Edinburgh Council elections: SNP can be defeated and here's why they should be – Iain Whyte
As New Year celebrations fade, most of us start to think about the year ahead. For those of us on the council, this is especially pertinent with elections coming in May.
Many residents regularly voice their concerns about a council that they say ignores their views, neglects basic services and wastes their money.
But I’m also told too many people just blame the council as a whole and don’t consider who’s running things. After all, you need to know who to sack if you want change.
Let’s be clear. For the last five years, the SNP have run the council in a coalition that annexed Labour’s dwindling band of councillors and has the encouragement and backing of their independence-seeking chums in the Greens on almost every issue.
Last week, columnist and former SNP group leader Steve Cardownie seemed to argue the SNP should have a lot to be punished for in the local elections, not least the botched Spaces for People schemes and the failure to listen to residents’ views about them.
But he reckoned they might be saved by national politics over-riding council issues at the ballot box.
It was a tacit admission that the Conservatives are the main challengers on the council, having been effective in opposing the SNP throughout and voted down repeatedly for suggesting the council listen to the public.
The SNP have reasons to try to deflect to national issues as they’ve lost the local arguments. It’s all they have left when 2021 saw Edinburgh plummet below even “filthy” Glasgow in the street cleanliness stakes and the trials of expensive new “communal bin hubs” look just as graffitied, disorganised and prone to indiscriminate dumping as the old system.
They’re failing on their chosen issues too. The climate strategy has no funding or delivery plan – does anyone really think this council can achieve a net-zero city in only eight years?
Their own poverty commission told them housing costs were the primary cause of poverty, but they have only built half the social housing they promised. And their new 2030 planning strategy has been criticised by housebuilders for failing to produce enough places to build – all pushing up housing costs.
Worst of all they plan to completely ignore the public again after the election and force through huge new parking permit zones with far fewer spaces. All in areas where the locals say they are not needed or wanted.
Rather than help people change to electric vehicles, they just want to prevent them having one, regardless of necessity to family life or, for some, basic mobility.
I believe many people are genuinely angry about the council and will change it if they see how. Remember trams the first time around? That created a seismic change in a council election with the Lib Dems punished for their running of the project as it went off the rails. It shows that you can get the change you want if you vote for it.
Here’s to a happy 2022 for all Evening News readers. Just remember, as you look ahead to May, that you get what you vote for. Don’t be taken in by the deflection of charlatans. Vote for councillors who will deliver what you want and need.
Iain Whyte is Conservative councillor for Inverleith