Readers' letters: Edinburgh must do more for homeless

SNP favourite – and a likely challenger to Nicola Sturgeon sooner rather than later - former MP and now SNP MSP Angus Robertson started out well in his regular column (News, 22 March) under the heading "We have a responsibility to provide the homeless with safe and secure lives and work with dignity".

By The Newsroom
Friday, 25th March 2022, 7:00 am

As an MSP for the Edinburgh Central area he will be aware that we have a major homelessness challenge, often exacerbated by drug misuse arising from SNP austerity alongside poverty, inequalities and vulnerability, in many areas of the city, including "his" constituency.

He might find time well spent, therefore, were he talk to the SNP leader of the council, the SNP's Adam McVey, who too must experience the plight of homeless people in his Leith Walk ward.

Mr Robertson should challenge his chum as to why he is prejudicing even more the lives of the homeless by supporting a bureaucratic nightmare and anomaly (News, 22 February) whereby Edinburgh Council is losing out homelessness cash amounting to £9m, purely and simply wanting to maintain a grab on the responsibility for homelessness rather than a transfer to the Integrated Joint Board for Health and Social Care (Edinburgh IJB) as his separatist colleagues have done in Glasgow, releasing £8+ million. Mr McVey puts politics before people and steadfastly defends his position.

Edinburgh IJB is far from perfect and the Edinburgh Labour manifesto (News, 23 March) calls for greater transparency and accountability.

This should not stop money being available to ameliorate Edinburgh's problems - provided the IJB accepts the challenges of democracy and openness. I personally would put people before politics any day.

Douglas McBean, Edinburgh.

Providing housing means more services

I was delighted to see Edinburgh Labour's manifesto launched (News, 22 March).

The next ten years or so will see 55,000 new homes built in Edinburgh and many more will be constructed in the surrounding local authority areas.

These homes and the people that live in them will put pressure on our capital. In Edinburgh we have to ensure that they come with, for example, GPs and school capacity and good transport links. Labour's manifesto tackles this.

Giving people in these new developments in and around Edinburgh access to viable alternatives to using the car is essential if our city is to thrive. Our capital is already one of the most congested cities in the UK and this impacts on the economy and our wellbeing.

I hope that the next 10 years will see a significant increase in active travel in our capital, but I feel that public transport has the potential to deliver a real step change on the path to making Edinburgh a more liveable city.

Our first aim must be to ensure that all developments are on good quality public transport routes and residents can meet their day-to-day needs within a 20 minute walk of their home. This is how things used to be!

Perhaps more important is to work with surrounding local authorities to reduce commuter traffic into Edinburgh. Pre-covid, 63,300 people were commuting into Edinburgh every day by car. We have to reduce this number and providing reliable and efficient public transport links into Edinburgh is key. Where possible, I would hope that the aim is people completing their whole journey via public transport, but I am also open to more investment in Park & Ride schemes.

While some may question the manifesto, I hope we can all agree that we can’t drive our way out of the challenge new homes will bring.

Cllr Scott Arthur, Edinburgh.

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