Green councillors’ report – August / September 2019

Highlights from the Edinburgh Green group of councillors, August/ September 2019: policy, committee and ward news.

This month has been especially important for climate protesters at the council. Despite advocacy by Steve Burgess and support on the licensing committee from Susan Rae, the climate protesters were told by SNP councillor Cathy Fullerton that they are explicitly banned from marching down Princes Street. Obviously this is not the support we would expect from a council that has declared a climate emergency, and both Susan and Steve are now working hard to reassure young climate strikers (and not so young climate strikers) that they will be safe marching on Friday 20 September.

Consultation with officers and the police is ongoing but we are still hopeful that this impasse can be resolved.

Elsewhere in the council this month…

Susan Rae and Alex Staniforth worked with the Edinburgh Festivals on a ‘Greening the Festivals’ motion which is coming to full council this Thursday (19 September).

Alex Staniforth has accepted the chair of the Craigentinny & Duddingston Neighbourhood Network on a temporary basis and is working to make sure the work of the previous Partnership is not forgotten; and that a funding structure is in place to ensure community grant money is spent.

Claire Miller has joined the board of Transport for Edinburgh, which is the board overseeing Lothian Buses, Edinburgh Trams and Edinburgh bike scheme. Claire attended her first board meeting in August and has been to visit the bike scheme and the tram depot to learn more about the businesses. During the summer, some streets in the city centre were closed or restricted access. Claire went on a walkabout with council officers to review issues that had been raised and to see how things could be improved, and she also raised questions to the Convenor of Transport and Environment at a meeting of full council to ensure that next summer the operations will be improved.

In her new role in the Equalities brief, Mary Campbell had a motion passed by the Council to mark Celebrate Bisexuality Day, which will have the bisexuality pride flag flying on 23 September this year, and for the years after.

Mary also saw some work pay off in Portobello/Craigmillar ward, with the completion of work on Bingham tunnel, where a residents group working with Community Renewal were looking to improve the tunnel with a mural, and sought improvements to the ceiling netting and lighting before that happened. Mary facilitated this and was delighted to see the results – a much improved public space.

At Finance Committee, Gavin Corbett pressed officers on controversial “LOBO” loans with RBS and secured a commitment to report back to committee on potential terms of exit. He also attended the fourth meeting of the councillors group overseeing a feasibility study into Citizens Basic Income for Scotland.

In Fountainbridge-Craiglockhart, Gavin gave out the prizes in the first St Michael’s Church photo competition for local scenes. Many were of the Union Canal, on which Gavin has been working on a draft of a business plan for the canal festival following a visit with community representatives to Glasgow Canal Co-op.