Edinburgh's community councils need you! Covid lockdown has seen a fall in numbers of people doing this vital job – Robert Aldridge

We don’t hear nearly enough about the great work done by community councils across the city.
Community councillors in Corstorphine have been at the forefront of a campaign about parking problemsCommunity councillors in Corstorphine have been at the forefront of a campaign about parking problems
Community councillors in Corstorphine have been at the forefront of a campaign about parking problems

Normally meeting monthly, they get through a power of work safeguarding and improving the local communities they represent.

In my own area, both community councils are scrupulously non-party political and run by a group of dedicated volunteers. Both are very effective at holding local councillors to account and supporting us in campaigns to improve the local community, as well as campaigning on issues they identify.

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They were a vital support in the achievement of the Drum Brae Leisure Centre and Drum Brae Library hub, and more recently have highlighted and led pressure to find a solution to parking issues in Corstorphine, for example.

As Liberal Democrats, we are keen to ensure that more decisions about local matters are made at a local level. The council is already committed to developing the idea of 20-minute neighbourhoods where people can access a range of services within a 20-minute walk from their home, and that needs an approach which is sensitive to local needs and priorities.

So community councils should have a major part to play in the future of our city.

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However many are facing difficulties at the moment. The Covid lockdown periods have made meetings difficult and a number have seen a drop-off in active members. They can make a real difference to everyday life in the community from small individual improvements to influencing major planning decisions.

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So I am sure all community councils would welcome anyone interested in helping their own community to achieve net-zero through local action, who are concerned about any local issue and who want to improve their area. Please get involved and make a difference.

On another subject, the council has received a horrific report about abuse perpetrated by a senior official. I have nothing but admiration for the courage of the survivors who came forward and hope the council can take action on an all-party basis to ensure this does not happen again.

So I hope that the attempt by some councillors to create a public sideshow about the alleged behaviour of a councillor as he read the report is dealt with by the Standards Commission so that we can keep our focus totally on addressing the concerns of the survivors of abuse instead of turning the spotlight onto ourselves.

Meanwhile, it has to be said that Edinburgh does civic ceremony really well. I was part of a massive celebration of the 250th anniversary of Sir Walter Scott at the end of October.

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The Lord Lyon, royal heralds, white horses, pipes and drums, judges, academics, civic leaders and even dogs were part of an enormous and colourful procession through the city. Yet not a word or even a screenshot from our national broadcaster.

It’s time to stand up for Edinburgh and make sure we are not airbrushed out by the Glasgow-based broadcast media.

Robert Aldridge is a Scottish Liberal Democrat councillor for Drum Brae and Gyle, and his party’s group leader on Edinburgh City Council

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