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Edinburgh Council’s budget must prioritise climate change and poverty – Melanie Main

Edinburgh Council’s budget must prioritise climate change and poverty – Melanie Main

The Greens’ Edinburgh Council budget proposals include an extra £26 million for public transport, road safety and active travel (Picture: Ian Georgeson)

As the country comes out of the Covid pandemic, it’s clear to me that the challenges our residents face in their daily lives are becoming stark.

That’s why Green councillors are pushing for the council to allocate over £1 million to help with cost-of-living hikes, ensuring help for those most in need to heat their homes and feed their families.

At the same time, children’s services are also facing damaging cuts, so we have also found room in our Green budget proposals to allocate an additional £500,000 to make sure vital support continues to reach those youngsters in most need.

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The climate is the second pressing issue. Back in 2018, Greens won the first of several proposals that pushed the council to play a key role in tackling the Climate Emergency – a crisis that threatens everyone’s future quality of life and particularly our youngest citizens.

It took several years to develop a strategy for the entire city and plans to reduce climate-changing pollution to zero by 2030. It’s a massive challenge and something the next council must show leadership on in all sectors across the Capital.

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That’s why this year’s Green budget proposes an additional investment of £26 million in public transport, road safety and active travel, delivering an infrastructure that will support sustainable travel in EdinburghIn years to come.

Greens also want to invest a further £4.3 million to convert the heavy fleet of council vehicles, such as bins lorries, to electric. This could reduce pollution, make fuel and maintenance costs more affordable, and establish sustainable standards for other services in the city.

There’s also an additional £290,000 for public electric vehicle charging, that would support the many residents who we know are eager to switch their cars to electric.

In my time as a councillor, I’ve learned that our citizens and their communities have a vital role to play in fight against the rapidly changing climate, that’s why I’m particularly proud of the proposed £500,000 investment to support net-zero communities across the city and backing for waste re-use hubs, allowing our residents to recycle more and waste less.

Making sustainable choices will be easier if we improve our environment. And sometimes it’s small investments by the council that can make all the difference – like spending £20,000 on essential repairs to Rainbow Bridge in Leith to improve a much loved off-road route for safe walking and cycling.

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But there are still areas in the fight to reach net zero where we don’t yet have all the answers. Alternatives to heating the city’s buildings with dirty gas is a particularly huge challenge.

That’s why it’s vital that the council invests in a strong staff team to make sure we have professional expertise dedicated to tackling the climate crisis and finding solutions that will bring us closer to net zero as we hurtle towards 2030.

Even in these extremely challenging times, it is entirely possible to finance a better green future for all our residents and that’s what this year’s Green budget delivers. We’ll see on Thursday whether the council’s ruling coalition matches up to this.

Melanie Main is a Scottish Green councillor in Morningside

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