Tuesday, 17 May 2011

Trams and Tracks

Much awaited Special Council meeting yesterday to discuss the Tram Project, only to find the most important decisions won't be made until the next meeting on 30th June. This reflects how the project has been run to be honest, the crucial information and decisions always seem to be one step further on than we are with nobody really in control of the situation. Perhaps surprisingly there was unanimity from all parties, ultimately agreeing to note the report and calling for the new SNP government to make its position on the project's remaining budget clear and seeking more information on what it could cost to cancel the whole thing.

Last night saw a mad dash for me to attend both surgeries at Ratho and Balerno and manage to make an appearance at Ratho Community Council and Dean Park and Balerno High Parent Councils as well. Main issue to arise was concerns about road safety on Bavelaw / Mansfield Road in Balerno particularly for children going to and from school. I've raised this already and received a pretty negative response from the department so will need to come at it from a different angle.

Tuesday, 10 May 2011

Monday 9 May

Ratho Primary Garden takes shape
Meeting of the Council's Audit Committee yesterday. One of the reports provided detail of the consultation exercise on the Commissioning Strategy for Care and Support Services. Might sound a bit dry but its an excellent piece of work and can be accessed here . Last night I headed for the AGM of the Ratho Primary School Parent Council which included a tour of their garden project. A reclaimed piece of unused grassland in the corner of the school grounds, its now been converted into a herb and vegetable garden, raised planters and work top areas for the children, a stage and seating and all manner of other things that make a fantastic addition to the school's resources. All delivered by a dedicated band of volunteers supported by some modest external funding. Had to leave just as they were serving the cheese and wine to make the last few minutes of Currie Community Council before heading home. Dedication or what ?....

Sunday, 8 May 2011

Severiano Ballesteros

Seve at the 1976 Open at Royal Birkdale
I was saddened yesterday by the news of the premature death of Severiano Ballesteros. He was to my golfing generation what Arnold Palmer was to my Dad's in the 50s and 60s. He played the game with style and panache and played as if he enjoyed every minute of it. Some of today's great players could learn a lot from Seve's joie de vivre.

Saturday, 7 May 2011

Currie Ride

Currie Ride this morning, 44 horses and riders set off from Currie Green to the Pentlands to mark Currie's historic boundaries before returning to the Riccarton Arms for well earned refreshments. After some ceremonial formalities involving all 3 local Councillors, David McLetchie and Alistair Darling MP, we adjourned to the Weavers Knowe pub for coffee and initial negotiations about setting up a Labour/SNP/Tory coalition on the Council ! Back in the real world, I've got to head out and take down our election lamp post posters. No rest for a beaten candidate !

Friday, 6 May 2011

The People Have Spoken ....

Well, what a night / early morning that was. The much reported SNP surge materialised all over Scotland and took many by surprise. The story of the night in Scotland seems to be the collapse of the Lib Dem and (to a lesser extent) Tory vote, which transferred en bloc to the SNP, hence the unprecedented landslide result.

In Pentlands, while coming third, we increased our share of the vote by 2 points (not much consolation really). Many thanks to my wonderful campaign team who worked so hard over the last few months. Congratulations to Gordon McDonald the new MSP for Pentlands. Might sound strange, but I felt sorry for David McLetchie who seemed genuinely shocked at the result. 

The Labour Party in Scotland will no doubt take time to reflect on what the next steps will be though we, at local government level, must turn our thoughts quickly to the Council elections next May and factor in last night's experience. The fight back has to start some time, might as well be now.

Thursday, 5 May 2011

Today's the Day

After 7 months of campaigning, tens of thousands of newsletters and leaflets delivered, hundreds of phone calls, hundreds of conversations on doorsteps, hustings spoken to, hands shaken and babies kissed, what more can I say ?.......

Tuesday, 3 May 2011

Local Income Tax pain

Around 1 million people in Scotland live alone - and rightly in my opinion receive the 25% council tax discount designed to make the system fairer.  Under the SNP/LibDem plans for a local income tax that benefit would be scrapped - the average single person living in a Band D home in Currie or Colinton would lose around £400 a year.  Needless to say the SNP/LibDems have not been trumpeting this policy from the rooftops recently.  I wonder why ? Indeed the SNP even went to court to keep figures that had been produced by civil servants secret. What could they have to hide ?

Monday, 2 May 2011

SNP Freeze public sector pay for 5 years

Watched the Scottish Leader's Debate last night and thought Iain Gray won fairly and squarely.  But the key issue today is the SNP policy to freeze public sector pay for the next FIVE years. That is utterly unacceptable, and would hurt families across Edinburgh.  Alex Salmond tried to pretend that was not his policy, but he is at odds with his Finance Spokesperson - who says that a freeze on public sector pay is the key to freezing the council tax.  The damage a five year freeze on pay would do for morale and recruitment in our hospitals, our schools, our police and fire service is enormous - and the black hole in the SNP's finances is starting to look very scary indeed.