Now that the dust has settled and Edinburgh Council Administration has been in place since June, it’s worth saying how grateful we are for the opportunity to lead our city.
At the election we put forward an ambitious platform to meet our aspirations and address Edinburgh’s problems and we’re delighted so many put their faith in us. We realise it’s an enormous privilege to serve the Capital, so on behalf of the SNP, thank you to everyone who supported us.
The policies we put forward in the council election are now being developed into a programme which will be published in the coming days.
Our central pledges of building 20,000 affordable homes in the next decade, delivering record investment in roads and pavements, extending tram (subject to a robust business case), closing the poverty-related attainment gap and many others have already been widely reported. However, our full programme will aim to meet our City’s expectations and resolve some long-running issues.
Improving opportunities for everyone in Edinburgh by tackling homelessness and addressing the causes of poverty will be a top priority for all of us as we move towards a better Edinburgh.
One of the central commitments that we made to the people of Edinburgh was to deliver the City Deal and I’m delighted to say that it’s the first pledge we’ve now delivered.
It has been a long slog to get the deal agreed by all involved and I’m pleased that we finally managed to secure this game-changing level of investment. I believe our deal is a good deal for the Capital and will help deal with the challenges of the rapid growth that Edinburgh and the region experiences year on year and unlock additional economic growth which will make all of us better off.
With huge investment to enhance our economic strength focused on the universities and in the technology sectors we can even further raise the profile of our Capital as a destination for investment and can help boost home-grown business talent. There is also a significant support to enhance the City’s cultural offering by delivering a new concert hall. Edinburgh’s festivals and events sustain one of the most vibrant hospitality sectors of any city in the world and it’s important that we protect such a valuable asset.
The seismic investment in housing and infrastructure will also help us cope with the region’s growth. Economic success can present a challenge and we know that can put pressure on our transport system, public services and on house prices. The new coalition is determined that the benefits of economic success work to benefit our whole society. Better employment and training opportunities and improving access to vocational education will help ensure that the sectors of our economy that are driving the growth of the City provide opportunities to people in all our communities.
This is a big city and we have big ideas. We’re not put off by a challenge. There may be times when we fail, but we would rather fail in ambition than succeed in mediocrity.
Since being elected council leader, some have told me to “focus on bins and potholes and don’t waste time on the big stuff”. I understand why people say that and we have a big job to do in sorting these services out but this city and this council is bigger than its core services.
Our focus is going to be on making Edinburgh the best capital city it can be. Better bin collections, better transport, better roads, better housing, better education. Our city is getting bigger, we’re aiming to make sure it’s better too.