Democratic Deficit

On 18th February Edinburgh City Council met to discuss its budget for 2021/22.  It’s not a normal year because neither Westminster nor Holyrood have yet set their budgets and these budgets set the parameters for the Council’s decision.

The budget motion set before councillors seemed to have been written in a parallel universe.  It acknowledged the challenge of Covid but made no reference to the cuts in services agreed at previous meetings that are built into its planning assumptions.  There was no consideration of the impact of cuts over the last decade, nor any assessment of the harsh reality of life for tens of thousands of Edinburgh residents – unemployment, increasing child poverty, illness and mental health issues, public transport and homelessness.   It simply asserted that the council is on track to meet 2030 targets for reducing poverty and carbon emissions.

Six organisations, including Another Edinburgh is Possible submitted deputations to the council in an attempt to shift the focus towards the real world.  Pre-Covid there would have been an opportunity for those who made the submissions to speak to councillors about their deputations.  This year the written submissions occupied less than a minute of the council’s time.  Councillors were encouraged to read them!

The video shows that section of the meeting.

There is a huge democratic deficit when the voice of council workers and Edinburgh residents is stifled.  Get in touch with your councillor and ask them if they have read the Another Edinburgh is Possible report, why the council’s picture of life in the city is so at odds with reality and why there was such an absence of critical examination of the budget motion.

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