Following a tense meeting of the City of Edinburgh Council today, councillors voted to keep Environmental Services provision in house. This means that waste and recycling, street cleansing, and parks maintenance services will continue to be provided by staff who are directly employed by the Council, rather than the private contractor Enterprise Managed Services.
The final result of the vote was 31-25 in favour of the public sector option. The vote was predominantly split along party lines, with the SNP, Labour, and Green groups, plus Lib Dem councillor Gary Peacock, voting for to keep services in the public sector, while the Conservatives and the remaining Liberal Democrats voted to award the contract to Enterprise.
This has been a contentious issue within the Council, and today's debate became quite bitter at times, particularly as it has divided the LD/SNP coalition which has controlled the Council since 2007. However, council Leader Jenny Dawe has stated that this does not necessarily signal the end of the coalition, and she currently has no plans to resign.
Conservative councillors had some particularly harsh criticism for community campaign groups East Edinburgh Save Our Services and Greater Leith Against The Cuts, claiming that we represent only a “noisy minority”, and that attendance at our public meetings has been too low to suggest that we have widespread support. But this argument was undermined when they later claimed that the councillors voting against privatisation were only doing so in order to appeal to voters in next year's local elections.
We would like to thank everyone who has participated in the campaign so far, whether by picketing council meetings, contacting your councillors, or simply talking to your friends and neighbours about the ABM proposals. We couldn't have come this far without you, but we still need your help. On 22nd December, the Council will be deciding the fate of the Integrated Facilities Management and Corporate and Transactional Services workstreams, which includes services such as building maintenance, cleaning, catering, housing benefit payments and council tax collection.
Save Our Service East Edinburgh will be holding a public meeting on Tuesday 13th December at Meadowbank Arts Complex at 7pm to discuss the next steps for the campaign. Everyone from across the city is welcome to attend and hear the latest developments.