The City Council agreed to support a Transient Visitor Levy scheme that would be submitted to the Scottish Government and further would press for enabling legislation for the powers to be granted as soon as possible.
The Conservatives opposed this despite it being a funding source available to cities throughout Europe.
This needs to be supplementary income for Councils and not replacement income for cuts made by Holyrood. It will still be a struggle to make this happen as it is clear that the Scottish Government will listen to the voice of the British Hospitality Association before that of your Council.
On 21st February the Council set its budget – a budget that means cuts of £33.1 million for 2019/20 which is part of a programme of cuts totalling £147 million to 2022.
In addition to representatives from Unite, members from GMB and Unison were also present demonstrating outside the City Chambers.
Scottish Government policies protect 58% of the budget which means that cuts have to be made from the other 42% placing real strain on resources. The budget means job cuts and a further set of reports are due which will detail those cuts.
All Scottish Councils face the same problem though Edinburgh has the lowest block grant per person in the whole of Scotland. This has to change and only the Scottish Government can change the funding for Councils in Scotland. I made this point in my speech on the day using a quote from ‘As you like it’ to illustrate the point.
Leith Community Education Centre was the place to be on 23rd February. 1,267 people voted on how £44,000 of funds should be allocated for over 30 local projects. It was a great example of how much good work is done in Leith by a range of groups.
The voting included a special pink voting slip for the under 7’s so that they could cast a vote along with the adults. The results were announced at a special meeting in the Centre on 6th March.
In my view, all were winners even if they didn’t get the funding as many made connections with other groups that would help their work continue in the community.
Leith Neighbourhood Partnership
The last meeting of this community planning partnership was held on 27th February. It is still unclear what form its replacement will take but the committee unanimously agreed with my proposal that the official minute record our thanks to the community for its involvement in the work of the partnership.
It also unanimously agreed a motion I proposed to be sent to Edinburgh Partnership so that successful initiatives such as “Leith Chooses” can continue in the future.
It is important that this innovation is not lost, especially when you get more folk through the door than all the other council committees put together.
A new park for Western Harbour
A presentation by Forth Ports and their architects 7N was made to Leith Harbour and Newhaven Community Council about plans for developing Western Harbour. The largest park in Edinburgh for over 100 years at over 4.2 hectares will be built here.
I am pleased that my work in linking up the development with our schools team means that they are working together to see what can be done to make part of the park an outdoor classroom for the school but also a home for the school football team.
This is an exciting opportunity and it will be good to see work begin here with an indicative start date at the end of 2019.