Since 2014 we’ve boldly told the world and ourselves that “This is Edinburgh”. It’s been a campaign to project our city’s confidence across the globe and to reignite our own love for our city and all that makes it so special. If anyone needs any reminder of how great our city is, Doors Open Day will take place on Saturday and Sunday. A fantastic opportunity to get access to some amazing buildings in Edinburgh for free.
As well as celebrating what our city has to offer we need to ask ourselves how we want our city to look in the coming years as our population expands and we grapple with the economic, social, environmental challenges we face.
The launch this month of the Edinburgh’s 2050 vision consultation aims to engage all of us directly in that conversation. We all have a stake in our future and all of our aspirations should be part of the discussion. The Lord Provost has set an ambitious target of participation and it’s no exaggeration to say that we hope everyone’s voice will be heard in the process. Marketing Edinburgh has devised an innovative programme of engagement, including a free taxi ride (if you don’t mind a short detour) to give your view. You can share your ambitions for the Capital direct at edinburgh2050.com.
In the initial phase of consultation four themes emerged that people wanted the future to bring: Fair, Connected, Thriving and Inspired were all characteristics that people said they wanted us to work towards and build on. It’s worth saying that this vision is not simply a vision for the council, it’s a vision that all public and private sector partners in the city will buy into to help shape the decisions that all of us are taking.
It’s been hugely encouraging for me when visiting a broad range of organisations throughout Edinburgh that the 2050 vision and themes have already caught the city’s imagination. From projects imagining what our shoreline will be like in 2050 to cultural groups planning for the next generation of artists to set a solid future of our festivals.
This week the administration also hopes to put out a consultation on the council’s budget. We’ve received criticism in previous years for the format of the budget consultation being only a list of proposals with little room for manoeuvre or choice amongst those taking part. This year’s engagement will follow a different process. Residents will be asked to prioritise services areas and outline their priorities. Telling councillors which services they value most, and which they value least in terms of council funding. This approach is part of a strategy for changing how we deliver council services over the next four years.
While there’s undoubtedly budget pressures we have to face up to as a council, these shouldn’t stop us adopting a more strategic, preventative agenda which delivers better outcomes for everyone. If the budget consultation passes through committee later this week, it’ll be another conversation with the people of our city that I’m hopeful for a strong level of buy-in from our communities.
Both the Edinburgh 2050 vision and the council’s budget engagement represent key opportunities for everyone to shape our city. While I appreciate a degree of scepticism about “consultations”, we’ve made sure that both of these processes provide a meaningful platform for citizens to give their view and ensured we have an ability to adapt plans based on the feedback we receive. This city belongs to all of us and it’s through engagement we can collectively set our priorities and build the future that the next generation deserve.
Adam McVey is the leader of Edinburgh City Council