Friday, October 21, 2016

October Leader's Report

October 2016


Andrew Burns
What's great about Edinburgh? What could be better? What should the city be like in the year 2050? These are the questions we've been asking as we develop a '2050 Edinburgh City Vision'.

We have much to be proud of here in the Capital but we do need to start thinking seriously about what we want Edinburgh to look like in 10, 20, even 30 years' time.

It's important to note that this will not be a Council vision; rather officers' role will be to facilitate and support citywide collaboration and debate.

Already, people from all corners and sectors of the city have been having their say. Our launch event at Cortex HQ, attended by more than 100 guests, has been reported widely in the media and continues to be hotly debated on social media. Indeed, #edinburgh2050 trended on Twitter, reaching more than a million people!

If you haven't already, please have your say by answering our three simple questions at and on social media @edinburgh using #Edinburgh2050.
Councillor Andrew Burns
Leader of the City of Edinburgh

Play your part in improving our services

Please help us to improve our services by playing your part in our public engagement, which runs until 18 November. You can do this by completing our survey and/or contributing your ideas via our dialogue page.

Thanks to your previous feedback, we have already agreed draft spending and saving plans for the next three years and this year's engagement is focusing on three themes, namely: new ways of working, lean and agile services and working with partners.

Following the success of previous years, we are running another 'Question Time' event on 10 November in the City Chambers. This is designed to give you the opportunity to quiz our panel of senior councillors on the Council's budget proposals for next year and beyond.

The proceedings will be chaired by Evening News, Scotsman and Scotland on Sunday Deputy Editor, Euan McGrory. It will also be broadcast live via the Council website. If you would like to put a question to the panel, or just come along and be part of the audience, please register online by 7 November.

Billion pound boost

I'm delighted that work is under way on the £1bn Edinburgh St James development.
Our staff worked extremely hard at Festival time to keep the city litter-free and our specially branded Our Edinburgh bins collected 60% more litter during August, showing that the public are definitely doing their bit to help Edinburgh look her best.

The Council and the Scottish Government both played a crucial role in helping the developers reach this major milestone for the project, which will transform the East End of Princes Street when complete in 2020.

The investment will provide much needed premium retail space and leisure facilities, a world class 5 star hotel as well as new homes in the heart of the city. This will create thousands of jobs and contribute millions to the Scottish economy each year.

A new centre for Pennywell and Muirhouse

I was excited to see the plans for the new civic centre for Pennywell and Muirhouse, which will be considered by councillors on 27 October. The £26m proposals include the construction of 160 energy efficient homes, a new shopping centre, new office space for local services and a new civic square and public realm.

This forms part of one of Scotland's largest housing-led regeneration schemes, which included the building of Craigroyston Community High School back in 2010. Construction of over 700 new homes and an NHS led partnership centre are already well under way and, over the next six to eight years, the area will be home to around 2000 new residents and over 180 staff.

The consultation on plans for the civic centre is continuing and local people can share their thoughts by popping into Muirhouse Library, the Community Shop on Pennywell Road, the Local Office on West Pilton Gardens or on the Council's Consultation Hub until 28 October.

Solar Co-operative success

Earlier this month the Edinburgh Community Solar Co-operative celebrated the completion of a project to install solar panels on 24 Council-owned venues. This will deliver cheaper, more sustainable energy to the buildings involved.

Now, I'm delighted to see the initiative has been shortlisted for the Best Community Project Award in this year's Scottish Green Energy Awards. This recognises close partnership working between the Council, the Co-operative, local people and organisations, highlighting their contribution to the renewable energy industry.

Involving the community and partner organisations to shape the way we deliver services is exactly the kind of collaborative approach we envision for Edinburgh's future. I wish all those involved the best of luck for the awards in December.

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October Full Council Meeting

October's Full Council Meeting is now approaching fast - it takes place at 10am next Thursday (27th) ...

... 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!

Thursday, October 13, 2016

new Boroughmuir High School: Update ...

Deeply disappointing news about the new Boroughmuir High School ... as indicated within the News release below, the Council will be seeking compensation in line with contract terms:

August opening set for new Boroughmuir High School

Following a review of progress on construction, it has been agreed that the new Boroughmuir High School will now open at the start of the new school year in August 2017. 
The City of Edinburgh Council had hoped that the school would be completed in time for a January opening, but after discussions this week between senior Council staff, including Chief Executive Andrew Kerr, and contractors O'Hare & McGovern about the outstanding work programme, the new opening date of August has been set.   

Work is now due for completion by April 2017, however pupils and staff will not begin using the new facility until after the summer holidays, to avoid any disruption in the run-up to exams. This timing will also allow the school to run orientation visits for pupils and staff to the new school before the end of the summer term.

Councillor Paul Godzik, Education Convener, said: "This is understandably disappointing news for the whole school community and we certainly share their frustration at this fresh delay. We have made clear our displeasure at the way the project has progressed to date and will be seeking compensation in line with the terms of the contract.
“By postponing the opening until the start of the next school year, we can ensure pupils can sit their exams without the upheaval of moving into a new building.

"When staff and pupils return for the new academic year next August, they'll be embarking on an exciting new chapter in Boroughmuir's history, with a fantastic new teaching and learning environment to continue the school’s first-class academic track record."
The Council will be seeking compensation from the contractors in line with the terms of the contract.

Sunday, October 09, 2016

Allotment Update :-)

Rather embarrassingly, I haven't posted an update from our Saughton Allotment since the middle of August ;-)

... well, we managed to catch a few hours there this evening, and cropped a huge amount of:
  • potatoes
  • spinach
  • runner-beans
  • apples
  • raspberries
  • not to mention endless flowers ...

Monday, October 03, 2016

October's Corporate Policy and Strategy Committee

All of the Reports are now published for October's "Corporate Policy and Strategy" Committee; it meets at 10am tomorrow, Tuesday 4th October.

The relevant paperwork is now in the public domain: a full set of Reports and the main Agenda can be found here.

And individual Reports can also be accessed via Committee Papers on-Line (CPOL) as linked from here.

Some of the Reports that may well 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 possibly not like you've ever seen before ;-)

Sunday, October 02, 2016

2017/18 budget engagement

I know it's only the start of October, but as per previous years, the Council is now seeking views on the draft 2017/18 Budget (which should be set in early 2017) ... further information, and relevant details as follows:

#Playyourpart improving council services

Edinburgh residents are being asked for their views on reshaping council services as part of public engagement on the 2017/18 budget, which will be set early next year.
This year people will get the chance to contribute ideas of their own on how city services are provided, by having meaningful conversations online with other residents in their local area. Residents will also be able to see the suggestions of others in their community and rate those ideas.

The Council has agreed draft spending and saving plans for the next three years and is now looking for residents’ views on how best to change the delivery of some services.

A seven-week engagement period, beginning today (Friday, 30 September), will run until Friday, 18 November. It will focus on three key themes, new ways of working, lean and agile services and working with partners.

The online survey will ask residents to think about how the changes below could affect them, their community and the city as a whole as well as what challenges and opportunities they present for the Council.
  • Supporting individuals and community groups to become more involved in delivering library services. 
  • Developing the ways customers do business with the Council to include more online tools which are accessible and respond to customer needs so that services are delivered right first time.
  • Working with Edinburgh Leisure to maintain access to quality facilities and programmes whilst achieving savings and efficiencies.
The Council will also be working closely with communities, equality groups and partners over the coming months by running workshops around reshaping services, working with communities to agree how local budgets should be spent and creating a city vision for Edinburgh for 2050.

A Question Time event will also be webcast from the City Chambers on Thursday, 10 November to give members of the public a more personal opportunity to ask questions about changes to services. 

Councillor Alasdair Rankin, Finance and Resources Convener, said: “We have an increasing population, inflationary pressures, decreased budgets and greater demand for our services so it is really important that we get residents’ views on how we can more efficiently deliver services.

“In previous budget engagements residents told us to protect education, care for older people, culture, and services for vulnerable children and adults. These continue to be our priorities.

“Using our online engagement tools, we’re making it easy for people to contribute their views and ideas, and to understand the different challenges there are reshaping our services.

“We are improving our engagement tools this year by allowing people to speak to other residents in their local area about issues which specifically affect them. This will give us quality feedback on how people would like their services delivered in the future.”

Councillor Bill Cook, Finance Vice-Convener, added: “Everything you say will be taken into account when we draw up the final budget to be considered by Council in early 2017, so we are extremely interested in hearing your views. Whether it’s via the online survey, dialogue page, phone, letter, email or social media we welcome all feedback.”

At a meeting of the Finance & Resources Committee on Thursday, 29 September, councillors approved a report on the draft budget.
Further information on other ways to give your views -
  • Phone on 0131 200 2305 (8.30am to 5pm Monday to Thursday, 8.30am to 3.40pm Friday)
  • Writing to Freepost, RSJC-SLXC-YTJY, Budget, Council Leader, City Chambers, High Street Edinburgh EH1 1YJ
  • Speaking to your local councillor

Thursday, September 29, 2016

South West NP - health funding available for local projects

Some local funding, in my own (South West) Neighbourhood Partnership area, currently available for health focussed projects - details as follows ...

Health funding available for local projects

Health focussed projects in the south west of the city have been invited to apply for funding from a £40,000 pot as part of a City of Edinburgh Council initiative.
Health Matters (external link)will welcome applications that focus on health, health promotion, making healthy life choices and that target a wide age range or equalities groups.  Health Matters is also interested in projects that are based on non medical or community referral interventions and activities that are offered by ‘social prescribing’, which can typically include dance classes, cookery clubs or knitting groups.

This year’s application period is open from Monday 26 September 2016 and closes on Friday 28 October 2016. Groups can apply for grants of up to £5,000 each to be spent on projects that will benefit people in the South West Neighbourhood Partnership area.

Councillor Maureen Child, Convener of the Communities and Neighbourhood Committee, said: “Health Matters is a great opportunity for local projects to bid for funding to deliver projects that matter in the south west area.  Studies have shown that social prescribing is seen as a ‘more than medicine’ approach and the Health Matters initiative presents the opportunity to offer alternative options to patients, looking at both the clinical and social elements.

“Schemes like Health Matters continue to be exceedingly popular, allowing local people to make real decisions about priority activities in their community.”

£20,000 has been allocated from the Neighbourhood Partnership and the rest match funded from the Scottish Government’s Community Choices Fund.
Adopting a participatory budgeting approach to the allocation of funds, projects will be voted for by the local community later in the year.

You can find information on how to apply or details if you would like to speak to someone about your project on the Neighbourhood Partnership website(external link).

Wednesday, September 28, 2016

City Vision - residents views sought

I've got a short piece in the local Newspaper today, all following on from yesterday's launch event - content as follows ...

2050 Edinburgh City Vision

A city like Edinburgh prides itself on being a fantastic place to live in, to work within, and also to visit. And here in 2016, Edinburgh really is one of the UK’s most vibrant and fastest growing cities.

This success, however, does not come without challenges. There are pockets of severe deprivation and inequality in this city and as the population increases, so does pressure placed on infrastructure, health and housing services, the environment and resources. As a city, we need to look ahead to the future and be prepared to adapt, if we are to ensure Edinburgh remains the great city it is today.

Yesterday along with many others, I listened as Andrew Kerr, the Council’s Chief Executive, outlined plans to develop a long-term vision for Edinburgh. Between now and Christmas, the process to develop a ‘2050 Edinburgh City Vision’ will give everyone in the Capital an opportunity to think about the long-term future of their city.

Crucially, the move will be focused on citywide collaboration rather than a Council vision, asking people and organisations from across the Capital to build a meaningful, tailored statement of the kind of city Edinburgh could and should be in the decades to come.

Because the truth is, in 30 years time very few – if any – of the Politicians or Senior Officers currently at the Council will be here. Those within current leading businesses, charities and the emergency services will also potentially have moved on.

The workers and residents of 2050 will be Edinburgh’s millennials. Those aged 16 today will be 50, so it is crucial young people have a real say in this City Vision. I was particularly interested to hear from pupils of Portobello High School whose vision for Edinburgh is for a city where the gap between rich and poor is greatly reduced.

And we do want this to be an overall vision that is specific to Edinburgh, brings together everyone with an interest in the city, and unlocks the creative potential of collaboration across all generations and sectors.

I also listened to Graham Hill as he revealed the findings of an interesting piece of new research from ARCADIS. It shows that Edinburgh is currently ranked as the 13th most sustainable city on the planet, second in the UK only to London.

But cities like Edinburgh do face a huge challenge of balancing success against inequality; and growth against heritage. In Copenhagen, which shares similar challenges, the city has a vision of being a ‘Green, Smart, and Carbon Neutral City’. In New York, the city plan sets out a vision for ‘a strong and just city’, underpinned by a need to respond to the damage caused in the city by Hurricane Sandy; while in Vancouver, where city visions have been an integral part of city planning since the 1940’s, the city is working towards a vision of being the ‘world’s greenest city’.

City Visions bring people from all corners of a city together to focus on major needs, force cities to look ahead and to generate new ideas. A key lesson from all other cities is that successful vision-projects cannot be seen as the preserve of a single institution. City councils are well placed to co-ordinate and facilitate the project, but broad participation and engagement is critical if the project is to be a success. 

So, we want as many people as possible to be part of this conversation. The key challenge will be reaching a cross section of residents, businesses, partners and stakeholders across the city, to ensure the Edinburgh of the future is meaningful to all of us. 

One of our approaches to this is online engagement, with the public and partners through open questions designed to capture challenges, ideas and opinions.

So, do tell us what you think makes Edinburgh great, what you feel could be better, and your own personal vision for #Edinburgh2050 on social media or at

Cllr. Andrew Burns
Leader of the City of Edinburgh Council

Tuesday, September 27, 2016

#Edinburgh2050: developing a city vision


Edinburgh residents, businesses, partners and stakeholders are being called upon to share their vision for the Capital’s future.

The ‘2050 Edinburgh City Vision’ – which begins development today – will encompass the diverse needs of the city, ensuring it continues to thrive as a great place to live, work and visit over the next 30 years.

A city-wide engagement campaign will run until December, inviting all other interested parties to share their vision for the future and unlock creative potential for collaboration across all sectors. A draft document will be produced based on the responses received before being refined, agreed and published next summer.

Anyone who lives, works or studies in the city can join the conversation by answering thefollowing three questions at the Edinburgh 2050 webpage and on social media (@edinburgh) using #Edinburgh2050.
  • What’s great about Edinburgh?
  • What could be better?
  • What would you like Edinburgh to be like in 2050?
The City of Edinburgh Council’s Chief Executive, Andrew Kerr, launched the initiative today (Tuesday 27thSeptember) to a 100 strong audience made up of delegates from all corners and sectors of the city*.

He said: “As Scotland's capital city, we have much to be proud of and positive about but we need to start thinking seriously about what we want Edinburgh to look like in 10, 20, even 30 years’ time .

 “A City Vision for Edinburgh – based on the true aspirations of people of all ages who live, work and study in the Capital - will provide all of us with a clear, long-term plan to guide strategy and investment for years to come.

“We’re starting with a blank canvas. This will not be a Council vision, rather our role will be to facilitate and support citywide collaboration and debate. I want to ensure we take new approaches and make new partnerships now to ensure Edinburgh addresses the challenges of the future, remains the envy of the world and offers a great quality of life in decades to come.”

Other speakers calling for a united vision for Edinburgh in 2050 included pupils from Portobello High School and former BBC journalist and Book Festival Chair Allan Little. The audience heard from Cortex CEO Peter Proud, Mel Young from The Homeless World Cup and Graham Hill of ARCADIS, who launched their new ‘Sustainable Cities Index’.

John Donnelly, Chief Executive of Marketing Edinburgh, added: “Over the last thirty years Edinburgh has been a city of innovation and change, the vision for the next thirty years is now in all of our hands.

“This is an incredible opportunity to shape our city – from the community, economy and environment. It urges you to question what makes Edinburgh so special, set your horizons on a better city and share your thoughts on what the Edinburgh of 2050 should be.”

Specific workshops, projects and activities will take place to reach schools, community, minority and interest groups across the city.

For more information and to share your views on Edinburgh’s future, visit



An engagement campaign has been launched to support the development of the ‘2050 Edinburgh City Vision’ and ensure it represents the views of people who live, work and study in the city.

*Stakeholder groups already involved in the active development of the city vision include:

  • Edinburgh Universities and Student Groups
  • Schools
  • The Edinburgh Chamber of Commerce
  • Police Scotland
  • Marketing Edinburgh
  • Edinburgh World Heritage
  • Edinburgh Interfaith Association
  • Edinburgh Children’s Partnership
  • Festivals Edinburgh
  • The City of Edinburgh Council


Monday, September 26, 2016

Sustainable Cities Index

A new report, published last week by Arcadis, looks at an overall 'sustainability index' for the world's 100 leading cities ... Edinburgh features strongly, and I'll replicate some of the headline-text below, with some associated links:

Arcadis Sustainable Cities Index

"Cities are under pressure from all angles; some pressures are easily forecasted while others are more difficult to predict. Balancing the immediate needs of today without compromising the demands of tomorrow is at the heart of sustainability, and of this report. The 2016 Arcadis Sustainable Cities Index ranks 100 global cities on three dimensions, or pillars, of sustainability: People, Planet and Profit. These represent social, environmental and economic sustainability to offer an indicative picture of the health and wealth of cities for the present and the future.
Well-established European cities dominate the top of the overall ranking making up 16 of the top 20 positions. They are joined by the advanced Asian cities of Singapore (in second place), Seoul (7th) and Hong Kong (16th) as well as Australia’s capital, Canberra (18th). Cities around the world are living at extremes, not balancing these pillars of sustainability. While taking the lead in some areas, cities often sit lower in one area of sustainability. How can cities do more to ensure that as they develop and implement strategies and policies to address the considerable challenges they face - from environmental to socio-economic – they do so in a way that puts people first and at the forefront of their sustainability?"

Sustainable Cities Index 2016 ranks 100 of the world’s leading cities

sustainable cities index 2016 - overall index rankings - arcadisCities around the world are struggling to achieve a balance in the three pillars of sustainability

The 'Arcadis' published study Sustainable Cities Index 2016, compiled by the Centre for Economic and Business Research (Cebr), ranks 100 of the world’s leading cities. 

Zurich,Singapore and Stockholm are on the top of the overall Sustainable Cities Index.

Edinburgh features at 13th in the world.

- overall index rankings 2016 (Arcadis)

Wednesday, September 21, 2016

Allotment Strategy – Public Consultation

I don't routinely replicate internal, Councillor Briefings here on the blog - but this one is *most* important ;-)

If you've an interest in Allotments, please do take part in the consultation which now runs through until 18th October ... full details follow:


Councillor Briefing – Edinburgh’s 3rd Allotment Strategy – Public Consultation

The City of Edinburgh Council produced its first allotment strategy “Cultivating Communities” in 2002.  This was followed by “Cultivating Communities – A Growing Challenge” in 2009.  Our third strategy, “Cultivating Communities - A Growing Success” continues the themes of its predecessors and aims to provide a strategic approach to the planning and management of allotments for the next 10 years and contains a 5 year Implementation Plan.

Over the duration on the last strategy (2011 – 2015) a further 11 sites were developed at Kirkliston, Albert Street, Inchkeith, India Place, Hawkhill / Nisbet, Drumbrae, Baronscourt, Prestonfield, Northfield Drive, Dumbryden and Victoria Park, as well as extending allotments at Stenhouse.   There are currently a total of 44 sites in Edinburgh, all with varying size plots.   A Council Allotment Officer is responsible for the majority of these sites.  In total there are now 1,724 allotment plots (Table 1) of which, the Council directly manages 1,488 plots.

Demand for allotments while now stabilised continues to be high with approximate 2,500 current waiting list applicants.

The draft strategy has been released for consultation and focuses on 4 objectives:
- Adequate provision
- Robust management
- Improved customer experience
- Adoption of revised regulations.

Consultation on the new strategy began on the 20-Sep-16 and will run until 18-Oct-16 with responses being reviewed during this period.  It would be our intention to report the new Allotment Strategy to the Council’s Environment Committee in January 2017.

The following provides a link to the public consultation on the draft strategy:


Friday, September 16, 2016

September Leader's Report

September 2016

Celebrate the Great

Andrew Burns
It's not often you get the chance to rub shoulders with Olympic and Paralympic stars, so do please make sure you get Wednesday 28 September in your diary.

That's when the public will get the unique opportunity to meet our Scottish heroes after all their outstanding sporting achievements in Rio.

The Council has held very positive discussions with sportscotland over the best way of allowing the public to celebrate the athletes' medal successes and an event (still in the planning) in Festival Square promises to be a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity.

So don't miss this amazing chance to take photos and mix with your sporting stars; hotfoot it to Festival Square between 3pm and 4pm on 28 September to meet your Rio heroes and show your appreciation for all their efforts.

Keep your eye on the Council website and local press forfurther event details.

Councillor Andrew Burns
Leader of the City of Edinburgh

Keeping Edinburgh Clean

Edinburgh is one of the world's most beautiful cities and I know all of us want to live in a place where the streets are kept as clean as possible and waste is disposed of responsibly.

Our staff worked extremely hard at Festival time to keep the city litter-free and our specially branded Our Edinburgh bins collected 60% more litter during August, showing that the public are definitely doing their bit to help Edinburgh look her best.

Refuse collection is another major priority as we strive to recycle more and send far less to landfill. Every year we carry out over 26 million waste collections, the vast majority of which happen without any issue. However it is only right we constantly review and make improvements to our services as we have done in recent years.

There has been increased recycling (now almost 45%) and a corresponding drop of 10% in the amount of waste ending up as landfill, which saves us £84.40 in landfill tax per tonne - or £1m a year! We've also invested in new vehicles, implemented daily bin collections, extended communal bins, rolled out food waste collections and trialled new technology, such as sensors on litter bins to monitor how full they are.

A warm Edinburgh welcome for Syrian refugees

Nobody could fail to be moved by the plight of the millions of Syrian refugees forced to flee their war-torn homeland and last year the Council was delighted to sign up to the Scottish Government's response to the refugee crisis.

I'm delighted that we have met our target of welcoming 100 refugees to the Capital within the first year of the relocation. Kindness and generosity are part of the DNA of this city and residents have extended a sincere and heartfelt welcome that does us all proud.

The Council is committed to building on the success of our Syrian Refugee Resettlement Programme and we look forward to working with the Scottish and UK governments to ensure the continued resettlement and successful integration of refugees in Edinburgh.

Saying no to cold callers

Everyone has the right to feel safe in their own homes but sadly there's a minority of pretty unscrupulous people out there who prey on the most vulnerable in our society.

That's why it's fantastic news that we've now established more than 100 special 'no cold calling zones' across Edinburgh to help stamp out doorstep crime. These zones give communities a strong voice against bogus callers and rogue traders and empower residents with the confidence to say no to unwanted callers.

Cold callers can often be a precursor to doorstep crime so the Council's Trading Standards team work very closely with Police Scotland to combat the problem. An incredible 100% of residents in existing zones are satisfied with the measures and 92% have noticed a drop in cold callers - proof that No Cold Calling Zones are having the desired effect.

Encouraging signs for Edinburgh's air quality

Tackling air pollution is a major challenge for all urban authorities. Here in Edinburgh we're acutely aware of the issue and work extremely hard towards improving air quality and making the city a cleaner, greener place for everyone.

While we certainly can't be complacent, early nitrogen dioxide data for 2016 from our fixed monitoring sites do prove satisfying reading, with emissions down a full third at St John's Road and more than a fifth at the Newbridge Roundabout.

It's tricky to pinpoint all the factors contributing to this fall in emissions, but it seems likely that the wide range of actions we're taking to improve air quality - such as our £200,000 investment upgrading the traffic signals to reduce queuing at Newbridge - could be starting to bear fruit. I know every effort is being made to ensure this positive trend continues.

Calling all community champions

It's elections time again! We're looking for people from all over Edinburgh who care about their community to put themselves forward as potential community council members.

Community councils play a really important role in the life of this fine city and they're a great way for people to help shape their local community and make a real difference to their neighbourhood.

If you think this sounds like your cup of tea, don't delay - nominations close on 26 September! Candidates must be 16 or over and registered to vote. Nomination forms can be found on the Council's website.

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