Wednesday, 21 September 2011

Big Plans

Full Council meeting tomorrow. The Agenda doesn't look that heavy so we stand a good chance of getting finished in daylight. One report that hasn't attracted a great deal of attention but is the first step in significant plans for the city and the rest of South East Scotland is the SESplan Strategic Development Plan which is due to be endorsed by all six councils that make up the SESplan area. The report can be read on this link . Amongst other things its driven by the Scottish Government's instruction to Councils to identify land for more housing. The plan will cover the next 25 - 30 years so will, by necessity, be high level, strategic and subject to change. With the knowledge that various developers have been floating ideas about development on greenfield sites I was a bit concerned that endorsing the plan tomorrow would allocate specific sites for development. Thankfully that's not the case and a further "Plan" (the Local Development Plan) will be submitted to Planning Committee in early October then be subject to public consultation on sites identfied in the report. That's when the fun will start....

Tuesday, 20 September 2011

Suntrap Garden

Went to visit the Suntrap Garden at Gogarbank yesterday to meet with a couple of representatives from the Friends of Suntrap group who are campaigning to keep the garden and associated facilities open to the public and the various groups who benefit from the opportunities to learn gardening skills in a fabulous environment. Many of the activities are focussed towards people with learning difficulties who particulalry seem to thrive in this setting. Due to a historical twist, the garden, which was bequeathed to the National Trust for Scotland and the old Edinburgh Corporation in 1972 by philanthropist George Boyd Anderson, appears to have ended up in the ownership of Oatridge College and they and the NTS have decided that they can no longer afford to support the facility and wish to sell the site. They may have the legal right to sell but the morality of this move is highly questionable. I feel the Council could play a more active part in this situation and it might be time to rattle some cages.

Happy Birthday Ricky

My namesake celebrated his 50th birthday yesterday. Surrounded by friends and admirers at Edinburgh Zoo, the birthday boy seems to have had a grand time and in the process attracted the interest of the world's media. 
Hope I look that good when I turn 50.....

Thursday, 15 September 2011

"Scorchio"..... not

Having enjoyed wall to wall "scorchio" on a week's golfing break in Portugal it was back to work on Monday and a return to the good old Scottish Autumnal climate of sunshine, showers, gales, frost, mist and cloud. Couple of visits to constituents in Balerno followed by Currie Comunity Council on Monday night. CEC Holdings board meeting yesterday followed by the Regulatory Committee (Taxi Licensing) (does tend to give one a very jaundiced, if unjustified, view of people in and around the taxi trade). Also a visit to meet some residents in Juniper Green who will be affected by a new housing development that will replace / refurbish the old Juniper Green Primary School which has been lying in a rather neglected and derelict state for some time. The developers were there and they promised to take way all the points raised about overlooking of neighbours and the height of the proposed new houses. I wait with bated breath to see if the plans are amended prior to a planning decision being made.

Friday, 2 September 2011


A momentous decision at the Special Council meeting today. The tram, after all, will be completed to St Andrew's Square, but at a significant cost. An additional £231m to be precise, although there are no guarantees that it won't increase further. That level of borrowing, as voted through by the SNP/LibDems, will cost the city £15.3m per year to pay back, for the next thirty years ! We backed the St Andrew's Square option but only if the SNP Government provided the additional financial support. It was their intervention after all, via Transport Scotland, that had created the circumstances for the decision to be revisited. The local SNP Group duly voted in favour of the tram to be completed to SAS with the Edinburgh Council Tax payer picking up the tab. The Council's SNP Group have now had more positions on this than the Kama Sutra ! More seriously it was actually a decent debate, in recognition of the seriousness of the situation, I suspect, with contributions a bit more measured than in the past. If anyone wants to dig through the detail of today's events and the background papers I recommend Andrew Burns blog on this link.