If I’m elected on 3rd May, I will be one vote among 58. I’m not a member of any political party and I have no plans to join a party – or to form one. I’ve been asked what my policies are, and I think they could better be described as personal commitments – to myself, to the voters of Southside and Newington, and to all those who have been affected by the statutory repairs scandal.
Whatever role I would play as a councillor would be a role driven by common sense and honesty and representing the people who hopefully will be kind enough to vote for me. I think being a councillor is a very personal relationship and I’ll be serving the people who elect me. I won’t be serving a political party.
My personal commitments, or nonparty policies if you like that better:
- I am standing as an Independent candidate and if elected I will sit as an Independent councillor. I will not pledge to vote with any party group – not in open coalition nor in behind-the-scene deals. I will vote according to the merits or demerits of each motion, and with regard to the views of my constituents, not taking any party line.
- I support transparent, open, honest government. Anyone taking an interest in local government should have their questions answered according to the standards set by the Scottish Information Commissioner.
- I’m standing as a resident of Southside, not as a member of a political party. If elected, I’ll hold regular and accessible “surgeries” and will reply to any communication from a resident of Southside/Newington according to the standards set by the fine mySociety WriteToThem website.
- I have a strong professional concern about the statutory repairs scandal. I hope that I will be able to work for that more effectively as an elected councillor. But I intend to continue following that up, whether I’m elected or not!
- If you live in Newington/Southside and you have a concern that you want my help with as a councillor, you have a right and I’ll have an obligation to respond to your concern. If it’s a matter within my remit as a councillor – any aspects of local services and policy, such as planning, transport, roads, education, social services and libraries – and you want a face-to-face meeting to talk about it, I’ll meet with you.
Some more issues I have a strong view on:
- The Edinburgh Trams construction project needs a clear management structure, realistic budget, realistic goals and deadlines, all of this publicly available, with clear penalties such as in any construction project for failing to meet the targets. Everyone in Edinburgh, resident or visitor, has a right to know what’s going on and how much it’s going to cost us.
- Housing benefit should be clearly and fairly administered. Neither landlords nor tenants should have to fear eviction because of a muddle in administration. Homelessness is a disgrace: everyone in Edinburgh should be able to live in a decent, affordable home.
- Our capital City should have a bespoke accommodation code for our students and landlord incentives to deliver good quality and affordable accommodation for students. Lower rentals, internet, less sharing of bathrooms, study space etc. Less profit from students and more investment in them. After 430 years as a university city the students deserve better from us than to have student accommodation “ranked as the top asset class in the UK’s property market” (The Times January 2012) University education should be about degrees, not debts!
- I’ve been described as “watching revenue sheets like a hawk”. To save money, the council has closed nursery schools, Leith Waterworld, and Blindcraft. We can’t afford waste. But these cuts to services for Edinburgh’s children are a disgrace, and it’s shameful that after two hundred years this past council closed down the Blindcraft factory. My starting position is that we have enough revenue. The council spends about £1bn each year. That should be enough to deliver most services without waste. We should be looking for ways to save money, not sell off our treasures.
- Which brings me to… I’m broadly against privatisation. For basic services within the community, we need a good, motivated, loyal workforce, an appreciated workforce, not a quagmire of term contracts, outplacement service contracts and monitoring. Buying in specialist services from outside contractors should be an exception, not the general rule.
- We should be looking to invest in proper cycleways, not 20mph zones all over the place and cyclists having to cycle on the pavement because of justified concerns for their personal safety.
- We should be providing better care for the elderly and the disabled, and better standards at work for care workers.
Edinburgh should be a clean, enjoyable, considerate, safe place to work and live.