Edinburgh Council: Meet the new boss, same as the old boss? - Kevin Buckle

I’m sure I won’t be the only columnist to write about the new administration at Edinburgh Council and of course there are very different views already.
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My own thoughts were how any new administration would deal with the many issues facing the city centre. There was an immediate worry in that two of the city centre councillors are new to the council and time will tell how they settle in but they do really need to hit the floor running.

On the plus side the other two councillors in Jo Mowat and Claire Miller are widely experienced. I was a little surprised Labour and the SNP would put up such inexperienced candidates in the city centre and hopefully that does not indicate where there priorities lie.

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Though it is early days, worryingly I haven’t seen many councillors talk about Edinburgh’s businesses and there hasn’t been much mention of recovery from the pandemic.

After a council election planning attitudes can often change. I remember during my time at the Tron Kirk being told plans for it to be a restaurant had been in place and the tourist information centre inside had already left in readiness when after an election the plans were thrown out and the building left empty.

A similar thing happened with the hotel plans for the Old Royal High School, of course. This was actually a council idea that lost by the narrowest of margins on its first application but by the time plans were revised to allow for concerns the new planninmg committee threw it out unanimously.

It will be interesting to see how the new planning committee views the many change of uses that will come their way as retail outlets are targeted for restaurants and coffee shops. Quite what will happen over Underbelly and the Christmas and New Year festivities is anybody’s guess but it was always felt there was too cosy a relationship between Underbelly and the council so that may well change.

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What I’m sure of is the very active active travel lobby will be a major thorn in the new administration’s side as whatever they do will never be good enough. That is one scenario I really don’t see ending well.

I’ve been told before by experienced councillors that it does take some time for the new people to bed in and of course there is even more disruption when there is a change of administration. It doesn’t bode well for the next few months and really as we start to recover from the pandemic in so many ways it is time we don’t have.

On the plus side things like rubbish being collected and potholes being fixed are not issues that any party should be against, though they have not always appeared a priority in recent years. Hopefully less exciting matters like this will be tackled now more vigorously.

While many people understandably vote SNP in council elections because they support independence that is not really something councils can influence and instead there has been a feeling that SNP councillors in Edinburgh at least very much follow the policies of the Scottish Greens.

As one customer said to me today. “It’s OK saying vote Labour get Tory but I voted SNP and got Greens.”