Saturday, 28 April 2012

Promises, Promises.

Last Council meeting on Thursday would have been relatively uneventful if it wasn't for the (hopefully) final decision on Portobello High School. Three deputations, all of whom spoke passionately and honestly, and a debate which saw the unfortunate Greens on the wrong end of Marilyne MacLaren mauling. Marilyne doesn't take any prisoners at the best of times and she wasn't going to let the warm fuzzy feeling of the final Council meeting in a five term get in the way of a good old fashioned, full frontal, political assault.

Last night was Edinburgh Labour's fundraising Race Night and a good night was had by all. I was MC for the event and it probably prevented me from losing more than I did. Grateful for small mercies I suppose.

Juniper Green Farmers Market today, followed by campaigning in Balerno.

Interesting blog piece by Peter Maxwell about the 5 main manifestos in the Edinburgh Council elections. I don't know Peter but you have to admire someone who's prepared to read 5 political manifestos and then share his conclusions with the rest of us. Probably won't come as surprise to learn I wholeheartedly agree with his analysis.

Tuesday, 24 April 2012

'Tis the Season of Hustings

Things are a bit of a blur just now. Incredibly busy over the past few days.

Last Thursday was the Active Citizenship Group's Hustings at the City Chambers, which I was happy to attend on behalf of the Labour Group. Lively debate and a good turn out.

Friday was Regulatory Committee where the most important piece of business on the Agenda, my motion on Commercial Dog Walking, was duly agreed. Then nipped out to Currie where PETRA (Pentlands Edge Tenants & Residents Association) had spent the day planting in and around the grass area at Bryce Road next to the shops and Weavers Knowe Pub. They did a grand job and there should be a nice splash of colour and heather there in the future.

Saturday - Campaigning in Currie with Alistair Darling MP and then in the evening made my debut as an after dinner speaker having been invited to address the 65th anniversary dinner of Moray House Rugby Club at the Royal Britsh. Great night, even though as a petrified first timer I had to wait as the last speaker of six and didn't get to my feet until around 11pm. Loved it though and my lame gags seemed to be well received. 

Sunday - More campaigning, this time in Balerno where the sun truly shone on the righteous, and I managed to catch some rays too ! Then in the evening the grand Edinburgh Labour Gala Dinner with Andrew Burns, Alistair Darling, Johann Lamont, Anas Sarwar and Special Guest Alastair Campbell (with his brother Donald the Piper). Excellent evening, raised a few bob for the campaign and I auctioned a couple of Hibs and Hearts tops. In return for a modest donation I'm prepared to reveal which was most valuable. AC then busked on the pipes in return for a bucket collection which boosted the night's takings even further. Good night.

Monday - Last night was our local hustings for the Pentland Hills ward at Balerno Parish Church, excellently chaired by Prof Cliff Beevers and very well attended by around 170 local souls. Good natured debate and all the candidates were on good form.

Wednesday, 18 April 2012

Councillor takes lead on dog walking

Pretty pleased that today's Evening News took an interest in my motion to Friday's Regulatory Committee asking for a report on what measures could be considered in relation to introducing a licensing regime for Commercial Dog Walking companies. These businesses appear to be expanding, which is fine, but I've received a few concerns from local residents about multiple dogs not completely under control and a few nasty incidents as result. The suggestion seems to have been well received and I'm hopeful that colleagues on Regulatory will agree to the request for a report.

Excellent door knocking session tonight in Currie. Only two weeks to go !!!

Tuesday, 17 April 2012

City Budget Committee & other stuff

Well, what a weekend that was ! As expected, lost my shirt at the Poker Night but bounced back on Sunday to enjoy the second best ever day at Hampden. So far. I suspect this debate is already dead in the water but I would much prefer to see the Scottish Cup Final on 19th May played at Murrayfield. It would be brilliant for the city, both clubs and Hearts and Hibs fans. Probably too many vested interests at play though for common sense to prevail on this occasion.

Anyway, back to business, with a massively busy week ahead. Surgeries and Ratho Community Council last night and a full day today starting at the opening of the new community cafe in the refurbished St Joseph's Centre at Balerno Church. Followed by a walkabout in Wester Hailes and I've got a few issues I want to raise. A Regulatory Committee briefing at 2pm and a WEGARAH meeting this evening.

Pleased to have had a couple of articles posted on the Edinburgh Labour website today and yesterday. A City Budget Committee to open up the Council's budget setting process and a gentle reminder that Council debt levels have increased to worrying levels in the last 5 years and could be unsustainable in the current climate.

Saturday, 14 April 2012

Cartoon Head still on the Campaign Trail

Really enjoyed the launch of Frank Boyle's football cartoon exhibition last night at the Scottish Storytelling Centre on the High Street. Some excellent football and political banter washed down with a wee glass of red. Frank even let slip what team he really supports, but the secret's safe with me. His work is fairly legendary now with the only low point of his career being a cartoon featuring me (the only one to the best of my knowledge). You can access his work and buy his books at his website . It's all good stuff.

Balerno Farmers Market today, followed by a spot of leafleting and door knocking at the top end of Balerno. Went well. Tonight, against my better judgement I will be participating in a Labour fundraising Poker Night. I can't even make a half decent job of a fixed odds so I'll probably be completely out of my depth with serious gambling.

Early night, though, tomorrow I'm Hampden bound for the Scottish Cup Semi Final. I may be in a minority but I think an all Edinburgh Cup Final would be fantastic for both clubs and the city. I'm not confident its going to happen mind, but you never know.... 'Mon the Hearts !

Wednesday, 11 April 2012

Military Manoeuvres

Currie Community Council on Monday night. Not a bad turn out considering it was a public holiday. A number of local issues raised and discussed and in particular still no definitive feedback on the outcome of the bidding process for the old Curriehill School site or the Engine Shed site. Bureaucracy and legal niceties responsible for the delay I suspect. Also reported that the MOD have abandoned their plans to create a new Army base at Kirknewton. This has since been dismissed by the MOD as rumour and speculation. They're still sticking to their plans as announced last July by former Defence Secretary Liam Fox apparently. We shall see. Does the left hand know what the right hand is doing one wonders ?

Last night was an Election Briefing at the City Chambers hosted by the Election Returning Officer and her team, basically to explain the processes and procedures to be followed on Election Day itself (3rd May obviously) and at the Count the following morning at Meadowbank. I may be becoming more of a political anorak than I would have wished but actually found the session very interesting. If you want me to explain the intricacies of the Single Transferable Vote system, just ask ! I'd be happy to oblige ! Seeing the ballot box in the flesh, so to speak, brought me out in a cold sweat !

Saturday, 7 April 2012

"a bit of an embarrassment"

Yesterday was particularly productive with a fantastic turn out of Good Friday campaign workers. We delivered well over 2000 leaflets and had a couple of teams door knocking. Very satisfying and a good reaction on the doorsteps. As promised, I bought the leafleting foot soldiers a beer in the Grey Horse, then the Malleny Arms, then the Riccarton Arms, then the Woodhall. Oh dear !.... Hic.... Back out again today, leaflet delivery in the Muirwood area of Currie and I went door knocking in the Cherry Trees part of Balerno. Some good banter with local residents and the rain just about stayed off.

Interesting piece in yesterday's Scotsman by Joyce McMillan. Ostensibly about elected Mayors she squarely sets out her stall by concluding that Edinburgh's SNP/LibDem Council Administration has become "a bit of an embarrassment". Can't argue with you there Joyce.

Friday, 6 April 2012

Good Friday, Grey Horse

Always confuses me this, a holiday for some but not others. Anyway, making the most of it by planning an Easter Weekend of Campaign Activity, starting this afternoon in Currie. Have promised to take the team to the Grey Horse later for some well earned refreshment.

Balerno Community Council was as busy as ever last night. They're leading on the arrangements for a local hustings on Monday 23rd in Balerno Parish Church, more details here . The poor state of local roads was also discussed at length and it was agreed that the local Roads Manager should be invited to a future meeting to discuss policy and practice when it comes to fixing the roads. Should be an interesting discussion.

Wester Hailes Community Council on Wednesday was as lively as anticipated with the underpass and associated housing development next to the Health Living Centre thoroughly debated. There will be a joint Neighbourhood Partnership public meeting (after the election unfortunately) to discuss all the associated issues and I get a sense that local residents may be finding their voice again. They'll need to if we are to get the best outcome for this site and the wider community. 

Wednesday, 4 April 2012

Wester Hailes CC

Last night's gig went exceptionally well I thought. Could hardly call myself an expert but a good venue with a good atmosphere and good bands added up to a successful evening all round. Tonight it's the Wester Hailes Community Council monthly meeting. Hoping for a decent turn out, the small band of activists that have kept the light burning certainly deserve some support. I suspect the issue of access to the new Healthy Living Centre from the shopping centre side of the railway line may be raised again. A solution of sorts has been agreed between the NHS/Council consortium and the leaseholders of the shopping centre but its far from ideal and could be so much better. You would think that an area that needs to regain the regeneration momentum it once had deserved a bit more effort wouldn't you ?

Tuesday, 3 April 2012

Roads and Roadies

Very productive weekend spent door knocking in sun drenched Juniper Green. And took possession of 10,000 Election Address leaflets. Just got to deliver them now. All volunteers most welcome !

Earlier this evening I met a few of the residents of Bonnington Village, beyond Ratho (more a hamlet really) to discuss their ongoing  concerns about site traffic accessing the nearby art attraction thundering past their cottages on a daily basis. Understandably, they're pretty upset and we need to set about finding solutions.

After that had to head into town to help my youngest, whose college course in Music Business Management involves putting on gigs and tonight's rock n roll mecca is at the Voodoo Rooms (£3 at the door). Three bands, all of whom are destined to be stars of the future will take to the stage, although none of them, apparently, has a drum kit. Hence Dad becomes Roadie for the night and duly delivers drum kit to the venue. Unfortunately I've got to collect it again at the end, which will be well past my bed time ! Not a happy bunny....