from Alys Mumford and Ben Parker (Green group Co-Conveners)
A lot of Council business this month has focused on “bad” news. From the Christmas market fiasco to the troubling news about the Filmhouse, EIFF and Modern 2, there have been lots of emergency and last-minute meetings to see what can be done.
Greens have been challenging during these meetings – pushing for conversations to happen transparently and giving much-needed scrutiny by ensuring these issues are taken to the Council’s audit committee. In Culture and Communities committee, Green Councillors have also secured cross-party support for a motion aimed at using Council support to co-ordinate funding for institutions which are struggling. We look forward to seeing what follows from this work.
Looking forward, all eyes will be on the budget announcements from the UK Government (whoever that is), and Holyrood. We face a difficult task of finding a way to use ever-decreasing funding to help the most vulnerable residents in the city to cope with the cost-of-living crisis, and to keep pushing for investment in the radical policies required to deliver climate justice. This will be the theme of our work for the next few months as the budget process comes to a head in February.
Finally, our councillor group had a great time at conference, meeting with councillors from across Scotland at the Association of Green Councillors fringe meeting. We were also delighted to welcome the new co-conveners of the group John Ross Scott and our very own Susan Rae!
Highlights from the month
Asked to pick 1 (!) highlight from the month, our Councillors said:
“I have submitted motions to Full Council asking all party leaders to highlight violence against women campaigns, and for the council to change licensing rules to support the Get Me Home Safely campaign.”
“I wrote an article for Edinburgh Evening News which highlighted the injustice of No Recourse to Public Funds and which received a positive reception from various refugee / homelessness charities.”
“I assisted Cllr Dan Heap in combining motions from ourselves and other parties on Edinburgh Film Festival and the Filmhouse to ensure a robust response from the council in light of their sudden dissolution.”
“I chaired the first meeting of the Association of Scottish Green Councillors at conference, bringing together all new Cllrs from across Scotland for the first time in person since the election.”
“I have worked with ward colleagues to persuade Transport Committee to delay a decision on the future of the Pride Bridge in Newhaven, and to look into options to retain the bridge, which has become an icon for the LGBT+ community.”
“I have started work on a campaign that will aim to help disabled people keep life-saving equipment (e.g wheelchair chargers, ventilators, fridges for medication) on and charged during the cold months as energy prices sky-rocket.”
“I spoke at YES4EU’s National Day of Action for Independence and EU membership to present the Green case for an independent Scotland in the EU.”
“I brought a motion to Culture and Communities Committee to press the Council to play a leading role in restoring the Filmhouse and Edinburgh International Film Festival after the collapse of their parent charity at the start of the month. I also went on a walkabout in Dalry and Gorgie to discuss the forthcoming Gorgie / Dalry 20-minute neighbourhood project.”
“I have submitted a motion to October full council recognising Bridgend Farm Community Hub and its new Eco-Bothy in Southside-Newington ward. This was Edinburgh’s first successful community asset transfer, and one that Green Councillors played a vital role in establishing.”
“I have submitted a motion to October full council which will propose adopting “Safe Surgeries” in Edinburgh – read all about the safe surgeries initiative here.”
This month we’ve also asked some Councillors to give us a heads-up of the work coming up in different committees / portfolios.
In Transport & Environment Committee, an additional meeting in November will cover city-wide topics such as the Workplace Parking Levy (WPL) and engine idling, and local issues such as the Sciennes Primary school playground and Picardy Place public realm.
In Policy & Sustainability Committee an extra meeting has also been scheduled – one key thing to look out for is discussion of the Council’s Business Plan which sets the high-level aims / ambitions of what the Council hopes to achieve over the coming years, as well as the first annual updates of the Council’s key climate and biodiversity strategies.
In wider portfolio work, keep an eye out for some close working with Unite and UNISON as part of the Health & Social Care brief, and also work being done to reach out to third sector organisations in the city that will be helping people through this winter. The stability of cultural institutions in the city is likely to be an ongoing focus for the next and future months after the news about the EIFF, Filmhouse, Dancebase and Modern 2 so keep an eye out for that too!