I was delighted to attend Stronger North’s public meeting recently, which brought together the Stronger North Group, elected members from the city council and MSPs and various other partner organisations.
Its purpose was to report back on the recent initiative called Operation Myriad which Stronger North re-launched on June 23 in response to antisocial behaviour and violence specifically in Muirhouse and West Pilton which dedicated local and national police resources and local partnership resources to tackle these issues. This included high-visibility policing, the gathering of intelligence and identifying the small minority of individuals who are creating the problems. Fire and rescue, police and council officers visited primary schools across the area to engage with children in a pro-active manner. At the same time, they encouraged members of the public to report and come forward giving information to increase intelligence. Police Scotland reported tremendous results in the reduction of vandalism, crime and antisocial behaviour which I am sure will be publicised through their own forum.
One of the most pleasing aspects for me was the welcoming and friendly manner that the additional officers, drafted in from various parts of Scotland, were received by the community. So often the bad news stories are reported which overshadow the vast majority of the good, friendly and welcoming people of north Edinburgh.
Thanks obviously go to Stronger North and all who participated in Operation Myriad but mostly to the community for their response. As we move into a new era of change within the North-West sector and the introduction of Localities, the good work done by this group will become the cornerstone of the Localities Model. Public safety is paramount and crime and antisocial behaviour will not be tolerated.
Another key element of the new locality model of decision-making will be the citizens and communities throughout the district. Better community engagement will set local priorities and better inform the council of the actions required to make every member of the public feel safe and confident within an improving environment. The shift to more robust local decision-making is to comply with The Community Empowerment Act which acknowledges the leading role that the communities across Edinburgh must play in setting local priorities.
Within the new structure, services such as community safety, roads, environmental services, housing and health and social care will all be involved at the top level. Police Scotland, Scottish Fire and Rescue and community groups such as community councils, and parent-teacher councils will all come together to support the aims and expectations of the community.
However, the key to the new model’s success is the participation of the citizens. As we move into the next phase of implementing the new structure I am sure all elected members will help, support and carry out their responsibilities to the electorate that they serve. North Edinburgh deserves a thriving vibrant, safe community. By working together, we can ensure that north Edinburgh remains stronger.
George Gordon is an SNP councillor for Forth Ward