Edinburgh council elections: Labour publishes manifesto pledging 25,000 council homes over decade and bringing services back in-house
Labour has published its manifesto for Edinburgh’s council elections, pledging to build 25,000 council houses within 10 years, keep care homes open, increase the number of public toilets and bring services back in-house.
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The party also promises to spend more on road and pavement maintenance, set up a new tourism body and replace the large-scale Christmas and Hogmanay celebrations with smaller events throughout the city.
Labour has spent the last five years in coalition with the SNP, but the manifesto makes clear its dissatisfaction with the SNP Scottish Government, saying funding for councils has been cut year-on-year. “Councils are expected to do more and more with less funding. Too often they are ‘fire-fighting’ crises rather than providing services that avoid crisis happening.”
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With pressure for housing one of the biggest issues facing the Capital, the manifesto says: “Labour will start a programme to build at least 25,000 council owned homes within 10 years, including enough accessible and larger family homes to meet need. We call on the Scottish Government to match fund the investment coming from tenants’ rents.”
It says the party would establish a directly-employed council construction team to build and fit out new council homes and use all suitable unused council land for building council homes.
Controversial plans to close council-run care homes were put on hold until after the elections. The manifesto says Labour would “keep council care homes open, and start a programme of upgrading to meet the most up-to-date standards” as well as “expand council provision of long-term care, including building new care homes where needed and acquiring care homes from private providers”.
It continues: “When existing home care contracts with private companies come to an end, [Labour will] replace them with provision by the council or local voluntary organisations, with the aim of having at least 50 per cent of provision provided by the council.”
The party is also pledging better conditions for paid carers, including an immediate pay rise to £15 per hour.
The manifesto promises “direct council provision of council services, bringing back into the council those that had previously been contracted to external providers”.
“This will improve the quality of services, and the working conditions of those who carry out the work.”
As well as increasing funding for road maintenance year-on-year and the pavement maintenance budget by 20 per cent, Labour says it would increase spending on active travel to 15 per cent of the transport budget.
It would retain and improve the network of public libraries and community centres; upgrade existing public toilets and increase the number across the city; stop charging for bulk uplifts; and enforce the toughest penalties for fly tipping and dog fouling
"Labour will end contracts with large-scale events organisations for events such as the Christmas Market and Hogmanay and develop smaller-scale events throughout the city, in partnership with community groups and local artists and performers; and introduce a presumption against using public spaces and parks for commercial purposes where there is not clear community support.”
And the party would “establish a new tourism body for the city that includes community representatives as well as the tourist industry and councillors”.
Labour group leader Cammy Day said: “This is an exciting manifesto which increases support for education, social care, housing and for local businesses to thrive again.”