Tuesday, 30 September 2014

Leaked Report - Roads and Transport

It has been brought to the Conservative’s Group attention that a long awaited report into the Council’s Roads and Transport function has been leaked and is in the possession of the Evening News. 
Cllr Mowat and Rose have asked for this report to be shared with councillors so it is a shock to see the findings reported in the paper before councillors have had the opportunity to scrutinise the findings.

 The findings (as reported) are truly shocking - £260 million is required to bring roads up to standard, the department has been mismanaged, there is a lack of proper accounting and a failure to control costs.  In today’s paper (Tuesday)  there is additional information about using unsuitable materials to carry out repairs – which could have been done better for less.  This needs proper scrutiny now.
The text of an open letter from Councillor Joanna Mowat, Conservative Group Transport Spokesman, is as follows:
"Dear Councillor Hinds
 I was shocked to be contacted by the Evening News to say that they had a copy of a leaked report which was commissioned to look at the management of the Roads and Transport Departments of the Council.  Like many Councillors on the Transport and Environment Committee I was aware that such a report had been commissioned and had attended a briefing on the interim findings.  Despite myself, and Cllr Rose asking for further reports or updates on this report nothing further has been forthcoming.  Indeed the response from a senior officer was that this was an internal departmental report and not for Committee.  The Evening News has now seen this report and Councillors should now have sight of the Report and its findings.
 The article in the Evening News states that the report details mismanagement, lack of proper accounting and failure to control costs – these are proper concerns for Councillors and this report should be laid before the Transport and Environment Committee at the earliest opportunity.   I would like your assurance that this report will be presented to Councillors at the next Transport and Environment Committee on 28th October.
 Yours sincerely
(City Centre Ward)"


Wednesday, 20 August 2014

Full Council Meeting 21st August 2014:Flying the Flag

Edinburgh Conservatives are tabling a motion at the August Full Council meeting (21 August) in light of the proposal by a Green councillor to fly the Palestinian flag above the City Chambers and the proposal of the Council leader to weigh in to the complex political situation in the Middle East in a partisan way.   More positively, the leader of the Council is proposing that a flag should fly from the City Chambers advertising a telephone number for the Disasters Emergency Committee appeal.

 Conservatives on Edinburgh Council believe that, in the light of intense suffering in Syria, Iraq, South Sudan and Ukraine, as well as Gaza that humanitarian leadership should be more even handed.  Edinburgh already has an established relationship with Mercy Corps, a relief agency working in most of these hotspots of suffering and Edinburgh Conservatives believe the Council should encourage support for humanitarian relief in all these areas.

The motion notes:

1.       the appalling suffering in Syria, Iraq, South Sudan and Ukraine as well as Gaza

2.       recognises the desire of many in Edinburgh to contribute to the relief of such suffering

3.       notes that Edinburgh already has strong links with Mercy Corps (which has its European Headquarters in Sciennes, Edinburgh)

4.       resolves to fly an appeal flag and encourage donations to a range of crisis relief hotspots and not just Gaza


Conservative group leader Cameron Rose has noted the following:

·         The suffering of refugees and bereaved families in a range of current crisis hotspots is enormous and cannot help but move people to human compassion.

·         I believe Edinburgh people expect their councillors to reflect and engage local concerns rather than spend their time and energy on international partisan political posturing.

·         I deplore the intimidation and bullying demonstrations on the streets of Edinburg which led to the silencing of one particular theatre group at the Festival Fringe last month.  Freedom of speech is precious in this country but there is a difference between freedom to express views and intimidation and bullying. 

·         The reported proposal from a SNP councillor to rename the street where the US Consulate in Edinburgh is situated as the ‘State of Palestine Terrace’ is a sad reflection of partisan and blinkered nature of some Edinburgh councillors.  It comes after a Green councillor proposed flying a Palestinian flag from the City Chambers.  I share genuine concerns for suffering in Gaza.  But the focus on what has long been an international political campaign of the far left – when there is such acute suffering in Syria, Iraq, South Sudan and Ukraine is one sided.  The focus of our civilised society and councillors is better directed towards humanitarian help for hard pressed refugees and those suffering from conflict.
NOTE: A copy of the full meeting papers for the August Full Council meeting can be accessed here: www.edinburgh.gov.uk/cpol

Tuesday, 1 April 2014

Incident at Liberton High School

Following a tragic incident involving the collapse of an internal wall at Liberton High School this morning, a pupil has died.
Commenting on the tragedy, Conservative Councillor for Liberton/Gilmerton Ward, Nick Cook said:
“This is tragic and troubling news out of Liberton High School this morning.
My thoughts are first and foremost with the pupil’s family and the school community.
However, questions must be asked and the cause of this incident fully investigated.”

Wednesday, 12 February 2014


Edinburgh Conservatives have today published a budget that shows how the City can have better services at a lower cost. The proposals to be put forward at the Council budget meeting on Thursday by Conservative Finance Spokesman Cllr Iain Whyte include:
A 1% Council Tax cut;
Details of the £61m wasted by Labour and the SNP when they rejected partnership with the private sector to provide better services and details of how this can be re-instated;
Plans to reduce management layers and unnecessary management posts in contrast to the Council’s increase in posts of over 300 in the last year despite austerity budgets;
An end to the war on motorists and boost for City Centre businesses with a freeze on parking charges;
A trial of powered compacting bins with a view to reducing street litter;
Withdrawal from CoSLA the ineffective councils umbrella group making a considerable saving in future years and mirroring the approach of Aberdeen and Dumfries and Galloway;
Plans for further efficiency savings to reduce the risk of overspends or major cuts to public services in the coming few years.
Cllr Iain Whyte said: “All Councils claim efficiencies when making budget reductions but unless you make real structural change in the way the Council is run progress will be limited. Our plans make that structural change and will free up resource to maintain frontline services and make service improvements. We also have to work with all partners to bring innovation, adopt modern technology and working practices and a more customer based approach. We have to truly embrace partnerships with the private and voluntary sectors as these can give us the holy grail of better quality services at lower cost.
“In contrast the current Administration has wasted millions by sticking to a blinkered and old fashioned approach to service delivery. This is failing to deliver the savings they predict and service standards on areas like bin collections and recycling are missing their limited targets.”
“Our budget makes a number of service improvements and shows how to fill the Council’s financial black hole over the next few years while maintaining service levels. But even more importantly we show that this is possible while returning money to hard-working families through a Council Tax cut. Just like Stirling Council has proved this is perfectly possible. It will help family budgets as the recovery takes hold and boost our local economy. But most importantly it sets the Council’s a clear aim to achieve a more efficient and effective Council in future.”

Monday, 3 February 2014

Conservatives challenge Property Repairs secrecy

Conservative Finance Spokesman Cllr Iain Whyte today challenged the need to hold a discussion of a report on the Council's resolution of the Property Repairs scandal in private.  The Committee went ahead behind closed doors after the Convener accepted that there may be confidential legal advice given to Committee. 
Iain Whyte said:  "I wanted as much discussion of this issue as possible in public as people are angry that the Council hasn't yet resolved the affected property owners complaints or finalised bills for those left in limbo as they haven't been given a cost for work that was carried out.  The report at the meeting today was largely about setting the procedure and not about individual cases and I believe the procedure should be a matter of public record.
"Following the discussion I successfully pressed for a greater proportion of cases where there is a proposal to write off debt, to come to a Council Committee rather than simply be decided behind closed doors by officers.  This can give councillors and the affected owners more confidence that their case is being dealt with in an open way.  It can also strike a balance by ensuring Council officers don't just throw further large amounts of public money at the issue to 'make the problem go away'. 
"Finally, I have successfully persuaded the Committee that we need monthly reports on the resolution process as many owners are concerned at the slow progress made to date so far.  Now we can hold the officers to account over the performance of the system.  Conservative councillors want to see a more open approach in future and a swift resolution to the many cases that have caused owners so much distress."
For further information contact Iain Whyte on 07879 486133.