pags long, but well worth going through in detail. After Committee-approval, an associated News Release was published, and I'll just re-produce that below.

It is also crucial to stress that this roll-out programme will take place over some 3-years - more information on the 'Implementation Plan' can be found in paragraphs 3.18-3.21 of the main report:

Busting the myths around Edinburgh's 20mph roll-out

Edinburgh's bid to become the first 20mph city in Scotland moved a step closer today when councillors approved a map of 20mph, 30mph and 40mph limits for the city.
20mph by Ian Britton Provided the necessary Speed Limit Orders are secured, the new arrangements are due to come into effect on a phased basis from late 2015 onwards and feature a 20mph speed limit on residential and shopping streets with a network of 30mph and 40mph maintained for key arterial routes.

A detailed implementation plan, including costings, will be considered by the Transport and Environment Committee in March.

Welcoming the approval of the map today, Transport Convener Councillor Lesley Hinds said: "I'm pleased that Committee has today given the green light for our 20mph plans. This initiative has been under development for nearly three years and we've carried out a huge amount of public consultation.

"The most recent and most extensive consultation last autumn found that 60% of respondents were supportive or strongly supportive of our proposals.

Vice Convener Adam McVey added: "We were also pleased to receive positive feedback from every community council that responded to the consultation, as well as a large number of organisations.

"Our next step is to develop an implementation programme to roll the new network out. A detailed report on this will come before the Transport and Environment Committee in March, which will give us a clearer picture of how the changes will be brought in."

Stuart Hay, Head of Living Streets Scotland, said: “Edinburgh’s 20mph limit policy sets a positive example for cities across Scotland and the UK. Lower speeds on shopping and residential streets means a safer and more pleasant city for everyone with higher levels of walking and lower levels of accidents.

"Living Streets looks forward to working with the Council to promote the scheme and its benefits as it is rolled out."

Cllr Hinds also took the opportunity to address some of the misconceptions about the plans which have been communicated to elected members by constituents and reported by local media.

She said: "There have been a number of claims flying about to do with the ins and outs of the 20mph rollout which are quite simply untrue and it's vital that everyone has the full facts at their fingertips.

"For example, it's not a 'blanket rollout' at all. Each street which is earmarked to become 20mph has been selected based on robust criteria agreed with key stakeholders, including bus companies and Police Scotland.

"Police Scotland will continue to enforce legal speed limits right across the Capital and anyone caught flouting the 20mph limit will face warnings or speeding fines.

"Key arterial routes are being maintained at 30mph or 40mph so that we can keep cross-city traffic flowing, even though some residents in these areas would have preferred a change to 20mph. It's important that we get the balance right as much as we can, however inevitably not everyone will be able to get what they hoped for."


Top ten 20mph myths - Busted

Myth 1: This is a 'blanket' roll-out
This is not a blanket implementation. The proposals are for a network of 20mph streets chiefly in residential and shopping areas, complemented by a network of 30 and 40mph roads on key arterial routes in the city suburbs. This will mean that impacts on journey times should be relatively modest In terms of main roads which are earmarked for a new 20mph limit, a high proportion of collisions happen on these roads. In particular, pedestrian and cyclist casualties tend to be concentrated on shopping streets and on other main roads in the city centre and inner suburbs.
These are also the roads that are used by the most people and that have the greatest mix of pedestrians, cyclists and motorised vehicles. A lower speed limit here can help improve safety and also improve the environment for all road users.
Criteria for selecting potential 20mph streets were agreed in outline by the Council’s Transport and Environment Committee and then fine-tuned by a sub-group of its Transport Forum, including representatives from a range of interested groups.  We’ve made changes to the proposed map based on feedback from individuals, community groups and organisations like Lothian Buses to make sure we get the balance right.
The extensive consultation that we have carried out over several years shows a high level of public support for our proposals. During the recent consultation there was a lot of support for our approach, in particular for the degree to which it seeks to adopt a consistent approach to similar types of road.

Myth 2: Safety won't be improved by lowering speed limits
There is considerable evidence in support of reducing speed limits in urban areas. A 2010 Department for Transport (DfT) publication which looked at the relationship between speed and risk of fatal injury found that the risk of fatal injury to pedestrians rose from under 1% at an impact speed of 20mph to 5.5%, or 1 in 20, at 30mph (1). Above 30mph risk increased very substantially, to over 30% at an impact speed of 40mph.
A different large scale study looking at the effect of speeds on overall accident numbers found a clear relationship. On the types of urban road likely to be considered for a 20mph limit the study found the accidents could be expected to fall by between 4% and 6% for each 1mph reduction in average speed. The greatest reductions were achievable on “busy main roads in towns with high levels of pedestrian activity” (2)
Other cities that have introduced 20mph speed limits have seen reductions in casualties. For example in Portsmouth it is estimated that 20mph limits have lowered road casualties by 8%, while in Warrington there has been a reduction in collisions of 25% in 20mph speed limit areas; Evidence from the South Edinburgh pilot area also points to a reduction in casualties (20% to January 2014).
  1. (external link)
  2. Taylor, M. C., Lynam, D. A. and Baruya, A. (2000) The effects of drivers’ speed on the frequency of road accidents.
Myth 3: Slower speeds will increase congestion
We do not anticipate an increase in congestion. In fact, research indicates that vehicles flow more smoothly through junctions at slower speeds.

Myth 4: Slower speeds will increase emissions and worsen air quality
Research indicates vehicles flow more smoothly through junctions at slower speeds. Additionally, as a result of reduced acceleration and braking, 20mph may help to reduce fuel consumption and associated emissions.
Some environmental benefit from the change is expected from helping to unlock the potential for walking or cycling short distances instead of driving.

Myth 5: 20mph speed limits won't be enforced
The legal speed limits on any roads in the Capital are enforced by Police Scotland and this will be no different whether the street is 20, 30 or 40mph. Police will direct their resources to particular problem areas, as they do currently, and drivers caught flouting the limit will face warnings or speeding fines. Additional measures such as Vehicle Activated Signs could also be installed in streets where particularly high numbers of contraventions are detected or reported.

Myth 6: 20mph limits in shopping streets will be bad for businesses
It is considered that businesses will benefit from the increased “liveability” which slower speeds will foster in their area, with more people attracted to spend time in shopping streets where they feel safer and the environment is generally more pleasant.
Opinion research carried out in the South Edinburgh 20mph pilot area found that residents felt the new speed limit had had a range of positive impacts, the most often mentioned being improved safety for children, for walking and for cycling.
20mph speed limits encourage more considerate driving, leading to safer streets for all road users, including motorists, cyclists and pedestrians. The lower speeds reduce the risk and severity of road collisions.  Reducing traffic speed helps make people feel more confident about being on their local streets and helps children and elderly people to travel independently and safely.
Calmer road speeds also help to make walking and cycling more attractive options, contributing to less traffic congestion, better health, less noise, more social interaction and stronger communities.

Myth 7: The city will be covered in speed humps
The new limit will be introduced without traffic calming measures. However, if monitoring finds speeds remain significantly above 20mph on certain streets despite signage and public awareness of the limit, we will consider speed reducing measures on the roads concerned. On residential streets this is likely to mean road humps, on main roads other methods would be deployed, for example road markings (e.g. cycle lanes) or central islands which tend to reduce speeds by reducing the apparent width of roads.

Myth 8: Journey times will be much longer
Research in other cities, surveys of current speeds, and results of the pilot project in Edinburgh, suggest that journey times will not significantly increase and by easing traffic flow, 20mph may actually reduce some journey times.
We would expect changes not exceeding around 25 seconds per mile, probably significantly lower (around 10 seconds per mile has been found in central parts of Bristol where a limit has now been introduced) . We will be carrying out more research on this matter in Edinburgh and will post the results on the Council's website.

Myth 9: Signs alone don't lower drivers' speeds
National evidence has shown that sign‐only 20 mph speed limits can help to reduce average speeds and improve safety. Evidence from the pilot scheme in South Edinburgh showed similar results, with average speeds reduced by around 10% to just over 20mph, and with larger falls in speeds (around 14%) on the roads that had higher average speeds before the limit was introduced. Of 1000 people surveyed in the South Edinburgh pilot area, 79% supported the 20 mph limit,just 4% opposed it.

Myth 10: This is an attack on motorists
We are not stopping people from driving. Our aim is to balance the needs of drivers with the safety and environment of local residents. 20 mph creates a safer environment for everyone, including motorists.
The proposals are for a network of 20mph streets chiefly in residential and shopping areas, complemented by a network of 30 and 40mph roads on key arterial routes in the city suburbs to keep traffic moving.
Slower speeds will not significantly increase journey times and by easing traffic flow, may actually reduce some journey times.

Thursday, January 15, 2015

BOLD: Delivering a lean and agile Council ...

Mentioned last week that the Council's Finance and Resources Committee was to debate a pretty significant set of reports for the Local Authority today ...

... the reports (which you can read in full here) were all passed by Committee - but as I hinted last week, a Coalition Motion did accompany that approval, and I'll simply re-produce the text of that below:

Item No. 7.3

Report Title BOLD Business Cases: delivering a lean and agile Council


1.    Acknowledges the recommendations 1.1 through to 1.9, and replaces the whole with this Coalition Motion.

2.    Notes that on 27 November 2014, Committee agreed that the business cases for the BOLD transformation projects would be reported to this Committee on 15 January 2015.

3.    Further notes that December’s Full Council Meeting approved the “Organise to deliver: next steps” report, and an additional recommendation was added, by Coalition Motion, to establish a ‘Checkpoint Group’ of key stakeholders, which would oversee the process of implementation of the proposed revised delivery model. That Group has now met once (prior to the Christmas recess) and is scheduled to meet again on Thursday 22nd January, and will meet on a monthly basis thereafter.

4.    Now receives the first four (of six) BOLD business cases and notes the rationale and requirement for transformation, and the budget gap and savings required (from 2016/17 onwards, in connection to these six BOLD business cases), as outlined in paragraph 3.3 of this report.

5.    Explicitly notes that the overall transformation programme will be undertaken against the framework of:
·         Coalition Pledge 26 to establish a policy of no compulsory redundancies
·         A presumption against outsourcing of Council services
·         A presumption in favour of the protection of front-line services

6.    Against this explicit framework, now agrees the BOLD programme overview – ‘the case for change’ outlined in appendix two of this report; and agrees the strategic direction – and broad principles – behind the four business cases for ‘channel shift’, ‘business and customer services’, ‘localities’ and ‘partnership’, with related resource and implementation plans, all as outlined in appendices three to six of this report.

7.    Notes that the remaining two business cases for ‘workforce strategy and controls’ and ‘property’ will be brought to Finance and Resources Committee in February and Spring 2015 respectively.

8.    Notes that implementation of the business cases will require a significant commitment of officer time and therefore instructs the Director of Corporate Governance to progress permanent recruitment to those head of service posts which are critical to the successful delivery of the programme.

9.    Notes that appropriate consultation with both Trades Unions and employees will take place in relation to all of these proposals. 

10. Further agrees that the delivery of each of the six BOLD business cases will now be the subject of further detailed discussion and oversight, at specific meetings of Committee and the ‘Checkpoint Group’, prior to inclusion in the 2016/17 Budget process, and that they may consider establishing specific short-life oversight arrangements for monitoring delivery of each of the business cases.

11. Specifically on the ‘localities’ business case, notes that significant work is required to ensure careful alignment, and clear accountabilities, between the existing 12 Neighbourhood Partnerships and the 4 proposed ‘Localities’. Robust oversight of the development of the most efficient local delivery model will be needed.

12. Further notes that the Coalition remains committed to publication of an overall draft Budget (for 2016/17) by the end of September 2015, which would be further publically consulted upon between October and December 2015, all prior to any final decisions on the 2016/17 Budget being taken at the scheduled Special Council Meeting in February 2016.

13. Further approves, and agrees to replace the existing BOLD governance arrangements with, the revised programme governance arrangements set out in paragraphs 3.28 to 3.31 and appendix 7 of this report.

14. And finally instructs the Director of Corporate Governance to provide:

·         progress reports on a bi-monthly basis to this Committee (the first such progress report to be received by this Committee on 19 March 2015), which will focus on the implementation of each business case, the realisation of savings, and progress on the Council’s efforts to maximise additional income through new sources of potential revenue.
·         and broader update reports on a quarterly basis to the ‘Corporate Policy and Strategy Committee’, which will focus on the wider strategic delivery of the overall BOLD programme.


Moved by

Councillor Rankin

Seconded by

Councillor Bill Cook

Saturday, January 10, 2015

Core Cities Network

I'm off to Leeds tomorrow, for a couple of days, to observe a meeting of the "Core Cities Network" - you can read all about the network via their website, here ... summary as follows:

"We are a united voice for the importance of our cities in delivering our country’s full economic potential, creating more jobs and improving people’s lives.  Our cities already contribute more than a quarter of the combined wealth of England, Wales and Scotland and, with more freedoms and flexibilities, we are best placed to improve the UK’s economic fortunes.  Core Cities are a vital delivery partner for Government and its agencies.

The ten Core Cities urban areas deliver 28% of the combined economic output of England, Wales and Scotland (26.5% of the UK economy) and are home to almost 19 million, 30.7% of the combined English, Welsh and Scottish population (29.8% of the UK population).

Read more about our work in our 'What We Do section'."

Looking forward to an interesting couple of days!

Friday, January 09, 2015

Finance and Resources Committee next week

I don't usually flag-up every Committee Meeting of the Council - but next Thursday's (15th January) meeting of the "Finance and Resources Committee" does include a significant follow-on report from the December Full Council Meeting: I mentioned it here, under 'Proposals for Change' ...

... the report in question (for decision next week) is now up on Committee Papers onLine (CPOL) and can be accessed directly via this link. It is over 150-pages in length, but is a very important decision-point for the Council.

I'm certain there will - at next week's actual Committee Meeting - be a Coalition Motion to go alongside the report, and I'll post that up in due course.

All the reports for the Committee (if you're interested!) can be found here - and you'll be able to watch the meeting via the webcast service here.

Sunday, January 04, 2015

Happy New Year!

Happy New Year to one and all ...

... hope everyone has had a restful festive-season.

I'm back in the Office first-thing tomorrow morning - and my regular weekly, evening Surgeries also recommence - full details can be found

Earlier this afternoon, we did manage our first visit of 2015 to the Allotment - everything seemed in reasonable order ...

... the snap above shows a small corner of Allotment compost-heaven ;-)

I do sense that the peace-and-tranquility of our Allotment may well be in strong demand throughout the coming 122-days!