Fighting to combat a city funding shortfall - Cammy Day

Cammy Day, leader of City of Edinburgh CouncilCammy Day, leader of City of Edinburgh Council
Cammy Day, leader of City of Edinburgh Council
​I’d like to wish you all a very happy, healthy and peaceful new year. It was a fitting send off for 2023 with our world-famous Midnight Moment once again enjoyed by tens of thousands of revellers in the streets and from vantage points across the city – and, of course, on millions of TV screens across the world.

Some 85,000 people enjoyed 14 events across our four-day Edinburgh’s Hogmanay party, which marked 30 years since the first event in 1993.

Highlights this year included the return of the hugely popular Torchlight Procession with its 10,000 flaming torches and 30 Vikings, the Street Party with a massive 24 hours of live music and over 50 street performers, Concert in the Gardens with Pulp and finishing off with the First Footin’ and Sprogmanay on New Year’s Day.

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I’d also add that Edinburgh’s Hogmanay brings over £48m in economic benefit for our city, providing welcome boosts to local residents and businesses. Edinburgh truly is the Home of Hogmanay and I’d like to thank you all for being part of it.

Time for a Visitor Levy

Putting on such a spectacular show is no mean feat of course, and we make every effort to keep Edinburgh’s events world-leading while managing the impact they have. It’s one of the reasons why I’ve long campaigned for the powers to introduce a visitor levy to generate millions of pounds in additional revenue to further support, sustain and develop our visitor economy, and our city.

Such a levy is commonplace in many other major cities across the world and Edinburgh deserves the same opportunity. I am pushing for local flexibility on how this additional money can be spent, bringing significant additional benefits to our residents, businesses and visitors. A levy is simply what Edinburgh needs as a huge tourist attraction, bucket-list destination and the engine room of Scotland’s economy.

Scottish Budget and Local Government Finance Settlement

It is important to stress that any revenue generated by an Edinburgh levy is additional and in no way offsets the unwelcome Christmas gift presented to us by the SNP-led Scottish Government in the shape of a huge budget reduction to core Council services.

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The Deputy First Minister presented the draft one-year Scottish Budget to the Scottish Parliament just before Christmas, detailing an estimated £63m Scotland-wide reduction in core-funding. And to say I am appalled would be an understatement.

For Edinburgh, the lowest funded local authority in Scotland, this makes it harder for us to build homes in the face of a housing emergency. This poses a huge threat to our ability to provide essential local services – libraries, parks and leisure centres - all central to our lives and wellbeing.

This, to quote my COSLA colleagues, is a missed opportunity for the communities of Scotland to properly tackle poverty and face into the ever-worsening climate crisis.

I’ve written to all of Edinburgh’s MSPs, and the Deputy First Minister, to voice my concerns on the severe implications this budget will have on our city and to ask for their support. I won’t rest until we have a fairly funded capital city.

Thank You

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While we continue to fight for fairer funding to deliver the very best public services, I’d like to thank you all for your contribution to the city in 2023 – from our council colleagues keeping the streets clean and moving and caring for our older residents, to the NHS staff keeping us here and healthy, and of course to our emergency services for ensuring the city is safe to enjoy.

I know, for many, the work never stops, but whether you’re taking time off or are working to keep our city going, I want to thank you all for your hard work and commitment over what has been another challenging but rewarding year here in our wonderful capital city.

Cammy Day is Leader of Edinburgh City Council

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