Sunday, July 24, 2016

Allotment-bonanza :-)

Due to the recent holiday-period; our Allotment-visit earlier this afternoon was actualy our first for nearly a month ... but great results from a few hours hard labour:

- 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 ;-)

Saturday, July 23, 2016

Holiday over - back in Edinburgh :-)

Well - that's our 'Summer 2016' holiday over ... and we're safely back in the Capital this morning ;-)

Family has had a marvellous couple of weeks down in Newcastle; and then on Lindisfarne (Holy Island).

The weather was really remarkable; and here are a couple of quick snaps - one on the left from Ouseburn in Newcastle; and the one below from the North-shore of Holy Island ...

... why would anyone want to jet-off abroad when all of this is virtually on our doorstep ;-)

More seriously: rather unsurprisingly, I'm a bit awash with messages (via e-mail and on all forms of social media); so do please bear with me for a couple of days whilst I catch up ... I will aim to have replied to everything by Monday evening.


Thursday, June 30, 2016

Summer is here ... temporarily off-air!

Summer is here - well, the holiday period is anyhow ;-)

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

... and I'm afraid 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 (signal permitting!) - but, in the nicest possible way, I hope not to hear from too many folk ;-)

Normal service will resume around Monday 25th July.


Friday, June 24, 2016

June Leader's Report


June 2016

EU Referendum

Andrew Burns
Following a long and hard-fought campaign, the people of the United Kingdom have spoken and expressed their collective wish to leave the European Union.

As Council Leader, my primary concern will continue to be ensuring the best possible quality of life for all the residents of Edinburgh. And, unquestionably, maintaining close cooperation with both the Scottish and UK Governments will remain an essential element in achieving that goal.

There is just no doubt that it's been a busy few years for Scottish voters, now having been to the polls for the fifth time in a little over two years. And so, I'm pleased that so many people turned out to have their say on this pivotal decision - 73% here in Edinburgh. The Scottish Parliament Election had only just taken place when the countdown began for the EU Referendum, and it's heartening to see so many of our citizens participating in the democratic process.

It's down to the Edinburgh Elections Team, and everyone else who supports the process, that these events run so smoothly, and I would like to thank them once again for all their hard work.

Councillor Andrew Burns
Leader of the City of Edinburgh
Council

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.


Compact Voice

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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The City of Edinburgh Council



June 30th Full Council Meeting

European Referendum might only 'just' be over, but Council business continues apace ....

...the second, of two, Full Council Meetings in June; is now coming up fast - takes place at 10am 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!


Edinburgh's EU Referendum results published

Edinburgh's EU Referendum results


The EU Referendum results for Edinburgh’s five constituencies have been announced at the Meadowbank Sports Centre.
74% of Edinburgh voters chose to remain in the European Union, with a 73% turnout for the city. Results for each constituency are listed in full below and full details of the results are on the Council website: 
Edinburgh results by constituency
East constituency: 44,020 votes - 72% remain (31,821 votes); 28% leave (12,153 votes)
North & Leith constituency: 57,099 votes - 78% remain (44,618); 22% leave (12,435 votes)
South constituency: 47,649 votes - 78% remain (37,069 votes); 22% leave (10,549 votes)
South West constituency: 50,308 votes - 72% remain (36,269 votes); 28% leave (14,008 votes)
West constituency: 53,405 votes - 71% remain (38,019 votes); 29% leave (15,353 votes)
Counting Officer Andrew Kerr announced the results in the early hours of Friday, 24 June.
He said: “It’s been great to see so many people turn out to have their say in the EU referendum, demonstrating how keen the Edinburgh public are to take part in the democratic process.
“It is with credit to the hard work of many Council staff, particularly the Election Team, that this vote has run so smoothly, and I would like to take this opportunity to thank all those involved.”
Turnout: 74%
Electorate: 346,073
Votes cast: 252,481
Votes to remain in the EU: 187,796; Votes to leave the EU: 64,498
This year more than 550 people worked at the election count at the Meadowbank Sports Centre, while a further 650 worked during the day at the city's 145 polling places. 
For further details of the results and the EU Referendum, please see the Elections section of the Council website.

Thursday, June 23, 2016

PLEASE DO VOTE today - Polls open until 10pm

I've just voted to in the European Union ...

...however you intend to vote; PLEASE DO VOTE!

Polls are open until 10pm
- more detail via this link:




Saturday, June 18, 2016

Edinburgh Canal Festival



Edinburgh Canal Festival earlier today, and with thanks to Re-Union Canal Boats I actually got to go *under*
the "Leamington Lift Bridge" :-))





... and there was plenty of other activities to keep the whole family happy - and the sun even shone!

Huge thanks to all the volunteers who make this annual event happen - a really wonderful day in the local calendar :-)


Friday, June 17, 2016

Venture Scotland is looking for new Trustees

Do you have something to give?

Venture Scotland is a well-established charity which provides outdoor-based personal development courses for the most disadvantaged and vulnerable young people of Scotland. We have ambitious plans to grow the charity so that, each year, more young people can benefit from what Venture Scotland has to offer.

As a result of succession planning and natural turnover, we are looking to bring new and fresh talent onto the board. If you have an interest in the development of young people and recognise that the most vulnerable in society need a helping hand to make the right decisions and think that you can help shape a charity that makes a real difference to young lives, then think about becoming a Charity Trustee.

Having conducted a skills audit, we have identified areas where we think we need more representation. If you have connections with local authority, youth work, Scottish Government, higher education, if you have run a business or have achieved a senior position in an organisation or you have a passion for helping disadvantaged young people, you may have something to give.

Commitment from a Trustee would involve up to ten meetings a year (mostly in Edinburgh and Glasgow), including regular board, sub-committee and ad-hoc meetings, attendance at the AGM and all the reading and preparation required for these meetings. In addition, you would be expected to advocate for Venture Scotland among your professional or business contacts and perform an ambassadorial role. All this is easy if you have passion!

We are committed to improving equality and diversity and would welcome applications from minority groups. The Board will apply a rigorous and transparent procedure for the appointment of new Trustees and you will receive comprehensive and tailored induction.

If you are interested, please submit your CV and a short statement of what you believe you can bring to our Board Friday 22nd July to:

Stuart Marsden, Chair
Venture Scotland
Offices 1&2
4 Norton Park
Edinburgh, EH7 5RS

Please feel free to contact CEO Tam Hendry at tam.hendry@venturescotland.org.uk
or call 0131 661 6786 for more information.


School Closures - independent inquiry Chair announced

Confirmation today of the Chair, for the School Closures Independent Inquiry ...

... details here, and also posted below:


Chair of independent inquiry into school closures announced


The City of Edinburgh Council has confirmed that respected construction and procurement industry expert John Cole CBE will lead the independent inquiry into Edinburgh’s school closures.
With a 30 year career in public service, John, an architect by profession, has specialised in seeking to improve the quality of design, procurement and construction of new buildings in the public sector.  In so doing he has been responsible for the development, dissemination and implementation of a series of innovative and highly successful procurement models.

Major infrastructure projects with which he is currently involved include the delivery of a new £180m educational campus to provide six secondary schools on a single shared site in Omagh and the development of a new £600m paediatric hospital in Dublin. In both cases he was appointed by the respective Ministers in Northern Ireland and the Republic of Ireland to bring his expertise to these innovative and complex projects.

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(external link)have been agreed between the Chief Executive, the Council’s Corporate Policy & Strategy Committee and John Cole. 

Chief Executive Andrew Kerr said: “I am pleased to have brought on board an expert of John’s calibre to head this independent inquiry as he commands respect in both construction and procurement fields.

“His track record speaks for itself and I am sure parents and everyone else who has been affected by the issues over the past five months will take comfort from the extensive knowledge and experience that John brings to the role.

“The clear and thorough terms of reference set out exactly what we are aiming to achieve through this inquiry. We want to find out what went wrong with these schools and are determined to see what lessons can be learned, not just here in Edinburgh but across Scotland and the UK.”

It was announced earlier this week that four primary schools, Pirniehall, St David’s, Broomhouse and St Joseph’s, will now open on Monday 20 June – ahead of schedule. Pupils from Rowanfield School will also return earlier than planned on Monday 27 June.

This follows the 900 pupils from Oxgangs and St Peter’s Primary Schools and Braidburn School who returned to their own schools last month, followed by Firrhill High School, which completely reopened on schedule last week.

The remaining primary schools – Craigour Park, Forthview, Craigroyston and Castleview – will be handed back during the summer break, as will Craigmount, Gracemount, Drummond and Royal High Schools.  

Wednesday, June 15, 2016

Further Edinburgh Schools Update

Following my brief post earlier in the week - a further Schools Update is now up on the Council's website here, and also follows below:

---

1,000 more pupils back to school before the end of term


One thousand pupils are returning to school earlier than planned after the latest programme of remedial works was submitted to the City of Edinburgh Council by the Edinburgh Schools Partnership.
The announcement today revealed that four primary schools, Pirniehall, St David’s, Broomhouse and St Joseph’s, will now open on Monday 20 June – ahead of schedule. Pupils from Rowanfield School will also return earlier than planned on Monday 27 June
This follows the 900 pupils from Oxgangs and St Peter’s Primary Schools and Braidburn School who returned to their own schools last month, followed by Firrhill High School, which completely reopened on schedule last week.
This means that a  total of 4,600 pupils will have returned to their own schools before the end of the summer term.
The remaining primary schools, – Craigour Park, Forthview, Craigroyston and Castleview – will all be handed back during the summer break, as will Craigmount, Gracemount, Drummond and Royal High Schools.  Where there are opportunities for earlier re-opening, parents will be advised.
This means that all 17 affected schools will welcome back their pupils for the start of the new term on 17 August. All the new dates for the individual schools are on the Council website.
Council Leader Andrew Burns said: “We have continued to press the Edinburgh Schools Partnership to bring forward school reopening dates where possible so I’m pleased that we now have 1,000 pupils returning earlier than planned.
“Our priority has always been the safety of our pupils and staff and we have insisted that Edinburgh Schools Partnership and their contractors ensure that our schools are 100% safe to reopen.
“As with the schools that reopened last month, all of the relevant paperwork will be published on our website having been reviewed by an independent expert on behalf of the Council.
“I want again to thank parents for their patience and understanding and teaching staff for their commitment and flexibility during this difficult time.”
Correspondence from ESP and their contractors providing safety assurances will be published on the Council website before each school reopens.
The Council has confirmed that an independent inquiry into the school closures will commence after the summer holidays.

Monday, June 13, 2016

Edinburgh School Closures - weekly updates

I haven't put up a specific post about the current School Closures in Edinburgh for a few weeks ...

... but did just want to flag up that the 'programme of works' remains on track: an outline can be seen on the Council's main website via here --- and there is now also a very brief  'weekly update' being posted on the site - which you can see here & I'll also paste the main text below:

---

Update - 10 June 11.30am

Edinburgh Schools Partnership (ESP) and their contractors, Amey, are still working to the published programme of remedial works, updated most recently on 1 June.
We remain in regular contact and they assure us that good progress is being made across all sites. They are confident of handing the 13 schools back in enough time to allow all children to start the new term at their own schools.
We will continue provide updates on this page on at least a weekly basis over the summer – and as soon as new information becomes available.
---

Please do keep an eye on the Council's main site if you're interested in checking this weekly update over the summer-months ...

... and with many thanks again to all parents for their patience and understanding during this time.


Sunday, June 12, 2016

A New Deal for Scottish cities?

SCOTLAND’S SEVEN CITIES CALL FOR HISTORIC NEW POWERS TO SHAPE ECONOMIC FUTURE

THE local authority leaders of Scotland’s seven main cities have issued a collective call for a new working relationship with the UK and Scottish governments to allow them to reach their full economic potential.

In a report, ‘Empowering City Government’, the city leaders say only a fundamental shake-up of existing arrangements will allow them to “compete with other cities close to home and globally”.

The report points specifically to the challenges that Scottish cities face from their English counterparts who are “gaining a competitive advantage” as a result of their City Region and Devolution deals.

Such deals, the report says, provides them with the ability to form new working arrangements with key partners.

Scotland’s cities contribute more than half of Scotland’s GVA and provide more than 60 per cent of the workforce.

The city leaders have published a four-point plan which, if given the go-ahead, would see the councils secure historic new powers over tax, spending and the development of massive infrastructure projects.

In its blueprint for unprecedented change, the local authority leaders call for a new cross-city partnership with the likes of Transport Scotland with cities sharing in key policy decision-making.

The report also puts forward plans for closer working ties with other national infrastructure bodies, like Scottish Water and Zero Waste Scotland.

Leader of City of Edinburgh Council, Councillor Andrew Burns, said: 

“Scotland’s seven cities are committed to driving forward economic growth, so we can continue to promote ourselves on the international stage as attractive, modern places to invest and do carry out business with. The important research we have commissioned suggests that a new partnership is required if we are to reach our economic potential and meet the significant challenges that lie ahead.

“Fundamental to this new approach are a number of shared objectives which include improving connectivity and infrastructure, setting a diverse tax system across Scotland, improving our communities and a radical change to economic development. We firmly believe that by embracing these key changes we can ensure Scotland can compete economically with other cities close to home and globally.”

Councillor Burns said he wanted Scotland’s seven major cities – Glasgow, Edinburgh, Aberdeen, Dundee, Inverness, Perth and Stirling – to be given a clear, strategic role in directing investments to cities and city regions.

He said the new partnership would see local government, central government, national agencies and key business stakeholders working collaboratively to maximise the benefits from both local decision-making and joint working on prioritised national outcomes.

The city leaders said its agenda for greater growth would feed the country’s tax base and drive the Government’s economic vision for Scotland.

The plan calls for a new joined-up approach to foster enterprise and skills more effectively, and to be given a bigger say on migration policy in the context of supporting higher and further education.

And the city leaders also want a seat at the top table in the policy development and execution of new welfare powers, as well as more responsibility for creating polices around health and social care.

The group is calling for a meeting to discuss their proposals with both the Scottish and UK Governments at the earliest opportunity.

Councillor Burns continued: “We look forward to early discussions with both the Scottish and UK Governments to take this forward for the benefit of the whole of Scotland.”

The report, ‘Empowering City Government’, is available on the Scottish Cities Alliance website, www.scottishcities.org (directly via this link).

ENDS

Saturday, June 11, 2016

Can you help the Thistle Foundation ...

I mentioned a few months ago that my colleague, Maureen Child, was going to abseil off the Forth Rail Bridge for charity ...

... well, it's happening this weekend!, and there's still time to sponsor Maureen - who is raising monies for the wonderful Thistle Foundation : a charity with a 70 year tradition of pioneering support for people in need.

Hope you might be able to help - Maureen's sponsorship page is here ;-)

Thursday, June 09, 2016

June's Corporate Policy and Strategy Committee

All of the Reports are now published for June's "Corporate Policy and Strategy" Committee; it meets at 10am, next Tuesday 14th June.

All of the relevant paperwork is 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.

Some that may well be of interest:


And, of course, as usual the Policy and Strategy Committee meetings are webcast live - and thereafter archived!

All available via here --- it's TV; but not like you've ever seen before ;-)

Sunday, June 05, 2016

Allotment update!

I've had a particularly busy few days travelling ...

- Thursday/Friday down in Cardiff
- yesterday up in Dundee

... so, was a real pleasure to be able to spend several hours at The Allotment earlier this afternoon :-)

All now looking good - with more planting done:

- three types of beans
- more peas
- & cornflowers

... just a couple of half-beds left to plant out now.

And thought these 'Pink Oriental Poppies', that are now starting to flower, were looking really rather splendid:

Saturday, May 28, 2016

May/June Leader's Report

May 2016

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 count

It 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 closures

Three 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 up

The 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 easy

Look 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 20mph

Edinburgh 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 commemorations

Almost 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. 

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