Sunday, August 30, 2015

Dundee-bound

We've been up in Dundee most of today - bit of a significant 'family-event' ...

... our destination (as was) is in the snap to the left.

Rather unbelievably, 'Junior' is off to University, and our Shandon flat is feeling rather quiet this evening :-(

I sense a period of serious re-adjustment on the immediate horizon!

Saturday, August 29, 2015

Allotment Agapanthus


Apropos of really nothing at all ...

... here's a snap of some wonderful "Allotment Agapanthus"


:-))




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You can read a bit more about the flower here.

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Friday, August 28, 2015

Festival Fireworks

It's the last weekend of the Festival, and the 'Fireworks Concert' is fast-approaching ...

... taking place on the evening of Monday 31st August this year.

All the details can be found via this link.

Let's hope the decent weather of the last few weeks, continues for just a few more days :-)

Thursday, August 27, 2015

September's Corporate Policy and Strategy Committee

September's "Corporate Policy and Strategy" Committee is next week; Tuesday 1st ...

... and 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.

Just a couple of main Reports this month:

Just click on either of the above links 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!Available via here --- it's TV; but not like you've ever seen before ;-)

Sunday, August 16, 2015

Edinburgh and South-East Scotland City Region Deal

The 'Edinburgh and South-East Scotland City Region' comprises six local authorities. 24% of the Scottish population live in this part of Scotland.

The six local authorities that make up the 'Edinburgh and South East Scotland City Region' are working collectively on a bid to the Scottish and Westminster Governments for a City Region Deal.

The City Region Deal is a mechanism for accelerating growth and investing in success. By investing in infrastructure, skills and innovation we will create a step change in economic performance, which will generate funds to pay back this initial investment.

It is also about greater autonomy and decision making powers for the region to make public service delivery more effective and to tackle inequality and deprivation across the region. Our ambition is to secure £1bn of funding and it is estimated that an additional £3.2bn worth of private sector investment could be leveraged if the bid is successful.

I've written generally about this issue before, via the local Newspaper - here ...

... and just last week, a News Briefing was held (some detail here) flagging-up that a long term vision of the region’s economy will be presented at a Business Breakfast tomorrow (Monday 17th).

And a new City Region Deal website is now available here - do keep an eye on it over coming months, and please do sign-up and you'll be kept informed of progress: many thanks!

Saturday, August 15, 2015

August Leader's Report

                                                                                                                                                                               August 2015

Top of the class

 



Andrew Burns
Early indications from the Scottish Qualifications Authority are that 2015 has been another positive year for exam results in Edinburgh. It's a real achievement to have not only sustained but built on the successes of last year.

Our pupils should be very proud of themselves - all their hard work has certainly paid off and praise should also go to parents and carers who have supported their children over the past year.

I also want to congratulate all our teaching staff on their commitment to delivering learning experiences of the highest standards, particularly given the introduction of the new exams.

We are committed to making sure all school leavers enter a positive destination of employment, training or further education. This year a record 93.1% of young people achieved and sustained a positive destination through initiatives such as the Edinburgh Guarantee.


Councillor Andrew Burns


Leader of the
City of Edinburgh Council

 

New Chief Exec takes the reins

 

Our new Chief Executive, Andrew Kerr, began work on 27 July. He joins us from Cornwall Council, succeeding Dame Sue Bruce who retired following 40 years of public service.

It was clear from the recruitment process that he had the qualities required to take on the role and I look forward to working closely with him to ensure the continuing success of our city.

Andrew brings significant experience of leading and delivering change in the public sector and has achieved recent success in securing a Devolution Deal for Cornwall - all of which is very encouraging as he moves into his new role.


 

City Deal business breakfast

 

This Monday, 17th August, the Edinburgh and South East Scotland City Region - comprising ourselves, East Lothian, Fife, Scottish Borders, Midlothian and West Lothian Councils - will be hosting a business breakfast at the EICC.

We will be encouraging business leaders to pledge their support for our proposed £1bn city deal, designed to accelerate growth across the region. It is important that we align our ambitions with the business community and we want to keep them fully involved in the process.

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.


 

Usher Hall success

 

Congratulations to the team at the Usher Hall, who this week reported a record-breaking year, with bumper ticket sales of £2.7m and total income breaking the £4m barrier. The council-run venue has seen an increase in both sales income and events held at the venue during 2014/15.

Fitting, then, that our premier concert hall should play host to the Harmonium Project, the quite stunning launch of this year's Edinburgh International Festival - Director Fergus Linehan's first programme. Running until 31 August, the Festival welcomes 2,300 artists from 39 nations to perform in the city.

Not forgetting, of course, the irrepressible Fringe, our biggest yet, and the International Book Festival, which promises to take us 'around the world in 18 days' - opening tomorrow (15 August) in Charlotte Square.


 

ICT deal

 

A new ICT contract, approved last week, is set to transform our services and save a minimum of £45m over the next seven years. It will also deliver an estimated £46m worth of essential services at no extra cost.

Our preferred bidder - CGI - is one of the largest independent suppliers in the world and bring vast experience of transforming ICT services and accelerating channel shift, which will be hugely important in supporting our objectives for change.

Our schools will benefit greatly with bandwidth in secondary schools set to increase by up to 50 times, and primary schools by up to 100 times. The contract will also create over 200 jobs locally, plus over 60 new modern apprentice opportunities.


 

A first for Leith - and Scotland

 

Leith Walk constituents are being asked to elect two councillors on 10 September - a Scottish first.

The by-election will use the Single Transferable Vote (STV) system, where voters use numbers to rank candidates in order of preference rather than using a single cross. Voters can express 'preferences' for as many or as few of the candidates as they wish.

If this is your ward, I would urge you to have your say on who represents your interests locally. You have until Tuesday 25 August to register to vote or apply for a postal vote for the by-election. Contact the Electoral Registration Office or phone 0131 344 2500.


 

Edinburgh Partnership Community Plan

 

As Chair of the Edinburgh Partnership, I am pleased to introduce our new three-year Edinburgh Partnership Community Plan 2015-18.

Central to the plan is our vision for Edinburgh to be a thriving, successful and sustainable city in which all forms of deprivation and inequality are reduced.

It has been informed by feedback from communities and partnerships across the city, underlining the Board's commitment to working with partners across the public, private, community and third sectors to plan and deliver better services and improve the lives of local people.


 

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Friday, August 14, 2015

August Full Council Meeting

August's Full Council Meeting is coming up - next Thursday (20th) ...

... 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 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!

Saturday, August 08, 2015

Allotment produce galore!










Managed to snatch a quick hour down at the Allotment earlier today and harvested the most incredible crop of onions - probably the best we've had for years ... the snap above is a selection laid out in our hallway :-)



Lots of other produce also cropped: broad beans, courgettes, raspberries, blackberries - all in good quantities ... 

... and thought this clutch of 'crocosmia', which is planted just in front of our small pond, was looking particularly stunning :-)






Tuesday, August 04, 2015

Higher achievements for Edinburgh school pupils

Exam results out today --- considerable family interest again this year! --- the relevant Edinburgh News Release is below, with some encouraging early statistics.

And excellent general advice from Young Scot; available here, and the many links therein.


Higher achievements for Edinburgh school pupils


The anxious wait is finally over for thousands of pupils across Edinburgh as they received their exam results today (Tuesday 4 August).

The anxious wait is finally over for thousands of pupils across Edinburgh as they received their exam results today (Tuesday 4 August).

Early indications are that candidates have once again improved on their performances in many areas from last year and that the overall good performance of City of Edinburgh Council schools has been maintained. 

A total of 40,425 resulted awards were certificated for 8,120 candidates (includes special schools, adults and mainstream secondary schools).

Highlights include:

By the end of S4 39% of the roll achieved five qualifications at National 5 Level which is an increase of over 1% from last year.

Across the city there were 17,700 presentations for National 5 courses (pass rate A-C of 80%).
By the end of S5 58% of all pupils achieved one or more Highers – a 4% improvement on last year and a 16% improvement since 2009.

Across the city there were 6,354 presentations for the revised Higher (pass rate A-C of 77%) and 4,693 for the new Curriculum for Excellence Higher (pass rate 82%).

By the end of S6, 63% of the S4 roll achieved one or more Highers – a 2% improvement on last year and a 15% improvement since 2009.

Overall for S4 pupils 1,325 awards were certificated at SCQF Level 3, 6,779 awards were certificated at SCQF Level 4 and 13,562 awards were certificated at SCQF Level 5.

Nicola Wilson, 16 years, is an S6 pupil at Broughton High School. She said: “I’m really keen to study Speech and Language Pathology at Strathclyde University so need at least 2As and 3Bs in my Highers. I did well last year in my exams so am hoping for the same again this year.”

Education Convener, Councillor Paul Godzik, said: “Early indications from the SQA exam results show that 2015 has been another really positive year for our pupils which is really encouraging . It’s a real achievement to have not only sustained but built on the successes of last year.

“I also want to congratulate all our teaching staff on their commitment to delivering learning experiences of the highest standards especially given the introduction of the new exams. Our pupils should be very proud of themselves too – all their hard work has certainly paid off and praise should also go to parents who have supported their children over the past year.

“The Council is committed to making sure all school leavers enter a positive destination of employment, training or further education. This year a record 93.1% of young people achieved and sustained a positive destination through initiatives such as the Edinburgh Guarantee. We will be looking to build on this in the future and look forward to seeing many more placements and positive results.”

Councillor Cathy Fullerton, Education Vice Convener, spoke to pupils and parents this morning at Craigmount High School where Minister for Education Angela Constance, Cabinet Secretary for Education and Lifelong Learning paid a visit.

She said: “It was a real pleasure to chat to pupils today to hear how they had done in their exams. Their parents were rightly proud of their results and I hope everyone who was successful today achieves their full potential in whatever future career path they embark on.”

All candidates will receive their results by means of the traditional postal delivery on Tuesday 4 August. Those candidates who have activated their MySQA accounts, through which they can choose to receive their exam results by text in addition to their results certificate, will also receive these by 9am on Tuesday 4 August.


Additional information:
 
1. This is provisional information at this early stage with no national or comparator information available.

2. Analysis:

Results by end of S4
 
The changes in qualifications and in the wider education system as a result of Curriculum for Excellence continue in academic session 2014-2015.

There was a mix of the current National Courses (Access, Intermediates, Highers and Advanced Highers) and the new National Courses (National 2 to National 5 and New Highers) as well as Skills for Work Awards and National Certificates taken by candidates.

The changes both in the type of qualifications available and in the wider education system as a result of Curriculum for Excellence continued in 2015 with the introduction of the new National Highers. The different types of qualifications taken together with the different approaches to delivery mean that attainment patterns across SCQF levels will vary from those seen in previous years and will make direct comparisons of attainment over time extremely complex.

The new Senior Phase Benchmarking Tool called ‘Insight’ has replaced STACS (Standard Tables and Charts) in order to provide a wider range of measures against which schools will be benchmarked. These will include positive destinations as well as attainment and will take into account the socio-economic backgrounds of pupils and the performance of schools against comparator schools.

Results by end of S5*

5+ awards at level 3 or better - 91% (4 percentage points less than the previous year: a 2 percentage point improvement since 2009).
5+ awards at level 4 or better - 85% (1 percentage point more than the previous year a 7 percentage point improvement since 2009).
5+ awards at level 5 or better - 55% (2 percentage points less than the previous year but a 6 percentage point improvement since 2009).
1+ award at level 6 or better - 58% (4 percentage points more than the previous year and continues a five year improving trend and a 16 percentage point improvement since 2009).
3+ awards at level 6 or better - 35% (2 percentage point more than the previous year and an 8 percentage point improvement since 2009).
5+ awards at level 6 or better - 17% (1 percentage point more than the previous year an improvement of 4 percentage points since 2009). Please note that this is provisional and does not include attainment gained by partnership activity.

Results by end of S6*
 
1+ award at level 6 or better - 63% (2 percentage points more than the previous year and a 15 percentage point improvement since 2009).
3+ awards at level 6 or better - 44% (1 percentage point more than the previous year, a continuing improving trend and a 9 percentage point improvement since 2009).
5+ awards at level 6 or better - 31% (1 percentage point more than the previous year and a 7 percentage point improvement since 2009).
Advanced Highers at 1 award at level 7 - 22% (maintaining last year’s good results, and a 4 percentage point improvement since 2009).

*based on the percentage of S4 pupil roll.

Friday, July 31, 2015

Lord Provost's Community Garden Party

Attended the Lord Provost's Community Garden Party today - some details in the News Release re-produced below ...

...  thought this *unofficial* snap of various Provosts, along with Edinburgh's High Constables, was rather good :-)


Lord Provost's thank you to city volunteers

Published Wednesday, 29th July 2015

Edinburgh volunteers are amongst those set to be recognised for their crucial contribution to local life at the Lord Provost’s Community Garden Party 2015.

LifeCare Edinburgh (external link) and Duddingston Kirk Lunch Club (external link), which support the independence and wellbeing of older people in Edinburgh, will be presented with ‘Queen’s Awards for Voluntary Service’ by the Lord Provost Donald Wilson at the celebration on Friday (31 July).

They will be joined by a guest list featuring dedicated workers from the city’s third sector, community council members, Edinburgh British Empire Medal recipients and local philanthropists in the grounds of Lauriston Castle (external link) as a ‘thank you’ for their contribution to community life.

Sponsored by Virgin Money, more than 400 people will attend the celebration in the grounds of the historic castle to enjoy afternoon tea on the lawn, with live music from local Edinburgh choir groups and pipe bands.  Members of the Lauriston Castle Living History Group, suitably costumed in Edwardian dress, will treat guests to tours of the visitor attraction which are open to the public throughout the year.

The Lord Provost, who is also the city's Volunteering Champion, said: “I want this celebration to recognise and reward those who make a positive contribution to our great city – particularly the unsung heroes who give up their time tirelessly for others and for the good of their local community. I look forward to welcoming guests to the fantastic Lauriston Castle, and to presenting awards on behalf of the Queen to two of Edinburgh’s great volunteer organisations.

“I hope an event like this helps to promote this gem of a venue and that guests are encouraged to come back. I am extremely grateful to Jayne-Anne Gadhia and everyone at Virgin Money for the tremendous support and their ongoing commitment to the city.”

Su Millar, Chief Executive of LifeCare (Edinburgh) Limited, added: “We are absolutely thrilled to be presented with an award from the Lord Provost on behalf of the Queen, and proud to be one of two organisations to receive this prestigious award. It is humbling to have the excellent work of our volunteers recognised in this way and we are all really looking forward to meeting with the Lord Provost and all of the other guests at the Community Garden Party at Lauriston Castle.”

The Lord Provost’s Community Garden is a bi-annual event, first held in 2013 with young local harpist Anna McLuckie who has since received recognition on BBC’s The Voice.


Thursday, July 30, 2015

August's Corporate Policy and Strategy Committee

Of course, normal Council Business has also recommenced and August's "Corporate Policy and Strategy" Committee is next week; Tuesday 4th ...

... 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 this month:

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

... and, of course, all the Policy and Strategy Committee meetings are now being webcast live - and thereafter archived!

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

Wednesday, July 29, 2015

Holiday over - and on the By-Election trail :-)


Back in Edinburgh now, after a great trip up North to Skye and Knoydart ... even the weather was relatively kind to us :-))

Anyhow, back to work - and, as mentioned a few weeks ago, there's an impending local By-Election on the horizon --- so, straight out onto the doors for yous truly!

Actually - date, and details, all now set: see here ...

... 6-weeks tomorrow, is the big day :-)

Thursday, July 09, 2015

Summer is here :-)

Summer is here - well, the holiday period anyhow ;-)

So; absolutely no blogging now for a few weeks; 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 27th July.


Tuesday, July 07, 2015

Edinburgh Labour Selects Candidate for Leith Walk By-Election

News from Edinburgh Labour
Immediate Release
Tuesday 7th July 2015


Edinburgh Labour Selects Candidate for Leith Walk By-Election

Marion Donaldson has been selected as the Scottish Labour Party candidate for the upcoming City of Edinburgh Council by-election in the Leith Walk ward on Thursday 10th September 2015.

Marion is a team leader for a local Food Bank and a member of the Leith Central Community Council. She lives in Leith Walk Ward with her husband and children.

Marion said:

"
I have witnessed first hand the issues that affect our community, I know what has made a difference and what still needs to be done. People with very little money are having their dignity removed by the so-called sanctionsbrought in by the Tory government.  These have a severe and personal impact on the poorest families and the poorest children. Its these families local food banks try and help."

"
If elected, I will work tirelessly to represent the people of our area and to help continue the positive work we have seen from the Labour-led Council."

"
Over the past three years, Labour-led Edinburgh Council has protected services, doubled investment in roads and pavements, provided record support to get young people into employment and helped the lowest paid by introducing the Living Wage, at £7.50 per hour, for all Council employees."
 
 
Edinburgh City Council leader, Andrew Burns said:

"
I am delighted Marion has been selected as our candidate for the upcoming by-election. I believe she would be an outstanding representative for the people of Leith Walk and would be an asset within the Chambers as we continue to try to work with local residents to act on the priorities for their area."

---

The official campaign launch will take place on Saturday 11th July at Northern and Leiths Campaign Headquarters,  180  Easter Road at 4pm. 

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Sunday, July 05, 2015

Allotment update!


Spent a few hours down at our Saughton Mains Allotment earlier this afternoon ...

... with all the recent sunshine & rain, everything is growing rally fast - and, as you can see from this snap, the flower-beds are an absolute riot of colour!

Pleased to report that all the veg/fruit crops, are also coming on well, and we've now got our first batch of allotment-strawberry jam bottled-up :-)

Saturday, July 04, 2015

2015 International Day of Co-operatives


As mentioned earlier, today is the "2015 International Day of Co-operatives" ...

... regular readers will hopefully be aware that the 'Cooperative Capital' agenda features strongly as part of the Council's approach - some background information available here and here --- and immediately below I'll embed a short video, from yours truly, explaining the approach a bit further:



--- and here's a short article I've penned, to note the day, the progress made, and acknowledging the work still to do:


Towards a Cooperative Capital

The ‘UK Cooperatives Fortnight’ draws to a close this weekend, culminating with Saturday 4th July being the 2015 International Day of Cooperatives. The fortnight has provided an excellent opportunity to showcase how Edinburgh has been working with citizens and communities to encourage greater cooperation and collaboration.

As part of a wider programme of events, I was delighted to speak about the importance of cooperatives at an “Edinburgh Partnership Conference” last week. This was the first time that we have hosted an event as part of the annual Cooperatives Fortnight, which celebrates the economic and social impacts of the sector, as well as the cooperative potential of communities.

Following the elections in 2012, the Council’s Capital Coalition set out a clear vision to become a Cooperative Capital, where public services work better together, and where communities have more influence over the services they use. We pledged to be a Council that does things ‘with people’ rather than ‘to people’.

We have been working on this in a range of ways, such as encouraging specific initiatives in energy, housing, childcare and adult social care. And since May 2012, communities have helped to set up 14 co-ops, some of which have asked for and received Council backing. This is great news for local communities because it shows that people are feeling empowered and want to have a stronger say in the services they access.

An example of this can be seen in talks between the Council, Castle Rock Edinvar and students from the University of Edinburgh, which led to the Capital’s first student housing co-operative, which offers quality and affordable accommodation. The students initially approached the Council to talk about their ideas as they knew that we were keen to support this type of structure.

We all know that many communities feel disengaged from local democracy at the moment; Councils can seem like distant bureaucracies; and, as organisations, we are struggling to manage significant funding reductions just as local people are putting more and more demand on local services.

If Councils are going to meet this challenge, and if communities are going to thrive, then we all need to start doing things differently. We need to work together, in genuine and equal partnership with local people and organisations, to make the most of the strengths that lie in our communities. Most importantly, we must drive real innovation, with services shaped around the needs of local people.

We have numerous local examples of this taking place, such as the South East of Scotland energy switching project, which was funded by the Energy Savings Trust and helped communities to collectively buy power to get a better deal on energy bills. In Edinburgh, 116 switches took place, saving participating households an estimated total of £16,000 on their energy bills. Other examples include the Edinburgh Guarantee, the After School Clubs Cooperative Charter, the Edinburgh Alcohol and Drug Partnership Commission, the Tenant Participation Strategy and the Homelessness Prevention Implementation Plan.

And within the Council, transparency of decision-making has also improved with the introduction of web-casting, a petitions committee, revised scrutiny – with new governance, risk and best value oversight. The Council’s 2015-16 budget process has also benefitted, with proposals only finalised once three months of public engagement and consultation were carried out.

Cooperatives are simple to set up, easy to join and more effective than working alone. This type of working will help enable Edinburgh to continue to move towards its long-term objective to become a Cooperative Capital. I firmly believe that the cooperative principles of empowerment, equal partnership, and collective action offer a positive route not simply to survive through tough times, but to enable local communities to thrive, supported by relevant and meaningful local public services.

Indeed, Edinburgh is now seen as a leading centre for cooperative working, and we currently Chair the Cooperative Council Innovation Network (CCIN) – a collaboration between local authorities across the UK who are committed to finding better ways of working for, and with, local people for the benefit of their local community.

Now more than ever, I see Cooperative Councils being at the forefront of innovative partnership working across sectors, tackling the serious challenges that lie ahead together with local communities.

Councillor Andrew Burns
Leader, City of Edinburgh Council

Friday, July 03, 2015

Co-operatives Fortnight 2015


Cooperatives Fortnight (some details below - and via this additional link) draws to a close tomorrow (4th July); which is also the 'International Day of Cooperatives' ...

... I'll post some more on this tomorrow - but, for now, further general background available here.

 

--- 

 

Co-operatives Fortnight 2015 

Saturday 20 June - Saturday 4 July


Co-operatives Fortnight is an annual awareness campaign to help people become more familiar with co-operatives in their local area and is organised by Co-operatives UK.

Co-operative businesses are not limited to the food stores, pharmacies and funeral care services that most people are used to seeing on the high street. The sector is truly diverse covering everything from bakeries to bicycle stores, childcare providers to cheese producers, and farms to football clubs.

Click here to find out more about Co-operatives Fortnight and how to take part.

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Wednesday, July 01, 2015

National Railway Museum

Actually been back down in Yorkshire during this week - but for work-related purposes this time!

Was attending the Local Government Association conference in Harrogate - speaking at a Cooperative Councils Innovation Network  fringe-event, amongst other tasks - and very luckily had a couple of spare hours in York on the way home:-)
And, from the pictures, you can probably guess that I spent the time at the National Railway Museum ...

... the Mallard (above), and a replica of Stephenson's Rocket (right), were my two highlights --- but the whole museum (which I hadn't been to for several years) is just a complete joy.

Back in Edinburgh now - and no more imminent Yorkshire-visits planned!