Tuesday, 3 December 2013

Welfare Reform

The issue of Welfare Reform was covered at the Council's Corporate Policy and Strategy Committee today.

Item 7.1 on the agenda provided information which shows that in just 6 months the Council is dealing with additional rent arrears of £2.6m - that is a 132% increase - which appears to be a direct result of a signal sent out by the Council with their ill advised no evictions policy.  
By contrast, Housing Associations knew what would happen and resisted the 'no evictions' policy.  The figures presented today illustrate how right they were. The same figures illustrated that out of Housing Associations who have currently responded, the rate of increase in arrears is significantly lower at 9% - 22%.

The Labour/SNP Administration failed to accept an amendment from the Conservative Group calling for a review of the 'no evictions' policy and an immediate report on its effect.

Making a contribution in support of the amendment, Councillor Cameron Rose also noted:
1. How the unfair consequence of this policy is that it has led more people to get into debt.

2. That It is unfair to tenants and taxpayers who may now have to pick up the cost of the increases in unpaid rent.

3. That It is unfair that some tenants have extra rooms paid for from the public purse.

In addition, Councillor Rose highlighted that around 4000 people are bidding for houses in Edinburgh because they consider themselves overcrowded.  

Commenting, Councillor Rose said: "Labour and the SNP are fighting hard to maintain these injustices.  Today they sent a signal that they don't care about fairness."
Note: Full Committee Papers can be found here:
The full text of the Conservative Motion to the Corporate Policy and Strategy Committee reads as follows:

Item 7.1   Welfare Reform – further update.
Notes with concern the 132% increase  in rent arrears in the six month period between 31st March 2013 and 30th September 2013 resulting in an additional  £2.6m of Council house rent debt.
Notes that the Council’s adopted ‘no eviction’ policy appears to have had a dramatic effect on the level of rent arrears in contrast to the policy of Registered Social Landlords, where increases in rent arrears have been more modest.
Resolves to review the ‘no evictions’ policy and calls for an immediate report on its effect within one cycle.


Thursday, 12 September 2013

National Sport Performance Centre coming to Edinburgh

Edinburgh has won the race to be the location for the new national sport performance centre, beating off strong competition from Stirling and Dundee. The successful bid by Heriot-Watt University, in partnership the City of Edinburgh Council, to host the £30m facility was announced today by Deputy First Minister Nicola Sturgeon.

Conservative Group Leader Cllr Rose, said, “This is excellent and exciting news for the Capital City. The new centre will not only bring sporting benefit but economic benefit to the city as well. I want to congratulate the whole team for their hard work and achieving an excellent result.”

Thursday, 15 August 2013

Tram companies report

Tomorrow, the Labour/SNP administration of Edinburgh Council will publish the report on the proposals for the governance of the company structure for Lothian Buses and the tram companies.

In a media release today initial details are included.    Because surrounding Councils hold a 9% stake in Lothian Buses (with the remainder held by Edinburgh Council), the governance structure has three elements - Lothian Buses, the tram company and Transport for Edinburgh, the parent company.

The report will be considered at a meeting of Edinburgh Council on 22nd August.

Conservative Group Leader Cllr Cameron Rose has commented on the proposals and press release:
"Given the history of the project, the top priority is to get trams up and running as efficiently as possible. With trams now being tested on the track between Gogar and the Airport,  Transport for Edinburgh needs to focus on providing a good service to travelling customers with integrated tram and buses.  Grand plans for the future are premature.  
The reality is that the tram part of the companies will not run profitably for some considerable time and the priority is to get it running smoothly - and into the black as soon as can be.  That is what the people and taxpayers of Edinburgh expect and deserve.
The proposals published by the Administration are for a politician to chair the board of the transport companies.  That is not a good idea.  I believe a non executive director with relevant transport expertise would be more appropriate and I will try to persuade the Administration to accept this improvement."
The report will be available on the Council web site late tomorrow morning. 

Monday, 12 August 2013

Edinburgh Conservatives mourn the passing of David McLetchie MSP

It is with great sadness that Edinburgh Conservatives have learned of the passing of Lothian MSP and former Scottish Conservative Leader, David McLetchie, aged 61.

Commenting, Edinburgh's youngest Councillor, Nick Cook said:

"I feel privileged to have known and had the opportunity to learn from David McLetchie.

David was a 'true blue' Conservative. He was an excellent MSP for both the people of his former Edinburgh Pentlands constituency and the wider Lothian region. He was a towering figure in Scottish politics who was respected across the political divide. Above all he was a thoroughly decent man.

My thoughts are with his family at this very sad time."

Wednesday, 24 July 2013

Edinburgh Conservatives to call for emergency council meeting on trams

Negotiations between Edinburgh Council and Lothian Buses have failed to meet a deadline for agreement which was set for Monday this week. The negotiations are to agree strong governance, financial and shareholder controls for the operation of trams and buses in Edinburgh.

Conservative Group Leader Cameron Rose noted:
"It is essential that a satisfactory agreement is reached on governance, financial and shareholder controls for the operation of buses and trams.

Knowing the importance of the terms of such an agreement I will be calling for an early meeting of all councillors for no later than 8th August if the delayed negotiations further stall or if the agreement is not considered to be satisfactory.

If we cannot be assured there is a satisfactory agreement by Monday next week, it is essential councillors are fully updated to review and decide on the options on this important issue. Edinburgh Conservatives will push for an urgent meeting of all councillors as soon as possible.

Edinburgh Council is the senior shareholder and councillors must ensure the strategic direction and operation of trams and buses is in the best interests of the people of Edinburgh."


1.      Edinburgh Council is 91% shareholder of Lothian Buses (the remaining interest lies with the neighbouring councils).  The agreement envisages a holding company with two subsidiaries, Lothian Buses and Edinburgh Trams Ltd, the latter with Edinburgh Council as the sole shareholder.
2.      Edinburgh Council met on 27th June and noted that negotiations were expected to be completed by 22nd July.  
3.      Edinburgh Conservatives proposed (and the Council accepted) the following in relation to the negotiations:   “Edinburgh Council notes such discussions are scheduled to be completed by 22nd July and instructs that the group leaders of all parties be briefed immediately prior to their conclusion in order to assess their success.  In the absence of a satisfactory conclusion protecting the Council’s position having regard to its financial contribution and liabilities, opportunity should be afforded to the Council leader, in consultation with group leaders to institute an emergency meeting of Council within 14 days.”
4.      The minuted decision can be found here (item 10) and report in full Edinburgh Tram – Preparing for Operations can be seen here.

Thursday, 27 June 2013

1997: Nelson Mandela in Edinburgh

"I have always had a great deal of admiration for Mrs Thatcher."

The generosity of spirit of Nelson Mandela was on display in an encounter which took place in Edinburgh on 27th October 1997.

He had been awarded the freedom of the City of Edinburgh but was on a very tight schedule that day. Only a brief visit to Edinburgh was possible. I understand the ceremony took place in the Caley Hotel on Princes Street after breakfast.

Daphne Sleigh was the leader of the opposition Conservatives on the Council and in that capacity was a member of the welcoming councillors and dignitaries from the city.

A formidable woman in her own right, she was somewhat apprehensive as the great man was introduced to, and shook hands with, the Conservative leader in Edinburgh. "Conservative", she recalls he said. She admits trembling as she wondered where, if anywhere, the conversation would now go.

"Tell me how is Mrs Thatcher?" he asked. Daphne replied that she was very well. With warmth he then told the leader of the Conservatives in Edinburgh, "I have always had a great deal of admiration for Mrs Thatcher. I was touched by her concern for me." He told the leader of the Conservative group how kind Mrs Thatcher had been to him when he met her. In the ensuing few moments of conversation Nelson told Daphne how Mrs Thatcher had urged him to conserve his energy 'because your country needs you.'

It was a remarkable vignette (not picked up by the media of the time) of the gracious spirit of the great man's ability to rise above differences. It is a reminder to us all that in his life, a generosity of spirit vanquished hatred. It was a remarkable example to set to his nation and worthy of remembering.

Daphne Sleigh

Note. In 1990 Mandela made two visits to London. He was reportedly furious that in the first visit he was blocked by the ANC from meeting Mrs Thatcher, who was still Prime Minister. But he telephoned her and he describes in his autobiography her kindness in urging him to reduce his punishing schedule for the sake of his health. He did have a three hour meeting with her later in the year. He notes that he did not make any headway with her on sanctions but that she "chided me for not taking her advice and cutting down on my schedule".
A Long Walk to Freedom, 1994, chapter 104.
Interview with Daphne Sleigh

Council leader rejects Audit Commission

Cllr Cameron Rose
This morning I challenged Andrew Burns, the Labour Council leader, over the recent Best Value Audit of Edinburgh Council.

Pointing out the 'very challenging' financial position of the council, the Audit Commission made the following point:
'The position became more pressing when the Council decided not to externalise certain services'
It was referring to a programme of outsourcing which promised the taxpayer savings of £294m over a seven to 10 year period along with contractually guaranteed improvements in service.

I asked Cllr Burns if he agreed with the Audit Commission.  His reply was that he did not. 

Now I can understand if he were to have argued that the the decision to reject those savings was a legitimate political decision - even though I sharply disagree with his politics.  That, however was not his argument. 

It was that the Audit Commission was wrong and that the loss of savings through this programme did not make the financial position of the Council more pressing.

Extraordinary - because the Council's alternative savings programme is undeniably much smaller!  And an untenable position when you consider the Council is now really struggling to make those savings.  On the service front we also have the ongoing complaints over waste collection which was one of the key services where improvements were promised.

The long term outcome of Labour's political decision is fewer, poorer services for us all.

Cllr Cameron Rose,
Conservative Group leader

Friday, 21 June 2013

Liberton/Gilmerton By-election 2013

The by-election count for the Liberton/Gilmerton Ward took place today at the City Chambers. The election was held following the sad death of SNP Councillor Tom Buchanan.

Commenting on the by-election result, Scottish Conservative candidate, Stephanie Murray said:

"I congratulate Keith Robson on his victory today and wish him well. I am satisfied with the Conservatives result and believe this demonstrates that there is a good Conservative presence in the Ward. I thank Conservatives across the Ward for turning out to support me. Once again we finished clearly ahead of the Liberal Democrats."

Conservative Councillor for Liberton/Gilmerton, Nick Cook said:

"I congratulate Labour's Keith Robson on his victory. However, with three out of four Ward Councillors now all representing the same Party, I am more committed than ever to providing a robust, common sense alternative voice for voters right across Liberton/Gilmerton."

Wednesday, 29 May 2013

Leith Waterworld is a sorry tale of dysfunctional decision taking

Tomorrow the Labour/SNP administration will decide on whether to honour its ill advised commitment to allow pressure group Splashback yet more time to work up a feasible plan to run Leith Waterworld.  The alternative is to accept an offer for the sale of the empty premises. An offer of £1m has been received from a company intent on creating a commercial play facility for young people and their families.

Today the administration has indicated their intention to break their commitment to the Splashback campaign group and sell the premises.

This will be the welcome culmination of a period characterised by indecision and U-turns which has up to now cost the taxpayer dearly and will continue to do so. 
Edinburgh Conservatives have consistently urged that the only responsible option is to sell the premises.  The campaign group bid has been an expensive distraction of time, money and resources long after the key decisions were taken. 

Proceeds from the sale were to have been  allocated to the funding of the refurbishment of the Commonwealth Pool and the delay in the closure and sale has resulted in annual increased costs to the council tax payer of almost a quarter of a million per annum (including £85,000 in borrowing costs £154,000 for annual maintenance of the vacant property).

At last it appears the current SNP/Labour administration has been forced by common sense to do the right thing – albeit belatedly. 
1.  The report can be found here. (Further links to previous reports and decisions can be fond in this document).
2. Background timeline:
1.       A decision to close Leith Waterworld was taken by the Council in September 2005
2.       The pool closed in January 2012
3.       A closing date for offers was set for 8th February 2012
4.       Indications were received of likely offers from several interested parties
5.       On 2nd February 2012  Council voted to delay the closing date for up to six months to enable the campaign group Splashback to prepare and submit a bid
6.       A new closing date was set for 7th August 2012 by which time the only bids were from Splashback to take possession of the premises for a nominal sum
7.       Council again agreed on 20th September 2012 to provide assistance to Splashback to see if they could create a viable bid ‘with a strict deadline of 31st January 2013'
8.       On 31st January 2013 the Council voted to
  • extend the feasibility phase to the end of 2013 again promising Splashback support to establish feasibility 
  • provide further support, including up to £125,000 to help the process
  • and a further £225,000 support in the following two years
  • to remarket the property 
Media Contact:  Cllr Lindsay Paterson

Wednesday, 22 May 2013

Cllr Cameron Rose - We need to build on Engine Shed brand, loyalty and success - not jeopardise it.

Cameron Rose, local CouncillorLast week, on my own blog, I said I had sought a briefing from council officers on the proposals.  I have done that.  Next, I consider the leader of Economic Development, Cllr Frank Ross, needs to make a personal visit to the Engine Shed.  I have corresponded with him:


 I have listened to and questioned the officers. I have looked at the draft report. I have spoken to Marian MacDonald the Engine Shed's Chief Exec

It is not as simple as moving to a ‘pure supported employment' model from an 'employment pathway'. The Engine Shed involves training (time limited) which is very focused on taking people into employment in which they will remain for a lengthy period. Changing is not a simple matter – especially bearing in mind the Engine Shed brand, loyalty and success which has been built up over a long period.

I believe it is essential that you see and hear of the Engine Shed enterprise business model and operation first hand and I urge you to pay a visit as soon as possible to shape the direction of the report. It is a business and I am not sure how the proposals in the report will satisfactorily replace the loss of valuable expertise and service to the community for young people with learning difficulties.

I appreciate there are complex issues and the goals the Council is seeking to achieve have merit. However I look forward to continuing our discussion and search for a satisfactory solution. For me, the closure of the Engine Shed is not a realistic option.

Best wishes,


Friday, 10 May 2013

Stephanie Murray selected for Liberton/Gilmerton By-Election

Stephanie Murray
Stephanie Murray has been selected by local Conservatives as Scottish Conservative & Unionist candidate for the upcoming by-election in Liberton/Gilmerton.

Stephanie is in her 20s and was born and raised in the ward.  She currently works for KPMG in the field of tax.  Standing as the Conservative candidate in the 2010 by-election in the same ward, she took the Conservatives into 3rd place above the Lib Dems.  Her performance was seen as a key building block on the road to the Conservatives gaining a seat in the ward at the 2012 council election when fellow local activist Nick Cook became Edinburgh's youngest councillor.

She is a previous chair of Conservative Future Edinburgh, the organisation of young Conservatives in Edinburgh.  Stephanie has a degree in law from Edinburgh University and a BA in humanities and social science.  She is well known locally.

Cameron Rose, leader of the Conservative Group on Edinburgh Council welcomed her nomination:

“Stephanie brings youth, local knowledge and common sense to this by-election contest."

Nick Cook, Edinburgh's youngest Councillor and current Conservative Councillor for the Liberton/Gilmerton ward commented: 

" Stephanie is an excellent choice as Conservative candidate for Liberton/Gilmerton.

 Having campaigned in the ward alongside her at the 2010 by-election and during my own election campaign in 2012, I know first hand that she is a very approachable, knowledgeable and compassionate individual. She was born and raised in the ward and has an excellent understanding of the local community."

Friday, 26 April 2013

Property Repairs Scandal

The full extent of Edinburgh's property repairs scandal is closer to being uncovered with the long delayed publication of the two Deloitte reports which investigated the scandal. 

The reports were published at noon today (Friday 26 May) on the Council website.  As there are still some disciplinary issues ongoing there are many redactions in the published reports.  The release follows repeated calls from Cllr Cameron Rose, leader of the Edinburgh Conservatives on the Council for the publication of the reports.

Four issues stand out.
  1. The human cost of the scandal: There are 726 official complaints from property owners under review. Each of these represents a group of people who believe they have been dealt with unfairly. Complaints include owners who believe they have been overcharged, had inflated work carried out or received sub standard work.  The majority of these have still to be resolved and the speed is worryingly slow.
  2. The financial cost of the scandal:  By the end of 2012 there still remained almost £40m of uncollected debt owing to Edinburgh Council - a result of the mismanagement.  The scale of the scandal and its cost to the people of Edinburgh is emphasised by this amount being outstanding 9 months after the Project Power report was completed in March 2012.
  3. Release of the report.  Despite repeated claims of openness and transparency by the current administration there has been delay after delay in releasing this information which show some of the extent of the malpractice and mismanagement which has taken place on a very damaging scale.
  4. Corruption and mismanagement: Police proceedings are live in relation to a number of people and companies related to the activity of the Council's Property Conservation and Property Care services. Internal disciplinary proceedings are continuing.
The publication of the two Deloitte reports, even with redactions, is an important, if belated, step in shining a light on what really went on and bringing redress to the many who have suffered - some over many years.  It is not the full story by any means.

The delays in the publication of the reports, the slow response to resolving the outstanding complaints and the delays in recovering legitimate debts, continue to cost the Edinburgh taxpayer dear.

The Labour/SNP administration need to do much more to resolve the blockages preventing quicker redress to the many aggrieved property owners.  The financial losses to the Council need to be addressed more quickly.

The reports can be found here

The Project Power Report was provided to the Council in March 2012 and the Project Solar report in June 2012

Further infomation from Cllr Cameron Rose.

Tuesday, 16 April 2013

Edinburgh Council's irresponsible "no evictions" policy is unfair

Edinburgh's Administration councillors today ignored their officers' advice and adopted a left-wing "no evictions" policy for those who fall into arrears following Government changes to housing benefit. 

The flawed policy will bring damaging social consequences and is dangerous for three reasons:

1. It is a local attempt to thwart the Government's aims of making Housing Benefit fair to tenants whether they are in the social or private rented sector;

2. It encourages the small numbers affected by Housing Benefit changes to ignore their rent bills meaning rent increases in future for all tenants as the debt builds up;
3. It sends the signal that the Council isn't serious about collecting the money it is owed and could see further increases in rent and Council Tax arrears which can only result in long term reductions in services.

Arguments against adopting the policy are laid out in detail by Edinburgh's professional housing officers in paragraphs 2.31 to 2.36 of this report.

Edinburgh Conservatives proposed the following amendment but were outvoted:

1.     Notes that Housing Benefit payments have doubled in the 10 years to 2010

2.     Notes the need to reduce the increase in total Welfare payments, especially whilst the UK continues to have a large borrowing requirement

3.     Notes that the Housing Benefit measures are not designed to make people move but, for people who are under occupying, to encourage realistic choices about how they will meet the rent on a property which is larger than they need, such as moving into work or increasing working hours

4.     Notes the introduction of measures to reduce the subsidy currently paid to occupants of social housing who under occupy their accommodation

5.     Notes  that in this respect these measures put recipients of Housing Benefit in social rented housing on the same footing as those in private rented housing, where such a standard is already imposed

6.     Notes that in February 2013, of the 25,385 outstanding applications for housing on EdIndex, almost 5,000 applicants classed themselves as overcrowded  

7.     Notes that in recent years around 500 one bedroom Council properties have become available for let each year

8.     Notes the estimate of 3,800 Council tenants who will be affected by the new rules

9.     Notes that the UK Government, the Scottish Government and Edinburgh Council have provided considerable sums to support people who find themselves in severe difficulty in relation to the reduction in Housing Benefit

10. Notes the financial, administrative and other risks outlined in the Managing Arrears Arising from Housing Benefit Under-occupancy report (paragraphs 2.32 to 2.36) concerning the consequences of mixed messages regarding tenants responsibilities, greater risk of tenants getting into longer term debt and its consequences, fairness, legal challenge and reduction in HRA which would reduce resources and the potential for higher rents for all.

11. Notes current council measures (paragraphs 2.19 to 2.30) which detail support for tenants who have fallen into arrears for any reason and the limited circumstances in which action is taken for eviction

12. Resolves not to adopt a ‘no evictions’ policy in respect of arrears deemed to accrue in connection with the Housing Benefit reforms.

Monday, 8 April 2013

Edinburgh Conservatives mark the passing of a woman who changed the world

Comments from Edinburgh Conservative councillors on the passing of Margaret Thatcher below along with some links:

Cllr Nick Cook, Edinburgh's youngest councillor:

"I was all of three years old when Margaret Thatcher left Office. However my first political memories involve the Iron Lady herself. The son of a small businessman, I remember many an evening spent by my father's side, 'working' alongside him at his garage as he educated me, from the perspective of the average voter, about the history of Thatcherism, and how Maggie transformed Britain for the better, both at home and abroad. 
Mrs Thatcher was a Leader firmly on the side of people like my dad who, however modest their aspirations, worked hard to provide a future for their family better than that which they had themselves. As modest as that itself may sound,  it is my enduring memory of Margaret Thatcher."
Cllr Cameron Rose, Edinburgh's Conservative Group leader:
"We easily forget that Margaret Thatcher became prime minister at the height of the Cold War.  In 1979 the world was on a knife edge and Britain was torn with internal strife.  She brought an instinctive sense of justice and purpose to a country which was losing its way.  In the teeth of bitter and rancorous opposition she held course and her government was instrumental in turning Britain into a modern and successful country.  Her crystal clear understanding of the weaknesses of socialism struck a chord across much of the world.  Ironically, many still rail against her name in Scotland though we also benefited from the reforms she initiated and the safer world she left behind.

Although I was not politically active until long after her premiership, I have always been inspired by her principles, her pragmatism, her leadership and, above all her courage.”
Cllr Iain Whyte, former group leader: favourite quote of the day from Sir Malcolm Rifkind:
"She didn't mind being challenged, indeed she listened with great care if she thought the person challenging her knew what they were talking about, and she could change her mind and opinions, but only on the basis of solid evidence and solid argument."
Other quotes about her here.

Other quotes from her here.

Thursday, 4 April 2013

Strong demand for larger homes in Edinburgh

Figures obtained from the Council by Edinburgh Conservatives show that around 5,000 of the 25,000 applicants for social housing in the city classed themselves as overcrowded.

The 5,000 applicants for more space compares with 6,500 Council and housing association tenants in receipt of housing benefit who are classed as under occupying their home.  In other words, the number of people under occupying social housing and in receipt of housing benefit is greater than the number of people currently looking for larger accommodation.

Until now, around 500 one bedroom Edinburgh Council properties come up for rent every year.  So there has been limited opportunity for under occupiers to downsize.  However, the new welfare reform rules on under occupancy, which came into operation on 1st April, will create some more movement, enabling more people to have their application for a larger house met.

Cllr Cameron Rose


1. The number of Council and housing association tenants affected is contained in paragraph 2.10 of this report to Edinburgh Council's Policy and Strategy Committee on 4.12.12.
2.  In February 2013, there were 25,385 outstanding applications on EdIndex which where people wishing housing association or Council housing can apply.  Of these just under 5,000 of the applicants indicated on their application form that they are overcrowded or require at least one more bedroom.  These applicants are a mix of Council, housing association or private tenants, owner occupiers, or 'homeless' households.
3.  The number of current tenants to whom the under occupancy rules apply has been slightly revised downwards from 6,500 at the time of the December Report to 6,300 (a downwards revision of 5%) at the end of January 2013.
4.  Recent UK government guidance can be seen  here.

Monday, 4 March 2013

By Diverse Means

Today the Commission on School Reform publishes its report on improving Scottish Education.

The title - By Diverse Means – is a welcome acknowledgement of a key component required to improve our education – diversity of practice. 

Whilst more time is needed to assess the detail of the report here are a few initial responses along with consideration of implications for two key current educational issues in Edinburgh:  the proposed closure of Castlebrae Community High School and the pressure on primary one places.

  1. The report as a whole is a welcome contribution to the debate
  1. The call for a diversity of education is welcome and, if implemented, will contribute to problem solving and raising standards. Recommendation 14
  1. The recognition that schools should have greater autonomy and be subject to less centralised bureaucracy will be widely welcomed by parents and schools.  Recommendations 20-22
  1. Comments encouraging the focus of talented teachers to commit to disadvantaged areas are welcome.   Effective schemes to achieve this have a role to play in such schools where turning around performance has been elusive in EdinburghRecommendation 8
  1. The call for an independent review of Education Scotland is welcome.  Recommendation 23
  1. a reduction in regulation and bureaucracy.  Instead there are recommendations for the setting up of extra bodies – perhaps worthy in themselves – but which may have the cumulative effect of reducing autonomy and front line resources.
  1. the excessive number of layers of governance and management is barely addressed.

There are, however, gaps.  We would have like to have seen recommendations calling for

Inevitably, the introduction of diversity in education might have given more options for the improvement in Castlebrae School, currently faced with closure, at an earlier stage. 

It is not clear that the report helps with one of the major educational problems facing Edinburgh Council, namely responding to the pressure on primary one places at oversubscribed schools in the city.  Certainly flexibility in regulations would give more room to manoeuvre.

Tuesday, 26 February 2013

Concessionary fares for trams - Who pays

More costs coming for the Edinburgh taxpayer
Edinburgh taxpayers seem to be a step closer this week to footing the bill for concessionary fares - for everyone who is over 60 who uses the tram. 

The business case for running the trams assumed that the cost of concessionary fares would be picked up by the Scottish Government - as is done for bus travel.  The Government has never actually committed itself to such a payment - but the Labour/SNP administration has manoeuvred itself into the position where, at a meeting last Friday at which there were government representatives, it was stated, and not challenged, that Edinburgh would pick up the bill.

In order to clarify the situation Edinburgh Conservatives put the following emergency motion to the Policy and Strategy Committee of Council today. 

Given confusion over who will pay for concessionary fares for trams, and comments from the Convener of SESTran Bus Operator’s group at a SESTran meeting on 22nd February 2013 that they will be locally funded, comments which were uncontradicted by the Transport Scotland representative at that meeting, Committee instructs that a report be prepared in one cycle detailing the discussions with all interested parties and progress on negotiating who will pay for concessionary fares.
 The motion was rejected by the convener.  The administration is not doing too well with this negotiating challenge!

Tuesday, 12 February 2013

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