Tuesday, 31 January 2012

Budget Progress

Labour Group meeting tonight was productive. As well as dealing with the agenda for the full Council meeting on Thursday we also agreed the final draft budget amendment which we hope to publish in the next day or two in keeping with the open approach we have employed in the last 4 years. Pleased with the STV.local piece on their website today "what-would-labour-do" re our budget plans.

Saturday, 28 January 2012

100 days and a' that

Well, actually, it was 100 days to the elections on 3rd May last Tuesday, but I've been too busy to blog and its such a significant milestone that it can't be ignored. This week has been helluva busy so today's post is more like a potted tour of my diary.

Last Saturday's envelope stuffing session went well, followed by the Edinburgh South West Labour Party Burns Supper, Excellent contributions from Alistair Darling (wee hint about a role in the indyref campaign ?), Sarah Boyack, Rachael Reeves, Lewis MacDoanld and Johann Lamont.

Monday - Usual run of Monday meetings plus the cross party group on Property Services. What a mess.

Tuesday - attended the presentation by developers on their plans for two retail outlets in Currie, on the Lanark Road. Looked pretty good actually although there are some questions about their car park arrangements that will need to be addressed. Then spoke to the Edinburgh Labour Local Govt Cttee about the election campaign and budget preparations.

Wednesday - trip to Bathgate on union business, followed by Regulatory Cttee (taxi licenses) followed by Juniper Green Community Council who supported my idea of forming a liaison committee to oversee the two development projects at the golf club and old primary school.

Thursday - Galashiels on union business, followed by the Council's Audit Cttee and then Currie High Parent Council.

Today - Juniper Green Farmers Market, bought some rapeseed oil for the first time, looking forward to cooking with it. Got some telephone canvassing to do then off to Bannermans to see Rab Howatt's Band.

Friday, 20 January 2012


Yesterday's full Council meeting finally killed the Alternative Business Models (ABM) project with all the workstreams and associated jobs (about 4000) remaining "in house". The SNP group seconded our amendment, which was also supported by the Greens and one LibDem ! One other LibDem Councillor wasn't at the meeting and another, extremely senior member of the Administration, absented themselves from the chamber when the vote was being taken ! Very strange, and further proof, if it were needed, that their group is in complete disarray. While it was the right decision and a victory for common sense there is still a lot of hard work and challenges ahead with various Council services now commited to improvements and savings in the next few years. At least we can all work together to deliver the transformation.

Last night's South West Labour Party meeting was well attended and carried a motion calling for a single question referendum. Sensible way forward.

This weekend will maionly be spent stuffing envelopes and attending Burns Suppers. Its a wierd life sometimes. 

By the way, this week's weigh in returned just a whisker under 13st. Pass me another carrot....

Tuesday, 17 January 2012


Strange discussion
Busy day of meetings today. Finance and Resources Committee this morning, Audit Cttee business meeting at 3pm, followed by a visit to the "Data Room" to study the background papers behind the ABM debate due to take place at Thursday's full Council and the usual pre Council Labour Group meeting tonight.
The most surreal experience of the day though has to be this morning's F&R Cttee. Having made a complete hash of what should have been a straight forward report regarding meetings arrangements with the Council's trades unions (as and when necessary I might have thought ?) the Convenor then ruled that it wasn't competent for the Committee to discuss the request for a report into how the Council should deal with companies who may have a track record of not fully complying with their Corporation Tax obligations. Not competent ? To call for a report on the matter ? However, we then went on to spend 20 minutes or so debating what message should be written inside the Council's Christmas card ; "Merry Christmas" or "Seasons Greetings". We abstained, in despair.

Sunday, 15 January 2012

Job Done

That's it, 1000 calendars with my face on them inflicted on the poor folks of Currie and Balerno. Many thanks to the band of Labour activists who made it all possible. Very satisfying weekend's work.

No Rest For The Aged

Turned 50 on Friday. Wasn't the horrendous experience I had feared. Had a rather good day actually, finished off by going for a curry with the family. Talking of curry, was out in Currie yesterday delivering the first of a batch of 1000 calendars to local voters. 12 months, all with my coupon on ! Don't know what the good people of Currie have done to deserve that but could be an attractive addition to local dart boards ! That's me outside the bakers in Currie and I promise I didn't buy any pies, though I was sorely tempted. Hearts match was brilliant. 2-1 down and down to 10 men and finished up worthy 5-2 winners and a Rudi hat trick. Fantastic.

Tuesday, 10 January 2012

Back to Business

Ratho and Currie Community Councils last night. Managed to get to both and showed face at Balerno High Parent Council meeting, which wasn't actually on at all. Bit of a cock up on the diary front. Ratho CC had 3 presentations lined up, first of which was from the local NHS Community Health Partnership who are looking for new premises for the GP practice due to lack of space and an expanding list of patients, mainly due to new development in the village. Bit of a fudged compromise being proposed using space at the primary school in Ratho Station as a "satellite" surgery. More discussion required methinks.

Currie were most concerned about the telecoms mast proposed at the top of Bryce Road, which I've already opposed at Planning and will continue to oppose after their site visit, and the Curriehill school site as referenced in the post below.

The big weigh in this morning returned 13st 1lb. Not a bad start but still a long way to go....

Sunday, 8 January 2012

Third Time Lucky ?

Just been informed that the latest attempt to develop the former Curriehill Primary School site has failed. Negotiations with a developer to build a supermarket on the site have been terminated and the site is to be re-advertised for sale. There were mixed feelings locally about the supermarket idea but consensus that the site needs to be developed and the current boarded up, dilapidated building is an eyesore and potential health hazard. This will be the third time the site has been marketed and leaving aside the local debate about what would be best for this location, what does it tell us about the wider state of the economy when first, a residential development is abandoned and then a supermarket proposal can't be delivered ? I've asked for more community consultation before a successful bidder is selected but we'll see if that actually happens. The LibDem/SNP Administration pushed through the last sale at the Finance & Resources Committee  against the wishes of the local community and local Councillors.

Saturday, 7 January 2012

Tragedy on Lanark Road

Distressing news yesterday that a cyclist had been killed on the Lanark Road, as reported in the Scotsman . At this stage it looks to have been a tragic accident but I'm keen to hear from the Police once they've completed their investigation regarding any possible contributory factors. No comfort whatsoever to Andrew McNicol's family but I've asked for this to placed on the agenda for the next Pentlands Neighbourhood Partnership meeting so that we can consider any road safety improvements that may be possible. Could be of course that no such measures would have prevented this tragedy but I'm keen to look at all the options. Pleased to say the NP Manager responded immediately saying he has already instructed work to look at this location. More updates soon.

Tuesday, 3 January 2012

Paint This Place Maroon

Hogmanay in Prince's Street was excellent, good atmosphere and well managed. Edinburgh at its best. Caught Wild Beasts and Friendly Fires at the West End stage and Jade somebody from X Factor doing cover versions at the Mound stage.

Having kept a suitably low profile on the 1st, off to Easter Road for the New Year derby yesterday. Changed our arrangements at the last minute and met in the Brunswick bar, where we were joined for a pint by Irvine Welsh, well, not exactly joined, he was in other company, well it looked like Irvine Welsh anyway....

Game was the usual roller coaster of emotions but we came out on top, deservedly in my humble opinion, and went home happy. I'm not normally in favour of football players articulating their thoughts via sloganised tee shirts but given the recent problems experienced by Hearts players and the type of day Ian Black had, kicked up and down the park by various Hibs players (taking turns until they were booked) then missing a penalty but still going on to turn in one his best performances I think he was entitled to this brief right of reply.

As New Year's Resolutions go I know this isn't particularly revolutionary but I'm determined to lose a few pounds in the next 4 months, well actually 28, if possible, before the local elections on May 3rd. I weighed 13st 3lb this morning, which would be fine if I was 6ft 5in, but I'm not.

As added motivation I'll post regular updates on the blog and see if this helps to keep me on the straight and narrow.