Edinburgh Council's dictatorial attitudes to local people will not help in difficult winter ahead – Iain Whyte
As I write this the city around me is still being cleaned up after the 12-day bin strike that left us with streets like middens. I hope it is clean before Tuesday when we might see the cycle start again. That is, if last-minute talks involving the First Minister don’t get a resolution now she has finished her Fringe appearances.
The bin strike exposes a blatant SNP attempt to manipulate the facts to blame someone else, or simply blame Edinburgh for a Scotland-wide strike. But any basic attempt to listen would have recognised there is no more money in councils and the lowest paid staff must be helped.
The same thing happens in the council. The hard-left alliance of SNP and Greens tried to stop any attempts to mitigate serious health hazards during the strike. They even used it as a reason to avoid meetings in the City Chambers. That may suit their “right on” sentiments but ignores the needs of the public they are meant to serve.
Back in the City Chambers last Thursday the ear-plugs were in again for the transport committee as the SNP/Green alliance voted to keep the Spaces for People measures that have caused so much concern around the Edinburgh.
What were meant to be temporary emergency measures, definitely not permanent by the back door, are now being “trialled” as permanent through an experimental process.
Even schemes like Braid Road, that were meant to be ripped out last year, are to remain.
The new Labour minority administration started by saying it would listen and look for consensus. But on these schemes, they are no better. Scott “Spokes” Arthur, the Labour transport convener, wanted “workshops” instead of imposition. But council workshops are only ever likely to be an opportunity to tell objectors how misguided they are.
Labour’s lip-service to listening only extended to schemes affecting the convener’s ward and the Lib Dems were similar, limiting their opposition to Silverknowes in their West Edinburgh heartland.
I am proud of my two Conservative colleagues on the committee, brand new councillors from May, who stuck to their guns and proposed precisely what we said in our manifesto. Remove the schemes the public oppose.
Give back people’s access to their homes in places like Duddingston Road West in my ward. And come up with proper, well-designed and permanent active-travel schemes that we can all support.
Everyone who voted SNP, Green or even Labour in May who wants rid of the imposition outside their house, who fumes as their bus is held up, or finds their air quality and quality of life damaged by congestion – what have you achieved?
Vote SNP or Green, nationally or locally, and get a condescending dictatorship. They know best and they will tell you how to live your life.
If the council is to be a help through the difficult winter months ahead, keeping services running as costs increase and budgets are squeezed, we must listen to the people of Edinburgh. Any consensus needs to be with the public, not dictatorial political parties.
Councillor Iain Whyte is Conservative group leader