from Alys Mumford and Ben Parker (Green group Co-Conveners)
This is the last Councillor update of the year, as we head into the winter recess and take a break (/try to clear our inboxes).
Thanks, as always, for the support of all our branch members throughout the year, and it was great to see so many of you at our festive celebration at the City Chambers. Our next member-councillor forum is on Jan 8th (we thought folk might be otherwise engaged on the actual first Monday of the month), so hope to see some of you there.
Check out the video to see what we got up to at the last full council, or check out the social media thread here.
Councillor highlights from the month
Asked to pick 1 highlight from the month, our Councillors said:
Alys has been taking part in Development Management Sub-Committees recently, as we’ve been rotating the Green representative on this – she’s been enjoying getting stuck into issues around planning permission, flooding, cycle storage and affordable housing.
At the last Housing, Homelessness and Fair Work committee Ben had a double win securing £560k of capital funding for climate and nature projects as part of the UK’s Shared Prosperity Fund spending, and he also convinced the Council to include a Living Wage for apprentices as part of its Fair Work charter when proposals had previously been to exclude them.
Since the Council declared a housing emergency, Ben & Susan have been pushing for action which embraces the ’emergency’ issue – particularly around a disappointing administration ‘draft plan’. We’ve now had new housing co-op models utilising council housing stock, funding for buy-to-let developments and re-structuring of Edindex included. Leith Chooses are looking forward to our first ‘in person’ voting day since Covid which will take place on 27th January 2024 in Leith Community Centre.
Jule was delighted to see the application for student accommodation at Eyre Place refused unanimously by councillors. Earlier this month, it had came to a hearing at which she supported the community by speaking out against the lack of residential housing provided by the developer and the lack of common spaces for students.
Kayleigh has been leading on our transport work for the past couple of months – scrutinising the Tram inquiry and continuing to push for accessible, affordable and sustainable public transport.
Steve has been working with teachers from Hope Cottage Nursery and council procurement officers on reducing plastic pollution, which has resulted in the council being the first in Scotland to remove glitter from its school catalogue – the move has been welcomed by the Marine Conservation Society.
After many health & social care meetings discussing the financial challenges, Claire has successfully won unanimous support to improve the budgeting process. For the first time, the Integration Joint Board will be attempting to take a whole-system approach to evaluating any proposed cost savings and efficiencies before agreeing these. This means every proposal should come with notes on how the change may affect other services – for example if fewer people are eligible for care at home then this may result in increased GP appointments or presentations at the Emergency Department if someone is in crisis.
Alex successfully proposed a report on banning fossil-fuel powered leaf blowers from the city, getting coverage from the BBC and other news outlets.
Chas has been working with colleagues to ensure the council swiftly responds to the disappointing judicial review judgement on short term lets. He brought a motion to full council asking that an appeal is considered, and that full use is made of licensing laws to require planning permission.
Dan’s had a lot of wins this month, with succesessful motions to have a yearly check on what the Council is doing to help people claim their benefit entitlements, expand support for Little Free Libraries in the city, and to ensure people on low-income and disabled people are exempt from any future entry charges for Council museums and galleries.
Committee activity and other things to look out for in the coming month
Policy and Sustainability
At P&S we received the long-awaited reports on Local Heat Networks and Edinburgh’s Climate Adaptation Plan, at a special meeting on the last day of Council term. The reports (and our amendments!) were pretty long and techy, but well worth a read if you are interested – check them out here.
Governance, Risk and Best Value
The council is going to be improving its performance reporting to the public, providing quarterly dashboards which show how all of our different services are performing, and ensuring there is better communication and transparency. The GRBV committee will be looking at the first drafts of the new dashboards in January before publishing and promoting the information to residents.
Housing, Homelessness and Fair working
At the last Housing, Homelessness and Fair Work committee, Ben and Susan had a number of wins on a host of topics from the Council’s tenant participation strategy to investigating options for using compulsory purchase powers on empty homes. You can read about all of these wins on Twitter here.
The Pensions Committee have agreed a proposal by Steve Burgess for a report from the Lothian Pension Fund on reducing its investments in fossil fuels and increasing investments in renewables and low carbon industry – this will come back in March.
It’s all about the budget for the next couple of months as we try to fight for investment in people and planet.
Transport & Environment
TEC is getting an update on how we can resource our plans to make Edinburgh’s most dangerous junctions safe and what we can do to stop incorrect parking on the tram route.