Following May’s council election and after speaking with most parties, it became clear to the Green group of councillors that given that the Labour group could not enter any formal arrangement with any other party, the most beneficial possible outcome for the city would be an SNP-Green minority coalition. Green councillors, supported by the negotiating support group from the Edinburgh branch, then worked hard to draft a coalition agreement with the SNP.
After overwhelming approval by the individual members of the Edinburgh Greens, this historic coalition agreement was brought to the Edinburgh council meeting on the 26 May. However, it was defeated by a counter proposal to form a Labour–LibDem–Conservative majority administration.
During the first month of the council, Green Group interim Co-convenor, Claire Miller has been focusing on supporting the new group of councillors. From going into negotiations with other political leaders on the formation of a new council administration, to getting accessible office accommodation for the group in city chambers, and a host of other supporting activities, it’s been a very busy month as interim group co-convenor.
At June’s Policy & Sustainability committee meeting, the other interim Green co-convener, Steve Burgess questioned the new Council Leader, Labour’s Cammy Day, about the lack of a political program for the new Lab-Lib-Con administration.
Steve also worked on a joint SNP-Green proposal for the same meeting, that in the absence of a programme from the new coalition, officers be requested to marshal council resources around twin priorities of poverty & inclusion and the climate emergency in the lead up to the council budget in February. This was agreed after some amendments by Labour and Conservatives.
New Green councillor Alys Mumford made her maiden speech in the chambers on 27 May about coalition proposals, and also brought a motion on gender budgeting to the Finance & Resources Committee, which has now been referred to full council meeting on 30 June.
In her Portobello and Craigmillar ward, Alys has been pushing for increased safety measures on the Innocent Railway cycle path, working with the 20 minute neighbourhood team on making Portobello High Street greener and more accessible, and meeting with unions and community groups in Craigmillar to discuss exciting plans for a support hub in the area.
During his first month of the council, another new Green councillor Ben Parker has been focusing on setting up meetings with different groups in the ward as well as different Council Officers to help identify priorities for his work locally. Ben has met with the Astley Ainslie Community Trust, Living Streets, Blackford Safe Routes, various Community Councils, the Friends of the Quiet Route and several Parent Council groups, including the eco committee at JGHS. Ben has also been attending various community and campaign events, and getting to grips with casework too.
At the first Planning committee of the new council term, continuing councillor Chas Booth supported the Leith Community Council’s call to extend the boundary of the Leith Conservation Area to include the Art Deco bingo hall on Manderston Street.
In Leith ward, Chas Booth has met with Lothian Buses to urge them to reinstate the service 22 to Leith and to re-introduce a bus service to the north of Leith Links.
In his first month as a Green councillor, Dan Heap has been working on a number of issues raised by constituents and community groups. These include the absence of any bike hangars in Sighthill-Gorgie; the forthcoming West Edinburgh Link to provide more active travel opportunities, pressing the Council on the urgency of more lighting in Hailes Quarry Park, flytipping in Gorgie; future developments at Gorgie City Farm and the need for a bridge over the Water of Leith at a new development in Longstone. He is also responding to a number of casework issues on housing, school places and recycling, among other issues. He also successfully objected to a commercial event in Saughton Park and is leading on the Green Group’s motion on Pride to the next Full Council at the end of June.
In Inverleith ward, another new Green on the council Jule Bandel has been pushing for pedestrian safety and succeeded in extended the crossing times of three crossings at Canonmills. She is also exploring potential new locations for bike hangars and has been helping residents with council tax, bin, and development issues as well as meeting with community councils, parent councils, and organisations such as Living Streets. Alongside her ward colleagues, Jule has been attending meetings with officers about Drylaw Neighbourhood Centre and pushing the Council Leader to help save this important community asset.
Having just returned to work after having COVID, Green councillor Susan Rae has continued to work on housing issues, primarily around mid-market rentals; attended local meetings related to Powderhall Artists block re-development where she requested that housing in the new development be offered to new tenants of the Arts space; a meeting on the inclusion of the Bingo Hall in the Leith Conservation Area – which thanks also to Chas Booth was successful. Susan also represented the Greens at the Leith Gala Day, the Grenfell Anniversary Vigil and the Rwanda Protest. She is currently in talks with Newsnight to appear on their planned segment relating to the effective banning of Sexual Entertainment Venues in Edinburgh because of the decision not to grant any licenses to them.