Saturday, 26 March 2011

Sneaky Tory Cuts

So, Gideon Osborne's generosity means we'll all have an extra £48 a year in our pockets. I just don't know how I'll manage to spend it all.... And he cut 1p from a litre of fuel, while conveniently forgetting that he added  3p to a litre when he increased VAT to 20% in January. One step forward, three steps back eh George ? All this "fairness" is heart warming however this piece in the Scotsman at the end of last week caught my eye "Pensioners attack cut to winter fuel allowance". Now, I didn't listen to every word of the Chancellor's Budget speech to the House of Commons but I don't think he mentioned this. He must have forgot... We're all in this together, you know.

Some good campaigning this morning in Broomhouse and more planned for tomorrow. Starting to distribute the campaign newspaper. Still got a few thousand to go so if anyone fancies a paper round, you know where to find me....

Wednesday, 23 March 2011

From There to Here

Among other things, I arranged a couple of visits in Wester Hailes today to catch up on some local issues. First call was a coffee with Nabirye at Scorescotland who do work with the local Black and Minority Ethnic communities, providing advice services to people who need them and activities for youngsters, encouraging those from different backgrounds and culture to mix and socialise. They're about to start a Lothian wide NHS project that will heighten awareness of health issues among different ethnic groups. Next to be subjected to my company were Carol, Roy and Brendan at Prospect Housing Association. Got a couple of updates on local projects (not encouraging but too complex to go into detail here) and was reminded of the Wester Hailes blog "From There to Here" . If you've got any history or connection with Wester Hailes it's a really interesting site and has a Facebook group as well. Not impressed with the Budget by the way, but not in the mood to labour the point just now.

Human Rights advice for the Unemployed ?

Happily signed up to the Amnesty
initiative to highlight human rights as
part of the Scottish Parliament campaign.
Attended the Pentlands Neighbourhood Partnership meeting last night at Fairmilehead Church. Not particularly well attended, but a couple of interesting presentations from WEACT (used to be known as West Edinburgh Action) who provide support services to the unemployed and the Council, who provide a "signposting" service for unemployed people to the advice or support service that suits them best. Good people doing good work but to be honest they're just scratching the surface in my opinion. No great security of funding going forward either (after the SNP Govt pulled the funding from the Capital City Partnership who oversee this activity across Edinburgh) which is a pity because providing advice to unemployed people seems to be growth industry....

Monday, 21 March 2011

Petitions, Doors and Late Goals

Good weekend of campaigning in mild and very pleasant conditions, joined Ian Murray MP in asking people to sign the Labour petition urging George Osborne to reverse the recent VAT rise on fuel when he sets the Budget this week. Got a really good reception at Buckstone shops and then on the doors in the local area, Saturday and Sunday. People are feeling this increase every time they buy petrol/deisel and it has to feed through to other goods as transport costs inevitably go up as well. The Chancellor can lend a helping hand if he chooses to do so. Ian's taking all the signed petition sheets down to Westminster today. While we were out and about a team of hardy volunteers were stuffing thousands of envelopes at campaign HQ (my house !) and we'll get these out this week. Couple of Council commitments today and my surgeries tonight but attention is beginning to turn to the election campaign in earnest as we start to up the pace. Still managed to get to Tynie on Saturday, Hearts were almost wiped out in the first half by a surprisingly (compared to their league position) quick and skilful St Mirren. Having been given a good talking to at half time the second half was a different matter and we managed to secure a very late 3-2 victory that was almost deserved.

Tuesday, 15 March 2011

I need to buy a bicycle...

Weekend went pretty well considering Saturday's campaigning was seriously curtailed by the weather. Managed to get 1500 leaflets delivered in Whitson, Saughton Mains and Broomhouse on Sunday so can't complain. Also went back to the Gorgie Mem to remove all the empties from Friday night's Quiz and take them to the recyling. A barman's job is never done !

Currie Community Council last night, numerous local issues discussed in some depth but still finished by 9. Dean Park Primary Parent Council AGM in Balerno tonight. That's about £3.50 each way in petrol ! The Chancellor says he's listening,..... I wonder who to ?

Saturday, 12 March 2011

The Week That Was

Myself and Cllrs Godzik and Aitken join
anti closure protesters outside the
City Chambers. Pic courtesy of stv.
Busy week, really busy week. Honestly. Too busy to blog.

Monday - "Question Time" style event at Balerno High in front of a room of sixth year's. Scary, but a good dress rehearsal for some of the hustings ahead. Surgeries in the evening followed by Currie Primary PTA and then Balerno High's Parent Council.

Tuesday - Elections briefing by Council staff, covered deadlines, do's and don'ts etc, quite technical, followed by our usual pre Council Labour Group meeting.

Wednesday - Managed to join one of the neighbourhood walkabouts in Wester Hailes Park. Generally the area looked not too bad, however, the standard of stair cleaning (or lack of) by Council contractors leaves a lot to be desired. I have complained and expect to see an instant improvement in the stairs I've highlighted (I'll go back next week to check).

Thursday - Full Council meeting, see pic above. The LibDem/SNP Administration, supported by the Tories, pushed through the closure of two nurseries. There had been a statutory consultation exercise but having set their budget in February 2010 which included savings equal to 3 nursery closures this decision was just a rubber stamp. Pretty cynical really, and very sad for the children and parents who are affected. The process seems to be, set the budget then make the policy decisions to fit. The 3rd closure by the way will be Westfield Court which will be closed by the back door. The No Confidence vote on who said what to whom around the Gathering press release shambles was much closer and got quite heated. They survived though. For now.

Friday - Last night was our turn to host the Gavin Strang Quiz Night which we held at the Gorgie Memorial Hall which proved to be an excellent venue. Being of no earthly use to any team I volunteered to do the bar. Yes, I was actually licensed to sell alcohol ! Can't see me making a career of it. Congratulations to the Darling Buds who were victorious.