Wednesday, 27 June 2012

Healthy Debate

My first meeting of the NHS Lothian Board this morning. Always strange entering a formal business meeting as the "new boy" but I was made to feel welcome and managed to settle into the business without too much fuss. A meeting of the Health Endowment Trust at 8.30am was quickly followed by the Board meeting itself at 9.30. A packed agenda including reports on tackling waiting lists (not without its controversial elements), an update on the Legionnaires outbreak and the rather difficult decision to close the children's ward at St John's for 3 weeks in July, due to a lack of qualified staff. Not a pleasant position to be in but the clinical advice regarding patient safety seemed pretty sound even though colleagues from West Lothian were understandably less than chuffed. All the board papers can be accessed at this NHS Lothian web-site link.

An extremely short lunch break was followed by an informal afternoon session to discuss Integration. Very interesting for me to hear the views on this from the NHS side of the fence. Pretty sure everyone is united in the desire to make services as responsive, efficient and effective as possible but there are an awful lot of issues to be addressed if the process is to be successfully delivered.

Should have been golfing tonight but Mother Nature put paid to that idea. The course was flooded before I even got the clubs out of the locker.

Full Council tomorrow. Not as large an agenda as one might expect for the last meeting before the break but that doesn't necessarily equate to a quick meeting. Right, what time does the football start ?....

Thursday, 21 June 2012

New Generation

Very interesting meeting with Balerno Village Trust on Tuesday to discuss their, now very advanced, plans for a small, community owned Hydro electricity generating scheme next to Harlaw reservoir. The idea is that through a combination of commercial loans and community share investment through a co-operative structure, the plant will be built then the electricity generated by the natural flow of water will be fed into the national grid and the revenue generated from that used to pay off the loans and costs and any surplus is allocated to local community projects in and around Balerno. Clean green energy production, a community co-operative and community benefit. What's not to like ? More info on the BVT website. Still a couple of technical issues to be resolved such as planning permission and negotiating a lease for the land but these are in hand. Should be a scoosh....

Tuesday, 19 June 2012

What's Developing ?

In between the showers managed to get to Currie Library on Saturday morning to see the exhibition mounted to display new proposals for the Kinleith Mill site in Currie, which has a long and troubled history. The previous planning permission lapsed after the developer went into administration and the site is now in the hands of a major bank. They are seeking to gain new planning permission and resolve all the legal issues around roads consents etc before marketing the site/package to a house builder. May take some time and will not be without it's issues but most people are agreed the site should be developed and if we can get some affordable housing out of it then so much the better.

I suspect there may be a different response to the plans for the Muir Wood Road field site which is in the green belt but is now subject to a planning application for around 90 new houses. The green belt issue and its proximity to the Kinlieth Mill site mean there is already a lot of of local opposition. The planning process must now run its course.

Off and Running

Chaired my first meeting of the Health, Social Care and Housing Committee today. Seemed to go well. No major problems and no blood spilled. In fact, there were quite a few challenging questions and thoughtful contributions from all the parties represented which augurs well and may provoke some vigorous debate in future on the more contentious issues. Some of the more newsworthy agenda items have already featured in the newspapers and on-line media but all the reports can be read here at the Council Papers On Line service.

Managed a twenty minute break for a cup of tea and then straight into a briefing on Health and Social Care Integration which will be one of the major issues in the months ahead. Again, several thoughtful and challenging contributions from elected members. We need to turn our attention now to constructing our submission to the Scottish Government consultation on the issue.

Sunday, 10 June 2012

Joint NP Meeting delivers

As requested prior to the elections, we had the long awaited joint Pentlands and South West Neighbourhood Partnership meeting on Wednesday evening at Wester Hailes library to discuss the issues around the new Healthy Living Centre at the "10 acre site". Might not sound like a particularly revolutionary event but it was the first time that the community of Wester Hailes, back by other local communities could properly get their views on record regarding the long running underpass issue and the stalled housing proposals on the rest of the site. It was a good meeting and an example of what the NPs can do when they put their mind to it. Places for People have now emerged as the likely partner to provide mixed tenure housing on the site and were reasonably well received. The underpass remains unfinished business with agreement having been reached on what we all hope will be a short term arrangement with an expectation of further talks to see if we can achieve the outcome that the community and development needs and deserves. Further consultation with the community has been promised and will delivered. More positive signs going forward I feel.

Saturday, 2 June 2012

Juniper Green Celebrates

Juniper Green's Eco King and Queen and their entourage board their horse drawn carriage for the parade around the village this morning at the end of a week of events to celebrate the centenary of Bloomiehall Park becoming a local public asset. A cast of thousands, a pipe band leading the procession, followed by the "royal" party, children from Juniper Green Primary and the local scout troups made for a great spectacle and real community feel. Also timed to coincide with the school fair where stalls aplenty of everything from Fair Trade to home baking were on offer.

Managed to make the final of the Bloomiehall Cup last night in the park where local team Bloomiehall Bairns beat another local team from the Royal Bank 3-0 in a competitive contest that was not as one-sided as the score would suggest. The trophy was presented by Juniper Green native Paul Hegarty of Scotland and Dundee Utd and the man of the match award selected by Kevin Hegarty who played for Hearts in the early 70s.

Meanwhile, in other news, after another seriously busy week I'm not quite as adrift as I thought I would be in getting to grips with the new role. And manged my first public / media engagement at the Brake the Cycle launch which is an excellent project getting young offenders on Community Payback sentences to refurbish bikes that are then gifted back to local communities.