In 2005, just as I’d moved to Portobello, the community had just won a campaign to stop a supermarket being built on the site of an old Scottish Power electricity transfer station. There were, however, no plans for the site.
I got involved in a community group.
We wanted to bring the community together to create a sustainable plan for the site. We applied to the Lottery’s Living Landmarks fund to build an urban eco-village. We hoped this would be the start of transforming Portobello and transforming Edinburgh to a more sustainable way of life.
But this story doesn’t have a happy ending… yet.
We failed in the bid to the Lottery. The community’s moved on. Although PEDAL has been successful in bidding to the superb Climate Challenge Fund – and are delivering a successful project, it doesn’t have the same buy in as the Campaign Against the Superstore.
We’re now involved in a fight with Viridor to oppose their plans for a waste transfer site. .
What I realised is that our Council puts communities in a position where they can only fight bad proposals. Communities don’t control their own destiny. Greens have the opportunity to hand power back to communities. We can give the groups that are rooted in our communities a real opportunity to change our city. We can make the Council serve communities.
By using the powers of the council to create these strong, resilient communities, focused on eliminating poverty and dealing with climate change. We should use the Council’s powers to prefer local providers, to hand over assets like the Portobello Town Hall.
PEDAL is currently working on a community wind turbine that could generate over £100k every year to be invested in the community. Greens can make the council replicate this elsewhere, with community assets, and renewables.
I’m already working hard for the people of Portobello and Craigmillar, but I could do so much more as a Councillor.