Edinburgh council leader wants to see the evidence

Wednesday December 9th 2020

edinburgh-council


Written by Local Democracy Reporter, Joseph Anderson

Edinburgh’s SNP council leader is calling on the Scottish government to follow the ‘scientific evidence and advice’ that suggested Edinburgh should be in level two of the coronavirus restrictions.

The leader of Edinburgh City Council’s SNP/Labour ruling coalition, Adam McVey has tabled a motion ahead of Thursday’s full council meeting, demanding the Scottish government explains its recent decision to keep Edinburgh at level three.

The motion also insists that ‘the government follow scientific evidence and advice that indicates that Edinburgh has been consistently in tier two’.

Earlier this week, the Local Democracy Reporting Service reported that Public Health Scotland officials had advised that Edinburgh should be moved down to level two.

However, on Tuesday afternoon First Minister Nicola Sturgeon announced the capital would remain at level three due to concerns over Christmas shopping.

Capital politicians have reacted with dismay to the First Minister’s announcement, with Edinburgh Southern MSP Daniel Johnson saying “the cost of this will be counted in lost businesses, lost livelihoods and lost jobs.”

Councillor McVey, who represents Forth, has also heavily criticised the decision, saying on Tuesday: “I’m extremely disappointed. Our numbers are stable and have now been consistently within the rates of level two for some time.

“We know what a dire situation local businesses continue to face and the latest news will be yet another blow in the lead-up to the Christmas period – which should be their busiest time of the year.

“I’ve been strongly pressing for Edinburgh’s case to move to a lower level of restrictions when safe to do so. The data suggests that time should have been now.

“It’s thanks to everyone following the guidance that our numbers have fallen and it’s why the capital’s expectation was rightly that we would be moving to level two.”

In a tweet on Wednesday evening, councillor McVey called for ‘all-party support to put political squabbles aside and speak with one voice as a city’.

The motion, seconded by depute leader Cammy Day, Labour, reads: “[The] council commends residents and businesses (including the hospitality sector) who, through their hard work and adherence to guidance have driven Edinburgh’s Covid transmission case numbers to within level two rates- along with all other indicators of the framework.

“[The] council notes that the leader and chief executive have met with public health officials and the Deputy First Minister weekly and have consistently made Edinburgh’s case for the least restrictive level, within the context of public health‘s recommendations – putting the protection of residents as the first priority.

“[The council] further notes following regular engagement with businesses and trade bodies in the city, the leader has also made the case for changes to support the specific circumstances of Edinburgh’s businesses, wider society and economy.

“[The] council seriously regrets that despite robust representations from Edinburgh
Council to the cabinet and public health advice supporting a case to reduce Edinburgh’s level of restrictions to level two, this has not happened.

“[The] council notes a letter from the Scottish government, requested by the council leader, giving an explanation of the cabinet’s decision will be published on the council’s website and emailed to members when received.

“[The] council agrees to continue to lobby the Scottish government and at the next scheduled meeting insist the government follow scientific evidence and advice that indicates that Edinburgh has been consistently in tier two.

“[The] council also agrees, if the recommendation is to keep Edinburgh in level three, to approach the Scottish Government and request they allocate an appropriate level of funding to help deal with the unique circumstances facing the Edinburgh economy which will to help protect as many jobs as possible.”

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