Boris Johnson resignation wrangles highlight the need for good leadership – Ewan Aitken

Given the current political turmoil, it’s easy to feel disheartened.

Extending bus lane hours might not be popular with some but could benefit Edinburgh's transport system (Picture: Steven Scott Taylor)
Extending bus lane hours might not be popular with some but could benefit Edinburgh's transport system (Picture: Steven Scott Taylor)

The constant stop/start of decision-making, the back and forth between ministers, who only days ago rallied behind the Prime Minister, is frankly exhausting to watch, never mind being involved in. I can only imagine how frustrated the teams of individuals that support ministers are feeling, amid the uncertainty and precariousness of their working lives.

It would be easy to assume this is a unique scenario, but we can see these tensions existing closer to home in our own councils.

Hide Ad

The council elections left us in a situation where we’re going to have to rely on different factions working through a series of negotiations to achieve a decision that best fits our communities. This isn’t always a smooth process and, much like we’re seeing now on the Tory benches, can become a real blocker to progress.

More than ever, it’s essential to create space for difficult conversations, not to simply disagree and launch winning party-lines that grab social media attention or headlines, but to truly find a middle ground that best serves our communities. It has to be less about the party, more about the people councillors were elected to represent.

At Cyrenians, we have years of experience in helping to create safe spaces for conversations that can get sticky fast. We know a mutual respect and a commitment to truly hearing each other is where the real work happens.

Hide Ad

Take for example the Scottish Greens and Labour councillors, who in many cases sit on opposite sides of the fence, working together to explore expanding bus lane times to reduce traffic and congestion, improve transport connections and support our city towards a more sustainable future.

Read More
At 60, I know it is not age that matters, but what you do with what you’ve learn...
Hide Ad

A few years ago, when I wore a very different hat, I was part of the conversation consulting on bus lanes and I’m glad to see them being reconsidered again. Following a 12.5 per cent rise in population over the last decade, our city is simply not able to run efficiently and support the needs of our thriving communities.

The proposal to extend bus lanes to 7am-7pm is a welcome one. We need to lead the way in making decisions that may seem unpopular initially (no one wants to be sat in traffic), but ultimately help future-proof our city and help to create a well-connected, well-run transport system.

Hide Ad

These conversations are not easy: car commuters may feel frustrated about the potential of further traffic delays. However, against a backdrop of economic uncertainty, rising fuel costs and diminishing disposable income, we need to start making drastic changes.

Affordable and efficient public transport is one way to do this. Both sides of this debate will have different concerns, but ultimately bringing these opposing ideas to the table will only strengthen the final outcome. When we consider the many, we provide better opportunities for all.

Hide Ad

The constant uncertainty we’re all experiencing right now as a result of a turbulent economic and political environment means we need leaders who are transparent, clear communicators, willing to not only listen, but truly hear the kaleidoscope of human experience.

We need leaders who will welcome difficult conversations and provide the space to have them, even when we may think we already know all we need to.

Hide Ad

Ewan Aitken is CEO of Cyrenians