Council graffiti stunt backfires

Appeared in the Daily Record 17 November 2012

A HIGH-profile bid to bust graffiti ended with red faces after a cherry picker broke down – leaving two council workers stranded 40ft above the ground for two hours.

Edinburgh Council summoned journalists to the stunt in Leith where they were launching a big clean-up effort.

But a mechanical fault with the cherry picker left two “specialist cleansing staff” stranded high above the streets before they had deployed their brushes.

The event was scrapped after officials were unable to fix the problem and the two men were left in the air for two hours, next to a Tesco store in the city’s Duke Street, awaiting rescue.

As officials scratched their heads wondering how to get their employees down, the men had to suffer taunts from highly-amused colleagues.

Neither of the men – both called Dave – wished to comment on their predicament.

Over the two hours a string of council vehicles was summoned  to attempt to get the cherry picker working, but were unable to assist their stricken colleagues.

Eventually a second cherry picker was dispatched and successfully lowered the pair to safety.

The event was part of a three week event which plans to improve the appearance of the streets of Leith. It aims to remove graffiti, stickers, posters and cable ties from buildings and structures such as  bus stops, lamp posts, phone boxes and post boxes in the area.

City Environment Convener Lesley Hinds had praised the initiative. She said: “One of our key commitments of the Capital Coalition is to maintain and improve the quality of life in Edinburgh and Shipshape Leith is a fine example of this in action.”

The council had also  made Friday volunteer day, calling for local residents to come along and help out with the clean-up operation.

A Council spokesman said: “Shipshape Leith was a great success today with nearly 50 people, including many volunteers, helping to clean up the streets. The project is continuing for the next two weeks and I’m happy to report that the two staff on the cherry picker which broke down are safely back on ground level and the graffiti will be cleared soon.”

Labour launch consultation document ahead of council elections

Edinburgh Labour today launched its Moving Edinburgh Forward consultation document ahead of the 2012 local council elections.

The document, which was unveiled along with the group’s full list of candidates for next May’s poll, endorses a move towards a co-operative method of local government in the city. The party promise to engage with local communities and to involve all political parties in decision-making under their plans.

Speaking at the launch Labour group leader, Andrew Burns, stressed the benefits of a co-operative council and dismissed any similarities to David Cameron’s ‘Big Society’. Burns said:- “ A co-operative council is in essence a council that does things with its communities, as opposed to doing things to its communities. Ed Milliband signed up to the co-operative model long before Cameron’s big society was launched. It’s more John Lewis than Easy Jet.”

 The document highlights a number of areas which could be implemented in a co-operative manner. These include setting up a ‘childcare co-op’, the re-introduction of community newspapers and giving local sports clubs a role in running the pitches and pavilions they use.

Burns feels that the party is showing commitment to the city by launching a consultative document six months ahead of the elections, and by being the first group from any party in Scotland to select all its candidates.  Burns said: –  “It is an absolute statement of our intent to move Edinburgh forward at next May’s local elections.

 ”We are taking a really bold step today. We are opening up a public dialogue about our ideas and our visions a full six months before the election. I think it is a completely unprecedented move.”

As well as consulting local residents, the party pledges to involve councillors from across the political spectrum in any decisions under a Labour-led administration. On the prospect of working with the Lib Dems under Jenny Dawe or Steve Cardownie’s SNP Burns said:- “I rule out nothing. It is down to the members of the public to make the decision. We will do what is right for Edinburgh.”

Original here –

Planning Committee to act on rezoning of Inverleith Park

The Edinburgh City Council Planning Committee today agreed to approach Scottish Ministers over the future of the  land occupied by a council depot in Inverleith Park.

Following Tuesday’s Policy and Strategy Committee’s decision  not to sell the land, there was a discussion over the best way to take forward plans to redesignate the land as an ‘open space’ area. Councillor Tim McKay proposed that the Planning Committee consider the potential re-designation of the site back to ‘open space’ in the Local Development Plan.

On being advised that this process could take three years, Green Councillor Steve Burgess proposed an amendment that the council ask the Scottish Ministers for permission to re-designate the land as ‘open space’. On hearing that even this course of action could take two years, Burgess was still content to put forward the amendment, and said that it would “send out a strong message”. The amendment was seconded by Councillor Eric Milligan and accepted by the committee.

Several Councillors including Joanna Mowat, Marjorie Thomas and Rob Munn expressed concern that residents in Leith were confused over plans for the area. Following a presentaion on the Waterfront and Leith Area Development Framework, Munn said:- “The community of Leith is feeling planned to death but nobody is sure what it is getting.” The committee agreed that residents should be kept informed as much possible.

Former Lord Provost Milligan later caused outrage among the Conservative members of the committee by describing Margaret Thatcher as “that bitch from hell”. Milligan who made the comments during a debate about the Edinburgh Lighting Plan later withdrew the remark at the request of Tory Councillor Cameron Rose.

Original story here