Edinburgh New Year Message: Much to be proud of, and more to look forward to - Adam McVey & Cammy Day

As we say farewell to 2021 we want to take this opportunity to recognise the many people who have protected, served and inspired us during this year.

From the NHS and our care workers to refuse collectors, supermarket staff to community volunteers. Thank you so much for everything you do.

Thanks also to the businesses who have strived to adapt and survive and, of course, all of you who have made so many personal sacrifices to limit the spread of this virus.

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As a city, we’ve shown real grit, community spirit and resilience through everything the pandemic has thrown at us – and I have no doubt that we’ll continue this into the new year.

As we look back on the year, there’s a lot more to be proud of. In November we supported Glasgow to host one of the biggest events the country has ever seen – the COP26 climate conference.

Not only did we help our neighbours stage this global event, but we took our own strides to tackle the climate emergency. Last month we approved our 2030 Climate Strategy, which sets out a greener, fairer, climate ready future for the Capital, achieving our ambitious net zero 2030 goals.

We’re already making headway – in November we became the only city in Scotland to be awarded with the highest rating for climate action by the Carbon Disclosure Project (CDP), recognising the steps we’re taking to manage the Capital’s environmental impacts.

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There’s still a great deal of work to be done, but we’re ready to take the bull by the horns.

In September we unveiled bold proposals for our next local development plan, City Plan 2030. If approved by the Scottish Government, it will be a game-changer for the way we develop the city and the associated carbon footprint, not to mention boosts to wellbeing, affordable housing and jobs.

The City Mobility Plan, approved in February, sets out a plan for delivering a better connected, net zero transport system. With road traffic a major contributor to harmful greenhouse gases, it’s essential that we rethink the way we move around the city. We’re already making great progress with a range of exciting projects to do this, including Trams to Newhaven, City Centre West to East link, and plans to transform George Street.

The changing climate is not the only challenge we face. Sadly, poverty continues to affect many of our residents, despite our strong economy. We’re committed to helping everyone to share in the city’s success – we really want to end poverty, once and for all. Amongst the actions we’re taking, we’re really focusing on making sure everyone has a comfortable place to live.

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Access to a home is a basic right and, thankfully, through our work with third sector partners, we’ve seen the number of people rough sleeping in the city drop. Throughout the pandemic our Homelessness and Advice Service showed exceptional dedication, delivering vital support to the most vulnerable people in the city and finding secure places for households to stay.

Providing quality, affordable homes is essential to tackling the housing crisis, and we’re still on track to build 20,000 affordable homes by 2027. Major projects like the regeneration of Powderhall, New Fountainbridge and the transformation of Granton waterfront – our £1.3bn project to create one of the

most sustainable, vibrant new coastal towns in Scotland – will significantly boost our housing stock.

We want to create a truly equal city for future generations, which is why we’re proud to have been awarded Living Wage City status, meaning fair pay, fair hours and respect at work. This year, the Edinburgh Guarantee also marked a milestone, celebrating ten years of helping young people, and now expanding to support all ages and backgrounds access fair work, training and employment opportunities.

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It goes without saying that the staff working in our schools have gone above and beyond over the past year, and all our pupils and their families deserve special thanks for their ongoing resilience. I’d also like

to send a thank you to all of those other teams supporting schools, children and families. We’ve had a greater focus on outdoor learning and our EPIC days in June saw over 3,000 pupils enjoy an outdoor

adventure experience at Bonaly.

Next year we have new or replacement schools due to open at Castlebrae, St Crispins, Victoria Primary, Canaan Lane and major works at Darroch and Boroughmuir – all part of our financial commitment as part of our ambitious new school building programme which will see more than £500m planned investment over the next decade.

While recent years have meant we haven’t been able to enjoy our festivals and attractions in the same way we’re used to, we know they’ll be back. We were all disappointed at the cancellation of Hogmanay festivities, but it was absolutely for the right reasons – the public’s wellbeing is our number one priority.

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It was fantastic that we were able to enjoy our summer festivals once again this year, albeit on a reduced basis. Our teams worked tirelessly with partners to make sure the programme could go ahead

safely and in line with Scottish Government guidance and I want to pay tribute to the Team Edinburgh approach that’s allowed this to happen.

We’re confident our vibrant network of independent businesses and hospitality venues, too, will be back to full capacity before long. They’ve experienced some of their toughest periods during 2020 and 2021

and we’ve been doing everything we can to support them – and will continue to do so over the difficult months ahead.

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We know that this isn’t the Christmas and New Year many of us would have wished for. But what we’ve shown over the last year is that we’re an incredibly resilient, adaptable city, with so much to be hopeful about. Let’s stick with it, Edinburgh.

Wishing you all the very best for 2022.

Council Leader, Adam McVey and Depute Leader, Cammy Day

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