Saturday, 25 August 2012

Advice and Scouting for Euro disappointment

Today's post reads like a diary excerpt again I'm afraid. Really busy just now but must learn the art of time management and post more regularly.

Monday - Usual run of Monday meetings followed by surgeries at Ratho and Balerno, followed by Ratho Community Council. One or two complaints about anti social behaviour problems in the middle of the village. Police and Council officials have been notified and prompt action is expected.

Tuesday - Very interesting visit to Citizens Advice Edinburgh's new offices in Bernard Street, Leith. I say "new" but in fact it was an old DSS office apparently. Perfect for CAE's purposes though, lots of interview rooms and meeting space. They are as concerned as we are about the impact of Welfare Reform changes and the expected increase in workload that will follow. Created a few ideas about what we could do in the future though.

Wednesday - Myself and my vice convener Cllr Cammy Day visited a group of service users at Gowrie Care's offices in Newington. Significant support is required for this group of vulnerable people who have complex needs, addiction problems and sometimes physical and mental health issues to add to the equation. Its fair to say that life didn't deal them and a particularly strong hand. However, that's not to say that they don't have opinions about the service that they need and we had a really good discussion on some of the perceived weaknesses in the current system. Food for thought for Cammy and I and we have followed up with a couple of further discussions within the Council, hopeful of bringing about some improvements. Then popped in to the open session at Access to Industry and just about managed to get out of the centre of town in time to attend three local meetings on the bounce, Wester Hailes Community Council, WEGARAH and Juniper Green Community Council. All fairly constructive.

Thursday - A relatively short full Council meeting left time to catch up on other business and look forward to the visit of Liverpool to Tynecastle. They left many of their stars at home and had clearly come to play for a draw.  Hearts played well and were extremely unlucky not to be heading south next week with something to defend.

Friday - basically a series of meetings / briefings on various current issues, from Adaptations and older peoples services to Housing and procurement legislation. No wonder my brain hurts ! 

Last night I was delighted to accept an invitation to the AGM of the 51st Pentlands Balerno Scout Group. A packed hall received reports on the year's activities and the heartening news that numbers of beavers, cubs and scouts are steadily increasing year on year. Pretty impressive these days to see local groups that rely on volunteers going from strength to strength. Doesn't happen by accident of course and there is a band of very committed people who carry out all the behind the scenes tasks that are necessary to keep things going.

Saturday, 11 August 2012

Fringing and Betrayal

Yesterday's "Fringing" session was superb. Radio Scotland's Festival Cafe, hosted by the peerless Janice Forsyth featured among others, Mike McShane (Mon Droit) and Les Dennis (Jigsy), two veterans of the showbiz scene. Both were entertaining and genuinely made you want to see their shows. A couple of beers in the George Square gardens sunshine and we were ready for the cultural challenge of the festival, *drum roll and fanfare* .... the Scottish Falsetto Sock Puppets !!! Brilliantly funny and silly. And a bit crude.

Today, we are deserting the capital and heading west for the Piping Festival in Glasgow. Lured by the skirl of the pipes we are turning our backs on the Edinburgh Festival for a day. Courtesy of Scotrail we shall take the short hop west, where the weather forecast is slightly better incidentally. Rest assured we shall return before night fall in time for preparations for tomorrow's big derby match at Easter Road.

Friday, 10 August 2012

Ragged Trousered Philanthropist

Neil Gore & Fine Time Fontayne
Really enjoyed the "Ragged Trousered Philanthropist" at the Assembly Theatre, George Square yesterday. The classic tale of struggle against capitalist exploitation is not new, and by necessity, over simplified in a two handed 90 minute play, but it was thoroughly entertaining as well as poignant and thought provoking. It was totally absorbing and it really was easy to forget that the biggest arts festival in the world was in full swing outside in the sunshine as we were transported back to a time of grinding poverty for skilled workers in the UK. Congratulations to all involved in the production and to Unite for its backing. I recommend a visit, even if you don't lean to the left.

Wednesday, 8 August 2012

Policy & Strategy

In the absence of the Council Leader and Deputy Leader I was elected unnopposed to Chair yesterday's Policy and Strategy Committee. The pinnacle of my political career ! :0). All the business was relatively uncontentious but a lot of serious detailed information contained within the various reports on the agenda. From a strategy for jobs to statutory repairs and public protection arrangements there was more than enough to occupy our minds and some very worthwhile contributions were heard from all parties represented. The full committee papers can be accessed on this link

Belladrum memories

Main stage at Belladrum
Brilliant weekend at the Tartan Heart Music Festival at Belladrum. Great atmosphere, great weather and some great bands too at the various / numerous stages around the site. All very well managed and organised. The one pictured is one of the more intimate venues. Probably about 8 or 9 stages in total from the Toadstool to the Potting Shed and up to the main Garden Stage where we saw The South, Kassidy, Travis, the Dangleberries and my own favourites, Bombskare who delivered a great set in front of one of their largest crowds ever I would have thought. Other highlights were the Stagger Rats, Roddie Frame, the Buzzcocks and Johnny Cash tribute band Jericho Hill who were quite superb. Not only did they cover the expected standards but also did excellent versions of "Personal Jesus" and "Hurt". Left there on Sunday and ended up spending the night in Hopeman, a small village a couple of miles from Lossiemouth, in a caravan site overlooking the Moray Firth, dolphins and all. Beautiful spot. Ah well, back to Auld Reekie and Policy and Strategy Committee, - *sigh*.