Monday, 30 July 2012

While the cat's away.....

Council Leader Cllr Andrew Burns has been drafted to London to support the Armed Forces initiative to put bums on seats at the Olympics (otherwise known as his summer holidays). And because the Council Deputy Leader is also out of town at the moment that means yours truly is in charge ! Don't worry, there's still a few competent folk around too, so less risk that I'll mess anything up. Agenda Planning Meeting this morning for next week's Policy and Strategy meeting. Not a huge number of reports on the agenda but they are all significant in their own way. The final versions should on line later tomorrow or early Wednesday and I'll post a link to them then. We also agreed a motion that I've submitted to P&S calling for a report on the impact of the Welfare Reform changes that are in the pipeline. More of that later too.

Saturday, 28 July 2012


Excellent meeting yesterday with Florence and Sandra from the Lothian Centre for Inclusive Living. From their website Inclusive / Independent living means " disabled people of all ages having the same freedom, choice, dignity and control as other citizens at home, at work, and in the community. It does not mean living by yourself or fending for yourself. It means rights to practical assistance and support to participate in society and live an ordinary life." Still getting to grips with the main issues, this was a really useful session for me. We covered Self Directed Support, Integration of Health and Social Care and Welfare Reform, all from a service user's perspective. Not bad for a meeting that lasted just less than an hour. I have to say I've had excellent support and advice from Council officials in the last couple of months but there's no substitute for hearing the views of people who use services and need support directly from them or their representatives. Obviously the voluntary / third sector have a huge role to play in supporting people and articulating their views to the likes of me. Look forward to working with them in the future.

Friday, 27 July 2012

Dads Rock

Oh yes they do. Was delighted to belatedly attend one of Dads Rock events last night, the opening of their worldwide photographic exhibition at Eteaket in Frederick Street. All designed of course to promote their real work which is a unique playgroup specially for dads and kids. It seems to have taken off spectacularly and is testimony to the hard work and vision of Thomas and David who conceived the original idea and had the drive to build on it. In today's world where sometimes fathers are criticised for not taking their share of parental responsibility or creating positive role models its great to see an opportunity for dads to spend quality time with their children in an environment where they can also chat to other dads about dad-type issues, which has to be a good thing. Check out their link on Facebook . Good luck to the guys for the future and watch out for their name. Dads Rock have had humble beginnings but I am convinced they are heading towards global domination. Which is a typical dad-like exaggeration !

Sunday, 22 July 2012

The Deep End

The recent rain has caused many flooding problems throughout the city, including the golf courses. Parkland courses simply aren't able to cope with the amount of water that has fallen in the last few weeks. Deep ponds have formed all over Kingsknowe and the water has been lying for so long it seems to have attracted some new wildlife to the course. This picture was taken on the 7th fairway yesterday. We're used to seeing rabbits and the odd deer but this is a different prospect altogether.....

Bob McLean

Massive turn out yesterday at Bob McLean's funeral at Mortonhall. Like everyone in the Scottish Labour Party I knew Bob as Secretary of Midlothian CLP and numerous other campaigning roles, particularly his commitment to the creation of the Scottish Parliament. I also had the pleasure of working with Bob when I held the Culture and Leisure portfolio and Bob was a leading figure in the Museums and Galleries marketing team. His funeral service was the longest I've attended I think, over an hour I reckon. But it did mean that we had time to fully absorb the wonderful tributes from Herbert Coutts, former Director of Culture and Leisure and Lord Jack McConnell. I couldn't hope to match any of the tributes paid to Bob's life and work throughout this week but Jack McConnell's obituary in the Scotsman says it all.

Saturday, 7 July 2012

Open All Hours ?

Well, not "all hours" perhaps, but still a good excuse to use one of my favourite photos. The Co-op shop and petrol station on Lanark Road West are applying to extend their opening hours to 0500 - midnight, 7 days a week, a significant increase on current arrangements. No big deal, you might think and business is business after all. However, in this case a condition of the original planning permission was that opening hours would be restricted. To change that the planning permission condition needs to be varied. Hence, when neighbours were formally notified of the proposal the letter informed them that the Co-op were seeking to build a fence and "vary condition 6" of their planning permission. No explanation of what condition 6 refers to nor where it can be found. And even then you need to know your way around the Council's Planning Portal to find these things. Most of the Neighbours are elderly and don't have ready access to the internet. Not surprisingly no objections were submitted and the deadline is now passed. One could argue that the information provided could have been a tad more informative ? I've raised this with Planning and they've agreed to have a look. I should add that the Neighbour Notification process is carried out by the Council not the applicant so no blame is attached to the Co-op for this. It's a Council a matter and one which I'm sure we can put right.

40 days and 40 nights ?

Persistent rain is now causing real problems with reports of flooding all over Edinburgh including the Pentland Hills ward. Even though most of the local communities are physically, relatively high, surcharging drains and lower lying properties in close proximity combine to produce obvious devastating results. Visited a constituent this morning in the Cherry Tree part of Balerno whose garage and utility room have been damaged by flood water, not to mention the submerged garden. The imminent installation of a new public drain seems unlikely but I'll raise with the relevant officials and see if there are other, quicker solutions available. 

And the golf was cancelled, again......