Iain Whyte says Edinburgh City Council should focus on delivering core services, not dreaming up grand schemes for the future
Edinburgh isn’t burning like Rome, but for sheer complacency SNP council leader Adam McVey does a great impersonation of Nero as 5000 citizens told him that the services for which he is responsible simply aren’t good enough.
We are very lucky to live in such a beautiful city as Edinburgh, as the Edinburgh People’s Survey shows, but instead of recognising that satisfaction with council services continues to fall, Cllr McVey tries to claim the credit for the fact that Edinburgh people love their city. He’ll be trying to tell us the SNP built the castle next.
Residents of Edinburgh are unhappy with a whole range of services. Road maintenance, street cleaning, rubbish collection and recycling, vandalism and graffiti, antisocial behaviour and dog fouling. All show a downward trend over the last seven years of SNP and Labour jointly running the council, eroding not only our services and infrastructure, but also confidence. Most strikingly, only 35 per cent felt the council provides value for money.
A related report that benchmarks our council with others shows that people are right to be unhappy. Edinburgh was in the bottom half of Scottish council performance for 44 of the 75 indicators measured – worse than last year.
On the Scottish Government and council priority of better education for children from our most deprived neighbourhoods we come a dismal 18th out of 32 and much worse than Glasgow. And we are 29th out of 32 when it comes to providing long-term care at home for the over-65s. Yet more proof that this council is failing our most vulnerable citizens.
We Conservatives made sure this issue was debated at council because otherwise the SNP and Labour would simply ask that the results were “noted” and ignore them. Thankfully some other parties are waking up to this and had belatedly tabled critical motions.
There was a theme across a range of parties that the results weren’t good enough but when it came to the crunch the Greens bottled it and failed to join others in supporting the Conservative call for action. Supposedly this was because we were calling for “efficiencies”. Apart from the fact that the word wasn’t in our proposal I can’t see how they think they are working for Edinburgh people if improving quality and providing more service for the same cost is wrong.
The craven action of the Greens meant that the SNP and Labour minority won the vote and get to ignore the results for another year, leaving residents to suffer the consequences. Just like in parliament the Greens’ priority is to appease the SNP rather than deliver meaningful change.
This council has plenty of “visions” for the future. Most of which involve more taxes, higher charges, more restrictions on our daily lives and lots of change but without a costed plan to deliver it. We Conservatives recognise that Edinburgh citizens deserve better. We don’t want to talk a good game; we want to deliver. So, my vision for the council is very different. It is a vision to be the best council in Scotland. It is to deliver on what councils are supposed to do – empty the bins, repair the roads, educate children and provide social care.
Our goal is council services that compare favourably to any provided elsewhere in Scotland, across the UK and, indeed, in similar cities around the globe. It isn’t too much to ask.
Cllr Iain Whyte is the Conservative Group leader at Edinburgh City Council