I extracted a commitment from the Council Leader before Full Council to work with Deputy Leader, Cammy Day, and seek a meeting with the Finance Minister to make the case for full and fair funding for Edinburgh.
The need for this work was brought home by a letter to all workers from one of the Council directors, Lawrence Rockey, informing them that Edinburgh now must save £1million pounds per week this year. This cannot continue and I will continue to press the Council Leader to stand up for Edinburgh.
A report to the Housing Committee made it clear to Councillors this is one of the biggest problems Edinburgh faces.
Only 15% of overall housing stock in Edinburgh is social rent, compared to the Scottish average of 25%. The problems this creates are:-
- There are 21,000 applicants registered as seeking social housing in Edinburgh.
- To buy a home in Edinburgh costs 6 times the average wage.
- Private rents are over £1,000 per month. The national average is under £800.
- Since 2015, the average number of bids for social rented housing has ranged between 150-200 per home.
- 70% of Council lets are currently let to homeless households.
- There has been a significant loss of private rented sector properties to the short term lets market. There are now over 12,000 Air B’n’B properties in Edinburgh.
- In 2017/18, around 800 households presented as homeless from a private rented sector tenancy. This is an area which is seeing year on year increases.
- Over 3,000 households presented as homeless in 2017/18, whilst only 2,350 social lets were advertised.
This means that:
- Length of homelessness case length and time spent in temporary accommodation is increasing.
- The Council’s 70% of lets to homeless households is significantly higher than the national average of 41%.
- Including Registered Social Landlord partners, 57% of all social lets were to homeless households. This compares with the national average of 40%.
Edinburgh needs to build but it needs more funding. The Strategic Housing Investment Plan (SHIP) sets out plans for 10,500 completions over 5 years. This is dependent on the current resource planning assumptions of £45million per year continuing, plus an additional £77million over 5 years.
This is one of the reasons I continue to press for full and fair funding. Even if met in full by the Scottish Government this will still not meet Edinburgh’s housing needs.
I was delighted to receive an invite from the Gurdwara to be their guest at the first ever reception by Holyrood to mark this important date in the Sikh calendar.
This gave the community a chance to celebrate the significant contribution it has made in Scotland.
This year’s Nagar Kirtan to celebrate Vaisakhi saw the congregation march proudly again through its Leith home supported by the wider community.
Unite against Fascism
I spoke out against the racism of the so-called “Scottish Defence League” who chose to hold a rally outside Holyrood in March. Amongst their banners were a ‘Combat 18’ logo and a National Front emblem over a Union flag. They were a small crowd and outnumbered by “Football Lads and Lasses” from Hibs, Motherwell and other clubs along with a large antifa contingent
I pointed out that there was ‘Only one race, the Human Race’ which was taken up as a chant.
Although this was only a small group it is necessary to stand up against fascism and racism wherever it tries to foment hate.
Water of Leith
I was delighted to help the Water of Leith Conservation Trust in their clean up at and around Coalie Park. A large group of volunteers took part and managed to clear up a lot of discarded waste. The biggest problem was irresponsible dog owners who had bagged but not binned the waste. Street litter bins can be used for this waste. If the bin is full, please take it along to one that isn’t.
Seafield Waste Water Treatment Plant
I have received a large number of complaints about the stench from here and also noise pollution from the equipment brought in to tackle the stench. Leith Links Community Council advise that they have had over 120 complaints using the form on their website and I would urge you to to report it if you experience it. A link to the form is below.
In my work in Leith Ward I know that under reporting is a problem. The more complaints there are, the more likely that this will be tackled.
In a recent meeting with Scottish Water it was revealed that Seafield deals with waste from over 40 plants including as far away as Whitburn.
Seafield is Scotland’s largest treatment plant and needs investment to bring it into the 21st century so it is not a blight on the community.