Sunday, May 24, 2015

Allotment peas

Managed to snatch a bit of time at our Allotment earlier this afternoon ... more planting (peas in this picture) completed - but still quite a bit of digging/clearing to be finished!

But, nevertheless - now all in:

- potatoes
- broad beans
- onions
- spinach
- peas

Saturday, May 23, 2015

May Leader's Report

May 2015

New Chief Executive appointment 


Andrew Burns
I am delighted to announce that Andrew Kerr is our preferred candidate to replace Sue Bruce as Chief Executive.

It was essential we chose the right calibre of person for this important and challenging leadership role and we ran a rigorous, competitive recruitment process with a strong field of candidates.

Currently Chief Executive of Cornwall Council, Andrew will bring a wealth of local government experience and enthusiasm at a time when we face many unprecedented challenges and opportunities. I am confident that his energy and drive will play a central role in shaping the continued success of Edinburgh as a 21st century capital city.

Following approval at next Thursday's council meeting, Andrew will take up his post later this year with the exact date to be confirmed in due course.

Councillor Andrew Burns
Leader of the
City of Edinburgh Council


Stability restored at Lothian Buses

I am also pleased to announce the appointment of several new non-executive board members to Transport for Edinburgh, Lothian Buses and Edinburgh Trams, for which the Council is majority shareholder.

While recent issues at management level within Lothian Buses have caused uncertainty, we welcome the results of KPMG's independent report, which demonstrates that the Council acted consistently and in accordance with the proper governance procedures in dealing with the situation.

I am confident that the latest appointments to the board will now allow us to look to the future of public transport in Edinburgh, building on the work of outgoing Chair, Tony Depledge, to ensure stable and effective management, and providing the first-class, integrated service the city deserves.


Election success

I want to put on record my thanks to Sue Bruce, in her final stint as Returning Officer, and her team in delivering yet another slick and efficient election on 7 and 8 May. It doesn't take a mathematical genius to work out that the smooth-running of such an event is a massive undertaking and involves a huge effort by many hundreds of dedicated public servants over a number of weeks and months.

It was a real pleasure to have the count in the EICC for the first time and I have heard many comments from fellow politicians, the media and our own staff about how impressed they were with the facilities.

My congratulations also to my coalition colleague and Deputy Lord Provost, Deidre Brock, in becoming the MP for Edinburgh North & Leith, a constituency I am sure she will represent extremely well in Westminster.


Nepal earthquake

Shortly after my last Leader's Report, Nepal was struck by a devastating earthquake followed by a second one, almost as severe, ten days ago.

Since the initial quake and the humanitarian crisis it caused, we have been working closely with our aid partner, Mercy Corps. Our actions have included a candle-lit vigil led by the Lord Provost, turning the Melville monument red (the colour of the Nepalese flag) to promote the appeal as well as work with schools and charitable street collections.

Mercy Corps' hard work continues in Nepal; focusing on reaching people in parts of the country so far overlooked and ensuring they get much needed clothing, food and hygiene supplies. You can read more about the work in Nepal and make a donation to support the ongoing relief effort on Mercy Corps' website.


Housing development sails off with top award

Well done to all involved in The Sailmaker Apartments project in Leith, which was awarded Best Partnership in Affordable Housing at the prestigious Homes For Scotland Awards 2015.

The development, consisting of 145 affordable homes, was built through the National Housing Trust scheme in a partnership between the Council, Scottish Futures Trust, Hillcrest Housing Association, Cruden and Rettie and Co.

Also commended in the same category was Merchant's Court in Liberton and the Greendykes C development in Craigmillar, both of which delivered much-needed social rent and mid-market rent properties.


Volunteering champions

Edinburgh wouldn't be the city it is without its army of volunteers, working tirelessly to support the homeless, vulnerable, young, elderly and disabled.

Every year, we get the opportunity to thank this community at the Volunteer Awards, organised by the Volunteer Centre Edinburgh and presented by our volunteer ambassador, the Lord Provost.

This year's awards will also feature our new Honour Board, a lasting tribute to those who receive the Lord Provost's Inspiring Volunteer of the Year Award each year. This will be unveiled at a special ceremony on 3 June as part of National Volunteer Week.


No place for intolerance

In many countries around the world, lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender (LGBT) people are still subject to ostracisation, imprisonment and execution merely for whom they love. Although Scotland has made progress towards equality, there remains much work to be done.

Last Monday, 17 May, was International Day Against Homophobia and Transphobia and, to mark this, LGBT Youth Scotland launched a new report on Life in Scotland for LGBT Young People (aged 13-25), focusing on their social experiences and acceptance in their families and wider communities.

While the research does demonstrate progress here, it does also show that many LGBT young people still face high levels of discrimination and experience barriers to feeling included.


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The City of Edinburgh Council

Friday, May 22, 2015

May Council Meeting

Council business now fully back in post-election mode ... and the regular May Council Meeting is coming up - next Thursday (28th) ...

... 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!

Sunday, May 10, 2015

Allotment-therapy ;-)

A bit of post-election therapy at the Allotment this afternoon ...

... it's always such a haven of tranquility :-)

Pond-area starting to get going, as you can see - and contains lots of tadpoles already!

And plenty of veg. now planted:

- potatoes
- broad beans
- onions
- peas
- spinach

... and much more to go in, over coming (hopefully, quieter) weeks!

Friday, May 08, 2015

Elections 2015

Count over - we've had better nights!

--- before some sleep; commiserations to:
@marklazarowicz @SheilaGilmoreMP @henderson_ricky @cllrcammyday

--- & many congratulations to:
@IanMurrayMP @DeidreBrock @TommySheppard @joannaccherry @MichelleThomson


Wednesday, May 06, 2015

May Corporate Policy and Strategy Committee

Despite the UK General Election - Local Government life goes on ...

... and May's "Corporate Policy and Strategy" Committee is next week; Tuesday 12th ...

... and all 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 ;-)

Tuesday, May 05, 2015

Commission on Local Tax Reform

General Election fever may be rife ... but important 'local government' events do carry on regardless!

And - thought I'd flag up that the 'Commission on Local Tax Reform' are now seeking evidence submissions: prior to deadline of Monday 22nd June ...

... some further detail as follows:

We're asking for your help...

We are an independent Commission that has been set up to look at ways of delivering a fairer system of local taxation in Scotland.  We want to begin our work by hearing your views about what happens now, and what the future might be.
Over the next few months we'll be using what you tell us to explore issues and develop ideas- so what you tell us now is very important.


You can take part in both, or choose the one that suits you best.  The important thing is that we hear from you by Monday 22 June.
Our Call for Written Evidence is the best way of sharing detailed information and suggestions with us. 

We’ve asked some questions, but if you'd prefer to send us other information, that's great too. 
Click here to get started
Even if you only have a few minutes to spare, you can still give us your views by using our quick online survey.  

It only takes 5 minutes to complete. 
Click here to get started


This is only our first step in listening to you.  Any information that you give us now will help start the debate, but we also want this to be an ongoing conversation. 

There's more information about the Commission and its work on our website.  You can also stay in touch by signing up to our mailing list and by following us on Twitter.

We'll also be setting up different ways in which you can meet us or tell us what you think. You may know other people who have something to say too.  Please share our details with them so that they can have their say. 


Tuesday, April 28, 2015

Remember true heroes of election

Had a short piece in yesterday's Evening News about the upcoming election ... totally a-political, I promise!

Link here - and I'll re-produce the text below:

Election heroes

As most readers will be only too aware, there are now less than 2-weeks left until what looks like will be the closest UK General Election for a generation.

Many residents may actually have already cast their vote, as one of the over 73,000 Edinburgh electors who now have a Postal-Vote? The total number of registered voters, for the whole of Edinburgh, is now over some 347,000 electors.

With a record General Election turnout forecast, it doesn’t take a mathematical genius to work out that the smooth-running of such an ‘election event’ is a massive undertaking and involves a huge effort by many hundreds of dedicated public servants.

And it’s those ‘election heroes’ --- I’m most certainly not talking about the politicians, or the political Parties here! --- but the many hundreds of public sector workers who make the election happen, that I feel rarely get the praise they deserve.

They make sure that the 145 polling places, right across the Capital City, are fully staffed from 7am through to 10pm on election-day, Thursday 7th May. Needless to say, many of them are there prior to 7am and beyond 10pm. And for the whole day, they guide electors through the process, and ensure all queries are answered politely and professionally.

That task, of itself, would be challenging enough --- a possible +80% turnout, at 145 polling places, of some 347,000 electors, for 15 solid hours …

… but after the polls close, yet more hundreds of mainly public sector staff will be at the Edinburgh International Conference Centre (EICC) to count all of the votes cast!

That process will go on, well into the early hours of the morning of Friday 8th May. Hundreds of thousands – literally! – of pieces of (very important!) paper need to be sorted, counted, verified and checked.

And many readers may well be aware that during that process, dozens of political Party Members (from across the political spectrum) will be carefully scrutinising what goes on – physically, looking right over the shoulders of the counting-staff. It’s a process which, as I’m sure you can imagine, does get tense.

Yet, in the numerous election counts I’ve attend throughout my 22-years in Edinburgh, I have never once – not once – heard a single complaint from a member of the counting staff about the detailed, and intense, scrutiny they come under? Indeed, I’m endlessly amazed at how calm, collected and polite they all are at 3am in the morning when someone asks them a vague and outlandish question about the process they’re undertaking!

And this year, as has infrequently happened in the past, the whole process could have to be repeated if one of the 5 Edinburgh constituency contests is close, and a re-count is required?

At the end of it all the results have to be agreed with the numerous political Parties taking part; they have to be announced publicly to the waiting media; and – crucially – the whole process has to be seen as fair, thorough and professional … and the result thus accepted by all concerned.

Frankly, I’m amazed that year after election-year … and we do have a lot of election years these days! … that outcome is successfully achieved; and a clear result, which is accepted as fair by all concerned, is arrived at in the morning after the polling places close.

So – please – when you cast your vote, do give thanks to the hundreds of public servants who make the whole process run so smoothly. Do reflect on the scale of what they undertake – both on polling day, and throughout the overnight count.

For, without a doubt, it’s those staff who are the real election heroes.

Cllr Andrew Burns
Leader of the City of Edinburgh Council

Monday, April 27, 2015

Allotment Update!

I've been a bit remiss, amidst all the General Election mania, about posting up some snaps of progress at the Allotment this season :-(

Well - regular readers will be relieved to know that the potatoes are actually planted; and you can see I've even gone for dreels this year :-)

Hopefully a few more snaps will follow after the 7th May!

Sunday, April 26, 2015

Lord Provost completes London Marathon

Lord Provost completes London Marathon

Lord Provost after completing the marathonLord Provost Donald Wilson finished the London Marathon in five hours and raised over £6,000 for local causes.
A relaxed Lord Provost after completing the marathon
This was his very first marathon having only taken up running last year. He completed the 26 miles in five hours two minutes and 50 seconds and raised money for the following causes:
  • The One City Trust Rapid Action Fund is the Lord Provost’s local charity and aims to fight inequality. It supports a variety of community-based charities and organisations by providing emergency funds and resources, and has helped a host of causes from breakfast clubs to foodbanks, and social clubs for elderly residents.
  • The Jamie Skinner Foundation will help provide defibrillators in Edinburgh communities and training in their use.

He said: "I did it! What a fantastic day and I’m so thankful for all of the support. I think I’m Edinburgh’s first Provost to complete a marathon and I am proud that I’ve managed to raise so much money for local charities. It was certainly a challenge but one I worked hard to achieve.

"It was never about completing the marathon in a set time -  I just wanted to reach the finishing line! But in the end, with the adrenaline flowing, I managed it in my best time yet. It has been absolutely worth it but I am now looking forward to putting my feet up!”

You can still sponsor Donald via this link ;-)

Saturday, April 25, 2015

Pedal on Parliament #POP2015

Made it along to my second, Pedal on Parliament event today and was very impressed (once again!) with the turnout.

--- some four to five thousand cyclists, I'd say?

& also the generally smooth organisation of the whole day :-)

I know that doesn't happen by accident, and the organising-team deserve huge congratulations for their efforts!

Picture on the left is of my arrival at the Harrison Park (Shandon) feeder-ride

And, on the right here, you can see my bike back at home still displaying the 'Harrison Park Feeder Ride' flag(s) ...

Behind it all, is an 8-point manifesto, which you can read via here --- and I'll also repeat the main points below:

1)    Proper funding for cycling.
2)    Design cycling into Scotland’s roads.
3)    Safer speeds where people live, work and play
4)    Integrate cycling into local transport strategies
5)    Sensible road traffic law and enforcement
6)    Reduce the risk of HGVs to cyclists and pedestrians
7)    A strategic programme of road user training
8)    Solid research on cycling to support policy-making

All eminently sensible; but I do acknowledge that whilst the City of Edinburgh Council is making good progress in all eight areas, there is much, much more to do.

Friday, April 24, 2015

April Leader's Report

April 2015

Residents get some satisfaction


Andrew Burns
The results of our annual residents' survey continue to offer encouragement and reassurance that, broadly speaking, residents believe we are managing their city well.

According to the 2014 Edinburgh People survey, the largest of its kind in the UK, over three-quarters of residents are satisfied with the way we are managing neighbourhoods. Nine in ten, meanwhile, are satisfied with Edinburgh as a place to live, with two-thirds expressing satisfaction with the Council's management of the city overall.

That said, given a backdrop of falling budgets and greater demand for our services, it is hardly surprising that some are performing less well - particularly those areas, such as refuse collection and recycling, currently undergoing significant changes to delivery.

But through this survey, and our extensive budget consultation, we are listening to what residents are telling us - and acting on their feedback.

Councillor Andrew Burns
Leader of the City of Edinburgh

Mikaeel Kular case review


Last January, we had to face the outcome that everyone dreaded, namely that Mikaeel Kular had not been found safe and well. It was a tragic situation and, although over a year has now passed, our thoughts are with his family and friends still struggling to come to terms with the circumstances surrounding his death.

We shouldn't forget the incredible show of community spirit in North Edinburgh following Mikaeel's disappearance, with hundreds of volunteers giving up their time to join the search. It was extremely moving and inspiring to see the community pull together like that and I know that spirit remains strong today.

While the independent case review, a summary of which was published this week, is clear that Mikaeel's death could not have been foreseen, it is vital that all agencies involved read and digest everything in the report.

City Deal for Edinburgh


I am delighted to be working with our five neighbouring local authorities to pursue a deal for the Edinburgh and South East Scotland City Region.

In creating this fund, and unlocking billions of pounds of potential infrastructure investment, we want to build on our strengths whilst tackling persistent pockets of inequality and other constraints that threaten to hold the region back.

We have written collectively to the UK and Scottish Governments seeking their agreement to develop a more detailed proposition, which we hope to finalise by the end of the year.

Election countdown


With less than a fortnight to go until the General Election, preparations are well underway to ensure the process is as smooth and efficient as possible across Edinburgh's five Westminster constituencies.

As 67,000 postal votes hit residents' doormats earlier this week, around 900 presiding officers and their assistants were receiving the training required to run the city's 145 polling places, open for voting between 7am and 10pm on 7 May.

As per the Referendum last September, the eyes of the UK (if not necessarily the world this time!) will be on Scotland, and Edinburgh, and we want to ensure that, once again, we give them the best possible view. Media interest is already hotting up and I have no doubt that our new count venue, the Edinburgh International Conference Centre, will allow us to do just that.

Awards success


Congratulations to the staff of Willow - a ground breaking partnership that provides support to women in the criminal justice system - on being awarded the prestigious COSLA Gold Award for tackling inequalities and improving health.

A background of offending can permanently stigmatise people and Willow is doing vital work to help reduce reoffending and help service users build better futures.

Meanwhile, the Council's Commercial Excellence programme collected an award for innovation, improvement and best practice at the recent CIPFA awards. The fact that the judging panel included the Auditor General demonstrates just how far the procurement team has come over the last two years.

Marathon Man


And finally an appeal on behalf of our Lord Provost, Donald Wilson, who is running the London Marathon this Sunday, 26 April. This will be his first ever marathon, having only taken up running last year.

Donald is running in order to raise funds for two local and very worthwhile charities, both of which are very close to his heart: The One City Trust and Jamie Skinner Foundation. Please support him and these worthy causes by giving what you can.

Having run my last (ever!) marathon a year ago, I can assure you he deserves every penny!

Stay in the picture


Keep yourself in the picture with our news section online. Watch live full Council and some committee meetings on our webcast. Join the debate on Twitter #edinwebcast

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April Council Meeting

General Election fever may be gripping most of the country - but Council business continues as normal!

The regular April Council Meeting is coming up - next Thursday (30th) ... 

... 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, April 23, 2015

2-weeks to go until Polling Day!

Only 2-weeks to go ... everything you need to know about where, when and how to vote can be found here; and here's a link to a handy fact-sheet with all the relevant information in one place!