Cllr Cammy Day reflects on his first 12 months as Council leader and looks forward to the year ahead…
Much has happened over the past 12 months and I’m immensely proud of the resilience and dedication of council colleagues and our partners as they’ve responded to the major challenges put in front of them: the city’s humanitarian response to Russia’s illegal war on Ukraine, last year’s bin strikes and the death of HM the Queen, to name but a few.
We’ve done this while staying true to the priorities laid out in the Council Business Plan: tackling poverty, playing our part in the global fight against climate change by becoming a net zero city by 2030 and creating good places to live and work for you, our residents.
We’ve continued to help those in need throughout the cost-of-living crisis, providing £8m in direct cash payments, energy grants, debt relief and other support, while delivering the much-heralded ‘Warm & Welcoming Spaces’ scheme over the cold winter months.
Creating a green, integrated transport system is essential if we’re to meet our ambitious 2030
targets and the Trams to Newhaven project is a key part of that. Set to come in on time and on
budget, the line will bring huge economic, social and environmental benefits to North Edinburgh – and beyond – while linking the city centre with one of our most important and ambitious
developments in decades: the regeneration of Granton Waterfront, creating 3500 new affordable low carbon homes and Europe’s largest coastal park.
You told us to get the basics right and focus on improving our everyday services, from roads and potholes to housing and education – and that’s exactly what we’re doing.
The latest street cleanliness scores tell us that we’ve reached pre-Covid levels and are performing better than similar council areas. Missed kerbside collections are at their lowest level for three years, reports of overflowing communal bins are reducing – by an incredible 85 per cent - and we’ve seen a rise of almost 10 per cent in mixed recyclables collected citywide.
Taken alongside the £3 million we’re spending on our new Cleansing Action Plan – focusing on additional litter picking, overnight cleansing services and a free uplift service for residents on lower incomes – we’re definitely on the right track.
I know that many of you are concerned about the condition of our roads and pavements – as am I. While this is not unique to a city like Edinburgh, especially with years of government underinvestment, we’ve doubled our spending on this to £22 million this year.
Meanwhile, we’re making improvements to over 3000 homes, making them more modern, comfortable, greener and accessible, and we’re investing £173 million over the next year to bring new life into old council homes. No one should have to suffer through issues like damp and mould in their home and, through our leading ‘whole house retrofit’ approach, we’re making our homes more energy efficient, resolving issues with damp and helping tenants reduce their fuel costs.
Our school communities continue to thrive and we’ve a planned spend of well over £400m during the next ten years. I’m delighted that work is about to begin on a replacement for Liberton High School. Once complete, the new campus will offer so much more for our young people – and for the wider community.
Our people and our communities are our biggest asset and in my role as leader, I’ll continue to do everything in my power to help everyone thrive and grow for a better future. We’ve shown over the last year that we can rise to major challenges, and I’ve no doubt that we’ll continue to do so over the next 12 months – and beyond.