My comment on the EIS briefing on cuts to Edinburgh’s nurseries.

 

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Below is an EIS briefing on the City of Edinburgh Council’s proposal to remove teachers from nurseries. Over the past few days I have been speaking to Teachers, Parents, Council Officers, Nursery Staff, members of my party and the EIS about this issue. I have drawn the conclusion that there is not sufficient evidence to progress with this cut.

As someone who grew up in one of the UK’s most deprived areas and now works in education, I understand fully the role teachers can play in cutting the educational attainment gap between the richest and poorest in Scotland. I also know that closing this gap should not start in primary or secondary school – it must begin as early as possible.  I was therefore concerned to see that the information used to justify this cut is dated and does not take into account social deprivation.

Additionally, I feel that removing teachers from nurseries now will create a leadership vacuum which will put undue pressure on the remaining SVQ3 staff. I therefore will be arguing that we reject this funding cut at least until sufficient SVQ3 staff have upgraded to the BA in Childhood Practice. I accept, however, that retaining qualified teachers is the best outcome. Indeed, the Scottish Government have been clear:

“…the qualifications of pre-school staff – and particularly having teachers with early years skills, staff with a degree such as Childhood Practice and a mix of skills in the workforce – are key factors in determining the quality of provision.”

The proposal to cut teachers from nurseries will “save” £340,000, but the negative impact may be  much bigger. That’s why I will argue that funding be found to block this cut. If that money can’t be found, I will suggest that every household in Edinburgh pays an extra £1.40 in Council Tax per year to help secure the future of our capital’s children.

Frankly, it is unbelievable that SNP cuts are forcing decisions like this on Edinburgh. 

 

Information regarding the importance of retaining Teachers and Head Teachers in nursery classes and nursery schools

Background

The first nursery in Scotland opened in Edinburgh in 1903.  This historic legacy of nursery education, and in particular, sector leading nursery schools led by nursery head teachers, continues to this day.

Edinburgh has invested heavily in the quality of its workforce, ensuring that there are full time teachers (who are degree qualified and GTCS-registered) in school nursery classes and in the standalone nursery schools.

Several of the nursery head teachers work in partnership with The University of Edinburgh to deliver the Froebel in Childhood Practice courses and offer practice visits in their settings. The Scottish Government’s workforce review (Siraj, 2015) states

‘The City of Edinburgh Council is one example of the best early learning focuses within Scotland. This is based on the professional development they provide for early years staff, much of which follows the Froebel model. This model is child centred with a play-based pedagogy, and is underpinned by a knowledge and understanding of child development which supports assessment, evaluation and planning.’

Considerations

The Growing Up in Scotland (GUS) report states, ‘the Effective Provision of Pre-school Education (EPPE) project (Melhuish et al, 2008), has shown that children in high quality provision prior to starting school achieved higher literacy and numeracy levels than those in low quality settings or who did not experience pre-school.’

The EPPE project explored factors that influence quality. Findings include:

  • Good quality can be found across all types of early years settings; however quality was higher overall in settings integrating care and education and in nursery schools.
  • Settings that have staff with higher qualifications have higher quality scores and their children make more progress.
  • Quality indicators include warm interactive relationships with children, having a trained teacher as manager and a good proportion of trained teachers on the staff.

 

Staff Qualifications

The Scottish Government also acknowledges the importance that degree educated staff in nurseries make and have invested heavily in their Additional Graduate Programme for settings in areas of high deprivation in order to focus on closing the poverty related attainment gap.

The GUS report states ‘Research by Education Scotland (2012) found that settings which had access to higher qualified staff, particularly teachers with a background in early years methodology or staff with specific early childhood qualifications – such as the BA in Childhood Practice – were more likely to offer higher quality learning experiences.’

The budget proposal suggests replacing nursery teachers with early years practitioners. There is a significant difference in the level of qualifications between these roles.

Role Qualification SCQF Level Number of Credits
Early Years Practitioner SVQ3/HNC 7 96
Teacher Honours Degree 10 480
  & often additional Postgraduate Diploma 10 & 11 60 & 60

 

Care Inspectorate Gradings

Although available data is mixed and there is evidence that a few local authorities who have reduced access to teachers are performing well, there is also evidence that removing nursery teachers has had a negative impact on Care Inspectorate (CI) gradings. CI data in the GUS report, on which the officer recommendation to remove nursery teachers was based, was from 2010. The data here is current, as published on the CI website.

Local Authority Teachers in class Care & Support Environment Staffing Management & Leadership
Scotland   71% 64% 72% 58%
Edinburgh Yes 81% (+10%) 73% (+9%) 81% (+10%) 74% (+16%)
West Lothian Yes until Aug 18 75% (+4%) 70% (+4%) 77% (+5%) 67% (+9%)
West Dunbartonshire No 32% (-39%) 32% (-32%) 47% (-25%) 37% (-21%)
Moray No 55% (-16%) 68% (+4%) 50% (-22%) 45% (-13%)
Borders No 58% (-13%) 49% (-15%) 64% (-8%) 44% (-14%)
Highland No 70% (-1%) 41% (-23%) 59% (-13%) 47% (-11%)

The 4 Local Authorities in this table without teachers in nursery are all are performing well under the national average, and significantly under City of Edinburgh.

West Dunbartonshire removed teachers from nurseries several years ago, however, they are now recognising this as a mistake (as is evidenced by their CI gradings which are up to 39% lower than the national average). They have also found that the impact has been a real disconnect between nursery and primary, which has manifested as disruption caused by P1 pupils in many of their schools.

Dundee is currently increasing its complement of nursery teachers, with the explicit aim of closing the poverty-related attainment gap.  They have determined that the educational benefits of having nursery teachers working directly in classrooms with pupils, liaising with colleagues in primary schools, and leading teams of professionals, are likely to be a significant driver of improved outcomes at all stages in education – not to mention being a cost-effective way of using their Attainment Challenge funding.

It should be further noted that the very mixed provision in different local authorities makes direct comparisons difficult.  It is instructive to look at the figures for the different types of provision within Edinburgh.

Local Authority Teachers in class Care & Support Environment Staffing Management & Leadership
Scotland   71% 64% 72% 58%
Edinburgh Yes 81% 73% 81% 74%
Edinburgh

Partnership

No 56% 57% 59% 49%
Edinburgh Partnership Yes 100% 100% 100% 100%

This shows very clear correlations between the presence of nursery teachers in classrooms and quality in terms of care and support.  Given all these are within Edinburgh, there are likely to be far fewer confounding factors than with data that goes across different local authorities.

A final point – the CI gradings relate to Care and Support within nurseries.  They do not report on educational outcomes and, in particular, do not look at how well children manage the transition into P1.  Clearly, the specialist knowledge of nursery teachers, with their overview of Curriculum for Excellence and their ability to liaise closely with primary teachers, is central to ensuring that children can make a good start in school, with the lifelong benefits this brings. Edinburgh’s own policies and frameworks, in the Edinburgh Learns documents, highlight the centrality of good transitions, informed by close partnership working and a detailed knowledge of individual children’s circumstances and their learning.  This cannot be replicated by teachers who act as “consultants” across many nurseries.  It requires teachers working closely with the children, their families, other professionals, and the relevant primary schools.  This problem is likely to be particularly acute when supporting children with additional needs.  If we are serious about inclusion, and about Getting It Right for Every Child, then specific, individualised transition plans, that have a clear focus on learning and teaching, are essential, and these are something that require the specialist input of teachers.

Standalone Nursery Schools with Head Teachers

The Care Inspectorate highlighted City of Edinburgh’s nursery schools in its recent publication My World Outdoors (2016)

‘Many of the original child gardens continue to this day, still run by Froebel-trained headteachers. These nurseries consistently achieve high grades from the Care Inspectorate and were recently highlighted as examples of best practice by Professor Siraj’s recent Independent Review’ (My World Outdoors, 2016)

The standalone nursery schools, Balgreen, Cameron House, Greengables, Hope Cottage, Liberton, St Leonards, Stanwell and Tynecastle, led by nursery head teachers, drive quality across the authority, with 72% of Care Inspectorate gradings at Grade 6.  It must be remembered that Grade 6 indicates “outstanding or sector leading”.

Current City of Edinburgh Care Inspectorate Gradings

Setting Grade 6 Grade 5 Grade 4 Grade 3
Nursery Schools 72% 28%    
Primary School Nursery Classes 8.5% 68% 21% 2.5%

This is significantly higher than in other local authorities

Local Authority % Grade 6
Edinburgh 14.7%
West Lothian (had teachers until last year) 5.3%
Moray 3.4%
West Dunbartonshire 1.3%
Highland 0.8%
Borders 0.55%

This level of quality, where Edinburgh recognised as leading some of the best practice in Scotland, is more than likely to be lost if the nursery schools are subsumed into the local primary.

Contribution of Nursery Head Teachers

City of Edinburgh

  • Teaching on the Edinburgh Early Learning and Childcare Academy for Modern Apprentice and Trainee Early Years Practitioners. Currently 90 students and 60 more to start in August 19.
  • Delivering CPD – Teachers New to Nursery, SEAL, Aspiring Leaders, Developing Quality Environments, Block Play, Self-Regulation and more
  • Working groups – Head Teacher’s Executive, Additional Support for Learning, developing planning and tracking guidance and formats.
  • Practice visits for staff
  • Board member of the South East Regional Improvement Collaborative

University of Edinburgh in partnership with City of Edinburgh

  • Teaching on the Froebel in Childhood Practice certificate – 7 courses across Scotland – currently 300 students
  • Practice visits – sharing excellent practice with practitioners from across Scotland.

Wider impact

  • Leading practitioner research projects
  • Contributing chapters to Early Childhood education books and journals
  • Recognition of impact in national documentation, i.e. Care Inspectorate’s Our Creative Journey, 2017 and My World Outdoors, 2016; the Scottish Government’s workforce review.
  • Jane Whinnett (HT at Balgreen and Hope Cottage) has recently received an MBE for her services to Early Childhood Education.
  • Organising conferences – 10th conference took place in 2018 and had 550 delegates at the Assembly Rooms.
  • Speaking at national and international conferences and seminars

Impact of Proposals

  • At a time of early years expansion, it will be impossible to replace 80 nursery teachers by August.
  • Losing 80 staff may undermine the ability of City of Edinburgh to deliver their expansion plans by 2020.
  • Quality is already under threat due to the expansion and removing the most highly qualified staff from nursery classes will have a significant impact on attainment and closing the gap.
  • Due to the pace of change, all early years’ staff are under significant stress. The impact of these proposals is already having a negative impact on morale and levels of sickness absence.
  • The plans to re-deploy nursery teachers to primary classrooms is of concern. Nursery teachers have chosen to specialise in Early Years pedagogy. Teaching in a primary classroom is completely different to teaching in nursery. Some have not taught in primary classes for over 20 years. There is likely to be a significant requirement for re-training, particularly for staff whose classroom teaching experience pre-dates Curriculum for Excellence. This will have a negative impact on children’s outcomes.
  • Although there is not a straightforward correlation as models and quality of support varies amongst local authorities, Care Inspectorate gradings are likely to be negatively affected by taking teachers out of nursery classes and replacing them with staff qualified to a lower level. As we know from the EPPE project, level of qualification has a positive impact on the quality of learning and on outcomes for children.
  • Removing nursery head teachers, will have an even greater impact on high quality practice and will likely result in City of Edinburgh losing its sector leading status.
  • It has been proposed that there will be locality-based teams of teacher and head teacher peripatetic support, however, there is no suggestion of future proofing this model. Without the opportunity to develop skills working in a nursery classroom, it will not be long before there is a significant lack of expertise. Teachers do not like working in peripatetic teams, for example Midlothian regularly lose their Early Years peripatetic teachers to nursery classes in other Local Authorities and have found it hard to recruit. Several East Lothian nursery teachers are now working in Edinburgh rather than in the peripatetic team.
  • There will be no progression pathway for teachers in Early Years, therefore no real incentive to specialise in this area.
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It’s right that we undertake a dialogue with the public to see if a Workplace Parking Levy would work in Edinburgh.

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In all the furore surrounding the inclusion of a Workplace Parking Levy (WPL) in the SNP Budget many people seem to have forgotten that the City of Edinburgh Council actually agreed to ask the Scottish Government for these powers in August 2018.

The aim was to reduce congestion, improve air quality; enhance conditions for walking, cycling and public transport use; and, raise revenue for transport improvements.

Whilst that decision appears to have been forgotten, the current debate has forced me to think more deeply about the some of the problems that would come with WPL.

What is beyond doubt, however, is that Edinburgh is growing and the road network is struggling to cope. This makes parts of our capital fairly unpleasant, and the resultant air quality problems are a particular risk to children and those with health problems.

The first proposals for WPL were actually made by Harold Macmillan’s Tory Government in 1962-4. These proposals, however, noted that WPL can force parking elsewhere, does not reflect journey length, does not target peak traffic and once the charge is paid it does not influence the number of journeys.

Harold Wilson’s 1964 Government did not take these proposals forward. In 2000, however, legislation did enable  English councils to enact WPL and 12 years later Nottingham introduced the first (and only) UK scheme.

Nottingham introduced the charge not to raise income, but to solve the same congestion problem Edinburgh faces. Unlike Edinburgh (so far), however, Nottingham worked with neighbouring authorities to ensure the charge did not cause problems at the city boundary. The charge started deliberately low, then slowly increased over time – this gave employers (and employees) time to adapt. Exemptions for small businesses mean that only 40% of employers pay the charge. The income was used to fund transformative improvements to public transport.

Nottingham’s experience has been positive, so it is right that we undertake a dialogue with the public to see if it would work in Edinburgh. Any income should not be used to backfill cuts, but must be used to transform active and public transport. Lastly, if introduced in Edinburgh I will argue that Edinburgh’s Councillors and Holyrood’s MSPs are first in line to pay the charge.

 

 

Edinburgh Tram Extension Update Briefing – The Costs have Surged.

tram works

Below is a briefing from Council Officers on the progress made in building the business case for completing (or some people say extending) the line to Newhaven.   The Outline Business Case was approved last year based on an estimated cost of £165m, so it’s incredible to see that’s already risen by ~20% to £196m, & may surge further to £207m. The revised business case will be interesting.

 

A data room is being made available to all Councillors to scrutinise the Final Business Case (FBC) for taking the Trams to Newhaven.

The FBC sets out the case for taking trams to Newhaven and outlines the project cost and timescales for councillors to base their final decision on when it goes to Council on 14 March.

The FBC has been developed using best practice for major capital projects from both HM Treasury (Green Book) and Scottish Government (STAG) and, after a thorough tendering process, outlines that the project can be delivered within a budget of £196.0m. This figure includes a significant additional risk allocation as well as funding to support local business through the construction process. If “optimism bias”, a percentage added to an overall project cost in order to mitigate potential under-estimation of risk by a project team, is added at 6% (in line with Scottish Government guidelines), the project total is £207.3m. This would still be affordable and self-financing and would not divert funds from other Council services. The number of passengers projected to use the system in year one is almost 16 million, nearly double the patronage forecast for the existing Airport to York Place line in the same year.

The cost reflects the outcome of a comprehensive procurement exercise and the inclusion of a six-month ‘Early Contractor Involvement’ (ECI) period to allow the project team and the appointed contractor to refine the construction programme and approach.

To provide further assurance, the project team also tested the FBC against the risk of similar, past, completed tram projects using an approach developed by academics from the University of Oxford’s Saïd Business School. The data showed that the project is more likely than not to be delivered within budget, but they also recommended that the Council considers providing an additional risk allocation of up to £50m for all eventualities.

Even in this unlikely scenario, the project would still be delivered without putting additional pressure on Council budgets and would represent value for money for the tax payer, deliver significant economic, social and environmental benefits and would be affordable within the overall financial model.

This whole approach has been subject to significant scrutiny from professional experts, as well as following the Council’s audit processes.

The dates for the data room, where elected members can discuss the FBC in detail with officers, are as follows:

Date, time Venue
Fri 8 Feb: 10am until 3pm Mandela Room
Mon 11Feb: 9am until 8pm
Tues 12 Feb: 9am until 8pm
Wed 13 Feb: 9am until 8pm
Dean of Guild Waiting Room (all 3 days)
Mon 4 March: 9am – 5pm Diamond Jubilee Room
Tues 5 March: 9am – 5pm The Dunedin
Wed 6 March: 9am – 5pm The Dean of Guild Waiting Room

The opening of the data room marks the beginning of the final decision-making process on the Edinburgh Tram York Place to Newhaven project, which completes the originally envisaged Phase 1a of the Edinburgh tram network. The full Final Business Case will be made public later this month as part of the agenda for the Transport and Environment Committee’s 28 February meeting. A further report on the award of the ‘swept path’ and infrastructure and systems contracts will go to Finance and Resources Committee on 7 March 2019, followed by the final decision on taking trams to Newhaven by Council on 14 March.

Briefing – Brown Bin Permits Available 4th -19th of Feb 2019.

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Briefing below. 

GARDEN WASTE REGISTRATION

What’s happening?

  • The next registration window for the garden waste service opens on Monday 4 February at 10am and will be open until 12pm on Tuesday 19
  • Residents can sign up to receive fortnightly garden waste collections for £25 per brown bin.
  • Residents who sign up in February will be sent a permit 6 – 8 weeks later that will be valid until 6 October 2019.
  • Residents will need to renew their permit again in the summer to continue receiving collections after October. If they choose to renew their permit in the summer then it will be valid from October 2019 to October 2020.

 

How to register

  • The quickest and easiest way to register is on our website at edinburgh.gov.uk/gardenwaste
    Residents without internet access at home can use the computers in our libraries.
  • Residents can also register via phone by calling 0131 608 1100 (option 1, then option 9). Due to high call volumes there may be wait times.
  • Residents can also pay by debit/credit card or cash at the following locality offices:
    • North West Office, 8 West Pilton Gardens, EH4 4DP
    • South East Office, 40 Captain’s Road, EH17 8QF
    • South West Office, 10 Westside Plaza, EH14 2ST

 

How does the service work?

  • We will empty your brown bin once every two weeks all year round.
  • You will need to renew your permit every year before it expires to continue receiving the service.
  • The current permits are valid from October 2018 – October 2019.
    • Permits are not prorated for residents who sign up in February.
    • Residents who signed up during one of the later registration windows (ie February 2019) instead of during summer 2018, will still need to pay £25 to receive collections until 6 October.
    • They can renew their permits this summer to continue receiving a 12 month service after 6 October 2019.
  • Once a resident has signed up we will send them a new collection calendar and permit sticker 6 – 8 weeks later.
  • We will only empty brown bins with valid permit stickers.
  • There is no limit to how many garden waste bins a property can have but there will be a charge of £25 per bin.
  • Residents can share a bin with their neighbours and they will need to agree on one resident acting as the lead for booking and paying for the service.
  • If a resident moves house they can transfer their permit to their new address. They will need to give us six weeks’ notice to update our system and take their brown bin and permit sticker to their new address.
  • Terms and conditions are available on our website http://www.edinburgh.gov.uk/gardenwasteterms

 

Does everyone need to pay?

  • Residents who receive Council Tax Reduction (formerly called Council Tax Benefit) do not need to pay for the service but they do need to register to receive it. Other exemptions such as single occupancy discount or Garden Aid do not qualify for free garden waste collections.
  • A small number of residents in the Colinton area have their garden waste collected by Tiphereth and they also need to register and pay to continue receiving the service.

 

Why we’re charging for garden waste collections

  • Our costs are increasing and more people are using our services, whilst our income is reducing. The £25 per year charge was agreed by the Council at a meeting in February 2018. We already have 70,747 brown bins registered across the city, which means we can continue to provide collections to more than 65,000 homes while saving over £1.4m towards essential services for the people of Edinburgh.
  • As garden waste collection is not a statutory service and with reducing budgets and increasing costs, we can no longer afford to provide the service for free.
  • Over 40% of councils in the UK charge for a garden waste collection and others have stopped the service altogether.
  • The £25 charge is lower than many other councils and works out at less than 50p per week.

 

Further information, including the terms and conditions are available on our website www.edinburgh.gov.uk/gardenwaste

Tram Briefing – The steps being taken to inform Councillors before a decision is reached. 

tram works

Contrary to what many people suggest, no decision has yet been reached on extending Edinburgh’s tram line to Newhaven. Below is a briefing on the steps being taken to inform Councillors before a decision is reached.

 

We are coming to the last stage of the thorough and complex Final Business Case (FBC) for the proposed tram extension. I thought it would be useful to lay out the intended schedule of group briefings and opportunities to interrogate the FBC ahead of the decision date.

There are two key dates in our decision-making. These are the Transport & Environment Committee of 28th February, when we devote a large part of the agenda to discussion of the FBC. This will then by followed by Full Council deliberations on 14th March.

Ahead of this we wish to provide as many opportunities as possible for councillors to become familiar with the material and, equally, to ask questions of the Tram Team who have populated the FBC.

Given that this time of year is dominated by the Budget process and that we have no wish to cut across the time required by that process, we have created a timetable which also takes into account the demands of the February recess period.

We are proposing that the Data Room containing the FBC, which will be staffed by various members of the Tram Team to provide answers where required, should run on:

  • Thursday 7 Feb : 4   –  8pm                           (day of Full Council including evening hours)
  • Friday 8 Feb       : 10 – 3 pm        
  • Monday 11 Feb : 10 – 3 pm
  • Tuesday 12 Feb : 10 – 8 pm                        (including evening hours)
  • Wed 13 Feb        : 10 – 3 pm

We appreciate that the last three dates occur during the recess and that may cause difficulties for some councillors. That is why we have extended hours on the day of Full Council into the evening to allow some flexibility around when people are able to visit the data room.

The tram team will then make themselves available on Monday 25 and Tuesday 26 February for briefings of all political groups, if requested. The independent advisor, John Baggs, who previously contributed to the briefing and committee process around the Outline Business Case (OBC), will be available if any Group wants to avail themselves of his advice on those days.

This schedule also incorporates the timing of valuable input from external contributors.  We hope that this notice will give everyone an opportunity to access the information required to facilitate Group decisions and preparation ahead of this, as well as providing enough space around the similar Budget process timing.

Marketing Edinburgh Briefing – Call to protect the future economic growth of Edinburgh

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Below is a briefing from John Donnelly (Chief Executive, Marketing Edinburgh) on the proposed cut to Marketing Edinburgh.

You will be aware of draft budget cuts by the City of Edinburgh Council, announced last week (18th January). As part of these cuts, it is proposed that £567K (64%) in 2019/2020 and a further £223K in 2020/2021 is taken from Marketing Edinburgh’s current grant of £890K which equates to 89% cut over two years.  This will be by far the deepest of all reductions outlined in the draft budget plan – and would have serious consequences for the city’s economy.

Removing over £0.5M from Marketing Edinburgh’s financial plans would leave Scotland’s Capital as the only major city in the developed world without a Destination Marketing Management Organisation, which includes Edinburgh’s Marketing Team, Convention Bureau and Film Office.

Without a body that unites public and private sectors in the city’s promotion and economic development, we will severely compromise the city’s ability to attract talent, conferences, business and visitors – while our ability to talk to those who live and work in the city, as consumers, will cease. These are all critical pipelines to a successful future Edinburgh and we sever them at our peril.

Most immediately, these cuts would damage the £72M created by business tourism and the £16M delivered by the film economy. It would remove the ability for Marketing Edinburgh to rally the private sector, ending the significant financial contribution they currently make to city campaigns. It would also halt momentum and growth across all of our digital platforms; our campaigns, including edinburgh.org, the authoritative ‘Official Guide to Edinburgh’, have reached an audience of 80.1M worldwide in just one calendar year.

With the uncertainty currently faced by the UK, we should be doing everything in our power to safeguard our economic future, rather than leaving it vulnerable.

The latest European Cities Marketing annual survey showed that Marketing Edinburgh’s funding is already amongst the very lowest in Europe, with all comparable cities receiving significant multiples of Edinburgh’s income. The proposed cuts would mean that even cities with much smaller populations, such as Darmstadt, Aalborg or Ljubljana receive more promotional funding.

This is frustrating for many reasons, not least that Marketing Edinburgh has proven its effectiveness by creating £99 for the city’s economy for every pound it spent in 2017/18, from its already restricted budget.

Marketing can be viewed as a seemingly easy target when it comes to budget cuts. However, whilst I fully understand the huge fiscal burden on the Council, perceptions need to be reframed. We champion the city, ensuring Edinburgh retains its rightful prominence on a national and global scale, as a world leading destination in which to live, work, study, visit and invest. Marketing Edinburgh brings the city demonstrable value, while also playing a critical role in managing issues such as over-tourism.

In short, we both create and manage success. The question that must be asked now is not simply what the city can afford, but also what it cannot afford to lose.

Without Marketing Edinburgh, a dangerous gap would exist, one that our inception was rightly designed to fill. Our demise would see Edinburgh take a significant backwards step, with city promotion, management and economic development becoming increasingly fragmented.

We believe there has to be another way. We suggest that the draft cuts are phased differently so to afford Marketing Edinburgh the time in the short term to create a different model.  In tandem, we also recommend and commit to working in collaboration with you and the wider Council to find an alternative funding model and plan.

Edinburgh has always been an innovative, progressive and enlightening city and it will pay a heavy price, at both an international and local level, if it is forced into becoming inward-looking and insular, which I believe could be the result of these cuts.
Taking the above into consideration, I ask that you:

  • Challenge the proposal at the Finance Resource committee meeting on 1st February
  • Should this proposal be passed, I ask that you stand against the cuts at the Council Budget meeting on 21st February and work with us to find an alternative solution – it is our intention to deliver a counter proposal that delivers fiscally without placing the city at a disadvantage

As Frank O’Donnell, Editor in Chief of the Scotsman Group, has publicly stated: “Marketing Edinburgh has proven itself to be a valuable part of the Capital, helping to manage areas including the 2050 vision, business tourism and film tourism, all driving vital revenue. The council must reconsider.”

I am hopeful of your support. Thank you for your time.

Yours sincerely

John Donnelly
Chief Executive, Marketing Edinburgh

Briefing – Edinburgh’s Bin Crisis

bins

Below is a briefing issued by the Transport & Environment Convener (Cllr Lesley Macinnes, SNP councillor for Liberton Gilmerton)  which expands on a comment she made on Twitter last week.

As you will be only too aware, there have been considerable difficulties in the delivery of our waste services to Edinburgh residents, compounded recently by additional pressure from this year’s festive period.   I have made it absolutely clear to senior officers that this situation has been completely unacceptable and that immediate further action must be taken to rectify the situation. Edinburgh residents have the right to expect reliable levels of service and to receive a swift response when they have cause to get in touch with the Council.

I asked officers to come forward with a series of priority actions designed to return us quickly to acceptable, sustainable service levels. These actions have been completed or are ongoing and include:

  1. Reviewing our processes to ensure missed collection reports from residents are actioned within target timescales – currently two working days but I have asked officers to investigate the potential for reducing this timescale.
  2. A realignment of resource that will allow the service to catch up on delayed collections on the scheduled day of collection or the day after – this is already in place on an interim basis but we will look to make it more permanent to improve the resilience of the service.
  3. Improving the way we report delayed collections to residents so that this information is more accurate and timely – using all available channels: online, social media, email, text message
  4. An interim review of communal recycling routes to improve reliability and performance pending completion of the wider communal redesign project.
  5. Undertaking a lessons-learned review of festive collections in 2018 and providing me with a clear plan for 2019 that avoids the issues we have experienced recently.
  6. A review of the services which we offer during the festive period and the bench-marking of these services against other local authorities.
  7. A timeline showing the remaining actions required to open our new waste transfer stations to support service delivery.

Following robust discussions with senior officials I have made it clear that these actions must be implemented effectively and produce significant improvements in service delivery.  In addition, I have requested that two key reports emerge from this unsatisfactory period.  They will examine both the lessons learned from the changes to service delivery and from the festive period.

You will, of course, be interested to know what the current position is.

The backlog across the city has now mainly been dealt with, although there will be a few pockets of remedial work to undertake, and the service has gone into this week fully on schedule.

There will, of course, still be some further issues, such as Christmas tree stragglers, with which to contend in the coming weeks.

As a result of the actions described above and a sustained effort within the service, the weekly waste missed bin requests have shown a significant drop of over 45% in the last week. They have returned to levels below the 2016 figures for the same week (1,972 during the last week). We have also seen a further improvement in numbers over the last weekend, as missed bin complaints have been dealt with.

This is clearly a position which must be maintained and, indeed, further improved and I have insisted on extremely close monitoring of progress as we move through the next few weeks.

I am, of course, very aware of the pressures that this situation has produced for councillors in handling residents’ entirely justified complaints and concerns. If you continue to feel that there are further issues which should be addressed please feel free to bring them to my attention as well as to that of the service.

The most important task to emerge from this situation is rebuilding the trust of Edinburgh residents in their waste collection service and this will only be achieved by sustained excellence within day-to-day operations. This is a point I have made clearly and forcefully to senior officers and which I expect to be front and centre of everyone’s minds as we move forward. The agreed change to a four day collection system was precisely to build in greater reliability for residents, with regular crews familiar with specific routes and a faster resolution of issues.  We now need to see that develop over the next few months to a position where residents can feel much more certain that the council is delivering a complex waste collection system effectively.

Alongside this effort within service delivery, there are several key strategic developments due to be delivered or progressed through 2019 and I have invited members of the Transport and Environment committee to undertake an informative tour of various relevant projects and sites next week.