Setting our sights on the next six months
Council Leader Adam McVey describes the administration’s programme for the next six months, which aims to deliver substantial progress for the Capital…
As we pass the midpoint of another bumper festival season, our focus rightly remains on making the case for new powers, such as a visitor levy, to support future investment and to manage the impact of tourism in the city – as well as a licensing regime to regulate short term lets. There are now 12,000 Edinburgh properties listed on AirBnB alone and, earlier this summer, our enforcement team found a lettings company running 40 unauthorised residential lets in one block in Western Harbour. Put simply: we need more power to take stronger action.
Major public realm projects like the re-imagination of George Street and its surrounding streets – which just scooped a fantastic £20m in Sustrans funding – as well as the City Centre Transformation, City Mobility Plan and proposals for Low Emission Zones are hugely ambitious and will move substantially ahead as we move towards Christmas.
As well as transforming the way we get around and spend time in our city, we also need to move with the times and respond to changing retail trends. Towards the end of the year we’ll report back on our ongoing major consultation on the future of retail in the city centre, including Princes Street, which aims to make sure we’re making the most of our world famous thoroughfare.
Autumn sees the Transport Bill reach its final stages in Parliament, which amongst other things, will give local government the power to decide on a Workplace Parking Levy. We believe that these powers, which have been used to such great effect by Nottingham Council, will allow us to invest in better and more public transport, reduce congestion and help to improve air quality – all contributing towards achieving our super-ambitious (but achievable) target of becoming a net-zero carbon Capital by 2030.
Tackling poverty and inequality are also vital to enabling everyone to share in this great city’s success. The Poverty Commission, which we brought together late last year, is already taking great strides in its work and is due to bring back its final recommendations early next year. There is no doubt these will be challenging for us as council – just as they will be for the city as whole.
We are continuing to invest heavily in our young people and in the buildings where they learn. Over the summer we’ve carried out extensive repair and maintenance across our school estate alongside work on other Council facilities and buildings. And later this month we’ll see spades in the ground for a brand new primary school in Broomhills – Edinburgh’s first new primary school in a generation.
In Early Years, we've got 3,000 pupils already receivng the additional hours and have recruited 360 new staff to help plan for the full rollout of 1,140 funded hours next August, with 79 partner providers on board and five forest kindergartens up and running by late October to add to the mix.
Meanwhile, work is due to get under way on the new Castlebrae High School towards the end of 2019, and four new classrooms at Queensferry Primary School will open next month, when we also expect to hear if we've been successful in our bid for funding for the next wave of of new schools, with Currie top of the list.
Health and Social Care services and the way they’re delivered are set for a shake-up with the rollout of a bold new vision that is modern, sustainable and tackles inequality. The Edinburgh Integration Joint Board’s ‘Strategic Plan’ aims to take our health and social care services to a place where, for the first time, we have our own ‘Edinburgh Model’ of health care, best suited to our people and our communities.
Our ambitious house-building programme is delivering results across the city and along with our housing association partners we currently have 2,300 affordable homes under construction. This autumn, we’ll submit a masterplan to create an exceptional new neighbourhood on the land around the new Meadowbank Sports Centre, comprising mixed tenure housing with a minimum of 35% affordable homes for social and mid-market rent.
Before Christmas, we’ll consult on a pivotal strategy to inform the city’s future development – the City Plan 2030. Starting in December, the Choices for City Plan 2030 consultation will gather residents’ views to help shape a sustainable, inclusive and successful Edinburgh for generations to come.
Planning ahead for Edinburgh’s future, while simultaneously driving up service standards in the here and now is critical for us. It’s vital we get the basics right and we’re continuing to drive up performance in waste and cleansing services and in our roads. Meanwhile, we’ll work to improve further on our best road condition score since 2014; major roads resurfacing schemes this financial year include £2m worth of investment in Lothian Road, Gilmerton Road, Portobello Road and Liberton Gardens.
Our 2050 Edinburgh City Vision will launch later this year having had the highest response of any previous engagement activity ever conducted by the Council with nearly 55,000 distinct visions were received from residents and organisations.
So, the next six months will be busy. A new vision for the city, substantial progress on the delivery of our Programme for the Capital and further improvement in the core services that we all rely upon. We remain committed to ensuring all residents can all share in its success with an inclusive economy and City. As we move towards the half way point of our administration, we’ve not lost sight or drive in delivering on that agenda.