Saturday, 31 December 2011

Hogmanay, here we go

Well, Hogmanay has arrived, whatever happened to 2011 ? Call me an old sentimentalist but I still like the symbolism of New Year ; out with the old, in with the new, reflecting on the year past and looking forward to the year ahead. All that stuff. Brief recollections of 2011 ? The highlights - Billy Bragg at the Queens Hall, Bombskare and From the Jam at Wickerman, Man City winning the FA Cup. Oh, and the family managed to remain healthy and happy throughout, which I suppose is something of an achievement. Low lights - the Scottish Parliament election, obviously. An enjoyable but ultimately fruitless campaign. Continuing problems at Hearts, will we see some stability in 2012 ? 

Looking ahead, the 2012 Local Government elections loom ever larger on the horizon and most time and energy will be focussed on that in the months ahead. No doubt the independence referendum will continue to be the subject of much media speculation. Perhaps the FM will just get on with it. Some chance. If I get some time in the summer it would be nice to get my handicap down.

Heading up to the street party tonight to catch a couple of the bands and soak up the atmosphere. In true wimp fashion I'm planning to back in the house before the bells, with a large dram, the feet up, watching Still Game, which I'm going to record. Good to know that some fine Scottish traditions live on !

All the best to all for Hogmanay 2011 and a peaceful, healthy and successful 2012.

Sunday, 25 December 2011

Sheba, Regrets & Christmas Wishes

Superb 2-0 victory yesterday over Motherwell, possibly the best performance of the season so far and a great atmosphere. All credit to the Hearts players who are enduring a difficult time just now. Unity and determination in the face of adversity.

On the way home on a number 3 bus I encountered this lad and his dog, Sheba, the most placid, laid back dog you've ever met. So enchanted was I with Sheba I felt a photo was in order. The chap told me he was homeless, but to be honest I didn't pay much attention. And then it was my stop, and offski.

I hope Sheba and her owner have good day today, who knows what tomorrow, or the future will bring for them ? I also hope the next time I meet another Sheba and homeless owner I have the good grace to ask his name and try to have a brief chat and understand his situation. 

Happy Christmas and a Peaceful New Year to all.

Friday, 23 December 2011

Covering the Cuts

Yesterday's Council meeting covered a fair spread of issues, from Leith Waterworld to Statutory Repair Notices to Parking in the Pentlands. Talking of which, the SNP/LibDem administration pushed through a plan to charge people for car parking on the edge of the Pentland Hills Regional Park. Okay, £2 a day doesn't seem much but its an idea that hasn't been properly thought through and is merely a substitution for budget cuts. That much is admitted within the report . But there's also numerous practical issues not properly dealt with. The income target (approx £30k) is based on 40% compliance with the new charges. Either they are not intending to enforce the regime or they just accept that most will ignore it. In addition the report recognises there will be "displacement" which will inevitably lead to problems for local working farms who sometimes have difficulty manouvering machinery due to cars parked on access roads.

Talking of budgets, the Administration, in their wisdom, decided to brief the press about a package of budget cuts before sharing that information with all elected members. Evening News  readers knew more about the detail than Finance Spokespeople (like me) who, belatedly, had an 80 page document emailed while we were sitting in full Council. Is it any wonder we sometimes find it difficult to engage in a constructive fashion ?

Wednesday, 21 December 2011

DofE Awards at Currie High

Was delighted to accept an invitation to present the certificates for the Duke of Edinburgh Awards Scheme at Currie High School. A wonderful "feel good" occasion where literally dozens (as can be seen from the photo) of young people filed up to accept a variety of certificates in recognition of their achievements through the scheme. The event was accompanied by an impressive array of personal and group reports recording expeditions in detail, from planning right through to what they had to eat each day, and some wonderful photographs to bring the reports to life. All made possible by the commitment and energy of Gail Cousins, PE teacher, and her band of volunteers who arrange the expeditions, equipment, registration etc etc. Excellent effort all round and confirms yet again that our young people are capable of much more than they are sometimes given credit for.

Monday, 19 December 2011

Turkey, Goals and Hot Cherry Beer

Having just about survived the Labour Group Christmas party on Friday night I headed for Juniper Green Farmers Market on Saturday, bright eyed and bushy tailed. One of the stalls had a large organic, free range turkey for sale for £65 ! It'll be sliced sausage for christmas dinner then.....

Then off to Tynie for a convincing 4-0 victory over Dunfermline. Good morale booster for us, considering current problems, but I do fear for the Pars if they continue to defend like they did against us.

Followed by a wee, pre christmas jaunt up town starting in the German market where several hot cherry beers were consumed to stoke up the festive spirit. The market was heaving, great atmosphere.

Back to reality today, surgeries tonight in Ratho and Balerno, followed by a local Labour Party branch meeting in Currie. 

Monday, 12 December 2011

£57k for Suntrap

I was delighted to hear that Save Our Suntrap have been awarded £57k by an obscure Council Committee, the Pensions and Trusts Cttee which, among other things administers a number of trust funds including the George Boyd Anderson Trust. GBA of course bequeathed his house and magnificent garden at Suntrap to the people but over the years it has ended up in the ownership of the National Trust for Scotland and Oatridge College, both of whom want to flog the place now. The money is to help towards repair and maintenance of the house and garden and is another important step towards persuading the current owners to allow the Friends of Suntrap to continue to run the facility in the way that was intended. Still a long way to go but I sense that the campaign is gathering a head of steam.

Leafleting yesterday went much better. The snowmen melted away into the background as expected but we still completed Juniper Green before darkness fell. Currie Community Council tonight, expecting it to be busy.

Saturday, 10 December 2011

Three Wise Men ?

Only 3 volunteers turned up to help with leafleting this morning. Very disappointing. And they weren't particularly mobile either. Hope they turn up for tomorrow's session though.

So instead I headed for Balerno Farmers Market which was very busy and appropriately festive. Had a good chat with various local people and visited the Christmas Tree festival in the Scout Hall and Bowling Club. Very impressive. Bought a snow shovel too. Hope I don't have to use the bl***dy thing ! Even with a generous covering of snow this morning all the main routes were clear and pavements along the main roads had been cleared and gritted too. Different story in the side streets.

Big Fat Panda and Bombskare were Skatastic last night but it was a nightmare trying to get home from Prestonpans at the back of midnight. Two buses and about an hour and half in total. I was a tired wee bunny this morning.

Dodgy Geezer

Dodgy geezer seen loitering in Balerno this morning

Saturday, 3 December 2011

What Is The Fuss All About ?

The Pandas on walkabout in the High Street yesterday
They look a bit scrawny and threadbare to me, but I suppose the Zoo know what they're doing. Can't see what all the fuss is about personally.

Many thanks to the small but perfectly formed team who turned up to help with newsletter and leaflet delivery this morning in Baberton Mains. It was cold but bright and we got a lot done.

Tonight, after the football, I'm off to the Juniper Green Senior Citizens Christmas Dinner at the Village Hall. I kid you not.

Friday, 2 December 2011

New World Record

Balerno Community Council last night, didn't finish til after 10pm ! Good to see new SNP candidate Bill Henderson (no relation) in attendance and taking an interest in local issues. Covered subjects as diverse as contentious planning applications, farmers market, hydro power schemes, control of mink (see below) and double yellow lines. Talking of which I was tasked last month to submit a request for a TRO (Traffic Regulation Order) to have yellow lines applied at the junction of Johnsburn Road and the roundabout to facilitate safer crossing for older people in the area. Turns out there's already a TRO in place but the lines "are not evident" i.e. they haven't been done. But they will be now. How good is that ? The request had been granted before we'd even asked. A new world record.