Councillor report

Green Councillors’ report for August 2022

Councillors are now back from recess and enjoying getting stuck into our portfolios.

The cost of living crisis and subsequent pay action from local government workers has dominated much of our external focus as we work to try and find a just resolution through COSLA and conversations with Green colleagues across Scotland and other parties here in Edinburgh.

The councillor group are due to have an away day at the end of the month to strategise around our manifesto asks and are looking forward to sharing plans with you all soon and discussing how we can get some big green wins for the city.

Here are some highlights from our group:

Steve Burgess

  • Just before council recess, Steve Burgess met with Divest Lothian and FoE Scotland to discuss the way forward for divestment of the Lothian Pension Fund from fossil fuels.
  • Although June’s Education, Children & Families Committee was cancelled, Steve has sought to engage with the new Labour Convenor Cllr Griffiths about the future of Gaelic Medium Education ahead of the next committee meeting in September.
  • In Southside-Newington ward, Steve attended the opening of the newly refurbished Charteris Centre, a great new community resource. South-East Edinburgh Greens held a stall on the Meadows to engage the public about the positive and negative effects of the Edinburgh festivals on the City.

Jule Bandel

  • In Inverleith ward, Jule has been supporting the local community in opposing the development of new purpose-built student accommodation that would put further pressure on already overstretched local services amenities.
  • She also successfully convinced a school to reinstate travel adjustments for an autistic pupil, has been supporting residents in getting recycling bins for their street, and helping solve other everyday problems.
  • As one of the councillors newly appointed as Non-Executive Directors to the board of Transport for Edinburgh, she has enjoyed learning much about the city’s public transport and attended her first board meeting.

Ben Parker

This month, Ben has:

  • Continued to work on issues relating to tree watering and maintenance locally – including for newly planted trees on Warrender Park Road. He is working with others to raise the issue of resourcing tree watering and updating the Council’s guidance for street design choices, including the materials selected for use around tree beds. As part of this, Ben has met the Woodland Trust and Friends of the Meadows & Bruntsfield Links for advice and guidance.
  • Supported the Friends of Midmar Paddock group with their campaign against development on the Midmar Paddock site.
  • Supported residents in Braid Crescent to install a planter for use as a modal filter in the road with funding secured via Morningside Community Council.
  • Visited the Ukrainian Refugee Welcome Hub with other councillors.
  • Met with SNP Cllr Finlay McFarlane to discuss joint work around the rollout of the Monkeypox vaccine locally.
  • Met with residents on Braid Road who are concerned about speeding traffic, with a view to developing proposals for traffic calming measures there, alongside officers.
  • Worked on promoting the engagement exercise the Council has been doing around the various ‘Travelling Safely’ active travel schemes, including supporting the local Blackford Safe Routes group to make deputations to the Council about the Greenbank-Meadows Quiet Route.
  • Met with Marchmont residents who are interested in creating a parklet in the area.
  • Scheduled and attended a series of briefings with officers around the Council’s climate and sustainability targets, as well as on housing services for disabled people.
  • Written and passed an amendment at Housing, Homelessness & Fair Work Committee which asked officers to produce a report looking at the intersection of the need for accessible housing in the city and for general, temporary accommodation as part of the council’s homelessness strategy.
  • Arranged a meeting with Green MSP Patrick Harvie to discuss housing work alongside Cllr Susan Rae.
  • Attended his first meetings as a Board member of the Edinburgh Community Solar Co-op.
  • Attended several other community events such as with the Astley Ainslie Community Trust.

Claire Miller

  • In the city centre ward, Claire Miller visited The Access Place for a tour and to find out more about the fully integrated service being offered by the council and NHS for homeless people. She met practitioners including GPs, mental health nursing, social work, housing support officers and learned about the successes and challenges of this new service.
  • Claire attended her first meeting of the Integration Joint Board, which is the board governing health and social care for Edinburgh. She has been engaging with the unions on the issues they’ve been raising about working practices, terms and conditions, health and safety, and staff retention.

Dan Heap

Dan has been:

  • Offering help to a community growing organisation in Broomhouse to acquire council land to develop a community orchard.
  • Working with Scottish Power Networks to ensure community benefits for Saughton Park as part of power cable works that will be happening in near the park.
  • Highlighting the lack of secure bike hangars in his ward, receiving assurances at full council in June these will be rolled out in the ward in other words that lack them currently.
  • Pressing the council at Culture and Communities Committee for information on the provision of library resources in Ukrainian and other appropriate languages for refugees from Ukraine.
  • Pressing the Council at CaCC for its plans to ensure that the UCI cycling world championships, held partly in the city next August, will have a legacy for cycling in Edinburgh.
  • Working with the CEC LGBTI+ group to ensure the Progress Flag flies at all appropriate times, e.g. the whole of Pride month, instead of one day. Full Council passed Dan’s motion to this effect.

Alys Mumford

  • As the current Scottish Green Party Councillor representative on COSLA, a lot of Alys’ time this month has been taken up with attending meetings about local government pay.
  • Outwith this, she’s been getting to grips with co-convener duties such as liaising with party leaders and discussing ongoing political management arrangements.
  • Alys has been working with council officers on the continuation of work begun by former Councillor Mel Main to monitor the diversity of councillors.
  • Locally, Alys has been meeting with the 20 minute neighbourhood team in Portobello, and engaging with plans to revolutionise Niddrie Mains Road in Craigmillar to reduce air pollution and make it a nice place to live and work.
  • Casework has largely focused on the huge amount of traffic and waste issues generated in Portobello on sunny days, and Alys is working with other ward colleagues to try and find long-term, sustainable solutions to this.