Friday, May 05, 2017

BLOG NOW ARCHIVED


Just a couple of quick reminders:

... and I will hopefully have links up (most likely in the side-bar) to my Facebook and Twitter history, just as soon as possible; all following a short period of rest ;-)

Thursday, May 04, 2017

THANK YOU *so much*

That's it - for the first time in 18-years I'm no longer an Elected Politician.


THANK YOU *so much* to all those who have supported me :-))

Vote WIMBERLEY 1

Polling Day is here. Just a final reminder ;-)


Wednesday, May 03, 2017

Tuesday, May 02, 2017

Ways to vote; in person, by post or by proxy

Vote in person, by post or by proxy (for an 'emergency proxy' - do see below)


Most people choose to vote in person on the day of the election at their polling station. If you are not able to vote in person you can apply:

  • to vote by post
  • for someone to vote on your behalf, known as a proxy vote.

Council Elections will be held on Thursday 4 May 2017. To be eligible to vote in person at these elections, you must have registered by Monday 17 April 2017.

Postal voting: 
You need to apply for a postal vote if you want to vote by post.

If your address has changed since you applied, you will need to:


If you are resident in Scotland but voting from abroad, remember it will take time for your voting pack to reach you, and for you to send it back. If you are applying close to polling day, you may find it easier to apply for a proxy vote instead.

The last date for postal vote applications was 5pm on Tuesday 18 April 2017.

Proxy voting: 
If you are not able to vote in person or by post then you can apply to vote by proxy. This means you can ask someone to go to a polling station and vote for you. Your proxy can also apply to vote by post, if you apply early enough.

You must apply for a proxy vote in advance.  It is illegal for someone to vote for you if you have not been granted a proxy vote.

The last date for normal proxy applications was 5pm on Tuesday 25 April 2017.

Emergency proxy: 
If you have a medical or work emergency, you can apply for an emergency proxy up until 5pm on polling day:

Electoral Registration Office
17a South Gyle Crescent
Edinburgh
EH12 9EB

Email:
Tel: 0131 344 2500
Fax: 0131 344 2600 
Visit: http://www.lothian-vjb.gov.uk/

Monday, May 01, 2017

A Green and Living City

My colleague Ian Perry, has drafted a short piece on 'A Green and Living City', which is for the Edinburgh Labour website --- I'll reproduce the text below, for those interested:

When Edinburgh Labour took responsibility for cleansing in the city from the previous
Lib-Dem/SNP Council, the service had gone through years of uncertainty with the threat of privatisation. After spending millions of pounds on this proposed change, with staff morale at an all time low, they abandoned the idea. Labour was left to pick up the mess.

Labour has over the past 5 years made the service more efficient, with resources going to the front line and a leaner management. This was recently recognized by Audit Scotland. Edinburgh was one of the top performing Councils, by reducing the cost per resident. 

Labour in Edinburgh’s aim is to reduce our waste, re-use and recycle. Our top priority is to keep our city clean, in all our
communities.

This Labour-led Council has taken action and implemented a Waste and Cleansing Improvement Plan and for example has:

  • reduced missed collections, with 0.17% of collections resulting in a customer complaint
  • changed charges for Special Uplifts for bulky items to £5 per item, resulting in a massive increase in the use of the service and a reduction in fly-tipping.

Edinburgh Labour pledges to scrap the bulky uplift charge altogether.

As for recycling --- rates continue to climb in the capital:

  • Increased recycling from both individual homes and on street facilities, which has resulted in 45% waste now being recycled.  We aim to increase this to 60%.
  • We send less waste to land fill, saving the city money.
  • A new food waste plant is operating and producing compost for the land; and clean energy.
  • A new residual waste plant is being built, which will mean no waste going to Landfill.
  • We have introduced new kerbside dry mixed and glass recycling collections to more than 140,000 households.
  • Waste recycled in communal packaging bins serving flats and tenements has risen significantly. 

Edinburgh Labour will further:

  • Aim for an 80% reduction in Trade Waste bin clutter, on our streets.
  • Continue the Trade Waste Team, to ensure businesses are responsible for their waste and not using residents’ communal bins.
  • Continue to invest in our staff by providing new staff facilities, new supervisors, new in-cab technology and recruiting permanent staff to the service. We want to continue to keep the service in-house, investing in our staff and service.
  • Continue the successful roll-out of the ‘Our Edinburgh’ campaign, to discourage anti-social behaviour like fly-tipping and littering.
  • Provide an additional night shift for mechanical street sweeping duties.
  • Launch the innovative trial of bin fill sensors, which ensures litter bin uplifts when needed.
  • Increase Environmental Wardens to deal with dog fouling, fly tipping and litter dropping.
  • Work with community partnerships, for example “Leither’s Dont Litter”
  • Increase barrow beats and continue to invest in the service in our communities.

Councillor Ian Perry
Edinburgh Labour's Planning Spokesperson

Monday, April 24, 2017

Getting Around Our City

My colleagues Karen Doran and Karen Keil, have drafted a short piece on 'Getting Around Our City', which is for the Edinburgh Labour website --- I'll reproduce the text below, for those interested:

Edinburgh is a magnificent city, the fastest growing city in Scotland, with population growth of some 1% per annum. People from all over the UK, and beyond, make a positive choice to come here to live and to work.

It is vital that those residents can walk, cycle and travel by public transport. So, over the last five years, Labour has worked hard to ensure that we are forward thinking in how people get around.  We have significantly increased investment in public transport. 

Edinburgh is thus the only city in the UK which has seen a decrease in car ownership along with increased use of buses, cycling and walking.  This has happened because Labour has invested in Active Travel.

Labour has further pledged to continue with pavement resurfacing and will create a dedicated BUDGET FOR WALKING to be used to install more pedestrian crossings, drop kerbs, pedestrian zones and increase pathways.

Labour also pledged, back in 2012, to increase spending on cycling and it has followed through with that promise.  Spending on cycling is now 10% of the transport budget, using the money to make routes safer.  We renew that pledge to MAINTAIN SPENDING ON CYCLING AT 10%; to complete the west to east link across the city centre, and to build segregated cycle lanes.  Not only do we pledge to continue our work but we will introduce a cycle hire scheme that is fit for purpose and will enhance visitors and residents experience of Edinburgh.

And award-winning Lothian Buses has upgraded its fleet with more accessible and less polluting vehicles. Passenger numbers are rising every year. 

As Labour has always promised, and will always PROMISE, we will fight to KEEP LOTHIAN BUSES AND EDINBURGH TRAMS IN PUBLIC OWNERSHIP.  Edinburgh Trams currently has one of the highest service satisfactions in the latest passenger survey.

Labour will continue to fight for a cleaner, safer Edinburgh to travel around in; with 20MPH zones in the City Centre, residential and shopping areas, while 30MPH & 40MPH will be maintained on arterial routes.

We will also look to introduce a LOW EMISSION ZONE in the city and monitor it to ensure there is no shift of pollution to other areas.

Karen Doran and Karen Keil
Edinburgh Labour Councillors for City Centre and Drumbrae

Saturday, April 22, 2017

April Leader's Report

                                                                                           April 2017


Ongoing satisfaction with life in the Capital 

 

Andrew Burns
The latest Edinburgh People Survey results made positive reading when they were published last month, showing that the vast majority of respondents (94%) are satisfied with life here in the Capital.

Services like public transport, parks and our calendar of cultural events continue to see a high level of satisfaction too, while results showed residents across the city feel secure in their communities.

I was a particularly heartened by the sense of inclusion demonstrated by the results, with more people than ever agreeing their neighbourhood is a place where people of different backgrounds get along (84%), and 94% saying Edinburgh is welcoming and accessible to people of all ages.

As ever, the survey also gives us the opportunity to reflect on the areas where public perception is poorer. Responses allow us to pinpoint services, such as street cleaning and road maintenance, where people feel we could be doing better, and help us to make plans for improvement, to the benefit of everyone who lives in and visits the city. 
 
Councillor Andrew Burns
Leader of the City of Edinburgh
Council

 

Very much open for business 

 

Edinburgh has been featuring in the news again for all the right reasons this month after being named the best city in the UK to start a new business. Our speedy internet connections, reasonable office rent and a substantial pool of 'tech savvy' students all played their part.

This came hot on the heels of another, and even more impressive, result courtesy of JLL Investment's Intensity Index, which ranked Edinburgh fourth in the world for property investment. This is remarkable when you consider that only Oslo, London and Munich scored more highly, with the likes of New York and Sydney further down the Top 10.

Of course, the evidence of this is right on our doorstop as the New Waverley and Haymarket developments continue to progress well and work getting underway on the £1 billion Edinburgh St James project.


 

Keeping Edinburgh Beautiful 

 

Congratulations to the team working on the Our Edinburgh campaign, which was awarded 'Programme of the Year' at this year's Keep Scotland Beautiful Local Environment Quality Awards. The award recognises the great job they've done to encourage pride in the city.

We're always looking at ways of improving our waste and cleansing services, but by raising awareness of anti-social behaviour like fly-tipping, litter-dropping and dog fouling, Our Edinburgh is encouraging the public to do their bit too - and it's already having an impact.

In its latest phase in Gorgie and Dalry, the campaign saw litter complaints drop by 18% and 13 fixed penalty notices issued, while citywide there has been a 44% increase in special uplift requests.


 

Grand designs on Ross Theatre 

 

It boasts one of the finest backdrops in the country and it seems the rest of the world agrees. The competition to replace the Ross Bandstand in West Princes Street Gardens is gathering pace after 125 groups of architects and designers spanning 22 countries were swiftly narrowed down last month.

The worldwide interest should come as no surprise. Images of the venue are beamed to TV screens across the world every Hogmanay and during the Festival Fireworks Concert each August. After flying in from Japan, the USA and across Europe to visit the site earlier this month, the seven shortlisted architect teams will have until June to submit their designs for a new pavilion.

An exhibition will be held by the Ross Development Trust, led by benefactor Norman Springford, this summer to showcase their concept designs and to receive local feedback, with a winner expected to be confirmed in August 2017.


 

Fighting inequality with the OneCity Trust 

 

The OneCity Trust was established in 2003 (with the Lord Provost's 'Rapid Action Fund' added in 2013) to support the most vulnerable in our society and, over the last 12 months alone, has channelled over £125,000 into projects which help close the wealth gap here in the Capital.

Every community has a responsibility to care for its citizens and the OneCity Trust relies on generous donations from Edinburgh people and businesses. In the last year, it has received more than £36,300 support from Travis Perkins, £3,000 from CGI Ltd and over £6,000 from Harvey Nichols' carrier bag levy.

Countless individuals continue to pledge their support too. The Trust's President, the Lord Provost, will 'brave' the Virgin Money London Marathon this weekend. With Sunday's starting gun looming, you can show the Lord Provost and the OneCity Trust your support through Donald Wilson's marathon donation page.

If you know an organisation or scheme which fights inequality and promotes inclusion, applications will be open until the end of May for 2017 grant funding. Find out more about applying for a OneCity Trust grant.


 

Have your say on 4 May 

 

The local elections are almost upon us (as, of course, is another General Election!) and voters across the country will be heading to the polls to elect our new councillors on Thursday 4 May.

A few reminders about this year's vote:
  • Some polling places have changed, so check your poll card or our online guide to find out where yours is before you head out
  • If filling in a postal ballot, be careful to put your date of birth in the relevant bit, rather than that day's date (it often happens!), then make sure to sign it
  • Use numbers when filling in the ballot, with 1 marking your first preference, 2 your second, and so on. Find out more about the single transferable vote system
These elections are your chance to influence how services in Edinburgh are delivered over the next five years by selecting the candidates you think will do the best job for the Capital.

Do please have your say on 4 May!


 

Spelling out Edinburgh's history this summer 

 

After transforming into the Edinburgh International Science Festival's quirky laboratory this spring, the City Art Centre is making way for another takeover in a few weeks time.

Our flagship gallery will open its doors to one of its most ambitious exhibitions when hundreds of artefacts and artworks are drawn together and placed on display for the very first time.

Spanning 60,000 years, Edinburgh Alphabet: An A-Z of the city's collection will feature never-before-seen treasures from the city's collections. For anyone with a love of this city and its rich history, this free exhibition really shouldn't be missed.


 

The last word 

 

As you may be aware, many councillors, including myself, have chosen not to stand on 4 May. I haven't done the maths, but the cumulative experience leaving the Council must add up to many hundreds of years.

As current Council Leader, and on behalf of all the Group Leaders, I'd like to take this opportunity to pay tribute to all the retiring councillors who have given dedicated public service to their local communities over so many years.

I'd also like to wish all remaining councillors, and new candidates, all the very best of luck. It really is a privilege to serve your local community - and you never know how long that privilege will last - so please do enjoy it while you can.

Huge thanks also to our dedicated workforce, who have shown nothing but enormous understanding, adaptability, and sheer dedication to public service, over recent years. It's been my pleasure to work with you all.

And finally, many thanks to the people that matter most: the residents of Edinburgh. You have given us the chance to make a contribution to the ongoing evolution of this most beautiful city; one which I've had the good fortune to call my family home for the last 24 years.


 

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The City of Edinburgh Council

Friday, April 21, 2017

April Full Council Meeting!

It may only be a matter of days until the Local Authority Elections - but Council business continues apace ...

... April's Full Council Meeting is now just a week away - it takes place at 10am next Thursday 27th April.

And 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!


This will be my last 'Full Council Meeting' (as an Elected Member) after 18-years of public service --- in all that time, I don't think I've missed a single one, so reckon I've attended some 200 Full Council Meetings since May 1999 :-))


Tuesday, April 18, 2017

Our Economy and Jobs

My colleague Gordon Munro, has drafted a short piece on 'Our Economy and Jobs', which is over on the Edinburgh Labour website --- I'll reproduce the text below, for those interested:
Edinburgh’s economy is the engine of the Scottish economy. Edinburgh has the highest output per resident and is significantly higher than the Scottish and UK average. Yet the SNP Government has cut our city's budget by more than any other Local Authority in the country.

A key contributor to our city is the visitor economy. Revenue per available hotel room peaked at a high of £167 in August and the lowest point being January at £38 per room. This is why significant investment is being made in Edinburgh in building hotels. This city has built year-round tourism across the country, with Edinburgh the launch pad for the rest of Scotland.

This tourism is attracted by our festivals which have been created and funded by Edinburgh Council. Edinburgh’s festivals generate £313m for Scotland with £280m in Edinburgh.

The Scottish Government's cuts of £150m to Edinburgh's budget since 2012 has, inevitably, had an impact on the Council's ability to provide funding for our festivals - and other cities have been quick to set up their own, rival, events. To stay ahead Edinburgh needs more funding. A modest tax on beds of, say £1 per room, would help fund festival programming and infrastructure, and keep Edinburgh in front.

There is another side to Edinburgh’s economy. Edinburgh has an unemployment rate of 4.4% - lower than Morningside under Thatcher, yet there are more people in in-work poverty than unemployed in Edinburgh. This is why when Labour returned to power in Edinburgh in 2012 it introduced the Living Wage for all Council employees. This directly benefited over 2,500 workers and other employers across the city have followed our lead. 

Of course there is more to be done. That's why Edinburgh Labour will make investing in our city's economy, to provide jobs and opportunities for the future, a priority of a Labour Council. We will create good quality jobs by investing in housing and public infrastructure, and we will make sure that these jobs are well paid by ensuring that any employer contracted by the Council pays their employees the living wage.

We will increase practical support for new businesses and start-ups, especially in the tech sector, to help our city grow with a balanced economy.

We will expand training opportunities for adults and young people to help people back into work, and we will ensure every young person leaves school with the choice of a job, training or further education so that no one falls behind in our economy.

Edinburgh’s economy has to be fair for all. Only Edinburgh Labour will put Edinburgh first.

Gordon Munro
Edinburgh Labour's Economy Spokesperson

Thursday, April 13, 2017

Happy Easter to one and all :-)

I'm going to make a serious attempt to reaquaint myself with the family over the holiday-weekend ...

... so; no on-line presence (of any form!) between now, and until next Tuesday (18th) at least.

I am available on the mobile if its a real emergency ...

... but, in the nicest possible manner, I hope not to hear from too many folk ;-)

Hope everyone has a good weekend.

Monday, April 10, 2017

Our Homes

My colleague Joan Griffiths, has drafted a short piece on 'Our Homes', which is over on the Edinburgh Labour website --- I'll reproduce the text below, for those interested:
For the last five years, Labour have taken the lead in housing for the City at a time when demand for housing that people can afford is at an all-time high. Nearly one third of Edinburgh households now live in expensive and insecure tenancies in the private rented sector.

Labours record of housing delivery has been good with more than 5000 households helped into new homes that they can afford, all built on brownfield sites across every neighbourhood.

We will deliver a minimum of 16,000 affordable and low cost homes for rent and sale over the next 10 years, working with our partner housing associations and co-operatives. To meet needs, we require at least two thirds to be let at 'social rent' levels. Labour will campaign vigorously for an increased grant from the Scottish Government to speed up this process.

However, building new homes is not enough on its own – Labour is committed to creating great places for people to live and prosper.  

Labour pledges to strengthen the Registration System for private landlords by setting up an inspection team to  ensure they maintain their own properties and participate fully in common repairs, and treat tenants fairly.

Labour recognises that there are still individuals and families who do not have a permanent place to call home.  In this difficult time of Welfare Reform, we have protected homelessness funding and will continue to help the most vulnerable in our communities. 

Labour is working with our partners in Homeless Support Services through the Edinburgh Homelessness Forum   to look at creative and innovative ways forward.  To ensure that we develop services that meet the needs of individuals who have been effected by homelessness we have actively involved them in sharing their stories with the forum. 

We are committed to helping more disabled and elderly tenants and owners to adapt their existing homes, and assist older and disabled home owners to move to more suitable housing should they wish to do so. 

We will purchase existing homes to help us meet the need for affordable housing, where this would not be more expensive than a new build home of the same size. 

We will work with other public sector and private land owners to develop land for affordable housing, prioritising brownfield sites, and we will always consider possible use for affordable housing when selling council owned land.

Edinburgh is continuing to increase in size, with housing need far outstripping supply, in our fast-growing city. Yet we have made a great deal of progress in the last five years and I am confident that, if the voters of Edinburgh put their trust in us in May 2017, we can build on our achievements for the next five years.

Joan Griffiths
Edinburgh Labour's Housing Spokesperson

Wednesday, April 05, 2017

Our Caring City: Health and Social Care

My colleague Ricky Henderson, has drafted a short piece on 'Our Children: Education and Families', which is over on the Edinburgh Labour website --- I'll reproduce the text below, for those interested:

For the last five years, as part of the Capital Coalition, Labour has taken the lead in health and social care services for the city - our current Convener of Health and Social Care, Councillor Ricky Henderson, outlines our priorities for health and social care services:

More and more people are now living into their 80s and 90s which is a fact to be celebrated. Older people now make more of a contribution to communities and families than ever before.

However, many people are also living longer with multiple health conditions sometimes requiring more support to continue living as independently as possible.

More young people with long term disabilities are now able to live much longer too but also needing extra support as they grow older.

With the need for care services increasing and budgets reducing the challenges are fairly obvious.

Edinburgh Labour will highlight the shortfall in resources and demand that the SNP Government uses the powers it has to fully meet its responsibilities and provide the increased resources people need.

In the next Council, we will -
  • Take steps to increase the length and flexibility of care visits and increase the availability of care, to help people live in their own homes for as long as possible.
  • Increase budgets for adaptations in homes, such as showers and ramps, to aid independent living.
  • Expand respite time and facilities for family and friend carers to safeguard their own health and wellbeing.
  • Insist that voluntary and private organisations which work with us pay the living wage and provide staff with proper training and conditions to ensure good quality care.
  • Work towards making our city ‘barrier free’ by improving accessibility to buildings, and making streets and pavements suitable for people with disabilities.
  • Improve access to health and care services by creating eight local health and community hubs where people can work on solutions to their needs with health and care professionals and voluntary groups.

Ricky Henderson
Health, Social Care & Housing Convenor

Tuesday, April 04, 2017

Our Children: Education and Families

My colleague Cammy Day, has drafted a short piece on 'Our Children: Education and Families', which is over on the Edinburgh Labour website --- I'll reproduce the text below, for those interested:
For the last five years, as part of the Capital Coalition, Labour has taken the lead in Education for the city - our current Convener of Education, Councillor Cammy Day, outlines our achievements:

Community Access & young people

Edinburgh Labour have continued to deliver more Community Access to our school estate. In partnership with community organisations and Edinburgh Leisure we want to ensure our schools are used to their best potential and that local communities are a key part of the school community.  Already Edinburgh Labour have delivered partnerships with James Gillespie’s and Portobello High School – and will do much more.

Recently we launched our Youth Work Strategy with the Edinburgh Youth Work Consortium, confirming our commitment to youth work services in the future. We have expanded participatory budgeting into Youth Work – to give young people their say in not only setting the agenda for youth work but deciding on what should be funded in the future. Over the next three years we want to see youth work funding set and agreed by the young people who use the services.  Next year, 2018, sees the International Year of the Young Person – and Edinburgh Labour will ensure our young people are leading the charge to ensure a capital city that young people are proud of.

Early Years & Childcare

Edinburgh Labour wants to give every child the best start in life.  We have invested in more early years and childcare provision across the city. In December this year, the Labour led administration committed to delivering a universal Breakfast Club for every child in our schools. We will continue to support extra resources for children requiring additional support

We want to make early years’ provision more flexible to fit in with family needs and provide extra resources to ensure that no children fall behind classmates when they start school.  We will expand early years and childcare to deliver the increased hours required.

Working with the Voluntary Sector and wider childcare sector we will deliver a new partnership to deliver the best start for our children and young people.

Investing in our Schools – fit for the future

Our capital city continues to expand, with 300-400 new families coming to the city every month, adding additional pressure to our school estate. In the last five years the Labour led administration in Edinburgh have delivered a new award winning secondary school at James Gillespie’s, a state of the art new build at Portobello and a new young people’s service at Heathervale.

In addition more classroom space has been delivered at Victoria Primary, Wardie Primary and Granton Primary and new gym halls and dining facilities in the primary schools detailed below.

Over the last five years, this is what we have delivered ---

Capital Investment:
·         Broughton PS (4 class)
·         Clermiston PS (4 class)
·         Craigour Park PS (6 class)
·         East Craigs PS (3 class)
·         Flora Stevenson PS (3 class)
·         Fox Covert PS and St Andrew’s Fox Covert RC Primary School (4 class)
·         Gilmerton PS (4 class)
·         Granton PS (2 class)
·         James Gillespie’s PS (4 class)
·         Liberton PS (4 class) [under construction]
·         Pentland PS (3 class)
·         Ratho PS (4 class)
·         St David’s RC PS (4 class)
·         St Mary’s RC PS (Leith) (2 class)
·         Trinity PS (4 class)
·         Victoria PS (4 class)
·         Wardie PS (5 classes in 2 phases)

In addition we have built classrooms extensions at:
·         Corstorphine PS
·         Towerbank PS
·         Kirkliston PS

New halls have been built or existing halls extended at:
·         Blackhall PS
·         East Craigs PS
·         Sciennes PS
·         Trinity PS
·         Towerbank PS
·         Cramond PS
·         St Margaret’s RC [under construction]

We will continue to invest in more schools in our city to provide the best education we can to the next generation of young people.

We will build new schools at St John’s Portobello, St Crispin’s, Broomhills, Gilmerton Station Road, Leith Waterfront, Granton Waterfront, Maybury, Brunstane and Queensferry – and deliver new Secondary Schools for Castlebrae and West Edinburgh.

We want to provide the best learning environment for our young people and The Scottish Government need to provide support and resources to help deliver these schools and continue the upward travel of attainment that we have delivered year on year.

Cammy Day
Education Children & Families Convenor