Well, here we are. Festival season 2018 is well and truly upon us. Our hotels are full, bars and restaurants are busy, and the streets are buzzing with tens of thousands of people from across the world arriving to enjoy the festival celebrations in our beautiful capital city.
So far, I’ve had the pleasure of speaking at our International Jazz and Blues Festival, enjoyed a performance of Davina and the Vagabonds, and am looking forward to the excellent Soweto Gospel Choir, amongst other things, in the coming weeks.
When I think about all the festivals that are running in the summer in Edinburgh and all the opportunities and fun they bring, I feel incredibly blessed to call this city home.
As Depute Leader, I am aware of my responsibility to steward these long-established festivities in the best way I can. I want to make sure they continue to flourish, give our budding creative citizens the audiences and career breaks they deserve; as well continuing to attract and impress visitors from across the world.
This is why council leader Adam McVey and I are working hard to be ambitious and dynamic about growing and expanding our city. We are pushing forward with an emerging “Tourism Levy” and are heartened by the growing level of cross-industry support for it.
Similarly, I’m focused on getting the tram extension through Leith to Newhaven agreed and in the bag as well. Better connections across our many differing and diverse neighbourhoods will be key to ensuring the festivities and activity of the city centre can be enjoyed and shared by all.
But while I’m keen to be ambitious with the growth and creativity of city, I am equally committed to ensuring that no-one is left behind. For starters, last year I backed Unite’s Fair Fringe Charter to spread fair and equal working practices across all venues and I look forward to seeing the outcomes of that work this year and review further if we need to. But on a wider scale, last month, I was pleased to have the support of the council to commence with our Edinburgh Poverty Commission and me and my team have been exploring the design of this over the summer.
This week, I went through to Glasgow to meet with Elaine Downie from Faith in Community Scotland, who is lead co-ordinator for the Poverty Truth Commission. This is a programme of work that facilitates conversations between decision-makers and individuals with lived experience of poverty. The outcome of this work has empowered citizens, who previously might have been felt isolated or powerless, to make significant recommendations for the change they want to see. We have to get this right within our Commission too. We must approach, speak to and offer individuals the opportunity, that they might not usually get, to make their own recommendations for change.
In the next few weeks, I’ll be seeking out a trusty co-chair and establishing full membership of the commission – I’m excited to get to work!
But, in the meantime, I plan to enjoy yet another fabulous festival summer in this unique city and hope you find time to do so too.
Cllr Cammy Day is Depute Leader of Edinburgh City Council