Cllr Hinds writes about budget challenges for Transport and Environment

The following article by Transport and Environment Convener Councillor Lesley Hinds appeared in today's Evening News, on the theme of 'an attractive city to live and work in'.

Edinburgh is a beautiful city, arguably one of the most beautiful in all of Europe. Every year, millions of visitors discover its stunning architecture, its fascinating history, its packed festival calendar and its wealth of attractions and places to eat, drink and relax. 

They discover firsthand what our residents and those who work here have long known – and what regularly earns the Capital coveted national and international accolades – that Edinburgh offers a fantastic quality of life.

Maintaining this much envied quality of life is no mean feat, however, especially when budgets are getting ever tighter at the same time as demand for services continues to grow.

It’s everyone’s responsibility to play their part in this, obviously, and we are very grateful to the vast majority of residents and visitors who help us to keep Edinburgh looking her best, such as by disposing of their litter properly or keeping their properties  well-maintained.

As a Council, however, the onus is on us to look at the whole picture, deciding where to invest our resources and where we might make savings for the public purse. 

Keeping the city moving is a major priority and a large chunk of our budget every year goes towards improving roads and pavements. For example, today’s Transport and Environment Committee approved a report outlining where the roads investment will go in 2015/16.

Unfortunately, budget pressures mean we have to make careful choices when prioritising which streets and footways are tackled each year. However, from next year, we’ll be trying out a new, more cost-effective method for treating road surfaces which will enable us to improve and prolong the condition of far more roads before they deteriorate further.  

Making sure vehicles are parked properly is another key priority for us as it reduces congestion and helps ensure residents can find somewhere to park near their homes. Every year, income from parking enforcement is channelled directly back into Edinburgh’s transport infrastructure.

In terms of waste management, we’re making good progress in reducing the amount of rubbish that ends up dumped in landfill, thus saving taxpayers’ money in Landfill Tax penalties. We’ve been delighted with how residents have embraced recycling, and the roll-out of our new recycling service will help drive up or recycling rate even further. There’s always more to be done, though, which is why we continue to do whatever we can to promote the Reduce, Reuse, Recycle message. 

Street-cleaning is another core service we provide and we use the quarterly independent surveys by Keep Scotland Beautiful to help us evaluate where we are performing well and where our resources are most needed.

I’ve only really scratched the surface here on what the Council does to help keep Edinburgh’s quality of life at its award-winning best. Now that we’re embarking on a new budget process for 2015/16, we want to hear from as many residents as possible on where people want us to invest and where they would recommend savings. 

Play your part at www.edinburgh.gov.uk/budget and let us know your views. 

Finally, I’ll be answering your questions on Twitter from 4-5pm tomorrow [Thursday 30 October]. Tweet your transport and environment budget queries to @Edinburgh_CC using the hashtag #edinbudget. 

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