Public vision for 2050 Edinburgh set out in City Vision report

Portobello High School pupils give their thoughts on how Edinburgh should look in 2050. Picture: Greg Macvean
Portobello High School pupils give their thoughts on how Edinburgh should look in 2050. Picture: Greg Macvean
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POVERTY would be wiped out entirely in Edinburgh within a generation under a bold vision being created for the future of the Capital.

Charities, business leaders, education and health chiefs have joined forces with the wider public to build a shared view of how Edinburgh should look in 2050.

The “2050 Edinburgh City Vision” would also aim to make the Capital the world’s greenest, safest and most affordable city with residents who are both happy and fulfilled.

It follows the publication of a report drawing conclusions from almost 6000 
responses following the campaign’s launch last September.

More than 1000 people had their say via the campaign’s website, with the document also comprising feedback from a number of workshops and more than 2000 tweets using the hashtag #Edinburgh2050.

And it was the city’s future leaders who put the ideas under scrutiny after a group of 19 pupils from Portobello High School took a first look at the emerging blueprint.

As well as analysing people’s responses, the students also got the chance to say what matters to them – with the eradication of poverty, equal opportunities and the environment all high on the agenda.

School headteacher Ruth McKay said it was vital to get young people on board from the outset, saying they brought a “freshness and vitality” to the process.

She said: “Something many schools have been working on for a number of years now is what we call ‘learner voice’ and getting learners involved in decisions which are being made and plans which are going to affect their future.

“The young people who are at school today are going to be the adults of the city by 2050, so they are our future.

“Certainly what I have found as a headteacher is that we make better quality decisions in school when we involve young people.

“I think that there’s an understanding and an acceptance now that young people, when they’re given responsibility, rise to the occasion – they make very mature decisions and they often bring a perspective which nobody else has.”

The city council now plans to speak with up to 4000 other schoolchildren in an effort to gain as broad an understanding as possible for how they would like Edinburgh to develop.

Plans are in the pipeline for a student summit at the City Chambers, with the hope of drawing up a special “charter” outlining the next generation’s wishes.

S6 pupil Tooba Atif, 17, was among those who took part in the brainstorming session.

She said: “It was really interesting and I felt really happy that we got the opportunity to put in our thoughts.

“As we get older the new changes that are going to come about, we will be affected quite heavily by them.

“Especially [with] what’s going on around the world in different places, you would like to make the place where you live your goal – so obviously inclusive and everybody getting equal rights and how you want to feel safe in your own city.

“Everybody has different opinions and to get all the young people’s opinions is quite valuable.”

Twelve-year-old Sarah Yates from S1 also called for greater equality in the Capital.

She said: “I’d like to see everything fair because everything’s not fair at the moment.

“I think it’s important that kids get a say because we’ll be the adults when we’re planning on getting the change.”

S3 student Archie O’Neill, 14, added: “I liked seeing what they said about it. We were sort of all the same – we just wanted equal opportunities for people who are living in 
poverty.”

The session comes after residents, community groups and businesses were asked three key questions – What’s great about Edinburgh?; What could be better?; What should Edinburgh be like in 2050?

The initial feedback, which has been summarised into four emerging themes, reveals people want Edinburgh to be an “inspired, connected, fair and thriving city” by 2050.

More than 30 events and workshops are now scheduled to take place over the coming months to keep the discussion flowing.

This will be followed by the publication of a final draft, expected to come out in the 
summer, to help guide investment and strategy decisions over the upcoming 30-year 
period.

Andrew Kerr, city council chief executive, said: “The feedback so far confirms the Edinburgh of 2050 should be a place without poverty or barriers to achievement, where instead a good quality of life is a 
basic requirement enjoyed by all. This is a vision for the city by the city and I thank everybody who has taken the time to share their Vision for 
Edinburgh.

“There is still much work to be done and the next few months will be a busy time for the project as we prioritise 
activities to engage our young people. We will be speaking with up to 4000 schoolchildren to hear their views. After all, it is the students of 2017 who will be our city leaders in 2050.”

The scheme follows in the footsteps of a similar project in New York, with other UK cities such as Reading, Milton Keynes and Newcastle also embarked on a similar route.

Liz McAreavey, chief executive of Edinburgh Chamber of Commerce, sits on the City Vision steering group.

She said: “I believe we need a bold and clear vision to carry us through what will be a period of considerable change – not just for the city, but for the UK as a whole. Edinburgh has the opportunity to thrive as a capital city if we have a clear view and a sense of direction.

“We all have the duty and responsibility to contribute to this vision which will shape the future of our city.”

florence.snead@jpress.co.uk