Wednesday, 30 January 2013

Committee Business

Productive day yesterday, the Health, Wellbeing and Housing Committee, which I chair, took all of 30 minutes to conclude the formal business on the agenda. The Policy Review and Development session which followed, took 3 hours and gave us the chance to have an in depth discussion about Domestic Abuse and Homelessness, two issues that are not completely unconnected but we dealt with them separately and heard excellent presentations from Council officials and external partners dealing with these services. Some thoughtful and constructive contributions from elected members too made for a very worthwhile exercise. The test of our new policy development approach will be how we actually take these discussions forward into shaping policy and improving services but we've made a good start.

Then the Special Sub Committee on Adult Social Care (which I also chair) considered a report on standards in Council Care Homes, some of which had been subject to Care Inspectorate inspections and reports. Reasonably positive with action plans in place to address any issues that have been identified. We do need to invest in the fabric of homes though. Modern standards have advanced and in many cases our somewhat dated buildings struggle to meet our aspirations.

Our usual pre Council Labour Group meeting followed, starting at 7pm and finished around half nine. Thorough debate on the Council agenda items with Leith Waterworld understandably taking up most of our attention and discussion.

Off to Tynecastle tonight, hoping Hearts can build on our success at the weekend. Looking forward to seeing new striker Michael Ngoo in action again, he certainly looks the part.

Saturday, 19 January 2013

Politics and Ska

Excellent Edinburgh Labour policy / strategy session today. Healthy turn out and lively discussion about how build on our successful Council election campaign in May, looking towards Westminster in 2015 and Holyrood elections in 2016. Really helpful to get the space to talk public services and our political priorities for the campaigns that lie ahead.

Having returned to the City Chambers to do a bit of work, I'm now off to meet a few mates and go to a Ska fest at the Voodoo Rooms, a benefit gig for the Sick Kids Foundation. Bombskare are headlining, ably supported by Big Fat Panda and This R 2 Tone. The track above is Fistful of Dynamite by Bombskare. Not sure where is was filmed, maybe the guys will let us know ? Looking forward to a good night.

Saturday, 12 January 2013

0 - 100mph, in a day

Having returned from the Christmas / New Year break I was fully expecting business to start getting back to normal. However, rather than a gentle re-entry to business as usual its been pretty full on from Monday morning til Friday night, with Council budget discussions woven into much of the activity. The highlights as follows -

Monday - mostly consumed by preparation for forthcoming committee meetings i.e. briefings on reports.

Tuesday - Edinburgh and Lothians Health Foundation. As a new member of the Grants Committee this was a training session on new software to assist the assessment process and an introduction to how the grants application and decision making works.

Wednesday - A very constructive meeting with some of the key players in the Advice Services sector in the city to discuss ideas on how we can all work more collaboratively to meet the challenge of an ever increasing number of victims of Welfare Reform changes seeking help and advice.

Thursday - Visited Castlebrae High School in Craigmillar with a few colleagues. The school is under threat of closure, partly due to the declining number of local families choosing to send their children there. Have to say though that we were very impressed by the commitment of staff and current pupils and the warm, welcoming atmosphere throughout the school. The additional community based services that provide an additional layer of support and identity to the place certainly made an impression too. Then a quick dash across town to say a few words at the retirement do of Rab McEwan, long serving "Jannie" at Clovenstone Community Centre. Having been a loyal public servant Rab is retiring to spend more time with his Boxing Club !

Friday - Second meeting of the new Shadow Health and Social Care Partnership. Much better than our first meeting last month with a greater feel of ownership of the many areas that are still under development prior to us "going live" in April. Still an awful lot of work to do and we agreed to bring strategy document / work plan back to the next meeting so that we can monitor progress more effectively.

So, busy start to the year and every indication that its going to get busier !