Green councillors report March 2019

Recent policy and ward news from our Green councillors.

Policy work

In Education, Children and Families Committee, Mary Campbell gained support for the school climate strikers, allowing authorised attendance at the global strike on the 15th of March, and confirming that no punitive action should be taken against any pupil striking. This received a lot of media attention promoting the strike, and every pupil had a letter home giving details about the strike, which ended up being attended by an estimated 3,000 pupils.

At Finance & Resources Committee, Claire Miller gathered enough support to vote down a revised redundancy policy after both Unite and Unison raised serious concerns and asked for more time to work with management.

Transport spokesperson Chas Booth was successful in pushing for cycling and walking design improvements to the Newhaven tram completion project, allowing Green councillors to support it at full council.

Gavin Corbett has been busy in his canal champion role, chairing the Fountainbridge Sounding Board and Canal Delivery Board and taking part in a Canal Community Action Group meeting. He also visited Scottish Canals in the Glasgow Canal Project area to learn what was working there.

Alex Staniforth took a place on the board of Edinburgh Science and successfully argued they should drop all fossil fuel sponsorship, after pressure had been put on the board to do so by divestment campaigners.

Over last month Melanie Main has taken a lead role in researching and scrutinising the Health and Social Care budget as a member of the Edinburgh Integration Joint Board. At the EIJB meeting £11 million cuts and reforms were agreed but the board decided talks about funding a realistic budget should continue with Council and NHS. Melanie also won backing for a review of equality and in particular for minority groups accessing health care across all services from GPs to hospital to home care.

As the Green representative on Licensing Board, Steve Burgess supported recommendations from the NHS and Police not to grant a new off-licence in the Canongate, an area of high harm to health and crime. Steve’s motion not to grant the licence was defeated and the controversy was picked up by the Evening News. The council’s Single-Use Plastics Working Group, which Steve instigated, heard from Changeworks about their work with Zero Waste Leith and in schools. There was exciting news that following Steve and Young Green Katri Hasting’s meeting with Changeworks last year, that Zero Waste Scotland are interested in piloting a returnable coffee-cup scheme.

Ward Work

In Morningside, Melanie Main has been working on local street projects with roads staff, meeting residents in Newbattle Terrace, and Braid Crescent. A campaigning Facebook page for safe streets in South Edinburgh has been set up with the local team.

Alex Staniforth has given advice to a special meeting of the Community Council on the process for making comments on planning applications and which policies are relevant for most student housing applications.

In Fountainbridge-Craiglockhart Gavin Corbett organised a very successful litter clean-up in Hutchison and took part in another along Water of Leith.  Gavin also hosted an event for the Rivers Centre which is based in Fountainbridge and helps people overcome trauma.

In Leith, Chas Booth has been working to support Duncan Place Resource Centre on their community asset transfer.

In the City Centre ward, Claire met with local street stall-holders to help with their plans to improve their stalls and the locations where they pitch, following cutbacks to the number of suitable central locations in recent years.

In Southside-Newington ward, Steve Burgess and SNP Cllr Alison Dickie have lobbied Scottish Government Transport Minister for special permission to install an illuminated ‘NO-ENTRY’ sign on Sciennes Road outside Sciennes Primary school to come on at school drop-off and pick-up times. Parents are valiantly trying to enforce the traffic restriction outside the school but the current council signage is poor and many drivers are oblivious.

In Portobello/Craigmillar, Mary Campbell set up a meeting with St John’s parent council, the local roads officer, and the local school road safety officer to see what could be done to improve the situation with parking at drop off and pick up time in their new location, and what might improve active travel to school. She also worked with her local ward team to gather signatures for the Scottish Greens climate emergency bill petition, which can be signed here.