‘Empowering people must be a good thing’
The last time the John Lewis name was associated with politics, the Westminster expenses scandal was in full swing and trust in government was at rock bottom.
But Edinburgh’s aspirations to be a “John Lewis council” have nothing at all to do with cushy expense accounts. In fact, quite the opposite – the aim is to take local politics in an entirely different direction, one which could eventually build more trust in politicians.
The hope is that by handing over certain responsibilities to groups of residents the council can actually put real power in their hands.
Parents, tenants, carers, and so on can band together to take control of services that they use, including childcare and the running of housing estates. Putting them in charge should make sure that, as far as possible, they get the kind of services they want.
It isn’t a perfect system, there are of course potential pitfalls.
We lead such busy lives that many of us simply don’t have the time to take on extra work like this.
And there is always a risk that it turns into “a busybodies’ charter”, that a vocal minority takes over a local group and dominates affairs.
But theses are not reasons to stop trying to give real control over local communities to the people who live in them. The challenge that the council has taken on is to try to make this work on a grand scale.
It won’t be easy, but it is all about empowering local people – and that has to be a good thing.
Parents in charge
THE catalogue of attacks on teachers across Edinburgh the Lothians revealed today is shocking to see in black and white.
Teachers, especially those in primary and nursery schools, should be able to go to work without fear of assault from their pupils. And fellow pupils must have a safe environment in which to learn.
The teaching unions are right to demand that their members are properly protected and supported, and we must ensure that these incidents are taken seriously. Part of that is ensuring that all assaults are properly recorded and acted upon.
As well as appropriate punishment, there has to be efforts to address the root cause of the behaviour of troublesome students.
But at the same time, it is difficult to see what more the councils can do to prevent what are unpredictable and, despite the figures, still reasonably rare incidents in mainstream schools.
At the end of the day, the ultimate responsibility must lie with the parents of the children involved.
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Weather for Edinburgh
Sunday 26 May 2013
Temperature: 9 C to 16 C
Wind Speed: 15 mph
Wind direction: West
Temperature: 8 C to 12 C
Wind Speed: 18 mph
Wind direction: South