Despite lack of Tory support, Edinburgh Poverty Commission could transform city, writes Cammy Day.
While I am proud of all that we achieved over the past 12 months, and that Edinburgh continues to thrive as a vibrant and affluent city, the fact that an estimated 22 per cent (35 per cent in some areas of the city) of our children grow up in poverty is simply not acceptable. The truth is, our city is divided – and we must do more to ensure the opportunities generated by this city can be reached and enjoyed by all.
This is why, at council, I was delighted to vote for, and see passed (despite a typical lack of support from the Tories) the establishment of the Edinburgh Poverty Commission.
Over the coming summer months, I will be bringing together a group of key professionals from across all sectors in the city to form the Commission. Our mandate will be to explore the reasons why poverty persists and divides in this city. READ MORE: Cammy Day: Council plans to make North Edinburgh next go-to-place
We’ll be speaking to local individuals, visiting communities and taking recommendations back to the council for what we can do to see real, systematic change.
Last week, I took a walk round my old ward of Muirhouse (with the creator of Leith Walks’ Trainspotting tour, Tim Bell) who will be publishing a book soon on how the area was portrayed in the legendary 1996 film. On our walk, we talked about how different life is here since the Trainspotting days of the 90s; how new opportunities, like housing, schools, businesses have made life better for this little part of the city.
I first got into politics because I wanted to do exactly that; to make life better for the people of this city in the little ways that I could. My hope is that, through the work of the Poverty Commission, we can walk around other parts of our city in 10 years’ time, and, like the Muirhouse story, talk about how much better life is here.
I have loved my first year serving this city as part of the administration. But I want to use my second year as Depute Leader to stand against the causes and symptoms of poverty – and to help make sure the lifestyle and opportunities our great capital city offers can be enjoyed by all.
Staying with council business last week, I was delighted to join Council Leader Adam McVey in signing the Cooperative Party’s Charter Against Modern Slavery. Many English local authorities have already signed up but we are the first in Scotland to do so.
Modern slavery is one of the great evils of our time and it’s happening under our noses. In nail bars, car washes, farms, factories and restaurants, it is estimated that tens of thousands of people in the UK could be victims.
By signing up, we have committed ourselves to ensuring that we aren’t tainted by inadvertently funding exploitation; that none of our spending on goods and services should enrich traffickers and slave drivers.
I would encourage all other Scottish councils to follow suit in signing up to the charter and bringing these evil practices to an end.
Have a great summer!
Cammy Day is the Labour group leader on Edinburgh City Council