The facts are that according to the council accounts and Audit Scotland, the General Reserves of the council were £20.8 million at March 31, 2007 (up from £11.8m in 1999), and total reserves were £51.9m at March 31, 2007 (up from £21m in 1999). Edinburgh has never had reserves in the order of £370,000 and it is ludicrous to suggest that it has.
Indeed the outgoing council added more than £31m to council balances from the sale of the Haymarket gap site to ensure that the incoming council had money to cover the costs of delivering equal pay – then estimated at £30m. Edinburgh was the only council in Scotland to have such funding set aside.
It is true that the incoming council inherited a deficit of £6m in 2007, but that figure only arose in the final quarter of the financial year, and I attribute that deficit to the lack of management controls exercised over that period. To put that £6m figure in perspective, it is a tiny fraction of the overspend on the tram system, the repayments for which will dwarf £6m in Edinburgh City Council’s budget every year for the foreseeable future.
Before tram critics leap in, I have said many times that I am more than happy to answer questions and answer for my role as council leader. But as I have also said, I cannot be held accountable for what happened after I left the council.
It is important for the people of Edinburgh to understand that the financial situation facing the council now is significantly more challenging than in 2007.
Donald Anderson, The Spinney, Edinburgh
Vulnerable at risk from failed policy
I have been in correspondence with Kenny MacAskill regarding the Protecting Vulnerable Groups scheme. The latest letter I have received from the Scottish Government states the following from Aileen Campbell MSP, Minister for Children and Young People:
“At present Disclosure Scotland does not have access to information about foreign nationals working in Scotland. It is the responsibility of the individual to provide that information to the employer if they are asked to do so. Disclosure Scotland has been working with UK Government about putting in place agreements to access information from outwith the UK but there are no agreements in place yet.”
This is not acceptable and I would like people to know that there is every possibility that we have foreign nationals working in care homes and supporting people with learning difficulties, that have not had the same checks as our own workers. This is a failed system. If records cannot be checked they should be employed in other areas.
Iris Dewar, Edinburgh
Dawe leaves with integrity intact
I was sorry to see that Jenny Dawe lost her seat at the election. Enoch Powell said all political careers end in failure, but that is not the case for Jenny Dawe who leaves politics (perhaps not for the last time) with her reputation for honesty and integrity intact and as someone who has stood by her principles in the face of strong criticism for her position on the trams.
It is now for others to step in to the firing line. I hope they have thick skins as they try to change things in Edinburgh.
George Ritchie, North Gyle Terrace, Edinburgh.
No right to moan if you didn’t vote
I was disappointed to hear of the low turnout at the Edinburgh City Council elections (News, May 4).
I hear nothing but complaints – from friends, family and strangers overheard on the bus – about the way the recent administration has run this city, most notably about the trams debacle and the statutory repairs scandal. I honestly thought that these issues had people fired up enough to go and boot those responsible out of the council.
Clearly there is such apathy, or perhaps just acceptance, among the citizens of Edinburgh that they can’t take five minutes out of their day to vote. Shame on them.
Veronica Noble, Blackford, Edinburgh