Council Leader Cammy Day reflects on the last 12 months and looks ahead to everything 2023 will bring for Edinburgh.
No one could have predicted just how much global and national events would shape our city in 2022.
Last year will be remembered as the year when Edinburgh truly stepped up in Ukraine’s time of need. And the memories of Edinburgh’s time under the spotlight during commemorations for the Queen will stay with us for years to come. Steering the city through these events, strikes, and more, during my first eight months as Leader has been both a challenge and a privilege.
This year starts as 2022 ended, with the continued challenge of the cost-of-living crisis and strike action. Many of our schools are closed this week as teachers rightly call for fairer wages from the Scottish Government. We’re calling on COSLA to sort out a deal urgently with the trade unions.
Edinburgh is a growing city and we face housing pressures like nowhere else in Scotland, with the lowest proportion of social housing in the country and biggest, most expensive, private rented sector. After the pandemic and in the grip of the cost-of-living crisis, we’re starting to see numbers of homeless cases rise again and this is hugely concerning. In recent years a huge amount of effective work has taken place to tackle root causes. We’ll continue to build on that and make real long-term improvements.
While sadly there’s no end in sight for the financial squeeze we’re all facing, we’re working harder than ever to offer a wide range of support to those most in need. While our collaborative work with the Health and Social Care Partnership, Police and third sector will continue to support including our Warm and Welcoming Spaces to those experiencing homelessness and hardship across the city.
One of the most anticipated events in 2023 is our completion of the Trams to Newhaven project, connecting the existing service to the north of the city, where one of our most important and ambitious developments in decades is already taking shape. Once complete, the £1.3bn Granton Waterfront development will create 3,500 much-needed affordable and social homes for our residents and Europe’s largest coastal park.
We remain determined to play our part in the global fight against climate change, staying true to our ambitious plan to be a net-zero city by 2030, and this week we’ll launch the Edinburgh Community Climate Fund with local people deciding how to best invest a £100,000 pot in exciting new climate change projects.
Our school communities will continue to thrive thanks to our ambitious building programme. We need replacement schools and new homes to meet the ever-growing demand. And so I’m pleased that we start the year with over 650 affordable new homes under construction and 4,063 homes in design and pre-construction stage. We also have an improvement plan to bring our older homes up to standard and I want to see us upgrade our property repairs service too. Our tenants deserve the very best quality energy efficient homes and service we can provide.
Our new council business plan showcases where we need to prioritise investment to provide the very best services we can for our residents, while committing to deliver them more efficiently and cost-effectively. This includes making our services more accessible digitally or by co-locating multiple services in neighbourhoods, instead of separate buildings.
I’ll also continue to press the Scottish Government for a fair settlement before we set our budget next month. We’ll need to take tough decisions to balance the books and ensure we’re financially sustainable for years to come.
Our residents have told us that they want Edinburgh to become a sustainable, fair and thriving city. Now, more than ever, we must stay true to our commitments. We can only realise our ambitions by working closely with other political groups, our communities and partners. Together, I am sure we will achieve a great many things in 2023.
Finally, thank you to all my colleagues for all your hard work through what has been a very challenging time, it is very much appreciated. Times may be tough, but I'm confident that we will not only overcome these challenges, but we will move towards a more positive outlook for everyone. As a council, you can be assured we will continue to work hard for everyone.