Tuesday, 19 July 2011


Redford Barracks - to be closed
While everyone was waiting with bated breath to hear the fate of Leuchars and Lossiemouth the government dropped another bombshell by announcing that three army bases in Edinburgh, Redford and Dreghorn Barracks and the HQ at Craigiehall are to close and be replaced by a new "super" base at Kirknewton Airfield which, wouldn't you just know it, lies just within the Pentland Hills ward adjacent to the Edinburgh/West Lothian boundary, although the village of Kirknewton itself is firmly within the West Lothian Council area. Naturally local people, particularly in Balerno having been asking lots of questions. Trouble is, the government have provided bu**er all more detail than the announcement made to the House of Commons. No - "we've got some proposals we'd like to consult you on" or "we need to have look at army sites in Edinburgh" - just wam, bam, decision taken, now you get on with it. I don't think they even need to comply with planning regulations. Should be some interesting times ahead. By the way, found this on the Secret Scotland website which tells us a bit more of the history of the airfield.

Saturday, 16 July 2011

The Mersey Beat

I found myself in Liverpool this week for an Institute of Employment Rights seminar on TUPE (Transfer of Undertakings Protection of Employment) at the Adelphi Hotel. A bit of a dry subject perhaps but interesting nonetheless particularly in the current climate of "Public Sector Reform" and a growing tendency among private companies to transfer work and workers from employer to employer. Intriguing city Liverpool, with a strong personality and identity. Having visited the world famous Cavern (ridiculously commercialised into a glorified tourist outlet) to see the resident duo perform Lennon and McCartney with no more than pass marks, I headed to the Jacaranda in Slater Street which although quiet (it was a Tuesday) it has some magnificent old Beatles photos adorning the walls, such as the one above with band en-route to/from Hamburg in the early 60s. Heading back into town I stumbled across an Orange Parade (it was 12th July) a reminder that Liverpool, like many cities, is full of quirks and contradictions. The usual ingredients of flute bands, strange costumes, Rangers tops and alcohol were much in evidence.

Wednesday, 6 July 2011

Freedom of the Press ?

Conference and campaigning went well on Saturday afternoon. Now confirmed that the City Centre ward by-election will be 18th August. Last couple of days has probably cemented everyone's worst fears about tabloid journalism. I'm sure the world of PIs, journos, bent coppers, politicians (national of course) and mindless celebs is murky at the best of times and best avoided by normal folk but there's obviously going to be a "drains up" on the phone hacking question and the stench will hang around for a long time to come I suspect.

On a more positive note, looks like we've got a constructive way forward in resolving the future of the Balerno After School Club. The service, properly registered and regulated, will probably now migrate to an alternative provider in the next few months (there have been 3 local notes of interest, so far) under the oversight of a parents group. School management, Council Dept and Community all moving in the same direction. Yippee ! Can't say that happens too often eh ?...

Saturday, 2 July 2011

The Endless Campaign

Heading up town today for the Edinburgh Labour conference continuing the build up and planning for next year's Council elections. And then campaigning in the City Centre ward ahead of the impending by election which we now think will be 18 August. It never ends. Better get moving, I'm running late already !.....

Friday, 1 July 2011

Balerno Childcare

The Balerno After School Club issue that I reported a couple of weeks ago took an extraordinary turn yesterday. Following the intervention and "helpful advice" from Council officials Balerno High School decided to cease the operation of the ASC completely and advised parents in writing with no warning or consultation. As you can imagine this caused a great deal of upset, anger and frustration, not to mention causing my inbox to explode and phone to melt ! Spent the day making calls to and fro with parents, the school and the Council's Children and Families Dept. Hoping to find a way forward early next week.

Late Trams

Council meeting finished late last night. The vote took place after 11pm, with the meeting having started at 10am (with several unnecessary breaks built in). I'm not convinced that the best decisions are made at the end of a such a long session. Also, unusually, none of the five political parties combined their amendments and this resulted in the Lib Dem position being carried. Therefore, the Council are now committed to take the tram line to St Andrew's Square and need to find more than £200m in the next 2 months to pay for it. Big ask, eh ? To be fair, the Council can't afford any of the three options presented in the report ; cancellation, Haymarket or St Andrew's Square. The Labour Group proposal was to commit to Haymarket (from within existing funding) and an incremental approach thereafter as and when more funding becomes available. We were finally defeated 16 - 15 by the Lib Dems. Nobody knows where the additional money is to come from but I suspect the Council's debt levels and repayment commitments are about to get another hammering.