Councillor report

Green councillors’ report for October 2021

Edinburgh Green Councillors led on the Climate Emergency at this month’s full Council meeting.

In the week before the UN COP26 negotiations in Scotland, Edinburgh Green Councillors led on the Climate Emergency at this month’s full Council meeting – with Green Co-convenors Steve Burgess and Claire Miller, raising the ‘national embarrassment’ of the climate-busting UK Government budget and challenging the Council Leader over the Council’s questionable record on cutting climate-changing pollution. Greens also formally proposed that the Council’s pension fund should rapidly divest from fossil fuel companies but this was once again voted down by all the other Parties.

This was also Cllr Gavin Corbett’s last council meeting as he steps down on 7 November to take up a Scottish Government post working with the two new Green Ministers after over 9 years of excellent work as a Green Councillor – Gavin will be very sorely missed by the Green Group and we wish him all the best in his new role.

City-wide updates

In the transport portfolio, Claire Miller was successful in defeating the SNP/Labour coalition with their weak plans for the Low Emission Zone. She is now engaged in urgent talks with council officers to identify ways to strengthen the proposals to tackle greenhouse gas emissions and bring forward a LEZ that will deliver better air quality.

Also at Transport and Environment Committee Gavin Corbett secured council support for a co-funded post with Scottish Canals to take forward a programme of activities linked to the canal bicentenary in 2022.

On Planning Committee, Chas Booth has been pushing the council to rule-out climate-busting airport expansion from the forthcoming City Plan and working hard to make the plan a better fit with the City’s Net Zero ambitions.

In Education, Mary Campbell got agreement for urgent action to be taken to support schools affected by the changed funding model of Active Schools. She also got the agreement of Full Council to support the campaign asks of ‘Teach the Future’ and to look into the council’s own curriculum with regards to the Climate Emergency and the Ecological Crisis.

At the Pensions committee meeting, Steve Burgess again pushed for divestment from fossil fuel companies but there was no support for this from other political party representatives. In response to a motion on Responsible Investment by the Coalition at this month’s Council meeting, Steve proposed an amendment in an attempt to strengthen a weak proposal that may even set back attempts to get the Lothian Pension fund to start divesting.

And in the wards:

In Fountainbridge-Craiglockhart Gavin Corbett has been campaigning on the potential loss of sports and leisure facilities at the Corn Exchange in the Chesser area.

In the City Centre ward, Claire has been again working to support people who are affected by the ‘prayer vigils’ outside the Chalmers clinic where sexual health services including terminations are provided. Claire welcomes a motion brought forward by Gillian Mackay MSP to create buffer zones around clinics, which is necessary for action to be taken to protect patients and staff from these protests.

In Leith ward, Chas Booth has been working with community groups and council officers to develop a master plan process for improving Leith Links.

In Portobello/Craigmillar Mary Campbell has been working to support residents on road safety measures in Duddingston, including replacement school crossing guards. She has also been working with local groups and transport lead Claire Miller on increasing the urgency of the council’s response to the two cyclist fatalities at Harry Lauder junction.

In Southside-Newington ward, the South East Edinburgh Greens held a well-attended picnic and walkabout in the Astley Ainslie hospital grounds to raise awareness of this tree-abundant parkland which is set to be sold by the NHS and over which there is interest in a community buy-out.