Wednesday, October 28, 2015

November's Corporate Policy and Strategy Committee

It might still be October (just!) but papers are now out for November's "Corporate Policy and Strategy" Committee; it meets next Tuesday 3rd November.

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

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

Several reports that may well attract some attention and debate:

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

... and, of course, all the Policy and Strategy Committee meetings are webcast live - and thereafter archived! All available via here --- it's TV; but not like you've ever seen before ;-)

Tuesday, October 20, 2015

Have your say on budget proposals

I had a short opinion-piece in the Edinburgh Evening News yesterday, on the now 'ongoing' Council Budget Consultation. You can see the article directly here; and I'll also re-produce the text below ...

... please do submit any comments by Thursday 10th December 2015.

Have your say on budget proposals

Since the local Labour and SNP council-groups formed the Capital Coalition administration in May 2012, we’ve had a very firm commitment to publicly consult on our annual budget proposals. And each year since, we have indeed published full draft figures – the proposals for the 2016/17 budget-year are now out in the public domain, and the Council will take feedback on them through until December, all prior to actually setting the Budget early in the New Year.

It’s all too easy to forget just what a radical change in procedure this has been – a degree of openness and transparency that simply didn’t exist under previous administrations. I recall only too well not seeing the last administration’s budget proposals until after the actual ‘Full Council Budget-meeting’ had actually started. The chance for genuine scrutiny was very limited indeed.

To be fair, that criticism could be levied at administrations prior to the last one as well – but thankfully, since May 2012, the chance for genuine public scrutiny has become the norm.

So, in essence, once again Edinburgh residents are being asked for their views on how the Council spends and saves money as part of our public engagement on proposals for the 2016/17 budget.

This year people will also get the chance to contribute ideas of their own on how city services are provided, using the online ‘Your City, Your Say’ dialogue page, which can be accessed via: 

The web page will form part of a ten-week engagement period, which began on Monday, 5th October, allowing the public to feed back on our budget proposals - we want you to tell us your ideas about how we can change the way we deliver services so that we continue to serve the needs of Edinburgh residents, while saving money.

Edinburgh’s population is growing. The Council’s challenge is to provide services to more people with an annual budget that remains about the same. To do this, we need to address a budget shortfall of £126m and change the way we deliver services.

You can submit suggestions and views on topical issues, creating solutions to challenges and ideas for better serving the public and saving money. Users can also rate and comment on others’ posts, helping the Council to gather opinion on where it should invest in future.

If successful, the resource will be extended after the budget is set, crowdsourcing public opinions on different matters on an ongoing basis.

And building on the success of last year, a new online planner, which can be accessed via:, will also seek views on how the Council should deliver services, including the way parking is charged and how the Council works with voluntary and third party organisations.

By prioritising some services using the planner, the public can see how this impacts on other services, and how saving in one area can allow additional spending in another. 

By doing things differently and introducing our new online engagement tools, we’re making it easier than ever for people to contribute their views and ideas, and to understand the different challenges there are in setting the budget.

Everything the public say will be taken into account when we draw up the final budget proposals to be put to the Council in early 2016, so we are extremely interested in hearing your views. Whether it’s via the planner, ideas forum, survey, phone, letter, email or social media we welcome all feedback.

The full budget proposals, the budget planner and forum tools can all be accessed at, and the public engagement will close on Thursday 10th December and you’ll be able to read the findings before the Council’s budget meeting in early 2016.

Cllr Andrew Burns
Leader of the City of Edinburgh Council

Saturday, October 17, 2015

October Leader's Report

October 2015

Have your say on budget proposals 


Andrew Burns
Following the success of last year's budget consultation, in which 2,000 of you took part, we are once again asking for residents' views on how we spend and save money.

This year you will also get the chance to contribute your own ideas on how city services are provided, using the online 'Your City, Your Say' dialogue page. It forms part of our ten-week engagement, allowing you to feed back on proposals for the Council's 2016-20 budget, which aim to address an overall shortfall of £126m.

You can submit suggestions and views on issues, creating solutions to challenges and ideas for better serving the public and saving money. You can also rate and comment on others' posts.

By doing things differently and introducing our new online engagement tools, we're making it easier for you to contribute your views and ideas, and to understand the different challenges there are in setting the budget. Please take the time to have your say between now and 10th December.

Councillor Andrew Burns
Leader of the City of Edinburgh


Save time, do it online 


You may have seen our new advertising campaign, 'Save time. Do it online', aimed at encouraging residents to use our website to report issues such as problems with street lighting, pot holes and litter.

The campaign involves a series of posters and bus shelter ads being displayed at sites across the city, refuse lorries, as well as targeted online and radio adverts highlighting the service. It forms part of our 'channel shift strategy' which aims to make savings of £5.9 million by 2017/18 and transform the way residents interact with the Council.

There are currently 35 services available, ranging from requesting a new recycling bin to reporting a problem with a streetlight. From April 2016, the number of different issues residents can report online will double to include new areas such as benefit claims, parking and new licensing transactions.


Challenge Poverty Week 


Tomorrow, 17th October, marks the start of the national Challenge Poverty Week. A number of events and activities are being held locally to coincide with it.

In September, the Council agreed to adopt a set of pledges to challenge the stigma that can so often be associated with living in poverty. Part of the 'Stick Your Labels' campaign, these pledges reinforce that poverty is not inevitable and commit organisations to setting out what they will do to help.

In shaping the deal, we want to build on our strengths across the region, whilst tackling persistent inequality and other constraints that threaten to hold us back. If successful, we could potentially unlock an additional £3.2bn worth of private sector investment.


Smarter Cities 


The Scottish Cities Alliance recently launched its 'Smart Cities Scotland' brand with the significant boost that £10m in European funding has been approved for the programme.

As Chair, I am delighted that we have secured the funding, which will not only allow Scotland's cities to become Smart Cities but also give them the edge to attract more investment.

My personal challenge is for organisations and citizens to engage with Challenge Poverty Week and use it as a platform for discussion and action. I would be happy to hear your ideas on tackling poverty in the city; my commitment in return is to consider these views and to use them to help Edinburgh move forward on this crucial agenda.


Countdown to Christmas 


There's a chill in the air, winter is fast approaching and plans are already well under way for our world-famous Christmas and Hogmanay celebrations. No other city compares to Edinburgh during this time of year and the festivals remain a huge draw for visitors from all over the world.

Edinburgh's Christmas will kick off on 20 November with the new 'Virgin Money Street of Light' featuring a string of more than 60,000 lights along 26 arches running the length of the City Chambers to the Tron Kirk.

The Royal Mile will also then play host to an 'Old Town Ceilidh' as part of Edinburgh's Hogmanay. This expansion of the Street Party will see revellers attempt to perform the world's longest ever Strip the Willow.

The Concert in the Gardens, set in the Ross Bandstand against the backdrop of Edinburgh Castle, is already a sell-out but there are plenty of other ways to join in. Visit the websites for further details.


Stay in the picture 


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The City of Edinburgh Council

October Full Council Meeting

Holiday now over - and October's Full Council Meeting is coming up fast - takes place at 10am next Thursday (22nd) ...

... all the reports are 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!

Sutherland-glory :-))

Back in Edinburgh, after a truly remarkable week up in Sutherland ... the weather was simply incredible, and we managed several superb walks :-)

Do click on these pictures for more detail - this first one is from the top of Quinag, looking across to Suilven ...

... and the second one is from the (subsidiary) top of Cul Mor, looking across to Stac Pollaidh.

Sutherland in all it's absolute glory - over the years, I've been lucky enough to have travelled to most corners of the world, and I really don't think this part of Scotland can be beaten :-))

Thursday, October 08, 2015

October half-term is here ;-)

October half-term is here ;-)

So; absolutely no blogging now for a week; and I also intend to completely (and I do mean completely!) lay-off twitter, facebook and blipfoto as well ...

... and I'm afraid e-mails won't be read directly by me, but Staff will pick them up and respond accordingly.

My mobile will be on, in case anyone needs to get me by phone/text urgently (signal permitting!) - but, in the nicest possible way, I hope not to hear from too many folk ;-)

Normal service will resume around Monday 19th October.

blue of the sea and the aureate sky

Well, it’s here – Thursday 8th October 2015!

Over the last week, I’ve blipped the series of eight cards that the Scottish Poetry Library produced for National Poetry Day ...

… and, as promised a week ago, here is my very favourite poem about this year’s theme: light.

It’s a Sorley MacLean verse, taken from this truly wonderful 2011 'Collected Poems' – if you haven’t got the pictured volume, you need to find a copy soon … every single page is a total poetic delight :-)

‘Poems to Eimhir’ LIV

Camhanaich / Dawn

You were dawn on the Cuillin
and benign day on the Clarach,
the sun on his elbow in the golden stream
and the white rose that breaks the horizon.

Glitter of sails on a sunlit firth,
blue of the sea and the aureate sky,
the young morning in your head of hair
and in your clear lovely cheeks.

My jewel of dawn and night
your face and your dear kindness,
though the grey stake of misfortune is
thrust through the breast of my young morning.


Sorley MacLean (1911 – 1996)


Wednesday, October 07, 2015

National Poetry Day tomorrow ;-)

It’s National Poetry Day very soon - tomorrow, Thursday 8th October!

On my blipfoto account, over the last week, I’ve blipped the series of eight cards that the Scottish Poetry Library produced for National Poetry Day ...

… and tomorrow I'll post
my very favourite poem about this year’s theme, which is light :-)