Andrew Burns: Tell us what you think and we’ll deliver again

Andrew Burns launches Labour's draft manifesto for next year's local council elections. Picture: Scott Louden
Andrew Burns launches Labour's draft manifesto for next year's local council elections. Picture: Scott Louden
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Back in late 2011, Edinburgh Labour launched a Draft Manifesto consultation process, to which we received more than 1000 responses from members of the public.

As a result of the feedback we received, we ensured that several elements of our final 2012 Election Manifesto were strengthened – and over the last council term we have consequently ensured that there are:

n Open live-webcasting of the main council meetings, which are archived and available for scrutiny by everyone.

n A completely revised budgetary process, whereby a draft budget is published months in advance and fully consulted upon before final adoption

n A Petitions Committee (chaired by the Opposition) through which members of the public can raise local issues.

n A revised Audit Committee (again chaired by the Opposition) able to scrutinise key council decisions and hold those in power to account

n Introduction of the Living Wage for all of the council’s workforce

n Settlement for outstanding equal pay issues, benefitting literally thousands of low-paid female employees.

n An entirely renewed “Localities” structure, with much more decision-making power being devolved to local areas and local people

n The use of Participatory Budgeting (PB) in Localities, with local residents choosing their own budget priorities.

Very few, if any, political groups had undertaken such an open, and consultative, manifesto-exercise before – and thereafter gone on to actually deliver the changes requested.

And at the end of last month, Edinburgh Labour launched our Draft Manifesto for the next local elections, on May 4, 2017.

The draft document has six themes; and I’ll highlight below just one pledge, from each of the themes.

n Planning for Edinburgh’s Growth: Ensure the delivery of a “City Region Deal”, with that deal to include significant infrastructure funding, and new housing powers for local councils.

n Young People and Education: We will set up more “specialist school hubs” in; languages; science and technology; arts/creative industries; and sport in high schools across the city.

n Affordable Housing for All: Committing to deliver 8000 new affordable homes over the next ten years and encourage our Registered Social Landlord (RSL) partners to match this, bringing 16,000 affordable homes to Edinburgh in the next decade.

n Care and Compassion in our Society: Deliver eight ‘Health and Social Care Community Hubs’ across the city. These would be “one-stop shops” where people can speak directly to professionals in both the voluntary/statutory sector, about all of their health and care needs.

n Jobs and the Local Economy: We need to empower our cities to play a much fuller role in serving their people and stimulating their local economies. We will therefore press the Scottish Government over the required powers, and seek to introduce the following measures locally, such as abandoning the council tax freeze and allowing full control of business rates

n Your Local Environment: We need to do more on air pollution as this is one of the most significant threats to the “quality of life” we currently enjoy. We will therefore consult on the implementation of Low Emissions Zones (LEZs) for the city. We will also lobby the Scottish Government to devolve powers to local authorities, allowing them to consider the implementation of a “workplace parking levy” and the implementation of an “emissions surcharge”.

Edinburgh Labour believe this is a radical, bold set of proposals, which – given the chance – we will deliver upon. But we do want to have a genuine consultation with the residents of Edinburgh. We’d like to know what you think of our ideas, or give us your own ideas to ensure Edinburgh remains a European city to be proud of.

Council leader Andrew Burns leads the Labour group at Edinburgh City Council. See the manifestio at www.edinburghlabour.com/edinburgh_labour_draft_manifesto_2017, where you will also find full details of how to send any feedback. The consultation runs until February 28