Mixed Messages from New Administration

Posted by chdot on May 13, 2007

High Street.jpg
The new (probable) Council Leader, Jenny Dawe, (LibDem) is beginning to work out common policies with her (expected) deputy Steve Cardownie (SNP). Their initial partnership statement has positive bullet points about Edinburgh such as “the importance of its heritage and environment is recognised” and “it has an atmosphere of safe, green and clean living spaces”.

As reported in the Evening News – Cllr Dawe says – “We have not wavered at all from our commitment to the trams and we’ve effectively agreed to disagree with the SNP.” (Whether the SNP minority Government in Holyrood can deliver its ‘promise’ to scrap Edinburgh trams remains to be seen!)

In addition to the tram being the LibDem’s “number one priority” the party is keen on “rolling out underground car parks across the city centre”. No doubt they see this as ‘balanced’ – improving Public Transport while showing that they’re not “anti-car” – a charge commonly aimed at the previous Labour led council.

New car parks presumable mean extra spaces. Cars parked under George Street instead of on it, might be a good idea. One problem is that the car park would have to be dug out of solid rock, not impossible, but previous studies have shown that it would be rather expensive…

Of course George Street could be pedestrianised like parts of the High Street (photo) without finding new places for cars to park. This would take some pressure off the Old Town as a tourist hotspot and, if the trams manage to replace buses on Princes Street, make the whole of central Edinburgh even more attractive for residents and visitors.

Dawes and Cardownie are agreed that the revival of a department bringing together tourism, culture, leisure and sport is a priority. Cllr. Cardownie says – “It was ridiculous to scrap the culture and recreation department.” He used to be the Executive Member for Culture and Leisure before he left the Labour Party.

The Department was responsible for galleries and libraries and parks and sports centres. It suffered many years of under-investment. Parks that were unlikely to attract tourists were often neglected, paths looked after by recreation/culture/leisure (the Department had various names over the years) were often inferior to those created or maintained by transport/development departments.

Some functions of various departments were merged into the new Services for Communities Department which makes sense as a delivery mechanism. There are still areas of the Council where greater co-operation between departments (or even sections) would make the implementation of existing policies easier. A shaky coalition is not the most promising start, though it does claim to offer-

“Major policy commitments include fundamental changes to the governance of the city, replacing the existing Executive with a streamlined committee system and an altered emphasis in several areas of existing service provision.”

LibDem plans include having a “green champion” in every department. This might be tokenism or a serious attempt to begin to make one of the city’s largest employers take the idea of ‘sustainability’ seriously. However filling the Cycling Officer vacancy might also be a step forward.

3 Responses to “Mixed Messages from New Administration”

  1. Lee said

    I stumbled across this article whilst mooching about the net. I know it’s about London, but it certainly demonstrates that with proper investment and people in government being dedicated to the cause, there are huge benefits to be reaped for Edinburgh. Of particular note should be the increase in the levels of investment in London and how this is directly linked to the huge increase in cyclists in the English capital.
    The only party to give us numbers in their Scottish election manifesto were the Greens who wanted to increase cycle funding by 5% over the next 5 years, if I remember rightly. Mr. Livingstone has put up funding in London by 50% just last year alone. If only it were possible to embarrass our politicians – from the article it is possible to work out a 650% funding increase since the year 2000, making our politicians aspirations of 5% over 5 years look pretty miserable.

  2. Lee said


    The Green’s manifesto says 4% of the total transport budget to be delivered by 2014, which is a creditable increase, representing our need to act sooner rather than later with regards to climate change. Big things could be done with that kind of money as the London article and the SUSTRANS showtowns demonstrate.
    But will the LibDem controlled council actually take this on board?

  3. […] Mr. Poulter is coming from Transport for London where, presumably, he had a hand in the significant increase in cycle spending. “LibDem plans include having a “green champion” in every department. This might be tokenism or a serious attempt to begin to make one of the city’s largest employers take the idea of ’sustainability’ seriously.” This site 13.5.07 […]

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