Friday, December 19, 2014

Merry Christmas and Very Best Wishes for 2015 :-)

My last day in the Office this year ...

... and I am planning to have a bit of a break from 'the blog/facebook/twitter/blipfoto' over the next couple of weeks.

Normal service will resume on Monday 5th January 2015  ;-)

I am in-and-around Edinburgh over the holiday-period, but sort-of-hoping to reacquaint myself with the family! My work e-mails are though being read by staff, so if you need to get in touch urgently, then that's the best way to do so:

I am also available on the mobile if its a real emergency ...

... hope everyone has a Merry Christmas and Very Best Wishes for 2015 :-)


Sunday, December 14, 2014

Allotment Update - at last :-)

That Scottish Labour Leader contest finally over ...

... and I actually managed to snatch a few moments down at the Allotment for the first time in weeks.

Everything appears in good order.

All is - after all - well in the world :-)

P.S. I should add that my better-half has been a regular attendee in between time!

Scottish Cities Alliance meeting tomorrow

Scottish Cities Alliance meeting, in Glasgow, tomorrow - I have briefly mentioned their work in previous posts ...

... and tomorrow will be the first meeting since the recent Scottish Government cabinet re-shuffle, and the appointment of a new Minister for Cities.

Looking forward to working with Keith on developing the Scottish Cities' agenda.

Saturday, December 13, 2014

Sarah congratulates Jim Murphy as the New Leader of Scottish Labour

Congratulations to Jim Murphy as the
New Leader of Scottish Labour
Boyack has “No regrets about standing for Leader”

Sarah Boyack today warmly congratulated Jim Murphy as the New Scottish Labour Leader.

She said outside the Emirates Arena:

“Jim has the hardest task of any our past leaders in reshaping our party from its very core to be fit for purpose. Nicola Sturgeon must be stopped in her tracks in her attempt to wipe us out, because Scotland needs a strong Labour Party with its feet firmly on the ground to re engage and build support with voters. Jim has my total support in doing that, and I will continue to serve the party 100%.

“I am obviously disappointed at not winning. As the contest progressed, I realised that my support would be squeezed. I have no regrets in standing however, and have enjoyed my part in creating a vibrant and constructive debate amongst members and setting out my vision for Scotland. My aim was to bring my experience and substantial policy ideas to the party.

“That is what I have done with my ‘100 ideas document’ and my wider contribution. The positive feedback I have had has been uplifting.”

Andrew Burns Campaign Manager said on behalf of her campaign team:
“We’ve been incredibly proud of the consistently positive and policy-led campaign that Sarah has undertaken. There is no question that she has raised the quality of the debate in this leadership process, and we look forward to Sarah continuing to play an important role in Scottish Labour Party policy implementation.

We’re extremely grateful to all those who encouraged Sarah to enter this contest, and to those who supported her throughout – it would undoubtedly have been a lesser process without her presence.”


Saturday, December 06, 2014

I'm backing Sarah Boyack because ...


I'm backing Sarah Boyack for Scottish Labour Party Leader because ...

... not only have I worked with her for over a decade-and-a-half, but because - quite simply - I believe she's the best person for the job.

And that job is not just to lead Scottish Labour, but crucially, to get Scottish Labour back into power at Holyrood.

And, if you've still to cast your vote this weekend, I'd ask you just to reflect on this fundamental point - who, of the three candidates, is likely to appeal to the widest cross-section of the Scottish electorate?

Just dwell on that for a second; and - for me anyhow - the answer is completely and utterly obvious: it's Sarah Boyack.

I know Neil Findlay quite well; as along with Sarah since 2011, he's been a Lothians List MSP. And I really like Neil ... but is he the answer to the question above? Well, for me, I believe Sarah will have a much wider appeal.

I actually don't know Jim Murphy at all - but from all I've seen of him over the years, I again believe Sarah will have a much wider appeal with the Scottish electorate.

And it's the Scottish electorate that matter here. We're not selecting a Party Manager, but someone who should be able to help us attract as many votes as possible. And, for me, the person who has the qualities - and the policy platform - to do that, is Sarah.

Like me, and probably you, she has weaknesses ... but as an experienced, self-aware politician, she knows what those are, and would surround herself with people with complimentary skills.

On top of all that, Sarah has listened ... listened really hard ... throughout the Leadership campaign and - as promised at her campaign launch event - has today published a "100-Ideas for a New Scotland", based on her conversations throughout the campaign.

You can read about the document here; and access the full text here.

I like the document - a lot ... and if Sarah is elected Leader, I know that she'll actually deliver on it.

I also believe it's the basis of a political programme with wide public appeal.

And frankly, that's exactly what we need at the moment.

And that's why I'm backing Sarah Boyack.

December Leader's Report

December 2014

Christmas appeal 


Andrew Burns
This year, ten million Syrian people will spend their Christmas freezing in tents in neighbouring countries while, in South Sudan, two million will be sheltering in camps, having been forced from their villages as war resumed.

Mercy Corps and the Edinburgh Disaster Response Committee (EDRC) have launched a Christmas appeal to highlight the plight of millions of families around the world who have fled their homes because of conflict and violence.

The money raised from the appeal will provide urgent and vital supplies to those in need along with basic sanitation services and safe places for children to play.

Please support this worthwhile cause in any way you can. Donate online at Mercy Corps or by texting EDIN14 and the amount to 70070.

Councillor Andrew Burns
Leader of the City of Edinburgh


Investment in public transport 


Use of public transport is on the increase in the Capital, bucking the national trend. Trams continue to attract more than 90,000 passengers a week on average and Lothian Buses also experienced a rise in patronage over the first half of the year.

Population forecasts predict a faster growing population for Edinburgh than anywhere else in Scotland (an additional 136,400 by 2037) and it's vital that we plan ahead so that we can support this growth with a truly integrated, sustainable public transport system.

When we launched the trams back in May, we pledged that a report would come before Council by the end of the year. The research this report recommends will help us to make fully informed choices about the next steps for transport in the Capital.


Proposals for change 


As I've previously described in this report, it's essential that we transform how we deliver council services to an ever growing number of residents, focusing more on their priorities while addressing the significant financial challenges we face.

A further report from the Chief Executive makes the case for delivering services through four 'localities', or neighbourhoods, giving frontline staff the ability to make decisions more suited to the local community and their particular needs. It also outlines a proposal for creating a 'Business and Customer Services' corporate centre which would provide the necessary guidance and support.
Councillors will be asked to select one from three models outlined in the report, following which consultation with staff, Trades Unions and relevant partners will begin.


Still time to have your say 


Over the past two months, we've been inviting views on how we invest and save money. The consultation has attracted significant attention, with over 1,400 people completing our budget planner online, and a further 300 submitting comments by post and email. This is already more than four times the number of responses we received last year.

This week, attention turned to our Question Time event, giving members of the public the opportunity to quiz our panel of senior councillors on the budget proposals that mattered to them. It was a lively debate with the Chair, Evening News editor Frank O'Donnell, taking contributions from the floor and from those watching at home. Archive footage of the event is available to view on our website.

Please take the time to have your say on the proposals, if you haven't already. The consultation period runs until 19th December, and we will consider all feedback prior to setting the final 2015/16 Budget in February.


Season's greetings 


Finally, I would like to take this opportunity to wish you a fun-filled festive season and all the very best for 2015. I can think of nowhere better to enjoy Christmas or see in the New Year than right here in Scotland's great capital city.


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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Friday, December 05, 2014

December Full Council Meeting

The December Council Meeting is coming up - next Thursday (11th) ...

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!