‘Many are vague and meaningless’

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The announcement of around 50 key pledges by the new Labour-SNP coalition at Edinburgh City Council should be cautiously welcomed.

With local government politics inevitably resulting in a coalition, it is often difficult for voters to know which policies from their candidate or party will survive and which will be watered down or ignored if they are elected. Compromises are always likely. The experience of the Lib Dems at Westminster shows this.

So, the quick decision to publish a list of pledges helps give the people of Edinburgh an idea of the priorities of the new administration.

However, whether in business or politics, the best targets are always measurable. And in this regard many of the new pledges are vague and therefore rather meaningless. There is talk of “working in partnership”, “drawing up strategic plans” and “encouraging development”. But how does the electorate the judge progress after 12 months or even at the end of the five-year term if there is nothing specific?

For example, under the heading of “economic growth and prosperity” – surely the most important of all – there is a goal to examine ways to source new funding to support small businesses.

By doing very little, the coalition will be able to say it has met this target.

The pledges are welcome. But they should be only a first step to understanding just what this new Labour-SNP coalition wants to deliver. By setting targets that are measurable we can understand the true level of ambition from the City Chambers, praise them when they meet their aims and hold them to account if they fail.

Don’t delay

the overdue independent report into allegations of management bullying at NHS Lothian is not just another dusty political dossier.

The way managers treat their staff has a huge impact on their working lives – and on their ability to carry out their jobs properly.

This report promises to get to the bottom of extremely serious complaints affecting the working lives of 28,000 health service workers. Don’t forget, NHS Lothian is the region’s biggest employer, so the way it treats its staff has a bigger impact than any other institution – even without considering the indirect impact on patients.

Lothians MSP Sarah Boyack is right to insist that its findings must be made public as soon as is practical – and its findings acted upon with vigour.