Fair funding for Edinburgh: Nicola Sturgeon must be made to realise Scotland's Capital needs investment – Hal Osler

Over the last 18 months, I’ve been struck by the community spirit which thrives throughout our city.

Monday, 13th September 2021, 4:55 am
Next year's Edinburgh Council elections are a chance to send a message to both Holyrood and Westminster (Picture: Lisa Ferguson)

But we know communities depend on facilities: libraries, community centres, public toilets, sports grounds, quality greenspaces: they all contribute to vibrant and diverse places to live and visit.

Covid has been a wake-up call and we need to listen. It took no time at all to shut the city down and close public facilities. However it has taken a lot of time to get just some of these facilities operating again and the task isn’t completed yet.

A proportion of individuals within our city are digitally excluded, and these days, when accessing the majority of public services, information is provided online.

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Amongst their various services, many modern libraries provide access to computers and helpful, friendly assistance. Our community centres provide safe spaces for interaction from the youngest to the oldest among us. All this is vital, when we consider the importance of inclusion, communication and caring for each other.

Not all communities have a library or a community centre but hopefully they do have a park or greenspace. In lockdown, many of us benefited from the abundance of greenspace we are fortunate to enjoy in Edinburgh.

As well as allowing us to improve our physical health, they are very important to our mental well-being and to enable us to socialise safely.

Sadly, many of our greenspaces have suffered from littering, smashed bottles, fires, graffiti and criminal damage. We are grateful to council waste officers, friends of our parks, litter-picking groups and organisations like the Water of Leith Trust for their tireless efforts to keep the worst at bay.

Our parks need a proper maintenance budget to allow for more grass/hedge/tree cutting, and the removal of waste – and graffiti. They also need investment in accessible toilet facilities, upgraded play equipment, sports facilities and proper drainage, if they are to be safe spaces for future generations to enjoy.

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This investment is also important to reduce issues with anti-social behaviour – and we need to re-engage with individuals left behind during Covid.

Moving around, you see the poor state of our pavements, so broken and uneven in places that some are convinced it is easier and safer to walk on the road.

The lack of dropped kerbs in residential areas makes access harder for individuals using mobility aids or with buggies. All these things need to be addressed if we are to encourage and support residents to walk, wheel and cycle.

The last 18 months have made us all think carefully about what is important to us and the communities we live in.

In next May’s council elections, we will have to answer some important questions: What do we value about Edinburgh? Where should we focus limited public resources? What improvements do we want to demand for our local communities?

That election offers a chance for a fresh start; a chance to get the basics right: a chance to elect a council that listens and acts. It’s also a critical chance to send the strongest message to both Holyrood and Westminster that, as Scotland’s Capital, Edinburgh deserves proper investment and fair funding.

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