Sunday, 28 November 2010

Snow and Ska

The Skatalites and Bombskare were both excellent last night, good crowd and a great atmosphere. If the video works you should get a little blast of "Message to you Rudy". Click on the small triangle, bottom left hand corner.

Heavy snow last night, heavier than last winter perhaps ? The forecasters are saying it will be with us for a few weeks yet.

Saturday, 27 November 2010

Saturday Night is Ska Night !

Going to see the Skatalites, supported by Bombskare at the Picture House tonight. Looking forward to it. Its thought that the Skatalites were largely responsible for creating what we now know as Ska, they played with Bob Marley and the Wailers, among others, in the 60s and 70s and merged reggae with other music to produce Ska. Madness and the Specials have much to thank them for. Bombskare are an Edinburgh band and play regularly around the city. Well worth checking out.

Winter arrives ....

Well, the snow set in overnight but the Juniper Green Farmers Market still went ahead as planned. Bought a jar of Bucks Fizz Marmalade ! Very indulgent.
After carrying out the standard Labour Party risk assessment i.e. it was too cold and slippy, decided to abandon any notion of delivering leaflets. Good decision. We can resume deliveries when the weather is better (end of February probably !)
Popped in to the Balerno Christmas Fair at the High School, numerous stalls selling all things festive and all things not. It was heavin', going like a fair, you might say.... Bought some cakes, raffle tickets and bid £30 for a weekend in Largs in the Silent Auction !

Friday, 26 November 2010

The Happyometer

Campaigning in Kingsknowe and Currie this afternoon. Went well but it was bloomin' freezin' ! Off to an exhibition of cartoonist Frank Boyle's work this evening. I've only ever featured in one Boyle cartoon to the best of my knowledge. Don't know if I should be pleased or upset about that fact ! Juniper Green Farmers Market tomorrow, followed by campaigning in Wester Hailes, followed by Balerno Christmas Fair at the High School. Better get an early night !

Wednesday, 24 November 2010

Broomhouse loses a long serving friend

It was a pleasure last night to attend a retirement bash in the Broomhouse Centre for local Community Police Officer Neil Doig MBE (Member of the Broomhouse Executive, apparently). Neil has been a well kent face in Broomhouse and surrounding areas for the last 23 years and made a major contribution to various streams of partnership working in the area dealing with young people. He supported the local community when they stood up against some serious anti social behaviour a few years ago and can certainly be credited with making Broomhouse a better place to live for many people. His presence will be sadly missed and I understand he would have stayed on of it wasn't for current budget pressures. Chiefs and Indians spring to mind....

Talking of budget pressures, attended a couple of briefings today on the Council Budget and Alternative Business Models which are now intrinsically linked with hopes pinned on the ABMs delivering significant savings going forward. We shall see...... both reports will go to the next Council meeting on 16 December.

Pentlands Campaign Committee meeting tonight, hoping to plan the next phase of the parliamentary campaign and build on what has been a very promising past two months of activity.

Monday, 22 November 2010

A wet, but productive, weekend

Campaigning this weekend in Currie and Balerno. I didn't think we'd get much done this week due to the weather but a small, and perfectly formed, team of volunteers braved the elements to deliver 2000 leaflets and get through a bit of door knocking. One gentleman in Currie, after a brief chat and obvious, careful consideration said to me - "Aye, I'd vote for you, you look normal."...... People say the nicest things !

Hearts game on Saturday wasn't great but if you're a connoisseur of great goals and penalty saves Messrs Skacel, Templeton and Kello certainly delivered the goods. Nice tribute to Jim Cruikshank as well with a perfect 1 minute silence and a yellow (Cruikie's colour) Hearts goalie top hung in the net behind Marian Kello.

Sunday, 21 November 2010

WHEC International Award

Was delighted to accept an invite to the WHEC recently for the presentation of a British Council award in recognition for their international work and particularly their twinning relationship with Barkly High in South Africa. We were treated to some wonderful photographs of the last visit to South Africa as part of a presentation about the link and various projects connected to it. Four young people from the WHEC are due to make a nine day return visit in February. I'm sure it will be fantastic experience for them and I hope they bring back many happy memories.

Tuesday, 16 November 2010

Fair Treatment at Work ?

Both surgeries last night at Ratho and Balerno and then on to Ratho Community Council which was busy as usual. Didn't manage to get to Currie Youth Club management committee. Must try harder to be in more places at once!

Labour Group meeting tonight to go over the Council Agenda for Thursday, including the proposal to close Blindcraft.

Interesting story on the BBC Scotland website tonight - - Pay freeze in return for no compulsory redundancies at the Parliament. How strange, when we proposed that some cuts be supported in return for a commitment to no compulsory redundancies at a Council meeting a few weeks ago we were treated with contempt by the SNP/LibDems and Tories. Its the right thing to do at Holyrood but the wrong thing at the City Chambers. Council workers obviously don't merit that level of respect or security.

Sunday, 14 November 2010

Tynecastle Remembers

For the second year the annual Hearts Remembrance Service was held at Tynecastle. This of course is a temporary arrangement until the Memorial Clock is reinstated to its rightful place at Haymarket. It was an excellent service with the right balance of remembrance, history, tradition and even some gentle humour. Jim Jeffries read a couple of poignant letters from and to the Hearts Manager of 1914 corresponding with the young widow of one his players. The rain was incessant but there a huge turn out (2,000?) for this fitting tribute. I know the memorial and the service must return to Haymarket but the Tynecatle events are well managed and have all necessary elements that allow more people to attend and pay their respects than is possible when huddled round the clock, in between the traffic at Haymarket. It would be good if someone could find a way of combining the best elements from both experiences......

Community Award

As expected, the Currie & Balerno News 3rd Community Award evening at Currie Rugby Club was again a great success. I'm delighted to report that Phyliss Tait (pictured with her award and me and husband Jim) was the judges' choice in recognition of her many years of work with numerous groups in and around the Balerno area. The identity of the winner is not revealed until it is announced at the event so it came as a great surprise to one and all, particularly Phyliss !

It was good evening too for networking with representaives from local schools, churches, clubs, community councils, police and many, many more. The C&B News are to be congratulated on their initiative that recognises local contributions but also brings people together in a social setting to celebrate all the good things that do happen locally. Congratulations again to Phyliss, I'm sure the award will have pride of place on the mantlepiece.

Saturday, 13 November 2010

Longstone War Memorial

I joined Veterans, serving soldiers and community representatives attending Longstone War Memorial this morning. This service unusually takes place on the Saturday before Remembrance Sunday. The service was short, simple and excellent.

Friday, 12 November 2010

Recognition and Remembrance

Campaigning in Broomhouse again this afternoon. Leafletting and door knocking, if we don't get blown away, that is ! Tonight is the Annual Currie and Balerno News Community award ceremony which recognises someone from the local area who voluntarily commits lots time and energy to supporting local community activity. The winner isn't revealed until the event itself and its usually an excellent night with a healthy social element i.e. I won't be taking the car ! Balerno Farmers Market tomorrow and I'm also going to attend the annual service at the Longstone War Memorial at 11.

Thursday, 11 November 2010

Supermarkets and local Co-ops

The meeting on Monday night went very well, lots of concerns were raised about the possibility of a new supermarket being located on the Curriehill site and far from adopting a NIMBY, anti-development stance, most people actually expressed a desire to see housing for older people here as a way of allowing older people to stay in the area while helping to encourage more turn over of family homes locally. Since the developers declined to attend it hasn't been possible to convey the concerns or discuss other options. Hopefully that will happen soon.

At the other end of the "retail foodstore" spectrum, I visited the Broomhouse Fruit & Veg Co-op the other day. Excellent local project with superb staff and a committed band of dedicated local volunteers. The shop is the obvious, visible presence in the community (at Broomhouse Market) but they also deliver a range of other service such as working with local schools to discuss healthy eating and making children more aware of where our food comes from. In common with other voluntary sector organisations, concerns about funding make it difficult for them to plan for the future but they're certainly worthy of support and promotion.

Monday, 8 November 2010

Back to Business...

Yesterday was brilliant, but its back to business today (albeit with a spring in the step :o)).
Most of the day has been spent in the City Chambers meeting with Labour colleagues to formulate our position on the massive "Package 2" budget cuts proposals put forward by Council officials as part of the budget process. Wading through figures can be dreary at the best of the times but this is real services and real jobs we're dealing with.
Tonight I'm heading to a public meeting at Currie to discuss the recent decision to sell the former Curriehill School site to developers for a supermarket. I'm told that the developers have pulled out of the meeting due to their negotiations with an operator being incomplete. Don't think that's going to go down well but we'll see....

Saturday, 6 November 2010

A day of two halves

It was beautiful this morning when we got campaigning underway in Whitson and it was still okay when I headed for Ratho for some doorknocking and to carry out my survey on the Council's proposal to change the Local Lettings policies. All was going well until the heavens opnened and the I had to abandon the exercise. Such is the Scottish climate I suppose.... Never mind, we can pick it up again next week.
Derby Day tomorrow....

Friday, 5 November 2010

There will be Fireworks tonight

Yes, I know, a blindingly obvious headline and photo, but I was too lazy to be more original...
Last night I underestimated the resilience and determination of the good folk at Clovie who did manage to stage their fireworks display after the poor weather subsided for a couple of hours. When I left it was in full swing as I headed for Balerno and then the Labour Party meeting in Pentlands Community Centre in Oxgangs. Got home around 10pm. Spent most of today in the Regulatory Committee, licences for HMOs, street traders etc. Tonight we're going to head to Currie for the annual fireworks display staged by the Currie and Balerno Round Table. Hope it stays fair.
Tomorrow is campaigning in Whitson and Ratho and then Derby Day on Sunday. Even after all these years I love the tension of a Hibs Hearts game and, unlike many fellow jambos, I actually enjoy going to Easter Road. Looking forward to seing their new stand. Hope they're able to fill it !

Thursday, 4 November 2010

Busy Evening Ahead

Am heading up to the AGM of Clovenstone Community Centre Management Committee this evening. Great wee community centre with loads going on and a fantastic band of local volunteers.

The AGM is to be followed by their annual community fireworks
display, however I suspect the weather may throw a spanner in the works.

In any event I won't be able to hang around for the fireworks, or lack of them, because I'll need to head for Balerno Community Council's meeting for a 7.30pm start.

Then I've been invited to talk to the Colinton Fairmilehead branch of the Labour Party and hope to be with them by half eight. Don't ususally like to jump from meeting to meeting but its just the way things have worked out.

Last night I attended a workshop at Ratho as part of the Council's consultation on the Canal Strategy. Its in its very early stages and a draft won't be produced until next summer but they're trying to gather as much info and ideas as possible. It was a really useful session with loads of ideas coming forward. The document can be viewed via the Council's website.

Wednesday, 3 November 2010

November arrives ....

Surgeries were quiet on Monday. No great surprise, it was a shocking night, wet and windy. Managed to get to Deanpark Primary School Parent Council meeting where, in common with every other school in the city, they are trying to plan for expected budget cuts and understand what impact this might have.

Yesterday afternoon I attended a briefing hosted by the Council Solicitor about Regulatory functions but appeared to be primarily aimed at advising councillors about conflicts of interest in connection with Traffic Regulation Orders (TROs) including the advice that, due to consultation being an integral part of the TRO process, that deputations (from community groups or businesses etc) could no longer be heard at Committee as this could be viewed as a "hearing" and that should only be held by a Scottish Government appointed Reporter. Lawyers, eh ? What would we do without them ?

Last night I accepted an invite from Murray Estates to view a presentation about their proposals for a substantial development on the west of the city, effectively between the bypass, RBS HQ and Heriot Watt Uni. Its attracted a fair bit of media attention, partly due to the possible inclusion of a 25,000 stadium that could be shared by Hearts and Edinburgh Rugby. It was a very interesting session and I listened politely and asked a few questions. I await further developments with interest and expect there to be a great deal of debate within the Pentland Hills ward and beyond.