Politics of Edinburgh

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The City of Edinburgh Council
Ceitie o Edinburgh Cooncil
Comhairle Cathair Dhùn Eideann
City of Edinburgh in Scotland.svg
Official logo of The City of Edinburgh CouncilCeitie o Edinburgh CooncilComhairle Cathair Dhùn Eideann
Logo
Admin HQ Edinburgh
Government
 • Body The City of Edinburgh Council
 • Control TBA (council NOC) (LAB + SNP)
 • MPs
 • MSPs
Area
 • Total 102 sq mi (264 km2)
Area rank Ranked 23rd
Population (2010 est.)
 • Total 477,000
 • Rank Ranked 2nd
 • Density 4,780/sq mi (1,846/km2)
ONS code 00QP
ISO 3166 code GB-EDH
Website http://www.edinburgh.gov.uk/

The politics of Edinburgh, the capital of Scotland, are evident in the deliberations and decisions of the council of Edinburgh, in elections to the council, the Scottish Parliament, the House of Commons and the European Parliament.

Also, as Scotland's capital city, Edinburgh is host to the Scottish Parliament and the main offices of the Scottish Government.

The City of Edinburgh became a unitary council area in 1996, under the Local Government etc. (Scotland) Act 1994, with the boundaries of the post-1975 City of Edinburgh district of the Lothian region.

As one of the unitary local government areas of Scotland, the City of Edinburgh has a defined structure of governance, generally under the Local Government etc. (Scotland) Act 1994, with The City of Edinburgh Council governing on matters of local administration such as housing, planning, local transport, parks and local economic development and regeneration. For such purposes the City of Edinburgh is divided into 17 wards.

The next tier of government is that of the Scottish Parliament, which legislates on matters of Scottish "national interest", such as healthcare, education, the environment and agriculture, devolved to it by the Parliament of the United Kingdom. For elections to the Scottish Parliament (at the Scottish Parliament Building, in the Holyrood area of Edinburgh), the city area is divided among six Scottish Parliament constituencies, each returning one Member of the Scottish Parliament (MSP), and is within the Lothians electoral region.

The Parliament of the United Kingdom (at the Palace of Westminster) legislates on matters such as taxation, foreign policy, defence, employment and trade. For elections to the House of Commons of this parliament, the city area is divided among five United Kingdom Parliamentary constituencies, with each constituency returning one Member of Parliament (MP) by the first past the post system of election.

Scotland constitutes a single constituency of the European Parliament, in which the electorate of the City of Edinburgh participate in electing six Members of the European Parliament (MEPs) using the d'Hondt method of party-list proportional representation.

The City of Edinburgh Council[edit]

The current Lord Provost of Edinburgh is Donald Wilson, who replaced George Grubb in May 2012. In Scotland the Lord Provost fulfils many similar roles to that of a Mayor in some other countries.

Elections to the Council are held every four/five years electing 58 councillors. The last elections took place in May 2012 and the next election is in May 2017. The Council is currently controlled by a Labour/Scottish National Party coalition.

The Council is currently the second highest employer in Edinburgh, with a total of 18,617 employees.[1]

Full Council[edit]

The City of Edinburgh Council is elected under proportional representation and there are 58 councillors in 17 multi-member wards. The Council meeting is made up of all the councillors elected to the City of Edinburgh Council.

The Full Council meets once a month on a Thursday, except during recess and holiday periods, and is chaired by the Lord Provost.

The Full Council retains responsibility for a range of functions including:

  • Electing the Leader, Deputy Leader, Lord Provost and Deputy Leader of the Council;
  • Appointing Committees of the Council
  • Appointing of the Chief Executive, Chief Officers, members of Committees, joint boards and outside bodies;
  • Setting council rules, bye-laws, regulations and standing orders;
  • Setting the council tax, annual council budget and administering the city's capital investment programme.

In September 2012, The City of Edinburgh Council introduced a new committee system.

In addition to the full council this includes:

  • Corporate Policy and Strategy Committee
  • 7 Executive Committees with Policy Development and Review Sub-Committees
  • Governance, Risk and Best Value Committee
  • Petitions Committee

Executive Committees[edit]

The Council has appointed 13, 17 or 20 members of the Council to its Committees.[1]

  • Culture and Sport Committee
  • Communities and Neighbourhoods Committee
  • Economy Committee
  • Education, Children and Families Committee
  • Finance and Budget Committee
  • Health, Wellbeing and Housing Committee
  • Transport and Environment Committee

Policy Development and Review Sub-Committees[edit]

Each Executive Committee has a Policy Development and Review Sub-Committee. These sub-committees develop policy aided by witnesses who are invited to give evidence or provide their view on a particular policy. This approach aims to increase the public’s engagement with the democratic process and result in improved, more inclusive policies.

Governance, Risk and Best Value Committee[edit]

The Governance, Risk and Best Value Committee considers and scrutinises the financial and service performance of the Council, its companies and major projects. It also performs the audit function of the Council. The Convener of the Committee is an opposition Councillor.

Petitions Committee[edit]

The Petitions Committee allows a new method for individuals, community groups and organisations can get involved in what the Council does. It allows people to raise issues of public concern and gives Councillors the opportunity to consider the need for change. The Convener of the Committee is an opposition Councillor.

Planning and Regulatory Committees[edit]

The Planning Committee is principally concerned with issues of planning and development, including the granting of planning permission and street naming. The Regulatory Committee deals with issues such as health and safety and buildings in need of repair as well as determining individual applications for registration and licensing of food premises, bars, restaurants and entertainment venues under the Civic Government (Scotland) Act 1982 and other statutory powers. Membership of such committees reflects the party balance on the council.

Neighbourhood partnerships[edit]

In June 2007 the six local development committees in Edinburgh, one for each Scottish Parliamentary Constituency were replaced by neighbourhood partnerships.[2] Typically these combine the councillors from two council wards with representatives of community councils. Neighbourhood partnerships are tasked with dealing with issues that are specific to their local area and influencing the delivery of key council services including street cleaning, urban parks, libraries, local development, road maintenance, traffic and parking issues. Local committees meet several times each year.

External Committees[edit]

The Council also appoints elected members to serve on:

  • The Licensing Board
  • Lothian Valuation Joint Board
  • Forth Estuary Transport Authority

Elections[edit]

The last election to the council was held on Thursday 3 May 2012. There has been one by-election since, in the Liberton/Gilmerton ward on the 20th June 2013, which saw the Labour Party gain one seat from the SNP.[2]

Members of the council represent 17 electoral areas called wards. As a result of the Local Governance (Scotland) Act 2004, multi-member wards were introduced for the 2007 election, each electing three or four councillors by the single transferable vote system, to produce a form of proportional representation. Previously each of 58 wards elected one councillor by the first past the post system of election.

Council political composition[edit]

[3]

Party Councillors
Labour 20
Scottish National Party 17
Conservative 11
Scottish Greens 6
Liberal Democrat 3
Independent 1

List of wards and councillors[edit]

Multi-member wards introduced for the 2007 council election:

Ward Map
  1. Almond (3 members)
  2. Pentland Hills (3 members)
  3. Drum Brae/Gyle (3 members)
  4. Forth (4 members)
  5. Inverleith (4 members)
  6. Corstorphine/Murrayfield (3 members)
  7. Sighthill/Gorgie (4 members)
  8. Colinton/Fairmilehead (3 members)
  9. Fountainbridge/Craiglockhart (3 members)
  10. Meadows/Morningside (4 members)
  11. City Centre (3 members)
  12. Leith Walk (4 members)
  13. Leith (3 members)
  14. Craigentinny/Duddingston (3 members)
  15. Southside/Newington (4 members)
  16. Liberton/Gilmerton (4 members)
  17. Portobello/Craigmillar (3 members)
Wards in the City of Edingbugh

Former local government[edit]

Prior to the Local Government (Scotland) Act 1973 Edinburgh was administered by the single tier "Edinburgh Corporation", which covered the "City and Royal Burgh of Edinburgh". Edinburgh Corporation was responsible for almost all local government services, such as the Edinburgh Corporation Tramways (which closed in 1956). Midlothian County Council, which had its headquarters on George IV Bridge in Edinburgh, was largely responsible for some local government services in Midlothian (but outside the city boundaries). Some of the towns in Midlothian (such as Dalkeith) also had their own Burgh Council.

In 1975, Edinburgh Corporation and Midlothian County Council were both abolished. The new two-tier system consisted of Lothian Regional Council (with responsibility for water, education, social work and transport) and the City of Edinburgh District Council (with responsibility for cleansing and libraries). The City of Edinburgh became a single-tier council area in 1996, under the Local Government etc. (Scotland) Act 1994, with the boundaries of the City of Edinburgh district of the Lothian region. Confusion between the responsibilities of the Regional and District Councils and the desire for the avoidance of duplication led to the creation of a single tier council.[citation needed] The district had been created in 1975, under the Local Government (Scotland) Act 1973, to include the former county of city of Edinburgh; the former burgh of Queensferry, Kirkliston and part of Winchburgh formerly within the county of West Lothian; and Currie and Cramond formerly within the county of Midlothian.

Parliament of the United Kingdom[edit]

For elections to the House of Commons of the Parliament of the United Kingdom, the city is divided among five constituencies, each of which elects one Member of Parliament (MP) by the first past the post system of election. All five constituencies are entirely within the city area.

Prior to the United Kingdom general election, 2005, Edinburgh House of Commons constituencies had exactly the same names and boundaries as the Scottish Parliament constituencies listed above. However, in order to reduce Scotland's historical over representation in the House of Commons, Scotland's share of constituencies was reduced from 72 to 59, in accordance with proposals drawn up by the Boundary Commission for Scotland. The Scottish Parliament (Constituencies) Act 2004 enabled Scottish Parliament constituencies to remain unaltered despite new arrangements for House of Commons constituencies, which resulted in the loss of one Edinburgh constituency and redrawing of boundaries for the others. As a result of the boundary review:[4][5]

Current political composition:

Party Constituency Member
Labour Edinburgh South West Alistair Darling
Labour Edinburgh South Ian Murray
Labour Co-operative Edinburgh North and Leith Mark Lazarowicz
Labour Co-operative Edinburgh East Sheila Gilmore
Liberal Democrat Edinburgh West Michael Crockart

Constituencies since 1708[edit]

Edinburgh has been used in ten different constituency names since 1708, the date of the first election to the Parliament of Great Britain (which was merged into the Parliament of the United Kingdom in 1801). There have been up to six Edinburgh constituencies at any one time.

Two names, Edinburgh South and Edinburgh West have been in continuous use since 1885. One name, Edinburgh East, also first used in 1885, fell out of use in 1997 and returned to use in 2005.

Survival of a name does not in itself mean that a constituency's boundaries have been unaltered.

Lists of constituencies:

Period Constituencies
1708 to 1885 Edinburgh
1885 to 1918 Edinburgh Central, Edinburgh East, Edinburgh South and Edinburgh West
1918 to 1950 Edinburgh Central, Edinburgh East, Edinburgh Leith, Edinburgh North, Edinburgh South and Edinburgh West
1950 to 1983 Edinburgh Central, Edinburgh East, Edinburgh Leith, Edinburgh North, Edinburgh Pentlands, Edinburgh South and Edinburgh West
1983 to 1997 Edinburgh Central, Edinburgh East, Edinburgh Leith, Edinburgh Pentlands, Edinburgh South and Edinburgh West
1997 to 2005 Edinburgh Central, Edinburgh East and Musselburgh, Edinburgh North and Leith, Edinburgh Pentlands, Edinburgh South and Edinburgh West
2005 to present Edinburgh East, Edinburgh North and Leith, Edinburgh South, Edinburgh South West and Edinburgh West

Scottish Parliament[edit]

For elections to the Scottish Parliament, the city is divided among six of the nine constituencies in the Lothian electoral region. Each constituency elects one Member of the Scottish Parliament (MSP) by the first past the post system of election, and the region elects seven additional members (also called MSPs) to produce a form of proportional representation.

Until the United Kingdom general election, 2005, Edinburgh Scottish Parliament and Parliament of the United Kingdom constituencies were coterminous (shared the same geographical boundaries). The Scottish Parliament (Constituencies) Act 2004, a piece of United Kingdom Parliament legislation, had removed the link, to enable Scottish Parliament constituencies to retain established boundaries despite the introduction of new boundaries for United Kingdom Parliament constituencies.

In the 2011 Scottish Parliament election, the six Edinburgh constituencies elected five Scottish National Party MSPs and one Labour MSP:

Party Constituency Member
Scottish National Party Edinburgh Central Marco Biagi
Scottish National Party Edinburgh Eastern Kenny MacAskill
Labour Edinburgh Northern and Leith Malcolm Chisholm
Scottish National Party Edinburgh Pentlands Gordon MacDonald
Scottish National Party Edinburgh Southern Jim Eadie
Scottish National Party Edinburgh Western Colin Keir

The following additional members were elected to represent the Lothians electoral region:

Party Member
Labour Sarah Boyack
Conservative David McLetchie
Labour Kezia Dugdale
Scottish Green Party Alison Johnstone
Independent Margo MacDonald
Labour Neil Findlay
Conservative Gavin Brown

Cameron Buchanan replaced David McLetchie in September 2013 following the death of the latter.

See also[edit]

Footnotes[edit]

External links[edit]