from Alys Mumford and Ben Parker (Green group Co-Conveners)
The period of this branch report covers recess when Councillors have been taking a break from formal Council business, though still working hard in the background! In June, we also had our group AGM, where the group re-elected its Co-Conveners and other positions, and there were some small shuffles in who sits on each committee. As a reminder, Councillor portfolios are as below:
Alys Mumford – Co-Convener, Finance and Economy
Ben Parker – Co-Convener, Climate and Environment, Housing (joint)
Jule Bandel – Transport
Chas Booth – Planning
Steve Burgess – Education
Dan Heap – Culture
Claire Miller – Health & Social Care
Kayleigh O’Neill – Equalities
Susan Rae – Housing (joint), Licensing & Regulation
Alex Staniforth – Communities
As we have settled back to work post recess, there is a huge amount of activity going on in each Committee, portfolio and ward, and eyes are starting to turn to the budget process once again. After last year’s … shenanigans, there is a push from Council officers and Parties to “fix” what was broken about the process last year, and we will be looking to capitalize on that. The group has its Year 2 workplan set out and we are looking forward to working even more closely with the branch this year to include members in our forward planning and strengthen the processes around reporting our work against the manifesto so all members can understand more about the work we’re doing day in, day out as your elected reps.
Councillor highlights from the month
At June’s Full Council meeting I was pleased to bring a motion about supporting the creation of a “Community Climate Hub” in conjunction with the Community Climate Forum and Edinburgh Community Climate Action Network. Excitingly, the Council is working closely with the group to identify a suitable building that it may be able to use as a physical base for the hub.
Working with the Education team to ensure disabled children receive proper after school support after conflicts with providers meant services were cut 2 weeks before term-time began.
After a long community campaign, I was delighted to see the Scottish Government Reporter refuse planning permission for the proposed purpose-built student accommodation at Eyre Place. Let’s hope the site is used for a more suitable development – like genuinely affordable housing!
I have been working on a policy to require large events organisers to provide free tickets for local residents where events are taking place on Council premises, like parks,
prompted by an expensive event at Saughton Park aimed at children last year. Culture and Communities Committee voted in August to allow the policy to proceed to design stage and also agreed to my amendment to require the Council to create a webpage signposting residents to free and low-cost activities. I was also pleased to present a comprehensive plan to make the Winter Festivals fairer and greener, though disappointed to have it voted down by Labour, SNP and Conservative Councillors.
A motion we brought to the Education committee on improving Learning for Sustainability earlier this year has led to every school now having a teacher with an allocation of time each week to develop LfS for their school.
In August, a refreshed Carers’ Strategy was presented to the Integration Joint Board (which governs health & social care). Building on my editorial column earlier in the summer which recognised the essential role of unpaid carers, I questioned staff about how carers would learn about changes to their support as a result of the strategy, and raised concerns about children and young people who are carers.
Committee activity and other things to look out for in the coming month
Housing, Homelessness and Fair Work committee
At Full Council, Ben was pleased to pass a motion looking at the issue of student homelessness and calling on the University of Edinburgh to do more to support students who have nowhere to live throughout term – something which is increasing cropping up through casework. Now, a meeting is set up with the University, students and other relevant organisations to discuss how to tackle the problem.
Transport & Environment committee
Transport and Environment Committee will take the next step towards a Workplace Parking Levy, with plans for investment and public engagement expected to be presented at its September meeting.
Culture & Communities committee
The future of the Filmhouse is likely to be confirmed in the next few months, with the site likely to be put back into use as a cinema run by former Filmhouse employees.
Climate & Environment committee
A report on the “Trees in the City” action plan is coming to the next Culture & Communities meeting and, after a year of digging in the background we will be asking many searching questions about how successfully the Council feels it is looking after its trees and requesting some actions to try and improve this – for example, on tree watering and community engagement, and resourcing of Tree Preservation Orders.
The first meeting of the “Edinburgh as a Feminist City” working group was held in the City Chambers. Greens ensured that, as always, the Feminism would be inclusive and intersectional, as we know that marginalised groups are the most affected by poor public realm building and maintenance. Link on Twitter/X