Tuesday, 28 February 2012

Setting the Agenda

Meeting of the Pentlands Neighbourhood Partnership tonight at Currie High School. Normally a relatively productive meeting with no hidden agendas or axes to be ground but I have to admit to being a bit disappointed that a couple of items that I had asked to be on the agenda have failed to appear. After the tragic death of a cyclist recently on the Lanark Road I had suggested that this should be discussed by the NP with a view to reviewing road safety measures on the Lanark Road, if necessary. I also asked for the "10 acre site" at Wester Hailes to be on the agenda so that we can learn what progress has been made regarding development of the site after Prospect Housing Association reluctantly decided to withdraw from the project at the end of last year. I don't want to be a pain or throw my toys out of the pram but these are important issues and if Neighbourhood Partnerships want to be seen as relevant they need to discuss topical local issues not just subject members to death by power point every 6-8 weeks. There's also the small matter of the additional £3m to be spent on "road repairs" throughout the city. There's still no information on how this is to be allocated and I would have thought that NPs would want to have an input. Or am I just getting grumpy in my old age ????......

Thursday, 23 February 2012

Full House ?

Last night saw visits to Wester Hailes and Juniper Green Community Councils, two adjacent, but completely different communities. Strangely, last night they were discussing a common issue, housing. Wester Hailes is coming to terms with the withdrawl of Prospect Housing Association from a development at the "10 acre site" partly due to reduced housing grant money available from the Scottish Government. It means that much needed affordable housing could be denied to an area that badly needs it. There is some talk of alternative developers being interested but possibly with an inferior design. We need more information on this and it will be pursued.

Then up to  Juniper Green for a brief presentation by Taylor Wimpey on why they think the Green Belt should be breached to build houses on the field at Muir Wood Road. I wonder if they've thought about building at Wester Hailes ...? Probably not.

Talking of which, some new council housing has been built in the south of the city, unfortunately not enough and certainly not enough to make an impact on the 3000 homes that have been lost in the last 5 years.

Labour's Cammy Day explains in more detail on the rather excellent Edinburgh Labour website.

Tuesday, 21 February 2012


Surgeries were relatively quiet last night and managed to get to Ratho Community Council which covered a wide variety of issues including the soon to be ex 48 bus service. Some discussion about possible timetable problems but generally a sense of resignation. Its frustrating when people feel unable to influence the decisions that affect them most and sure enough the Council report outlining the changes to this and other services was duly noted by the Council's Transport Committee today although Lesley Hinds the Labour spokesperson did manage to get cross party agreement for making representations to the Transport minister. Was also reminded last night to check the Ratho Community Counsil website for news of what's happening locally and its really good.

Spent most of tonight phoning complete strangers asking them which way they will vote on 3rd May. Really, its no way for a grown man to spend his time ......

Sunday, 19 February 2012

Doorknocking in Currie (2)

Another productive session in Currie today, more on the eastern side of Currie this time. Many thanks to the activists who turned up to help and local people who took time to talk on the doorstep. Conditions much better as can be seen from the photo of Nether Currie Place. More chance of sun stroke today than frost bite. The huskies have had to take early retirement.

Saturday, 18 February 2012

Doorknocking in Currie

Productive door knocking session in Currie this morning. Okay, conditions weren't ideal as can been seen from the photo, but my campaign team aren't the type of people to be put off by a snowflake or two. And, you know, when you tell people in the city centre that the weather can be a bit more severe in the Pentland Hills ward they often scoff. Can you believe that ??? Out again tomorrow after the huskies have had a good rest.

Tuesday, 14 February 2012


Currie Community Council last night, mostly dominated by ongoing planning issues. Tonight is the latest meeting of  WEGARAH, the West Edinburgh Group Against Racial Attack and Harassment, a joint community / multi-agency working group looking at issues around racist incidents in the area and how our colleagues in the Police, Council etc deal with reports and offer support to victims. Usually a pretty constructive forum although one is always left wrestling with the dilemma of - do more incidents reported to the police indicate an increasing problem or more confidence in the authorities to deal effectively with reports ? And vice-versa, less reports = less of a problem or reduced faith by the community, so fewer incidents reported ? Personally, I prefer the former. 

Will do my best not to let my mind wander to Perth where Hearts still have a slim chance of maintaining an interest in the next stage of the Scottish Cup.

Sunday, 12 February 2012

Horny handed son of the soil - Not

Balerno Farmers Market yesterday. Managed to pop into the Grey Horse for a chat with Paul on a couple of local issues. Some good ideas that need to be explored further. Also collected the two apple trees that I had ordered in December. They're dwarf varieties which means they'll hopefully be suitable for our rather small garden. Following the advice that they should be planted as soon as possible I set about the task with the enthusiasm of an amateur that didn't have a clue what he was doing and obviously had no idea what a back breaking task lay ahead ! Anyway, they're in the ground now and will be carefully watched over the next few weeks and months for signs of growth. Anyone know any good recipes for home made cider ?

Should finally get round to some door knocking in Currie today. 

Friday, 10 February 2012

Post Budget Day Blues

Its always the same. You build yourself up for the big event, put in the time, the energy, late hours revising and re-revising your plans, poring over endless sheets of figures. Then the day arrives, you've got butterflies in your stomach, sweaty palms. The sense of anticipation builds, the nerves jangle. How will it go ? How will I perform ? Will I convince others of the merits of my argument ? And what happens ? Yep, you've guessed it....... The Great Budget Debate (pantomime) goes exactly as predicted with votes cast along party lines. Political theatre ? Certainly. Great drama ? Not really. You had to be in Glasgow for that, apparently. Oh well, that's the budget over for another year although we were happy with our proposals, as referenced in other posts, and how they linked to the Manifesto so expect to see some of the ideas resurfacing over the next few weeks.

Edinburgh East Labour Party Quiz tonight. I'm taking my Dunce's cap just to be on the safe side.

Saturday, 4 February 2012

Budget Plans Published

Council budget for the next financial year is set on Thursday. Its always a tortuous process with numerous reports issued by Council Directors either bidding for additional resources or highlighting pressures that can't be contained and a drip feed of information through which a budget picture, of sorts, emerges. And it all culminates with the biggest set piece debate of the Council year with political groups moving their own amendments and the SNP/LibDem coalition pushing through their proposals on the strength of numbers. Not exactly an inclusive process. As with previous years the Labour Group have been the first and only political group to have published our proposals well in advance and offer them for scrutiny and comment. Best place to get the details is on Andrew Burns "Really Bad Blog" .

By the way, this morning's weigh-in produced a return of 12st 12lb. Still moving in the right direction, but its a bloody hard slog ! Pass me another carrot.

Wednesday, 1 February 2012

National Decisions - Local Impact

Fare increase to £1.40 single, £3.40 day ticket
Very disappointing to start the first post of the month on a negative note but as reported today by the Evening News Lothian Buses are about to increase their fares due to a drop in passenger numbers and a "multi million pound reduction" in their grant from the Scottish Government. Hadn't realised until I read the story that this has also led to the withdrawal of the 48 bus which serves Ratho. It will be replaced by an amended 12 service but with a reduced frequency. Not good news and it just shows how decisions made in splendid isolation at a national level can have a very real impact on people at a local level. Transport Minister Keith Brown is quoted as saying changes to the Bus Services Operators Grant would encourage fuel economy and secure rural services. Is that right Keith ? I thought Ratho was a rural community and yet their service will reduce and be more expensive. I don't get it....