Tag Archives: council

Vote with your butt: Ballot Bins appear in Leith

In the wake of President-elect Donald Trump’s victory in the US, City of Edinburgh Council have installed light-hearted ‘Ballot Bins’ along Leith Walk.

The bins allow the people of Edinburgh to vote with their cigarette butts and settle the question: ‘President Donald Trump: ‘Dream’ or ‘Nightmare’?’

These bins are part of an initiative that wants to set up more Ballot Bins in the Leith Walk area later this month. It is hoped that the campaign will ease strain on the area’s communal bins, identified as ‘hotspots’ for overflowing and fly-tipping. Continue reading Vote with your butt: Ballot Bins appear in Leith

Scottish councils facing over half a billion pounds of funding deficit, Accounts Commission warns

Scottish councils could face a combined funding gap of £553 million by 2018, according to a new report from the Accounts Commission.

The Commission has said that, based on figures from 2015-16, local authorities are currently in good financial health, but have found that there could be “significant challenges” in the future.

Forecasting for the next three years, the report’s analysis found that the deficit between the money that councils raise and what they spend could rise from £87 million in 2016-17 to £553 million in 2018-19.

The figures would mean that a large proportion of local authorities would face a gap in funding higher than the amount currently held in reserves.

The Commission acknowledged that councils face, “increasing pressure from a long-term decline in funding, rising demand for services and increasing costs such as pensions.”

More to follow later.

Scottish Council worries about the impact on front line services funding.
Scottish Council worries about the impact on front line services funding.

Council denies sport centres closures

By Marion Guichaoua.

Edinburgh city council today denied sport centers are facing closure in the face of tough budget cuts across the city.

Reports yesterday quoted Edinburgh Leisure boss John Comisky as warning up to eight sports centres may have to close to balance budgets.

But the City Council said spending proposals were still at an early stage and insisted no decision had been taken yet over possible closures.

The council is facing tough decisions over cuts to services which could see Edinburgh Leisure budgets slashed.

Yesterday Mr Comiskey was quoted in the Edinburgh Evening News saying: “In the absence of an as yet unidentified silver bullet this will inevitably mean multiple venue closures.

“To absorb a 22 per cent reduction in funding will require a proportionate reduction in our level of services.”

The Council said yesterday it has launched a public consultation and is asking residents for their views on what spending priorities should be.

A spokesman for the Council said: “We expect Edinburgh Leisure to consider all of the different ways they could realistically adapt to such a change and if one of the options they identify as being efficient us the closure of some facilities this will be looked at.”

Residents can make their views known on the Council website.

Councillor Richard Lewis, Convener for Culture and Sport, said: “It is incredibly important that everyone takes the opportunity to feed back on the council’s budget proposals and as the city’s convener of sport I encourage Edinburgh Leisure users to make sure they have their say.”

Edinburgh Leisure is currently developing an options paper to be considered by the Council which will detail the impact of the proposed reduction in service payment upon special programmes, core services and facilities.

The cuts would firstly concern facilities for young children, people unemployed or people with disabilities.

New ways of working across other service areas should be found, including Health and Social Care, Children and Families, and Services for Communities.

Council Set To Improve The City Centre

Edinburgh City Council has developed a proposal to improve the pedestrian space in the city centre, particularly in the area around Princes Street and George Street. The report focuses, specifically, on improving the pedestrian space and environment in line with the delivery of the tram project, which is due to be completed this Summer.

One of the methods of achieving this is providing an opportunity for dedicated cycle provision in the area, as well as reducing the detrimental impact of vehicles on the City Centre environment. The Council’s ‘Action Travel Action Plan’ sets targets to provide significant improvements in the walking and cycling infrastructure of the city centre by 2020, and the promotion of these means of travel.

The proposal states that by managing the traffic movement of Lothian Buses, it would achieve these objectives. Eastbound buses on Princes Street maybe relocated to George Street effectively halving the number of buses on Princes Street. The proposal also sets to close Princes Street to general traffic in both directions, as well as to allow general traffic on George Street in an eastbound direction only, including taxis. The Council have also announced they are to massively reduce parking availability spots in the City Centre.  Josh Miller,  George Street Association, explained that ”this will just not work.. People will not have to park their cars somewhere else, more inconvenient, and a lot of time will be wasted’. He argued that the ‘Council have not though through a viable alternative’.

Ian Perry, Planning Convener of the Council, said ‘Princes Street has been suffering from the trams, and economic downturn, s we have agreed to increase the pavement space and redress the balance and attract more pedestrians into the town centre and to get more people to shop’.

The results of the consultation will be the subject of a future report and any changes will then be practiced to test how successful they are.

Interview with George Street Association

Interview with Ian Perry, Edinburgh City Council

Council Plans to Help the Elderly

Edinburgh council are today renewing calls for the public to get involved in shaping the care of elderly as recent figures suggest Edinburgh’s population of over  65 ’is set to increase by 21% by 2016.

MP's assisting elderly
MP’s assisting elderly

A total of almost £217 million will be spent between 2012 and 2013 on services for the elderly as part of the Council’s Joint Commissioning plan for older people.

Members of the public are invited to make their views known by completing a questionnaire.

The council say their vision is “to make older people feel safe and feel equal” and to ensure that they can be as independent as possible for as long as possible.

The Council intend to build on support for unpaid carers, to focus on preventative care, support self-management and work with communities to reduce social isolation.

The largest part of the council’s proposed budget – roughly £119 million – will be spent on people receiving intensive care and support in hospitals or care homes. Another £54 million will be spent on helping aged people who need home assistance.

The plan, once approved, will be monitored by the Checkpoint Group and a multi-agency Older People’s Management Group, which include representatives from the NHS, the council and various voluntary and private sector institutions.

Council ‘underhand’ with removal of trees

 

Council contractors have cut down five trees along the Water of Leith, despite earlier promises they would be protected.

One of the trees at risk of removal along the Water of Leith
Image: Alexandra Wingate

Stop the Chop campaigners were informed of the reversal on Thursday, with three trees removed within 24 hours. The two remaining trees were cut down earlier today.

Stop the Chop’s anonymous petition organiser said that local residents had been given “no time to respond to this Council U-turn”, adding that “the Council have acted with a lack of transparency and in a cynical, underhand manner”.

The Water of Leith Flood Prevention Scheme has seen numerous trees removed along the river between Stockbridge and Warriston Crescent in recent months, prompting a petition signed by 1,159 people to save the trees on the Canonmills stretch of the river.

In December 2011, Dave Anderson, director of city development, confirmed that the five trees in question could “be saved without any negative impact on the flood works programme”.

However, this government-backed decision was overturned by Councillor Gordon Mackenzie, convenor of the council’s Transport, Infrastructure and Environment Committee, after the trees’ removal was deemed necessary to “provide a safe access for the construction team”.

All of the trees along Warriston Crescent have already been removed
Image: Alexandra Wingate

Edinburgh first to back global Occupy movement

Edinburgh Council has become the first political body to officially back to worldwide Occupy movement.

The council this afternoon voted in an overwhelming majority to redirect economic decisions to be more focussed on the needs of the 99% in an attempt to reduce the “inequitable gap” between the rich and poor.

The SNP, Liberal Democrats, Labour and the Greens, all voted in favour of the motion, with the Conservatives the only party to reject it.

During the debate, Councillor Chapman of the Scottish Green Group said: “Next week workers will go on strike to protect pensions whilst the 1% continue their parasitic feasting on the commonwealth.”

Labour Councillor Gordon Munro, who is an advocate of the Robin Hood Tax, added: “Occupy Edinburgh is a civilised response to the irresponsible actions of global bankers.”

Conservatives voiced concern over the safety of the Edinburgh camp based at St Andrew’s Square, citing anti-social behaviour and a risk to public safety. They also felt that a vote to back the movement would suggest that Edinburgh was closed to the needs of businesses.

Councillor Chapman responded: “This is not about saying Edinburgh is closed to business. It’s about representing the interests of the people.”

Background to the Occupy Movement

St Andrew’s Square has seen an influx of approximately 300 protestors since October 15 calling themselves Occupy Edinburgh. The demonstration, inspired by the Occupy Wall Street protests in America, has seen campaigners rally against the influence of the ‘one per cent’ of wealthy individuals and companies over the ’99 per cent’ of the general public. Their mantra, ‘We are people over profit’, reflects their protests against cuts to education, disability benefits and the NHS. Dozens of students, working mothers, trade unionists and other campaigning groups have set up camp and made a call for social equality and corporate responsibility.

The non-violent protests in Edinburgh are among a small minority of the demonstrations which have gone smoothly with little disruption.