2022 Election Address

It is now almost five years since I was elected to be your Councillor and stand up for the Ward we both live in. It is no understatement to say that the world has changed a lot in that time. We have been confronted with a pandemic, a humanitarian crisis triggered by a brutal illegal war in Ukraine, and there is now a much greater understanding of the risks posed by the Climate Emergency. These combined challenges are a reminder of how fragile life can be, and also what we can achieve when we work together locally, nationally and globally.

Indeed, working with local people over the last five years has been one of the things I have loved most about being your Councillor. Key amongst these has been working with residents, community groups, and Community Councils Ian Murray MP and Sarah Boyack MSP to

  1. Ensure more local roads and footpaths resurfaced, and make the case for more investment.
  2. Get the pedestrian crossing installed on Buckstone Terrace, have the developer install grit bins and do all I can to get the development adopted by the Council.
  3. Have the woods between Dreghorn Drive and Morrisons repeatedly cleared of litter.
  4. Get speeding reviewed on Redford Road, and consult local people (soon) on cutting the speed limit there to 20mph.
  5. Help get free insulation cladding fitted to many homes in Firrhill, Oxgangs & Oxgangs Farm, and make the case for more to be done.
  6. Have Oxgangs playpark upgraded – it’s now the best wee park in Edinburgh.
  7. Oppose development on our greenbelt (see here & here).
  8. Have the Council commit to upgrading Fairmilehead traffic lights.
  9. Oppose repeated attempts to build on the Winton East site, protect the character of Winton Loan from aggressive commercial development.
  10. Organise a successful residents’ meeting to get improvements to the Spaces for People scheme on Bonaly Brae.
  11. Have the speed limit on Buckstone Terrace, Lanark Road and (soon) Bigger Road cut to 30mph.
  12. Have the roundabout at Hunter’s Tryst subject to a safety review.
  13. Support the Colinton Tunnel project, and ensure it is properly sign-posted for visitors.
  14. Have Mounthooly Loan gritted more often, and protect the fields to the east of it from development.
  15. Work with school Parents Council and Headteachers to deliver improvements.

We live in the best part of Edinburgh, but it has been great making it a little better.

At city level, I have drafted motions which have focused on some of the most vulnerable people in my Ward. This included improvements to free school meal provision and increasing the school uniform grant for the poorest households. These issues were important to me as my family relied on this support when I was a child in the 1980s, and I feel ashamed that today around 1 in 10 children in my Ward are growing up in poverty.

Other issues have been harder to fix. I have had success in getting the Council to invest in roads and footpaths in my Ward, but there is more to do. The issue here is Scottish Government cuts – Audit Scotland confirmed in 2019 that Edinburgh is Scotland’s worst funded Council (our Capital gets £1422.40 per head compared with the Scottish average of £1812.90!).

It is clear that we have to use the May 2022 Council elections to elect Councillors who will stand up for local people and our Capital. We also need Councillors who will focus on the needs of the people they represent, not vanity projects or constitutional bickering. 

A key focus must also be to improve service delivery and, above all else, we need a Council that gets the basics right. I have seen over the past five years how Council Committees churn out an endless stream of policies and strategies, but spend less time on scrutinizing service delivery than is needed. With council budgets under huge pressure, we have to ensure more than ever that service delivery is a priority. Money must be spent efficiently, staff must be respected and residents must be listened to.

Greater accountability and transparency is also needed. This is particularly true of how we ensure children and young people overcome the impact that the pandemic has had on education, and how we respond to the Climate Emergency. A glossy strategy alone will not be enough!

Other candidates will say you should support them in order to oppose Boris Johnston or Nicola Sturgeon, but I think it is better to vote for local issues that matter. A vote for me is a vote for a Councillor who will put his Ward and our city first. It’s a vote for somebody who loves living locally and wants to improve the area for everyone.

I pride myself in being somebody who even people from other parties agree is a hard-working local Councillor who puts local residents first. I did this when I fought to:

  1. Ensure the protection of the greenbelt in my Ward up until 2030 as part of the City Plan.
  2. Ensure the Council did not permanently close Colinton’s Public Toilets.
  3. Ensure residents are consulted on using the old Colinton Mains Bowling Club site on Oxgangs Rd North for Council housing.
  4. Protect Oxgangs & Colinton Libraries from Scottish Government cuts, and win an agreement to have the Covid testing centre moved out of the latter on the 31st of March.
  5. Block the SNP plan to reduce the number of bus stops in my Ward by a third.

The coming five years will be a huge challenge for our City, and I’ve lived in my Ward with my family for 22 years so I know what’s needing done here. Based on discussions I have been having with local people, my priorities will be to:

  1. Ensure the Council works with surrounding Local Authorities to improve public transport links into Edinburgh (including new Park & Rides), and thereby reduce the impact commuter traffic has on Fairmilehead.
  2. Work with local residents to have Buckstone Playpark upgraded.
  3. Work to protect our greenbelt and the unique character of Swanston Village, and Morton Mains Conservation area.
  4. Protect and improve the number 10 bus service, particularly at peak times and in the evenings.
  5. Ensure as many people as possible in my ward are no more than 5 minutes walk (500m) of a bus stop, and oppose the removal of bus stops.
  6. Protect the character of Colinton Village, and do all I can to support local businesses there and elsewhere in my Ward.
  7. Work with residents to improve safety for everyone using Redford Road, particularly pedestrians.
  8. Ensure the Council repairs the bridges and landside in Colinton Dell, and maintains the area to the highest standard.
  9. Improving public transport to ensure it’s a sustainable alternative to car usage. This is key given the number of homes being built in and around Edinburgh.
  10. Work with local people to ensure all the children in my Ward have safe walking and cycling routes to school.
  11. Ensure there is zero-tolerance shown to fly-tipping, littering and dog-fouling.
  12. Do all I can to support businesses and charities in my Ward, and help them bring more jobs to the area.
  13. Improve the condition of our roads and footpaths, and “fix it right first time” with potholes.
  14. Work with the Council to ensure it maintains Council homes to the highest standard, and ensure it deals with anti-social behaviour promptly.
  15. Ensure that local people have a real say on any proposed changes to the Boroughmuir or Firrhill High School Catchments.
  16. Provide study space and develop personalised and targeted tuition programmes to ensure pupils catch up with the education lost due to COVID.

If you have read this far, you are somebody who takes your democratic duty seriously and this is why I have explained in detail why I want to work for you. I hope you now agree that a vote for me is a vote for a local champion who will fight for transparency and accountability, and for the Council to get the basics right. All you have to do is rank me first on your ballot paper.