Sunday, August 17, 2014

Register to vote - by Tuesday 2nd September!

High levels of excitement during the week just past, as my own and my partner's Referendum Poll Cards arrived ... but, my excitement wasn't so much about those, as the third card that dropped through our letter-box --- the one for our 16-year old son ;-)

I've long been a supporter of Votes at 16, and I'm absolutely delighted that the franchise has been lowered for this vote --- it must surely now come down for other elections?

As things stand at the moment, Junior will get a vote in a few weeks time on the constitutional future of Scotland (quite rightly so, as far as I'm concerned), yet on the first Thursday in May next year he won't be able to cast a vote in the UK General Election, and won't get to do so until May 2020 by which time he'll be 22-years of age :-(

But - all that aside - and whichever way you intend to vote on the 18th September ... I really hope you will vote!

There most likely will not be such a significant electoral event again in our lifetimes - and if you haven't yet got a Poll Card and/or you're not sure if you are on the Electoral Register; then you have until Tuesday 2nd September to register ... just go here: ;-)

Saturday, August 16, 2014

August Leader's Report

August 2014

Games set gold standard


Andrew Burns
Having personally sampled the fantastic atmosphere and organisation of the Glasgow Commonwealth Games, I can only echo the praise heaped upon the organisers - and with a record haul of 53 medals, TeamScotland did the country equally proud.
Edinburgh, of course, also played its part. Thousands took to the streets to welcome the Queen's Baton Relay back in June, setting the tone for an unforgettable three days of diving competitions in the 'Commie Pool', including career best performances from local divers Grace Reid and James Heatly.

All in all, around 80 Edinburgh born, based or trained athletes took part in the Games, bringing home 15 medals, and the Council is planning to recognise their achievements with a public celebration later this month.
Councillor Andrew Burns
Leader of the City of Edinburgh

Exams success


And speaking of success, congratulations to Edinburgh's school pupils on gaining excellent exam results yet again this year. The number of S6 and S5 pupils (61% and 54% respectively) who achieved one or more Highers improved on last year and over 23,000 awards were given out for the new National exams.

It's been a challenge for pupils and our teaching staff to prepare for these new exams but I think the results speak for themselves. Last week's figures also reinforce recently published statistics from Audit Scotland that Edinburgh is outperforming similar city and neighbouring authorities when it comes to S4 results.

In addition to exams, another key aim of the Capital Coalition is to make sure all school leavers enter a positive destination of employment, training or further education through initiatives such as the Edinburgh Guarantee - and this year a record 91% of young people achieved this.


Greener Edinburgh


Another priority for the Council is to make Edinburgh a greener city, and next month we'll be making it easier for residents who use our wheelie bin service to recycle. This new service will help us meet our target of recycling 70% of our waste.

The range of things residents can recycle will increase, resulting in less waste being sent to landfill - allowing us to reduce both our carbon footprint and the amount of landfill tax we pay.

The service will be rolled out in phases to 140,000 households over the next year with the first 20,000 starting in September. If you're in Phase 1, you will shortly receive information in the post, including a new collection calendar. You can find out more by visiting the Council website.


Tram latest


This month, Edinburgh welcomes the world, with hundreds of thousands of people thronging the City to enjoy the festivals. And for the first time since 1956, Festival-goers can again travel in the Capital by tram.

Trams continue to attract an average of over 90,000 passengers per week. We're very pleased with this consistent performance, which is in line with the business model, but we will continue to work closely with Transport for Edinburgh to ensure that any issues are picked up on and resolved swiftly.

Two Celtic European Games at the BT Murrayfield Stadium went well, with thousands using the trams to get to and from the games. These events certainly put the Edinburgh Trams team to the test but I'm pleased to say they coped admirably with the large crowds.




Next month, EdinburghApps will once again challenge residents to come up with high-tech solutions to help improve the lives of people visiting, living and working in Edinburgh.

The first of its kind in the UK, the competition lets teams and individuals use Council data to create ideas and concepts for the benefit of the city. In its first year, it attracted a range of innovative entries, including an app to help Council lorries operate more efficiently and another helping residents locate their nearest recycling point.

This year's event has two themes: Culture & Sport and Health. If you are interested in taking part, please visit the EdinburghApps website or email


Don't lose your vote


This week, more than 350,000 registered voters in Edinburgh (over 4m across Scotland) will begin to receive poll cards for the Scottish Independence Referendum, providing them with details on how and where they can vote on 18 September.

This is set to be the biggest poll in Scotland's history with a turnout of more than 80% predicted. But only people who are registered to vote, and are aged 16 or over on the 18 September, are able to take part. That's why it's essential that you register by 2 September.

I would urge all those who want to take part in this historic vote to check their details are on the register by visiting Lothian Valuation Joint Board's website or calling 0131 344 2500.


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Friday, August 15, 2014

August Full Council Meeting

The August Council Meeting is this coming Thursday (21st) ...

... 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!

Monday, August 11, 2014

Back in Edinburgh ...

Back in Edinburgh now, after a couple of weeks break with the family ...

... no Surgeries on Monday/Tuesday, due to ongoing School-holidays, but I will be at Fountainbridge Library at 6pm this Wednesday evening, and then back to the normal surgery-timetable from next week!

Please bear with me for a couple of days whilst I catch up on e-mails ... I've got an awful lot in the inbox to deal with ... but I will get through them by mid-week.

Hope everyone has had a restful Summer ;-)

Friday, July 25, 2014

Currently Off Air

The family summer-holiday is here :-)

Absolutely no blogging for a few weeks; and I also intend to completely (and I do mean completely!) lay-off twitter, facebook and blipfoto as well ...

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

Normal service will resume by Monday 11th August latest.

Tuesday, July 15, 2014

East Coast Main Line Authorities Consortium

Was pleased to take part, earlier today, in the Scottish-launch of the "East Coast Main Line (ECML) Authorities Consortium" recent research, on the potential for economic growth along the ECML-route.

I'll repeat the main points from the relevant News Release below ... but important to note that I've certainly not witnessed such a 'whole line approach' to the potential for rail development on this side of the UK before.

Very refreshing to witness, and I'm confident it will help press the case successfully with both UK, and Scottish, Governments.


Invest in East Coast Main Line to see huge economic growth says Consortium

Published Tuesday, 15th July 2014

For the first time, the huge growth potential of economies linked by the East Coast Main Line (ECML) will be presented to Government Ministers, business leaders and Members of the UK and Scottish Parliaments at events in Edinburgh on 15 July and London on 17July.

The research, commissioned by the Consortium of East Coast Main Line Authorities (ECMA), was undertaken over the past eight months and is part of the ECMAs bid for investment for upgrades to the ECML.  It shows that the economies linked by the ECML are worth well over £300bn each year to the UK with significant potential for growth worth £5bn if rail connections were improved along the whole route.

Furthermore, the predicted economic benefits increase to £9bn if the ECML is improved in addition to the eastern arm of High Speed 2 being built, allowing high speed trains to connect Leeds, York, the North East and Scotland to Birmingham and London.

The Consortium will be setting out the action all partners need to take to deliver this economic growth across the ECML at the Events.  It will ask the rail industry to suggest and deliver the schemes that best achieve the potential for economic growth identified in the research.
City of York Council is a member of ECMA and is committed to securing economic growth by improving passenger and freight services across the ECML.


Monday, July 14, 2014

Somehow the ball went in ...

What can you add about that Mario Gotze goal last night - think the look on his face here says it all really ...

... 22-years old, and he's just scored the winning goal in the Football World Cup, ensuring the first ever European-nation victory on South American World Cup soil - no wonder he's smiling :-))

FIFA website has a wonderful interview-piece with him, which you can read here.

And the BBC website now even has a short video up of all 171 World Cup goals - you can see it here ...

... I'm biased, but really do think that Gotze's goal would have won 'goal of the tournament' if he hadn't left it until so late-in-the-day ;-)

Saturday, July 12, 2014

Allotment produce galore :-)

Allotment produce galore, from our visit to our Saughton plot late this afternoon:

- broad beans
- strawberries
- raspberries
- gooseberries
- blackcurrants

... the intermittent heat, and heavy rain, over recent weeks has most certainly led to the best fruit-crop we've had since getting the plot in 2008.

Lots more to pick in forthcoming weeks as well :-)

Thursday, July 10, 2014

Developing Community Assets ...

Part of the Council's "Cooperative Capital" programme is to try and encourage/facilitate Community Engagement and the use of potential Asset Transfer, where there is significant Community interest in such ...

"The Council wants Edinburgh to become a Cooperative Capital where communities are much more involved in planning, managing and delivering services.

The idea of this approach is to give local people a greater sense of choice and control over the public services they use.

The aim is to provide quality services that meet the needs of our citizens and businesses in the face of bigger service demands and less funding."

I was thus particualry interested in some recent information sent through to me by an Edinburgh-based organisation, COMAS, who were asked (in 2008/09) to develop a training pack for community groups that were acquiring and developing community assets for their communities ...

... relevant case studies, and all the significant sections of the training pack, are still freely available on-line - via this link.

It may well be of interest - and still of some use - to many Edinburgh communities?

Wednesday, July 09, 2014

Saughton Park Project

Saughton Park isn't actually in my Ward - but very close to the boundary with Ward 7 ;-)

I've always had a bit of a soft-spot for it though ... spent days (literally!) there when Junior was little; and just love the place.

So - I was absolutely delighted last year when a project to restore the Park to its former glory (this snap is of the Park in the 1930's!), received significant Heritage Lottery Funding; you can read about the funding award here.
And I'm equally delighted to be able to report that the first stages of the project are now moving on apace - you can read a lot more about what's going on via the pages here ...
... and specifically, you can catch up on imminent news and events via here.
Indeed --- during ‘Love Parks Week’ (25th July – 4th August)  there are two fun events:
  • On Tuesday 29th of July (10am) there will be a launch of the Saughton Park Geocaching Trail -- Geocaching is a sort of hi-tech treasure hunt, see or for details. This trail is being supported by the Geocaching Association of Great Britain.
  • And on Wednesday 30th of July (10am-4pm) there will be the first ‘Great Saughton Bear Hunt’ where children and their families are invited to hunt for the 30 bears which have taken up residence in the Park.

Go on; all the details are here - you know you want to :-)

Monday, July 07, 2014

Allotment Update - at last!

I've just realised that my last "Allotment-Update" was back on Good Friday :-(

So - just for my legions of followers, who must be in desperate need of some news ...

... here's a late evening shot, from earlier tonight, when we caught the last of the suns-rays --- in the midst of an emergency watering session!

More seriously; everything is growing with incredible speed, and we've already had the most fantastic fruit-crops.

And I sense that some serious tattie-digging may be imminently required ;-)

The 'grandest' of Grand Departs

I've got it bad this morning ... Tour de France fever, that is ;-)

Just spent two days in, and around, Harrogate - watching the Tour de France live (for the first time - for me - since Paris in 1986!) and I just cannot speak highly enough of how good the event was ...

... here's the BBC coverage of the Race Director's views: sums it all up for me.

Well done Yorkshire - they even carved their trees especially for the occasion ;-)

A truly terrific spectacle, all round.

Sunday, June 29, 2014

Ben Nevis weekend

Weekend spent up near Fort William, for one of our Annual get-togethers ... managed to get 22 folk to the top, and the views on the way down were just marvellous :-)
Great weekend had by all.

Sunday, June 22, 2014

June Leader's Report

Leader's Report

June 2014

   Cllr. Andrew Burns
Leader of the City of Edinburgh

Last month I welcomed the proposal to establish a multi-agency working group, including parents' groups and other relevant agencies, to consider Dame Elish Angiolini's recommendations into practices at Mortonhall Crematorium.
The group, chaired by the Chief Executive, has now produced a detailed action plan for consideration at next week's special council meeting.

The willingness of all the participants, especially the parent representatives, to work together has been to their immense credit and the publication of the plan is testament to their hard work over the last month.

It also marks a significant step forward to ensuring that the highest possible standards are adhered to at Mortonhall and that nothing like this can be allowed to happen again.


Trams are go
It's hard to believe that Edinburgh's new trams have only been taking passengers for close to three weeks; they already feel like an integral part of our public transport system.

The launch day on 31 May got things off to a very encouraging start, with crowds of passengers thronging the route to try the trams out firsthand and taking 'selfies' on board to capture their experiences. It's been great to see how quickly residents and visitors have embraced tram travel and we expect the trams to really come into their own as the busy tourist and festivals season gets under way this summer.

However, we mustn't miss the opportunity to learn essential lessons from what has gone wrong during the project. The Council welcomes the announcement of the inquiry by Lord Hardie and we are prepared to provide whatever information and assistance we can to support it.

Jimmy McIntosh MBE
It was with great sadness that I learned of the death of Jimmy McIntosh earlier this month.

Jimmy spent his life fighting tirelessly for the rights of disabled people, not just in Edinburgh, but nationally and abroad. He was instrumental in fighting for accessible transport and was an active campaigner against bullying and hate crime, joining councillors and police officers in 2009 to set up the 'Take control against hate crime' forum.

Jimmy landed many accolades and awards over the years, including the MBE in 2006, while he was also named Scotland's charity champion in 2010 by the Scottish Council for Voluntary Organisations.

Typhoon Haiyan
When Typhoon Haiyan struck the Philippines in November, leaving a terrible trail of devastation in its wake, a major international aid effort was required and, as chair of the Edinburgh Disaster Response Committee, I called on residents to donate via local relief agency, Mercy Corps.

I'm pleased to report that, thanks to your generosity, they were able to rush immediate assistance - food, shelter, water and clothing - to families in the hardest-hit areas. In the seven months since, the team have delivered funds to 140,000 people, helping them to purchase the goods they need to recover and rebuild.

You can find out more about their continuing response from the Mercy Corps website.

Countdown to Glasgow
Excitement in the city is building ahead of the Commonwealth Games following the visit of the Queen's Baton last weekend.

I was delighted the people of Edinburgh got right behind the relay, with thousands taking to the streets to cheer on the arrival of the baton and to take part in a series of Council organised events along the length of the route. It really was a tremendous advert for Edinburgh - and for the Games.

The baton also visited the Royal Commonwealth Pool, which closes its doors to the public today in order to prepare for the Glasgow 2014 diving competitions, when Edinburgh will become the only city in the world to host Commonwealth Games events for a third time.

And finally...
I promise this will be the last time I mention the marathon! But I wanted to thank everyone who took the opportunity to sponsor me and to remind those that haven't that my justgiving page stays open for another couple of months.

I'm over 70% of the way towards my £5,000 fundraising target for Venture Scotland, who run an outdoor-based personal development programme for young people who face complex and difficult problems.

I managed to complete the course in one piece, beating my personal target time of 4 hours 50 minutes (just!), making good on my 30-year wager with my Dad. Never has a pint tasted so sweet!

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Saturday, June 21, 2014

June Full Council Meeting

The June Full Council Meeting is this coming Thursday (26th) ...

... all the reports are now up on Committee Papers On-Line (CPOL) and you can access the main agenda/s directly here; and each of the individual reports separately via these two links:

- 10am meeting
- 1pm meeting

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, June 12, 2014

Tynecastle High School Fair + BAKE OFF !!

--- is this SATURDAY 14th JUNE 2014, 12-3 PM
There will be lots going on to appeal to the whole family including:
  • cafe area with hotdogs
  • smoothies
  • scones
  • bands/busking 
  • fencing taster sessions
  • sponge the teacher/pupil 
  • hook the duck
  • coconut shy 
  • plants 
  • bicycle servicing for £5
  • green team
  • bric a brac 
  • beat the goalie 
  • face painting 
  • nail bar
  •  and raffle etc.

    And - a BAKE OFF !!

Enter your cakes

12-12:15 Saturday 14th June

at Tynecastle High School

Our home baking stall would welcome any contributions and we also have a BAKE OFF competition with 2 categories and prizes for which you can enter:

  • a single cake of any size to be judged on DESIGN;
  • cake/tray bake/cup cakes to be judged on TASTE (needs to be sufficient quantity to provide lots of small tastes for multiple judges)
Bring your Bake Off entries along on the day between 12 and 12:15pm; please see our entry form on the parent council page of the Tynecastle school website:


2014 Tynecastle Bake Off Competition

General Rules
1.     Entry is open to everyone: adults, students and primary pupils.
2.     Drop off your cake(s) at the Bake Off Stall at Tynecastle High School on Saturday 14th June between 12:00 and 12:15 pm.
3.     You may enter as many cakes as you like but please fill out a separate form for each entry specifying whether you are entering the design or taste competition.
4.     Cakes should be home-made, please use fresh ingredients and remember they will all be eaten so make them in hygienic conditions! Decorations should also be edible but can be shop bought.
5.     Cakes will be judged and winners announced on the day.  In the event of a tie, the headmaster (or deputy) has the casting vote.
6.     Please label any containers (e.g. cake tin) you wish to collect later.  Containers without labels may be used for transporting cakes bought at the fair.
7.     Any questions on the rules of the competition, please contact Sue (, 07824449265).

There are a few additional rules specific to the Design and Taste categories:

Design Competition
1.     Enter a single cake of any size, in any shape or size (i.e. from cupcake to gateau).
2.     Cakes will be judged on design and will not be cut for tasting but will be handed over to the home baking stall or auctioned after the competition.

Taste Competition
1.     Enter a batch of identical cupcakes or slices of tray bake, or a large cake (eg. Fruit loaf or Victoria sandwich).
2.     There needs to be sufficient quantity for approximately 32 judges to try a small taste of the entry (e.g. we suggest a cake based on 8 oz/250 g of margarine, sugar and flour and 4 eggs).
3.     Surplus cake will be sold at the home baking stall!

Happy baking!


Sadly, I'll miss all this as I'll be stuck at a Councillor-conference in Stirling ...
... oh joy :-(

Friday, June 06, 2014

Corporate, Policy and Strategy Committee next Tuesday

June's Corporate Policy and Strategy Committee takes place next Tuesday 10th ...

... all the papers are now in the public domain: the main Agenda can be found here - and the B Agenda here ---

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

Reports that may well attract some attention and debate:

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

Sunday, June 01, 2014

That was the week, that was ;-)

I don't usually do this ... but it's been quite a week, so here's a quick pictorial record ;-)


I blogged about this on the evening of 25th - you can see the post here ...

... I'm still somewhat over-the-moon at having completed 26.2miles, in 4hrs.49mins., in my 50th-year!

Life in the old-dog yet :-)


Again, I couldn't resist blogging this picture on Monday night ...

... the pint-and-a-fiver that I'd waited 30-years for - and had to run a Marathon to receive!

Best pint ever :-))



Full Council week, this week - as mentioned in an earlier post - and that always means a Group Meeting on the Tuesday evening.

Just couldn't stop myself from taking my Marathon medal, and Garmin watch, into work so that I could show a few colleagues!


What can I say - glad this didn't happen last Wednesday before I had to run that Edinburgh Marathon ...

... but cycling home this evening - in the pouring rain - had a bit of a nasty tumble, with the road-surface coming off better than my nose :-(

Here's the gory-outcome, prior to the application of copious make-up :-((


Full Council today - not a day I can relax; with lots of interest in the Leader's Report as usual ... with plenty of questions from all sides of the Chamber.

Face still pretty sore from yesterday :-(


Even with the sore face, it's Friday now and I just had to smile ;-)

Significant day for Edinburgh - after years of disruption, and acknowledged hardship for many - the Edinburgh Tram was given a soft Press-launch ...

... this is my first ever selfie (honest!) on my inaugural tram trip - just passing St. John's Church at the West End of Princes Street.


First fare-paying passengers on the tram - from 5am this morning ...

... I didn't attempt that, but here I am at the Saughton Halt, on my way home from a friend's 50th Birthday celebration ;-)

Platinum ticket in-hand!


It's Sunday - so it must be the annual "Kirking of the City of Edinburgh Council" ...

... as friends and colleagues know, I'm not that religious - but do try and attend this Service, and the Remembrance Sunday Service, each year!

What a week.