Edinburgh's budget challenge
Doing the important things well
Very much with the above challenges in mind, 12 months ago councillors instructed our Chief Executive, Sue Bruce, to consider how we can improve performance, productivity and customer satisfaction.
In short, we don't have any choice; we must do things differently. Edinburgh is the fastest growing local authority area in Scotland and we are facing an ever increasing demand for our services against a backdrop of rising demand but stand-still or falling budgets.
Having established an overall approach to change in the council, Sue has now set out her vision for the future. Her report describes how we will plan to change the way we deliver services by focusing on priorities and outcomes in the city's neighbourhoods. This will allow us to deliver best value services for residents, reflect local needs and work together as efficiently as possible.
Edinburgh Befriending Consortium
My coalition colleague and Deputy Lord Provost, Deidre Brock, recently hosted the official launch of the Edinburgh Befriending Consortium (EBC) here in the City Chambers.
Made up of three organisations - CrossReach, The Broomhouse Centre and Children 1ST - the consortium provides much-needed support to young people who are affected by substance misuse in their family and who may be particularly isolated and unable to take part in activities.
Thanks to funding from Lloyds TSB Foundation for Scotland, Partnership Drugs Initiative, the Edinburgh Alcohol and Drugs Partnership and the Council, EBC is now on a much firmer financial footing.
If you are interested in becoming a volunteer, please visit the Children 1st website for further information.
City blossoms at Entente Florale
I am delighted to report that our parks, streets and gardens have been awarded Gold at the prestigious Entente Florale competition, Europe's biggest environmental awards.
Following on from our success in Britain in Bloom, this is a huge accolade for Edinburgh and proof that we have some of the finest green spaces in Europe. It's also testament to the huge amount of work carried out by the Council and the many volunteers and partners across the city.
We will receive a bronze plaque recognising these achievements, which will go on display later this year.
Gold standard communications
Congratulations also to the Council's Communications service, which was named Outstanding In-House Public Relations Team at the CIPR Scotland PRide Awards held last week.
The award recognises a diverse range of campaigns, aimed at both internal and external audiences. Judges cited a "superb team and a worthy winner", praising its consideration of a broad range of audiences through its campaigns.
The Council also won silver for Scottish Public Sector Team of the Year, and was finalist in a further two categories - Best Public Sector Campaign and Best Use of Social Media.
Democracy at your finger tips
I have high hopes that the significant interest, and turnout, in the Referendum will translate into greater engagement with local politics - and we're already doing what we can to encourage this.
Last month, we expanded our ability to broadcast council business, with the Dean of Guild meeting room now fitted out with cameras and microphones to stream nine additional committee meetings.
This is a another step forward in ensuring transparency and raising awareness of how the democratic process works and I am delighted that we now have further opportunities for residents to access and understand the local decisions that affect us all.
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