Friday, December 23, 2016

Merry Christmas and Best Wishes for 2017 :-)

My very last day in the Office for this year ...

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

Normal service will resume on Monday 9th January 2017, at the very latest  ;-)

I am in-and-around Edinburgh over the whole holiday-period, and hoping to reacquaint myself with the family somewhat!

My work e-mails are 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 2017 :-)

Wednesday, December 21, 2016

Strategic Plan will help us build for the future ...

I'll reproduce below a short blog on Planning-issues, from my colleague, Ian Perry, which also featured in our Local Newspaper yesterday ...

Strategic Plan will help us build for future

Edinburgh is a hugely successful city which is expected to grow by about ten per cent in the next decade.

The Capital also continues to be the most prosperous UK city outside London and the percentage of our workforce with a degree level qualification or equivalent is higher than any other major UK city.

While it is important that Edinburgh and its economy continue to grow, we need to plan carefully and strategically for this change to ensure that we retain and enhance Edinburgh’s built and natural assets for future generations.

We adopted a new city plan for this growth last month, the Edinburgh Local Development Plan, and I would like to thank the thousands of you who helped to shape it. We also have an online survey at: to gather your views on what you thought of the process so we can prepare for the next Plan.

How the Local Development Plan is now delivered is of central importance to us and we will use it to provide a clear and fair basis for planning decisions. I believe that this, in turn, will give confidence to communities, businesses and investors.

Our priority has to be for houses to be built in the right places connected in the right way and I hope that local residents and community groups also use the Local Development Plan to better understand and get involved in the planning issues affecting their areas.

We have identified land for at least 33,000 homes, prioritising brownfield and regeneration sites where we can. But although we have earmarked enough land for this growth, housing is not being built quickly enough to meet the demand. We are working closely with landowners and developers to identify ways in which building programmes can be accelerated to address this short-term issue.

The type and quality of housing delivered is equally important to allow us to create mixed, integrated communities, where people have a good quality of life.

We are willing to take an interventionist approach where we think housing is not being delivered quickly enough. We would look at where the barriers are and unlock land by resolving local issues.

To deliver this level of growth successfully we have also agreed an Action Programme, which identifies all of the necessary infrastructure required to allow people to get around easily using sustainable transport and have their needs for primary healthcare and education met.

A financial plan for this infrastructure will be discussed by councillors in the New Year. As well as collecting developer contributions we are also working closely with NHS Lothian, Transport Scotland and the Scottish Government to identify innovative funding streams such at the Edinburgh and South East of Scotland City Region Deal and the Scottish Government Housing Infrastructure Fund.

The Local Development Plan has been adopted now and we must focus our efforts on helping to deliver the housing sites to support Edinburgh’s growth and build sustainable communities as well as protecting the city’s unique heritage and environment.

Planning Convener
Edinburgh City Council

Tuesday, December 20, 2016

The worst revenue settlement since devolution

Rarely in my near 18-years as a Local Councillor have I seen so much spin and manipulation of figures, as that which I've witnessed in the last 72-hours.

To be fair, when it comes to the Scottish Government Draft Budget Settlement, as announced last Thursday, both proponents and opponents must be about as dizzy as each other.

And to be clear, I really don't care much what those in the Holyrood legislature (it's called that, because that's what people who work there are supposed to do - legislate) argue one way or the other ... what I care about, as a Council Leader, is trying to ensure we deliver services locally to the very best of our ability and to do so within the finances that are available to us.

And having first been elected on Thursday 6th May 1999, I've actually witnessed every single Local Government Budget Settlement since devolution from very close quarters - as for each of those near 18-years, with the exception of 2007/8, I've been a Senior Councillor ... and since 2012 I have obviously been the Council Leader here in Edinburgh.

I think it's also fair to say that I'm not exactly someone who can very easily be categorised as unnecessarily, politically-tribal in my outlook ... epitomised by my current Leadership of the only two-Party Labour/SNP Coalition across the whole of Scottish Local Government.

But, tragically, the undeniable conclusion that I've regrettably come to is that, for the City of Edinburgh Council, this is the worst revenue settlement from the Scottish Government since the onset of devolution in 1999.

Of course, I know the Budget announced on Thursday last week is still Draft, and that it may change between now and its final adoption - but as things stand at the moment; year-on-year, we've got some £37million less revenue from the Scottish Government this year, than last, to spend on services. 

That's on top of recent, and recurring, revenue reductions all of which has led to the Council having well over 1,300 less people in employment than 2-years ago.

And this is all against a backdrop of the Scottish Government actually receiving, year-on-year, more revenue this year than last, from the Westminster Government.

Yes, we're now allowed to raise Council Tax by up to 3% - and I welcome that flexibility being returned to Local Government ...

... and yes, any additional monies from the adjusted E/F/G/H Council Tax bands will also remain with Local Government - I warmly welcome that, and want to thank Derek Mackay for actually listening to the arguments from Councils on that specific point.

But I cannot welcome a general revenue grant settlement for Edinburgh, that sees the funding received from the Scottish Government being reduced, this year compared to last, by some £37million.

I understand that it's a choice the Scottish Government is entitled to make - but what's particularly galling is that other choices were available, which would have negated the need for any year-on-year revenue reduction.

At the Council, we'll simply get on trying to ensure we deliver services to the very best of our ability, within the finances that are available to us - but please spare me any further spin ...

... as sadly - my measured conclusion is clearfor the City of Edinburgh Council, this is currently the worst revenue settlement from the Scottish Government since the onset of devolution in 1999.

Sunday, December 18, 2016

brief Allotment update!

Managed to spend a few hours, late this afternoon, at the Allotment ...

... and the new 'wood-burner' is recycling the 'old shed' admirably ;-)

Finally dug up our last tatties as well!

- the ongoing shed-deconstruction project was followed by the *most* wonderful evening sky (as below), as we left to go home  :-))

Saturday, December 17, 2016

Final route agreed for major Edinburgh west to east link scheme

Was very pleased earlier this week to hear that the final decision on the major 'West to East' cycling link-scheme, was taken on an all-Party basis ...

... my colleague Lesley Hinds deserves huge credit for helping to make it thus - and thanks also to all of the other Political Group Transport Spokespersons, and the many Council Staff who spent a considerable time on the development of the scheme.

Relevant News Release as below:

Bold final route agreed for major Edinburgh west to east link scheme

Detailed designs are now set to be drawn up for an ambitious £5.5 million project to create a family-friendly west to east cycle route through the city centre following a public meeting today of the City of Edinburgh Council's Future Transport Working Group.

The City Centre West to East Link and Street Improvements (external link) (CCWEL) project aims to install a largely protected cycle way to and through the city centre, providing a crucial link from existing QuietRoutes (external link) in north and west Edinburgh to Leith Walk and intended to encourage many more commuters to choose to travel into town by bike or on foot instead of by car, reducing congestion and contributing to improved air quality as well as boosting health and fitness. 

Today a decision was reached on a number of outstanding design issues which required to be finalised after the scheme's approval in principle by members of the Transport and Environment Committee (external link) on 30 August 2016.

Following a Capital Coalition motion approved by the Committee, a new stakeholder group was created to help project staff finalise the design.

The group, whose members include the Transport Convener and Vice Convener, the transport representatives of the other political groups, local ward members, relevant local groups and selected officers, has met on four occasions over the past few months, with two sub-groups also convening to focus on issues specific to Haymarket and Roseburn.

There was also a traffic modelling session to show stakeholders the traffic impacts of the proposals in the Roseburn area.

At the conclusion of today's meeting, after hearing recommendations from the group, Executive Director of Place Paul Lawrence made the decision, under delegated authority, to go for Option A, which routes cyclists along a protected cycle way on Roseburn Terrace.

In recognition of local concerns, it was also agreed that a comprehensive review would be carried out 12 months after the implementation of the route.

Transport Convener Councillor Lesley Hinds said: “I'm pleased that we've now arrived at a final design for this bold and transformational project, which will make it so much easier to cycle and walk into and right through the city centre by linking up with our already well-used QuietRoutes across the north and west of Edinburgh.

"The stakeholder group has worked hard with us to address various issues and concerns and I would like to thank everyone involved for their time and commitment to help bring the CCWEL closer to fruition.

"I recognise the concerns of local residents and businesses and I hope we can work with them in the coming months to ensure the project works for them too."

Daisy Narayanan, Acting Director, Sustrans Scotland, said: "Sustrans Scotland welcomes the decision by the City of Edinburgh Council to support the direct route from Roseburn to Haymarket as part of Edinburgh’s City Centre West to East Link cycle route. It has come after an extensive consultation and stakeholder engagement which has been exemplary in terms of tackling a sensitive issue and taking account of both the aspirations and concerns of all communities involved.

"We are keen to support the City of Edinburgh Council in a project which, when implemented, should provide major benefits for Edinburgh as a whole, and bring renewed vibrancy to neighbourhoods along the route. We believe this project would be a strong contender for the competitive grant funding round as part of the Community Links funding programme.  

"Indeed, we view this project as a step change for the City of Edinburgh - one that acknowledges and emphasises the substantial benefits the scheme can bring to the city via efficient, healthy, active transport."

The stakeholder group will also act as a ‘sounding board’ throughout the detailed design and eventual statutory processes involved in bringing the CCWEL to fruition.

Friday, December 16, 2016

City Council Performance Review

Full Council meeting earlier this week, and the final (of this term) City Council Performance Review (which includes an update on the Capital Coalition's pledges) was up for debate ...

... except there wasn't any debate, as no Opposition Amendments or Addendums were moved ;-)

Now, I wouldn't for a second claim that means there was unanimity about the political pledges - but it was nevertheless good to see the Report unanimously approved - the crux of which is summarised in the table below:

For those interested, the full report is here.

Thursday, December 15, 2016

Affordable homes for all & tackling inequality across the city

I'll reproduce below a short blog on Housing, from my colleague, Joan Griffiths ...

Affordable Housing for all

Demand for affordable housing within Edinburgh is continuing to increase with housing need far outstripping supply in our fast growing city.

For the last five years, as part of the Capital Coalition, Labour has taken the lead in Housing for the city. This has been a challenging time with Edinburgh’s population projected to increase at a greater rate than the Scottish average; these pressures are set to intensify. But in spite of all these challenges, Edinburgh Labour has a proud record of housing delivery.  

With housing costs in the private sector continuing to rise and home ownership harder for many would-be first time buyers, there is a growing need for more affordable housing in the city. Edinburgh Labour has led the response to this by increasing the Council-led house building programme from 3,000 to 8,000 homes. This commitment has been matched by our housing association partners, meaning that a total of 16,000 new affordable homes will be delivered in the city over the next 10 years. Almost 3,000 of these are already on-site and being built as I speak. This joint commitment will also generate benefits to the local and national economy of around £4 billion, create over 3,000 jobs and will bring in additional council tax money to help fund the delivery of essential services for the people of Edinburgh.

The Council has also driven forward the National Housing Trust (NHT) initiative by committing over £100 million for eight NHT developments in Edinburgh.  This will deliver over 880 affordable homes, representing around 40% of the national programme.

As part of Edinburgh Labour’s strategy to tackle inequality across the city, we are going further than just building more affordable homes. Our housing service is also taking forward ambitious plans to invest in services and improvements that will help to help reduce the cost of living for Council tenants. This commitment recognises the significant impact of rising housing costs on households with low to moderate incomes. We are looking at developing innovative projects to address inequality, including a tenant discount card, internet access for all tenants and measures to make homes cheaper and easier to heat. We are also looking at ways to support our tenants to take part in a wider range of training and stable employment.

As the housing lead, I recognise the need for new and different ways to bring forward new housing in the city. Housing is a central part of the City Region Deal proposals and this demonstrates our ambition to deliver at a scale that will really make a difference, but without additional government subsidy it will be challenging to meet all housing needs - that’s why the ‘City Region Deal’ is so important.

We are also committed to working with tenants to continue to improve Council housing services and keen to reach out to as many tenants as possible; tenants have been involved in shaping the recent rent consultation, and they carry out tenant-led inspections, and participate fully in the Housing Revenue Account (HRA) Scrutiny Group and tenant conferences.

Edinburgh Labour has led on Housing in the Council for the last five years. We have made a great deal of progress in that time. I am confident that, if the voters of Edinburgh put their trust in us in May 2017, we can build on our achievements for the next five years.

Councillor Joan Griffiths

Housing Lead, Edinburgh Council 

Wednesday, December 14, 2016

Scotland's Cities developing 'Smart City' solutions

Scotland's Cities developing 'Smart City' solutions

As Chair of the Scottish Cities Alliance, I was delighted with yesterday’s announcement detailing the ground-breaking £24million programme of Smart Cities projects which are set to transform the country’s seven cities.

This significant investment in projects aimed at improving the use of data and digital technologies to make services - from street lighting to waste collection to healthcare provision - more efficient, more cost effective and more environmentally friendly will improve the quality of life of our citizens, stimulate new business and services and ensure the resilience and sustainability of our cities.

The Scottish Cities Alliance is the collaboration of Scotland’s seven cities and the Scottish Government working together to promote the country’s great economic potential around the world. The partnership is committed to attracting investment and exploring opportunities for the adoption of new technologies that will continue to progress our Smart Cities Scotland programme, so that we remain globally competitive to high-tech businesses and talent with an ambition to becoming a partnership of world-leading cities in smart technology by 2020. By working together Scotland’s cities are utilising economies of scale to learn individually and share that knowledge collectively, to be at the cutting edge of Smart City technology and the benefits that brings.

Collaboration is the key to the Alliance’s achievements and the cities are now reaping the rewards of this joint-working approach. That collaborative spirit has also helped sharing knowledge of City Deals across the Alliance partners. These Deals are key to our cities’ ongoing economic success and will help to accelerate this growth via millions of pounds worth of Scottish Government, UK Government and private investment into infrastructure, innovation and skills.

In addition, cities are working together to create infrastructure projects of scale  to attract international investment and  several collaborations are underway including potential hotel developments in Inverness, Perth and Stirling. As a new departure the Alliance has recentlypublished a Private Rented Sector brochure in partnership with Homes for Scotland, which details the market opportunity for the Private Rented Sector in Scotland and the supporting role of the Alliance for the further development of build to rent homes. This will help address some of the pressures cities face in terms of affordable housing shortages.

Working together, the eight partners of the Alliance have also put together a Pitch Book to exploit the great economic potential internationally which outlines £7.5billion of investment sites across our seven cities (www.scottishcities.or/pitchbook). The Alliance is working collaboratively to promote projects around the world, such as Aberdeen’s £1bn capital programme, Dundee’s £1bn Waterfront project, Edinburgh’s BioQuarter, Glasgow’s Clyde Waterfront, Inverness Campus, Perth’s booming food and drink industry and Stirling’s rapidly emerging digital-tech sector.

And let’s not forget infrastructure and our work on hydrogen transport. It’s ambitious, bold and we are ahead of the game as we work towards securing one of the largest hydrogen fuel cell bus projects in Europe.

As Chair, I am naturally proud of what we have achieved and optimistic about what we collectively can accomplish in the future. By working together, the cities are utilising economies of scale and learning from each other, making such work more economically viable.

We believe these projects will help make the cities become some of the most desirable places to live and work and most sustainable locations in the world.

As EY’s annual Attractiveness Survey shows, Scotland continues to punch above its weight when it comes to Foreign Direct Investment and the Alliance will be central  to ensuring that this trend continues.

Last year saw the first investment success from the Alliance’s £7.5billion Pitch Book - the £30million Mill Quarter project in the centre of Perth, with Dundee waterfront investments taking this total to £80million, with several more in the pipeline.

Collaboration works and the Alliance is committed to building on the successes that it has achieved to date. We’ve brought more than £100million into the Scottish economy, with the promise of much more to come as the hard work behind the scenes of the many strands of the Alliance comes to fruition. I look forward to being part of that continued economic success and benefits it will offer all our communities in terms of employment and quality of life. Let the Smart revolution begin.

Councillor Andrew Burns
Chair of the Scottish Cities Alliance
&Leader of Edinburgh City Council

Tuesday, December 13, 2016

This is your chance to directly influence our current thinking ...

I had a brief Opinion-piece, on the Draft Manifesto consultation, in the local Newspaper yesterday - direct link here, and I'll reproduce the main text below ...

Tell us what you think and we’ll deliver again

Back in late 2011, Edinburgh Labour launched a Draft Manifesto consultation process, to which we received over 1,000 responses from members of the public.

As a result of the feedback we received, we ensured that several elements of our final 2012 Election Manifesto were strengthened – and over the last Council-term we have consequently ensured that there is:

·         open live-webcasting of all the main Council Meetings, which are archived and available for scrutiny by everyone
·         a completely revised Budgetary-process, whereby a draft budget is published months in advance and fully consulted upon before final adoption
·         a Petitions Committee (Chaired by the Opposition) through which members of the public can directly raise local issues
·         a revised Audit Committee (again Chaired by the Opposition) which is able to scrutinise key Council decisions and hold those in power to account
·         an entirely renewed ‘Localities’ structure, with much more decision-making power being progressively devolved to local areas and local people
·         the use of Participatory Budgeting (PB) in ‘Localities’, wherein local residents choose their own budget priorities
·         introduction of the Living Wage for all of the Council’s workforce, leading the way for the rest of the Capital City … this benefitted literally thousands of low-paid Council employees
·         settlement for the outstanding Equal Pay Issues … again benefitting literally thousands of low-paid female employees

I think it’s fair to say that very few, if any, political Groups had undertaken such an open, and consultative, Manifesto-exercise before – and thereafter gone on to actually deliver the changes requested.

And at the end of last month, Edinburgh Labour launched our Draft Manifesto for the next Local Elections, which will take place on Thursday 4th May 2017. You can access the document via this link ...

... along with full details of how to send any feedback, a process which will be run until Tuesday 28th February 2017.

The draft document we’ve just launched has six themes; and I’ll highlight below just one pledge, from each of the themes.

Planning for Edinburgh’s Growth
Ensure the delivery of a ‘City Region Deal’ for Edinburgh, Lothians, the Borders and Fife – that deal to include significant infrastructure funding, and new Housing-powers for local Councils.

Young People and Education
There are already a number of community sports hubs across the city; Broughton High School has a school of music and dance, while Leith has a Confucius Institute specialising in the teaching of Mandarin; and other schools specialise in vocational courses or are recognised as leading in certain subject areas.

So, building on the Council’s move to localities we will set up more ‘specialist school hubs’ in; languages; science & technology; arts/creative industries; and sport ... in High Schools right across the city.

Affordable Housing for all
Committing to deliver 8,000 new affordable homes over the next ten years and encourage our Registered Social Landlord (RSL) partners to match this, bringing 16,000 affordable homes to Edinburgh in the next decade.

Care and Compassion in our Society
Deliver 8 ‘Health and Social Care Community Hubs’ across the City. These Hubs would be physical ‘one stop shops’ where people can speak directly to professionals in both the voluntary/statutory sector, about all of their health and care needs. This model is already used in other service-areas, and has proven to be extremely successful.

Jobs and the Local Economy
We need to empower our cities to play a much fuller role in serving their people and stimulating their local economies - we will therefore press the Scottish Government over the required powers, and seek to introduce the following measures locally:
·         abandon the Council Tax freeze
·         extend Council Tax banding (if the Tax is not otherwise reformed) to embrace the wealthiest in our society
·         allow Council/s full control of Business Rates
·         adjust means settlement to allow Council/s full income of taxes generated locally
·         introduce the so-called ‘Tourist Visitor Levy’

Your Local Environment
We need to do more on air pollution – as this is one of the most significant threats to the ‘quality of life’ we currently enjoy in our Capital City:
·         we will therefore consult on the implementation of Low Emissions Zones (LEZs) for the City
·         we will also lobby the Scottish Government to devolve powers to Local Authorities, allowing them to; consider the implementation of a ‘Workplace Parking Levy’; and the implementation of an ‘Emissions Surcharge’

Edinburgh Labour believe this is a radical, bold set of proposals, which – given the chance – we will deliver upon.

But we do want to have a genuine consultation with the residents of Edinburgh. We’d like to know what you think of our ideas, or give us your own ideas to ensure Edinburgh remains a European City to be proud of.

Cllr Andrew Burns
Labour Group Leader &
Leader of the City of Edinburgh Council


Monday, December 12, 2016

Council Leaders deliver clear message on funding


COSLA President Councillor David O’Neill said that Council Leaders had given COSLA avery clear message over the course of the last week that the Scottish Government have to treat local government fairly in this week’s settlement announcement.

Speaking in advance of a Special Leaders meeting in Edinburgh tomorrow (Tuesday) COSLA President Councillor David O’Neill said:  “Over the course of the last week, COSLA has undertaken a media campaign to show the services that Scotland’s councils deliver and to give a genuine warning around the damage a cut to our funding by Scottish Government later this week would do to these services.

“This information campaign covered vital council services such as Roads, Housing, Social Care and Education and flagged up that a cut of the magnitude of last year’s (£349 million) would have a disastrous impact on both communities and services. 

“As we are seeing from the informative and excellent BBC1 documentary The Council – Scotland’s Councils are there for those that need us the most and budget cuts affect those people more than anyone.  In many instances if the Council was not there to pick up the pieces – who else would be ?

Councillor O’Neill continued:  “All too often when we talk of cuts to local government these are seen in the abstract.  The reality is that we are talking about real cuts to services and jobs.

“The simple truth is that a cut to local government means a cut in teaching assistants, a cut in levels of care for all our elderly relatives, cuts for the homeless as a freezing winter starts to bite, and cuts to gritting of the roads at a time of freezing temperatures when trains and the wider transport network is struggling to cope. 

“The government cannot simply bat this away by claiming that they are treating local government ‘fairly’ and ‘providing enough cash’.

”The financial facts are straightforward on this matter.  The Parliament’s own SPICE report on Local Government Funding said:
  • In 2016/17 the revenue settlement for Local Government fell by 3.6% (£349m)
  • In 2016/17 Local Government’s share of the Scottish budget fell from 32.3% to 30.6%
  • Since 2013/14 the Local Government settlement has decreased by 1.9% whereas the Scottish Government’s has increased by 3.2%
Make no mistake the Scottish Government has a political choice here and with additional cash of £418m for next year there should be no cut to Local Government.” 

Article published
Mon, 12/12/2016

Saturday, December 10, 2016

December Leader's Report

December 2016

A 2050 vision for Edinburgh

Andrew Burns
It's easy to make a New Year's Resolution for 2017, but what about 2050?

Our conversation with residents and businesses of Edinburgh, along with those who visit, on the type of city they want Edinburgh to be by 2050 is now full steam ahead and clear themes and shared priorities are starting to emerge.

From preserving Edinburgh's green spaces to blending new architecture with the city's distinctive Old and New Towns, you have been telling us what matters to you.

The response to this conversation to date has been fantastic and I would like to thank everyone who has taken the time to engage.

In the New Year, we will be preparing a citywide vision for the Edinburgh of the future and we want you to continue giving your input. Let us know what you think at

Councillor Andrew Burns
Leader of the City of Edinburgh

Reasons to be cheerful

There's been some very welcome news about Edinburgh's continued economic resilience in recent weeks.

Hotel industry research showed that in contrast to other cities, Edinburgh's hotels saw a record profit growth in October thanks to a surge in international visitors. Profit per room was up 18.4% during the month of October.

Meanwhile, retail sales and leisure spend both climbed in October, according to figures issued by Essential Edinburgh in their monthly Essential Trends bulletin. Retail sales jumped 6.9% compared with the same month in 2015, and leisure spend increased by 5%.

And October saw well over a million passengers travel through Edinburgh Airport - making it the busiest October EVER at a Scottish airport.

Festive free wifi

When you are out and about enjoying the festivities in the city centre, remember to take advantage of free high speed wifi.

More than 50,000 people are already using the EdiFreeWiFi service, which is now in place following a 10-year concession contract with intechnologyWiFi, agreed in March this year, to deliver wifi coverage and improved mobile reception in the city centre.

You'll also be able to make the most of the free service at Edinburgh's Hogmanay as intechnologyWiFi is their official partner and has installed extra equipment to cope with increased demand.

Here's a map of the available coverage and FAQs about the EdiFreeWiFi service.

Keeping to our pledges

It's fair to say that politicians often make ambitious promises when canvassing for votes but how often do they voluntarily put their commitments up for public examination?

On taking office in May 2012, we set out 53 specific pledges that we aimed to deliver by 2017 - the progress of which has been constantly and independently monitored by officers throughout our term.

These are based on a number of high level commitments, which include reducing poverty, inequality and deprivation, and maintaining and improving the quality of life in Edinburgh.

I am pleased to report that, thanks to recent developments such as the opening of the new Portobello High School, we have now met 39 of the pledges with the remaining 14 on track to be completed by next May.

Fantastic books and where to find them

Edinburgh is widely thought of as the birthplace of Harry Potter so we are delighted to showcase an original copy of J.K. Rowling's classic, Harry Potter and the Philosopher's Stone.

Featuring personal anecdotes and illustrations by the author, this one-of-a-kind book is a must-see for all Potter fans and brings a touch of magic to our Writers' Museum this winter.
Visit before 8 January and check out our series of family friendly events taking place.

20mph rollout continues

We're now four months into Edinburgh's 18-month journey towards becoming a 20mph city, after Phase 1 went live in the city centre and rural west Edinburgh on 31 July.

This carefully planned rollout is about keeping speeds down in residential and shopping streets, while retaining a strategic network of key routes across the Capital at 30 and 40mph.
Signs and lines are now beginning to be put in across Zones 2 (North) and 3 (South Central / East), with the 20mph limit formally coming into effect for Phase 2 on 28 February 2017.

Check out an interactive map of the 20mph network and implementation timetable on our website and find out when 20mph is coming to your area.

Season's greetings

The celebrations for Edinburgh's Christmas are well underway and the city is once again gearing up for three spectacular days of Hogmanay celebrations.

I am glad to say the city's school pupils have been at the heart of the festivities this year, with 10,000 children benefitting from free visits to the circular ice rink in St Andrew Square. Bus shelters in the city centre are proudly displaying some of our school pupils' creative Christmas card designs, while Princes Street Gardens has been adorned with 'Winter Windows' by budding young artists from local schools.

Adding some festive cheer to your TV screens, our talented schools choirs will also be performing on STV for Edinburgh's Christmas Song Book. I can't think of a better way to get in to the spirit of things.

Merry Christmas from me and all the very best for 2017.

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Friday, December 09, 2016

December Full Council Meeting

December's Full Council Meeting is just a week away - it takes place at 10am next Thursday 15th December...

... all the reports are now up on Committee Papers On-Line (CPOL) this morning, and you can access the main agenda directly here; and each of the individual reports separately via this link.

Of course - as every month, 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!

Wednesday, December 07, 2016

Councils Homelessness effort under potential threat

Councils Homelessness effort under threat if funding cut says COSLA
Speaking today (Wednesday) in advance of the Scottish Government laying out its spending plans for next year, COSLA’s Community Wellbeing Spokesperson Councillor Harry McGuigan said:
“Councils have made great efforts to tackle homelessness in recent years but a severe cut to Local Government next week will threaten all of this hard work.  As the Scottish Government look to hollow-out council funding even more, this will result in resources being taken away from support services that stop people becoming homeless.
“Our funding is at breaking point and, despite the evidence that councils are prioritising the most vulnerable communities, there are only so many efficiency improvements that can be made before the quality of service is affected.  While councils have done well to meet their statutory obligation on homelessness, the impact of cuts is beginning to be felt by the most needy in society.
“Although many of the drivers of homelessness lie outwith the remit of Scottish and Local Government – such as the introduction of Universal Credit – it is important that both spheres of government in Scotland work together to support those in need.  If one sphere of Government makes a political choice to cut its funding to Councils we are certainly not working together to alleviate the problem.
“It is tragic that anyone should be made homeless in the 21st century, especially at this time of year with Christmas approaching and a cold winter starting to bite.”
City of Edinburgh Council Leader, Councillor Andrew Burns, added:
“Over recent years, Edinburgh has seen a steady reduction in people presenting as homeless. A major contributing factor has been the collaboration with our partners in the third sector. These achievements have also been despite a challenging economic climate and significant budget pressures throughout the city.”
“Of course, protecting vulnerable people will continue to be our key priority and we are committed to reducing homelessness further across Edinburgh. But these recent, very positive achievements, will all be put at serious risk if we see any further significant budget reductions from the Scottish Government.”
Article published: 
Wed, 07/12/2016