Council Election 2017: How would politicians improve jobs and investment in Edinburgh?

Councillors have had their say on how they would boost the economy in Edinburgh
Councillors have had their say on how they would boost the economy in Edinburgh
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Have your say

EDINBURGH has weathered the financial storms of recent years better than many cities – but the health of the Capital’s economy is still a vital issue and a top concern at the local elections.

All parties are signed up to the long-awaited City Region Deal, which is expected to bring £1 billion-plus of investment from the UK and Scottish governments for major infrastructure projects, which are in turn projected to attract further private sector investment.

The deal – which also covers the other Lothian councils, Fife and the Borders – is now scheduled for final approval by the six local authorities at the end of June.

The SNP manifesto for Edinburgh promises to develop new business units, promote business incubators to help start-up companies and use new powers over business rates to encourage growth in key, hi-tech sectors and regenerate businesses in struggling communities.

Labour also says it would expand support for new business, especially in new technologies, as well as increasing start-up support for social enterprise. The party says it would also increase training opportunities and ensure companies contracting with the council pay the living wage.

The Conservatives promise to help small businesses by streamlining their dealings with the council.

Liberal Democrats say they would champion Edinburgh as a “digital leader” in the UK.

And the Greens promise to promote the Capital as a Living Wage City; expand the Edinburgh Guarantee; support social enterprise hubs; make long-term empty offices available for temporary use; and buy up long-term vacant shops – by compulsory purchase if necessary – to make them available for start-ups.

Neil Gardiner

SNP

This year our city has received awards and accolades including Entrepreneurial City of the Year and very recently the Best British City to start a Business, as viewed by Expert Market.

This all points to the fact that our wonderful city is doing well in many aspects including growth and employment.

The SNP councillors, who have led on Edinburgh’s economy for the last ten years, are delighted that our efforts are being recognised.

We want to build on the progress we’ve made and tackle the problems of inequality that still exist in the Capital. Figures show that 20 per cent of our population live in relative poverty and many of those can be described as working poor.

The reality of Westminster’s austerity policies are really starting to take hold in Edinburgh and undermining our work in Edinburgh and at a national level.

We’re committed to continuing the Edinburgh Guarantee for our young people and expanding Recruitment and Skills Centres, like Fort Kinnaird, which has been so successful in helping people into work.

We will make sure that investment is spread throughout our communities to make sure all citizens of our city can reap the benefits of our vibrant economy. We’ve also set out plans for expanding office and factory space in Edinburgh to help small businesses start-up and grow.

Lastly, we will deliver Edinburgh’s City Region deal.

This is the biggest opportunity in a generation to grow our economy and expand our infrastructure and we will grab this chance with both hands.

Gavin Corbett

Green

Edinburgh can be at the cutting edge of the new economy of the 21st century, with smart, clean and green technology.

To do that we need a Green City Deal, taking the promise of over a billion pounds of investment from Scottish and UK governments and making sure it is targeted at the kinds of projects that will keep Edinburgh ahead of the pack in 30 or 40 years.

That economy will build on the huge growth in the social enterprise sector in the city and treat small businesses as the bedrock of our economy that they are, with an enhanced role for Business Gateway to offer advice on greening business.

With a changing population there is also a need to build a caring economy. Our proposals for a “Living Wage Plus” for care staff are about transforming a crisis of care shortages into a massive opportunity to recruit and retain vital staff in a sector where demand is growing rapidly.

And let’s see Edinburgh move from simply being a financial centre to being the world’s leading ethical finance centre. The Green Investment Bank gives us a good start, so to it can be added a cluster of ethical investors and ethical pensions.

Andrew Johnston

Conservative

According to official figures released this month, the Scottish economy is teetering on the brink of recession.

If the figures for the first three months of this year are like those for the end of 2016 then it will be official. This is in stark contrast to south of the Border, where the economy continues to grow.

The local elections give the people of Scotland the chance to send a clear message to the SNP government that their high-tax agenda is backfiring.

In Edinburgh, Scottish Conservatives have a clear plan to boost the local economy and create jobs.

We want to scrap plans to extend Sunday parking charges in the city centre,

which threaten to damage what should be a good day for retailers.

The planning process has to be speeded up. Delays and indecision cost money, and if we can reach the right decisions sooner, jobs and growth will follow. Small businesses have told us that they find the process for applying for building warrants and completion certificates slow and cumbersome. We want to see a streamlined approach. The council should make life easier for businesses, not harder.

Edinburgh requires investment, and that is why we support the redevelopment of Meadowbank Sports Centre. Centres such as Meadowbank can play a crucial rule in the local economy, and a revitalised centre will deliver jobs as well as benefitting the community.

On May 4 a vote for the Scottish Conservatives is a vote to boost our battered economy.

Gordon Munro

Labour

Edinburgh’s economy is the engine of the Scottish economy.

Edinburgh has the highest output per resident and is significantly higher than the Scottish and UK average.

A key contributor to this output is the visitor economy. Revenue per available hotel room peaked at a high of £167 in August with the lowest point being January at £38 per room. This is why significant investment is being made in Edinburgh in building hotels.

This city has built year-round tourism with Edinburgh the launch pad for the rest of Scotland.

This tourism is attracted by our festivals which have been created and funded by Edinburgh Council. Edinburgh’s festivals generate £313 million for Scotland with £280m here in Edinburgh.

But standstill funding for the council has seen standstill grants or even reductions for festivals while other cities have set up their own festivals to rival Edinburgh. To stay ahead Edinburgh needs more funding.

A modest tax on beds of say £1 per room would help fund festival programming and infrastructure that could keep Edinburgh in front.

But there is another side to Edinburgh’s economy. Edinburgh has an unemployment rate of 4.4 per cent, lower than Morningside under Margaret Thatcher.

There are more people in work and in poverty than are unemployed in Edinburgh.

This is why when Labour returned to power in Edinburgh in 2012 it introduced the living wage.

This benefited more than 2500 workers and other employers have followed this lead.

Edinburgh’s economy has to be fair for all and Labour are committed to work for that goal.

Neil Ross

Lib Dem

Liberal Democrats are ambitious for Edinburgh as the engine of growth in the Scottish economy.

We will work closely with businesses (large, medium and small), the academic sector and the tourist industry to ensure Edinburgh’s economy thrives.

Edinburgh has a diverse and thriving voluntary sector and we will work closely in partnership with them and seek to provide the sector with

stability.

Lib Dems will champion Edinburgh as a diverse, tolerant and liberal city which actively welcomes and includes people from all backgrounds.

Edinburgh rightly voted strongly to remain in the EU in the referendum. Lib Dems will promote Edinburgh as a European and international, outward looking, modern capital city.

When Lib Dems led the council in 2007-12, we introduced the Edinburgh Guarantee in 2011 to ensure that as many young people as possible leave school to positive destinations. We will build on that success.

We understand that, for businesses to grow and thrive, the council needs to provide an appropriate environment that allows our growing population to live, travel and relax in the city.

That means improving our transport, housing, environment and leisure facilities to offer a great place for businesses to operate.

Liberal Democrats will build on our reputation as one of the world’s most beautiful cities, protecting and enhancing our World Heritage status and building on our international reputation for our broad range of world class festivals and events.