Monday, March 27, 2017

Edinburgh Labour’s vision for the future of our Capital

... 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

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


Thursday, March 23, 2017

March's Corporate Policy and Strategy Committee

All of the Reports are now published for March's "Corporate Policy and Strategy" Committee; it meets at 10am, next Tuesday, 28th March ...

... and, believe it or not, this will actually be the very last meeting of the Committee prior to the Local Elections on Thursday 4th May :-(

The relevant paperwork is now in the public domain: the main Agenda can be found here ...

... and all of the individual Reports can be accessed via Committee Papers on-Line (CPOL) as linked from here.

Couple of Reports that may be of interest:

And, of course, as usual the "Corporate Policy and Strategy Committee" meetings are all webcast live - and thereafter archived!

All available via here --- it's TV; but quite possibly not like you've ever seen before ;-)

Wednesday, March 22, 2017

Residents continue to be satisfied with life in the Capital

'Edinburgh People Survey' results

Residents continue to be satisfied with life in the Capital, the latest Edinburgh People Survey has shown.
The City of Edinburgh Council’s annual study, which is the largest of its kind in the UK, found 94% of the 5226 respondents are satisfied with the city as a place to live, while two thirds said they are happy with the way the Council manages the city.

Survey participants also reported feeling secure in their communities - around three quarters don't believe vandalism, anti-social behaviour or alcohol-related disorder to be a problem, while 85% feel safe after dark.

Feedback showed an increased perception of diversity and inclusiveness too, with 86% agreeing their neighbourhood is a place where people of different backgrounds get along – up from 81% in 2014 – and 94% agreeing Edinburgh is welcoming and accessible to people of all ages.

Councillor Andrew Burns, Council Leader, said: “There is a lot to be pleased about in this year’s Edinburgh People Survey results – despite an increasingly challenging financial climate and demand for services, we continue to see a high level of satisfaction with life in the Capital.

“What’s also clear is that people feel safe, welcome and included in their local communities, regardless of their background, which certainly adds to the quality of life here.

“While we are encouraged by positive feedback, the survey has allowed us to take stock of the areas the public feel we need to improve too, and this will help inform our priorities moving forward.”

Councillor Frank Ross, Depute Council Leader, added: “Every year the Edinburgh People Survey gives us an insight into what the public feel we are doing right, and the things they want us to do better.

“It’s great to see such high satisfaction this year with services like public transport, parks and our calendar of cultural events, but we also acknowledge the areas that scored lower, and intend to act on these concerns to improve the city for everyone.”

Despite ongoing budgetary constraints, almost half of residents believe the Council offers good value for money, while there was a rise in the proportion who agree that the Council displays sound financial management – 33%, compared to 24% in 2014 and 29% in 2015.

There was recognition, however, that this figure could be improved and that the survey offered the opportunity to focus resources on the areas that matter most to people. Other areas for improvement include street cleaning, roads maintenance and cycle safety.

A number of new questions added to the survey, which is now in its tenth year, highlighted residents’ travel habits, revealing the most common form of transport to be bus – 68% had used the service in the last month. Respondents travelled on foot most frequently—on average 5.2 days a week compared to 4.6 days a week driving.

Key findings in the Edinburgh People Survey 2016 include:   
  • Residents continue to be happy with life in Edinburgh, with 94% of participants satisfied 
  • 89% of respondents are satisfied with their neighbourhood as a place to live – the same as last year
  • 46% think the Council keeps them informed on spending and saving proposals – an increase of 50% since 2014 (when the proportion was 30%)
  • Over two thirds of respondents – 71% - think the Council cares about the environment
  • More people than ever are using online library services – 24% compared to 16% in 2014
  • 59% said they supported the new 20mph speed limits being introduced in Edinburgh
  • Residents generally believe the Capital’s programme of festival events makes the city a better place to live – 80% agreed, rising from 72% in 2014
  • Almost two thirds of those who answered this question – 64% - were satisfied with facilities for young children, with 59% satisfied with teenagers’ facilities
  • Satisfaction with street cleansing was 58%, down on its long-term average 
  • 50% were satisfied with road maintenance – broadly in line with other local authorities in Scotland
Information gathered by the survey is used throughout the year to inform work with services, while identified areas for improvement will be addressed, with updates on progress fed back to committee mid-year.

The survey is undertaken through face-to-face interviews with residents across the city’s 17 multi-member wards each year, conducted in the street and door-to-door.

Members of the Corporate Policy and Strategy Committee will consider the survey results on Tuesday, 28 March.

Growing popularity of city allotments

New allotment strategy recognises growing popularity of city plots

The City of Edinburgh Council is set to improve access to and management of allotments in the Capital in recognition of their social, environmental and health benefits.
Members of the Transport and Environment Committee approved the Council’s third allotment strategy - Cultivating Communities: A Growing Success 2017 – 2027 yesterday (Tuesday, 21 March).
Since the first strategy was implemented in 2002 allotments have surged in popularity – there are now 1488 plots across the city, compared 1065 plots in 1998, with the current provision comparable to that of the 1960s.
Amongst the strategy’s objectives is the intention to ensure adequate provision to allotments by investigating potential new sites, encouraging people to develop and manage plots on Council-owned land and the creation of allotments as part of the planning process for new developments.
Transport and Environment Convener, Councillor Lesley Hinds, said: “The popularity of allotments has soared over the last couple of decades, as people recognise the many benefits allotment gardening can offer in terms of healthy eating, relaxation and social interaction.
“In response to this our third allotment strategy aims to improve and increase accessibility to allotments. As well as investigating new sites ourselves we are keen to see communities take on and cultivate allotments on Council land, which we would fully support to help alleviate demand.”
Over the last 15 years Council has increased the number of plots by more than 400, improving the quality of existing sites, giving more people access to allotments and promoting food growing initiatives citywide.
More recently, the Community Empowerment (Scotland) Act 2015 placed a requirement on local authorities to provide and protect existing allotments. The latest strategy aims to support this through four objectives – to ensure adequate provision, develop robust management, improve customer experience and adopt revised regulations.
Stuart McKenzie, President of the Federation of Edinburgh and District Allotments and Gardens Associations (FEDEGA)(external link), who are represented on the Allotment Strategy Steering Group, said: “FEDAGA welcomes the adoption of this strategy to empower Edinburgh communities to fund, build and manage their own allotment spaces whilst also ensuring every inch of our precious allotment stock is used effectively. We look forward to working alongside the Council Allotment service to achieve these strategic objectives.” 
A series of actions linked to each objective have been drawn up following consultation with stakeholders and allotment-users. As well as investigating a list of potential new sites for allotments, the strategy aims to ensure plots are accessible to all and to promote biodiversity on new sites. A key focus of the new strategy is to engage the community to take ownership of their own sites, in collaboration with the Council.
Guidance for plot inspections to enhance quality and a proactive approach to the allotment waiting list will help achieve the robust management of allotments, while a website and the use of social media are proposed to improve the customer experience. Plotholder training, in partnership with the Royal Caledonian Horticultural Society, The Orchard Project and Scottish Rural University College, will also be on offer to new plotholders.
Find out more about Cultivating Communities: A Growing Success 2017 – 2027 on the Council website.
Allotment facts
  • There are currently 1488 Council-managed plots in Edinburgh, with a waiting list of 2510 people
  • The turnover for allotments is currently 8% a year
  • The second allotment strategy - Cultivating Communities - A Growing Challenge – saw allotment provision rise by 19%
  • There are currently a total of 44 allotment sites across Edinburgh with a variety of plot sizes
  • A Council allotment officer is responsible for most of the allotment sites 
  • 60% of allotment plot-holders live within two miles of their plot. The demand for an allotment plot is greatest in the traditional tenement flat areas of the city
  • Half plots are becoming increasingly popular amongst residents

Tuesday, March 21, 2017

Edinburgh Labour's vision for the Capital

One City: Our City; a European City to be proud of ...

On Thursday 4th May, the residents of Edinburgh will elect City Councillors for the next five-year period. Our vision for Edinburgh is set out in our local government manifesto "One City, Our City: A European City to be proud of", available to download below.

Back in November 2016 we published a ‘draft manifesto’ in preparation for the next Local Government Elections in May 2017. This document represented our initial ideas, but we sought your input and used this feedback to adjust this draft document before launching our final Manifesto on 21 March 2017.

This manifesto is the result of a consultation process which has seen submissions from citizens, community groups, business, trade unions and events such as the Side by Side Conference in North Edinburgh.

We received over 1,000 submissions and re-drafted our final Manifesto as a direct result of that feedback.

Thank you for contributions and hopefully you will see that this has substantially revised the draft document which sought views last year.

Contact Edinburgh Labour:
0131 667 8538

Edinburgh Labour Party
78 Buccleuch Street

Or visit our candidate page to contact your local Labour candidate.


Monday, March 13, 2017

16 and 17year-olds eligible to vote in the Scottish Council elections for the first time

Pupils get ready for first vote in Council elections

On the day the formal notice was published ahead of the local government elections on 4 May, a group of 16 and 17-year-old pupils in the Capital today found out more about how to register to vote. 
A voter registration event was held at Holy Rood RC High School, raising awareness among pupils about their eligibility to cast their vote in the Council elections for the first time.

Andrew Kerr, Chief Executive of the City of Edinburgh Council and Returning Officer for Edinburgh, said: "This is the first time 16 and 17-year-olds are eligible to vote in Scottish Council elections and it's a great opportunity for young people to get involved in local democracy and have their say about how services are delivered where they live.

"Registration for the 4 May election ends on 17 April and it's quick and easy to do - find out more at link) and make your vote count."
Asked why it was important for young people to go out and vote, Holy Rood High S5 pupil Jason Stewart-Evans, 17, said: "It gives me, as an individual, more of a say in my political system."
Niyoshi Dave, 16, also S5, said: "I believe it is important to vote because the laws being passed right now will significantly affect my future."
And Christy Biju, 16, S5, said: "Voting is a right we have and we should use it, especially young people because we are the future. We need to make our voices heard!"

Friday, March 10, 2017

March Leader's Report

                                                                                           March 2017

Make your vote count!

In just under eight weeks’ time, Scotland will head to the polls for the Scottish Council elections – your chance to have your say in how services are delivered where you live.

In 2012, less than half (43%) of the electorate turned out to vote and so I really would encourage you and your family to take part.

As with last year’s Scottish Parliament elections, 16 and 17-year-olds are eligible to vote on 4 May – a first for Council elections. But remember that they – and anyone else who’s eligible – MUST be registered first before they can take part. And if you’ve recently changed address, don’t forget that you’ll need to re-register to vote.

Registration ends at midnight on Monday 17 April. Visit today to make sure your vote counts.


Cooperative Capital

When we launched our Cooperative Capital framework back in 2012, we aspired to develop a new relationship with service users, citizens, communities and partner agencies across the City, with more focus placed upon ‘doing things with people’, rather than ‘to them’.

Since then, we’ve reported back regularly on progress and at our annual conference held late last year, 80 delegates from across the public, third and community sectors, reflected upon the main successes and challenges of the Framework to date.

These included an increase in the number of coops and social enterprises; improvements in community engagement through Neighbourhood Partnerships, such as participatory budgeting; asset transfer projects; more transparency in council decision making; and the implementation of the living wage.

I am delighted with the progress we have made over the past five years – and sincerely hope it provides a platform for the Council to continue to ‘do good things’ with the people of Edinburgh in future.


Our Edinburgh

We all know how frustrating dropped litter, fly-tipping and overflowing bins can be, that’s why we’ve been making every effort to address issues like this through our Waste and Cleansing Improvement Plan, which is already making progress.

As part of this, we’ve seen the innovative Our Edinburgh campaign make great strides to generate pride in our surroundings amongst the public, discouraging things like littering, dog fouling and the misuse of communal bins with bright posters, online videos and community engagement.

That’s why I’m very pleased to hear the campaign has been shortlisted as a finalist for both ‘Best Campaign’ and ‘Programme of the Year’ at this year’s Keep Scotland Beautiful Awards, recognising efforts to improve the cleanliness and quality of the environment for the public. Good luck to all those involved!


Award winning designs

More positive news for our schools building programme as James Gillespie’s High School scooped two awards at the recent Scottish Property Awards winning both Public Buildings categories in the Architectural Excellence and Development of the Year categories.

This academic year has seen two new state-of-the-art high schools for James Gillespie’s and Portobello High open with more in the pipeline. The new Boroughmuir will open in August and, just this week, final demolition work started on the tower block on the old Portobello High School site which will result in a new St John’s RC Primary opening in August 2018.

With an additional £6.7m to tackle rising rolls in next year’s budget, this shows our commitment to providing our young learners with the best possible educational environment to thrive in.  


20mph rollout

Our 18-month rollout of slower speeds for residential, shopping and city streets took a big step forward with the ‘go live’ of Phase 2 in North and South Central / East Edinburgh on 28 February. From Granton to Portobello to Duddingston to Morningside, 20 is now plenty on many more of our roads, with a strategic network of streets maintained at 30 or 40mph.

We carried out extensive public consultation and research in planning this rollout, which found that most people in the Capital want speeds brought down around homes, shops and in the city centre. Slower speeds don’t just make our streets safer for everyone, they also make them a nicer place to be. 

Find out which streets have changed, and when 20mph is coming to your area, on our dedicated 20mph for Edinburgh pages. 


Leith Street works planned

Work is already under way on the £1 billion Edinburgh St James development, a hugely important project for the Capital which will create thousands of jobs and deliver millions of pounds to the local economy.

Later this month, the Transport and Environment Committee will consider a report outlining plans by the developer to carry out major essential works on Leith Street.

Provisionally scheduled to begin after this summer’s festivals, the work would include closing Leith Street between its junction at Waterloo Place down to Calton Road to cars, buses and vans for 44 weeks. Access for pedestrians, cyclists and emergency services will be maintained throughout the works.

We have been working extremely closely with the developer to identify the best way of carrying out these works safely and in a way that keeps the closure period to a minimum. We will continue to monitor the impact of the work and ensure the developer keeps the public properly informed at all times.


Supreme Court to sit in Edinburgh

Following an approach to the Council, it has been agreed that the UK Supreme Court will sit in the Edinburgh City Chambers in June. This is the first time that the UK’s highest court has sat outside London.

Several appeals will be heard during the week commencing 12 June, with at least five of the Supreme Court Justices sitting over the course of the visit. The list of cases to be heard during the visit are in the process of being finalised.

Provision will be made for extensive public seating for those interested in observing proceedings at first hand while court staff will also use the opportunity to offer public talks about its work when the Justices are not sitting. Further information will be available from their website in due course.


Stay in the picture

Keep yourself in the picture with our news section online.

If you wish to unsubscribe please email us. Watch live full Council and some committee meetings on our webcast. Join the debate on Twitter #edinwebcast

                   Follow us on twitter            Watch on our webcast             Follow us on Facebook

Follow us on twitter
Watch our webcasts
Follow us on Facebook

The City of Edinburgh Council

March Full Council Meeting

March's Full Council Meeting is just a week away - it takes place at 10am next Thursday 16th March ...

... all the reports 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 every month, 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!