We’re committed to making Edinburgh a fairer city for all – George Gordon
To become a fairer city where everyone can benefit from Edinburgh’s success, we need to take united action against inequality.
So, as we rebuild our communities and the economy from the Covid-19 crisis, we’ll be taking lessons learned from lockdown and listening intently to the voices of residents from our minority and traditionally disadvantaged groups.
We have a chance to shape a ‘new normal’ for the city and this is an opportunity we will not miss.
Within the council, we are already seeking out views from our colleague networks on how we can better promote diversity and inclusion among staff and in our recruitment processes.
Just this week we have launched a new campaign to highlight the policies we have in place to make our workplace culture one of the most inclusive in Scotland.
The Poverty Commission is pulling together feedback from people who have been unfairly disadvantaged by Covid-19 and I am in touch with equalities networks to truly understand how certain groups have been impacted.
We are on the cusp of a global recession and we need to make sure we put the right measures in place to support people at risk of unemployment or reduced opportunities, so that we can aim to create a more level playing field in a post-Covid economy.
During the last few months, we saw our usual way of life and leisure activities taken away from us. But not being able to enjoy society fully with a trip to the theatre or day out with family is a battle people with certain disabilities face year in, year out. That is why the Scottish-government backed Spaces for People programme, which promotes wheelchair and wider access to high streets and other parts of the city, is such an important measure for Edinburgh.
As businesses re-open, we want to make sure everyone can get out of lockdown and enjoy everything which makes Edinburgh such a great city to live in.
All of us have also experienced a very different type of August without the buzz and packed High Street of the Fringe. And, as we develop plans for re-introducing events next year and designing our winter festivals, we also need to push for accessible routes for those who need them.
Of course, our moves to make Edinburgh a more disabled friendly and equal city are not merely a response to the current crisis. This is something I have been championing since coming into my Equalities role and we have worked hard to highlight the rights and needs of disadvantaged residents in everything we do.
The ban on ‘A’ boards has been hailed as a success by equalities groups like the RNIB and Edinburgh Access Panel. I am proud that Edinburgh was the first city to introduce this. We were also the first to bring in new-build planning rules to promote the latest, safest design for disabled residents.
Personally, I’m pleased we were also able to reach an agreement on necessary wheelchair spaces on buses and our swift and ongoing response to the Black Lives Matter movement is also going to change our city for the better.
I stand ready to advocate for what we need to keep achieving, now and over the next 12 months to come.
Cllr George Gordon is the City of Edinburgh Council’s Equalities Champion