There is no denying the pressures we face as a council, and how these could affect the services we provide.
The council has agreed draft spending and saving plans for the next three years and now we are seeking your views on how best to change the delivery of services moving forward. People tell us they want to be more involved in shaping council services and we are inviting all citizens to do just that.
Edinburgh’s libraries are quite rightly one of the city’s most treasured services. Libraries touch the lives of so many people, from customers using the 27 community and locality hub libraries through to the hospital, mobile, care home and prison libraries and the larger collections and resources at Central Library – as well as our popular online and digital services. Libraries are a destination of choice for people of all ages and backgrounds to learn, interact and enjoy, whether it’s Bookbug sessions for toddlers, “get online” support groups or the award-winning visual impairment initiative (VIP), which helps people who are blind or partially sighted to access information and services.
We would like to hear your thoughts and ideas on how we could support individuals and groups to become more involved in their library services – how we could enable customers to use libraries out with normal opening hours, or enabling customers to use libraries along with other council services. What’s more, we want to know how you feel any changes would affect you – what challenges or, indeed, opportunities could they bring? Would out-of-hours swipe card access to unstaffed library facilities suit you? Or do you think libraries would benefit from being more closely aligned with other community services
We have a responsibility to look after residents by offering them a great quality of life. Part of this means supporting a city people feel they love and are proud of, and it also means supporting wellbeing through offering opportunities to get involved in sport and physical activity.
The city’s strategy for sport and physical activity expires in 2017 and we will be taking a fresh look at Edinburgh’s main priorities over the next three years. Could this involve improving the use of quality sports facilities? Sustaining lifelong participation? Offering support to city clubs or increasing the visibility of physical activity in your local community? Let us know. We also want you to consider where the council, Edinburgh Leisure, our partners and indeed all groups involved in sport and physical activity can make access to sport even better. I believe funding should be invested in such a way that residents have access to quality sports venues, excellent opportunities for community participation, and elite facilities to support Edinburgh’s up and coming athletes.
This summer saw the opening of Oriam, the new National Performing Centre for Sport. The council has provided £2.7m funding towards this professional standard venue which will support the next generation of Scottish athletes. Meanwhile, plans are on track to create a new Meadowbank Sports Centre right in the heart of the city for anyone and everyone looking to get active, as an individual, a family or a sports club. It is no secret the council is facing financial pressures and these pressures are amplified for non-statutory services such as culture and sport, and libraries in particular.
So whether you want to take part in our online survey with ideas for your local library, or join the conversation with other residents using our dialogue tool to tell us what matters to you when it comes to sport, take part and we will take on board all the comments we receive. In joining this conversation, you would be helping us to develop a service that reflects the needs of the city and its citizens, both now and in the future. You can take part by completing our survey at edinburgh.gov.uk/playyourpart or attending our Question Time debate at the City Chambers on 10 November.
Councillor Richard Lewis is Edinburgh City Council culture and sport convener