- lots of general produce (as per the snap on the left)
- giant broad-beans (as below left)
- giant sunflowers (as below right)
We really must go away more often ;-)
In memory of Jo Cox
Yesterday's vote was, of course, horribly overshadowed by the murder of Labour MP, Jo Cox. I didn't personally know Jo, but had heard quite a bit about her through several mutual MP acquaintances.
Every single word I heard was positive, and it's obvious that Jo was a compassionate, public-spirited internationalist who made a massive impact on all those she met.
I'm certain I speak for the whole Council when I say my heart goes out to her close family and friends. All our thoughts are with them at this difficult time.
Independent inquiry chair announced
I'm sure everyone will be pleased to hear that the Chief Executive has appointed respected construction and procurement industry expert, John Cole, to lead the independent inquiry into school closures.
It is expected that the inquiry will commence in the early autumn once the schools are fully open and the contractual position with ESP has been concluded. The terms of reference have been agreed between the Chief Executive, the Council's Corporate Policy & Strategy Committee and John himself.
I am also pleased to report that five of our schools have opened earlier than expected, with the result that close to 5,000 pupils are now back in their own schools. According to Edinburgh Schools Partnership's programme of works, the remainder are scheduled to reopen in time for the start of next term on 17 August. Weekly updates will be available from the council website over the summer.
City Region Deal
Following the Chancellor's budget announcement in March, discussions are ongoing with the UK and Scottish Governments on securing a City Region Deal for Edinburgh. The deal contains proposals to accelerate growth in Scotland's capital city and wider regional economy that will benefit Scottish and UK economies while tackling inequalities and deprivation.
The proposals are being shaped around four interconnected programmes: innovation hubs; infrastructure investment; a regional housing programme; and cultural tourism investment.
Working in partnership with stakeholders in the business and academic communities is going to be crucial to the bid's success. The region's universities and colleges are at the heart of the bid development and I am delighted that to date over 300 businesses are now supporting it.
Keeping to our pledges
This month we will receive our six-monthly update on the progress of the 53 Capital Coalition pledges, which were established in 2012 to reflect our commitment to serving the city.
I'm pleased to see that we are making good progress on a number of key pledges, including our approach to financial planning, resolving issues around the Council's property services and investment in our schools.
However, we know there is still room for improvement, and we have every intention of focusing our efforts on priority areas over the coming months to ensure our pledges remain on track.
Social enterprises making their mark
I have just read Edinburgh Social Enterprise Network's Mapping Edinburgh's social enterprise sector in 2015 report, which details how the sector is growing and developing in the capital.
Over the last two years the number of social enterprises, which focus on social and environmental benefits, has shot up from 120 to more than 200, involving more than 8000 staff and volunteers and turning over £120m a year, compared to £44m in 2013.
This is fantastic news for such a worthwhile cause, and I look forward to working closely with the city's flourishing social entrepreneurs to enhance Edinburgh's services, communities and environment for everyone.
Edinburgh's Third Sector is hugely diverse, consisting of charities, community groups, social enterprises and voluntary organisations. These can be made up of paid staff and volunteers or completely run by volunteers whatever meets the needs of the organisation.
Did you know, there are around 4,000 organisations in the sector in Edinburgh with an income £2.15 billion delivering everything from walking groups to drug and alcohol support? Sixty per cent of organisations focus on prevention work, such as keeping people out of hospital and supporting young people and families.
If you're interested in finding out more about the Third Sector in Edinburgh, I'd recommend downloading Compact Voice 2015/16.
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Scottish Cup success for Hibs
It's something that fans have dreamed about for decades - even generations - and Hibs' prayers were finally answered on Saturday 21 May with a dramatic 3-2 victory over Rangers in the Scottish Cup final.
After such a long wait, this was surely one of the most exhilarating occasions in the Easter Road club's history and the joy and jubilation that greeted the team's victory bus as it journeyed down to Leith the following day will live long in the memory.
Huge congratulations to everyone at the club for bringing the Scottish Cup home to the Capital and bringing their 114 year wait to an end.
Congratulations also to Edina Hibs Community Football Club Under 15's, who won the Scottish Cup against Hutchison Vale in an all Edinburgh final. Edina didn't have to wait quite as long for their victory as their older counterparts, having won twice in the past three years.
Make your vote countIt may feel like the Scottish Parliament Election is just behind us, but we're already counting down to the next big vote - the EU Referendum. It is thanks to our excellent team of elections staff that the vote on 5 May went so smoothly, and I'd like to pay tribute to their hard work and dedication throughout the build-up and on polling day.
Now the team is gearing up again, with a matter of weeks until the EU Referendum, and I hope you are thinking about your own part. You must be registered to vote, and the deadline to do this is 7 June. Anyone who has moved house or changed name since last registering should update their details, and can find out how to do this, and where and when to vote, on our website.
Of course, one outcome from that long May night in Ingliston was particularly successful for one of my council colleagues, Jeremy Balfour, who was elected on to the Lothian List as a Conservative MSP. Congratulations, Jeremy.
School closuresThree of our schools - Oxgangs, St Peters and Braidburn - welcomed back pupils this week, which is obviously a great relief to affected parents and staff.
Our priority has always been the safety of pupils and staff, which is why we havepublished letters from ESP and their contractors on our website confirming the schools are ready to reopen. I am sure parents will take comfort from the level of rigour which we have applied and insisted upon throughout.
We will continue to keep parents informed about the remaining programme of works.
Tram satisfaction on the upThe latest survey of UK tram services has revealed that Edinburgh Trams' customers are 'very satisfied' with the operator - great news for the service, which is clearly going from strength to strength.
This result, which showed satisfaction with Edinburgh Trams as 5% higher than the UK tram operator average, is testament to the hard work of Edinburgh Trams' staff, who should be proud to have achieved such impressive passenger satisfaction ratings each year.
There is no doubt the public have taken to the tram service since its launch in 2014, with well over 5 million customers boarding in the last calendar year.
Summertime and the browsing is easyLook out for free WiFi in the city centre this summer. We have just agreed to a 10-year concession contract with intechnologyWiFi, which includes improved mobile coverage. Residents and visitors will be able to enjoy free, high-speed internet connectivity, 24/7.
This contract is central to our plans for growing the city's economy and encouraging residents and visitors to stay longer and increase their spend. Users will also benefit from savings to their mobile data plans, by being able to access the internet at no cost, and without restrictions on time, while on the go.
intechnologyWiFi is installing and operating the WiFi network at no cost to the council, and has been granted exclusive use of our street furniture and properties to help with this process. A map of the planned coverage area and FAQs about the service is available from our website.
Paving the way for 20mphEdinburgh is the first city in Scotland implementing a citywide 20mph network. Residents have expressed support for the new limit, which aims to reduce the risk and severity of road collisions, encourage travel on foot and by bike and help make the city's streets more people-friendly.
Approximately 50% of Edinburgh's residential streets are already in 20mph zones. The project extends the 20mph speed limit to the city centre, main shopping streets and residential areas while retaining a strategic network of roads at 30mph and 40mph.
The phased roll out of the 20mph network is planned over 18 months. Phase one covers the city centre and rural west Edinburgh, with the installation of signs and lines commencing at the beginning of June. The new speed limit for this first phase becomes effective on 31 July. A map of the 20mph network and implementation timetable is available from our website.
Battle of Jutland commemorationsAlmost a century ago, close to 9,000 British and German lives were lost at sea during the biggest maritime clash of WW1 - the Battle of Jutland.
Edinburgh and Fife will tomorrow (28 May) come together to mark the centenary of this tragic chapter in Scottish history. The Lord Provost will join HRH The Princess Royal, the First Minister, veterans and sea cadets at a remembrance service in South Queensferry Scottish War Graves Commission's Cemetery where 40 casualties from the battle are commemorated or buried.
While it will certainly be a time for reflection, the communities will ensure the day is also a celebration of the people of Queensferry and Rosyth. You can head along to the Hawes Pier to take in a naval parade, beat the retreat and to see a brightly painted dazzle ship anchored in the Forth. Find out more at ww100.com.