Council Leader’s report: February 2015

(This is based on an email originally sent by Andrew Burns to the EACC on Friday, January 30, 2015 4:35pm.)

Mortonhall cemetary

Good progress continues to be made by the multi-agency working group in actioning the recommendations contained in Dame Elish Angiolini’s report into Mortonhall Crematorium.

We have been looking at an appropriate and fitting permanent memorial and, in line with parents’ wishes, two are now being proposed: one at Mortonhall and another at a location still to be identified for those who don’t want to return to the crematorium. Potential designs are now up on our website for parents to view.

Separately, we are proposing a settlement scheme for affected families, developed in discussion with their solicitors. I fully understand that it’s very difficult to put a financial figure on the distress and upset many parents have experienced due to the former practices at the crematorium.

We will, of course, continue our work on the group to ensure that nothing like this can happen again and that the highest possible standards are adhered to at Mortonhall.

Twenty is the new 30

The Edinburgh People’s Survey has demonstrated widespread support for lowering the speed limit and, after a very successful pilot project in South Edinburgh, we made it one of our pledges to consult on rolling out 20mph limits across the city.

Slower speeds bring numerous benefits to local communities. As well as reducing the risk and severity of collisions, they make people more likely to spend time in an area and encourage active travel like walking and cycling.

New 20mph streets have been carefully selected according to key criteria in residential and shopping areas, including the city centre, with a citywide network of 30mph and 40mph limits maintained on arterial routes to keep traffic flowing across the city.

I’m delighted that we’re now moving ever closer to becoming Scotland’s first 20mph city.

Balancing the books

I’ve previously said in this report how pleased I was with the response to our budget consultation exercise, which we undertook towards the end of last year. Over 3,500 people took the opportunity to have their say, more than five times the response we had last year.

The comments and results of our ‘budget planner’ are now being carefully considered along with all other feedback we received. This will help us to make the right decisions for our residents now and in the future when setting our budget.

We will publish our draft budget motion on the council website on 6 February, before setting it six days later at our budget meeting. I would encourage you to tune into the debate via our website, or catch up afterwards on the webcast archive.

Meadowbank Stadium

The future of Meadowbank Stadium will undoubtedly feature in our budget discussions on 12 February.

Ever since 1970, when it played host to Scotland’s first Commonwealth Games, the iconic venue has served residents and professional athletes well. And while it is still a much loved facility, with over half a million users every year, it is now close to 50 years old and its facilities are tired.

Architect plans for a brand new facility would see the existing site transformed into a brand new sports complex that would serve sporting needs locally and nationally. Should we agree to proceed and, crucially, if funding can be secured, the new Meadowbank could be ready by 2018.

My colleague, Cllr Richard Lewis, Culture & Sport Convener, has written an excellent piece for the Scotsman on the future of the venue.

New Year honours

I would like to pass on my congratulations to all those Edinburgh residents named in the Queen’s New Year Honours list 2015 – but particularly to those colleagues from here at the Council.

Our Chief Executive, Sue Bruce, was made a Dame in recognition of her 39 years of public service. From her first job as a Youth & Community Worker for Strathclyde Regional Council back in 1976, Sue has been hugely proud to dedicate herself to local government and this honour is richly deserved.

She has worked tirelessly during her time as Chief Executive, way beyond her role and the normal expectations of the role, particularly in relation to her charity work and improving the job prospects of young people across Edinburgh.

Congratulations also to Ellen Muir, Head Teacher at Pilrig Park School, who was honoured with an MBE. Ellen is an inspiration to both staff and pupils and it is fantastic to see her commitment and leadership being recognised so publicly.

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