Thursday, 30 May 2013

Report Card

Very successful Wester Hailes Community Council AGM last night with a few new faces and volunteers to get involved. Its been a difficult transition from the old Rep Council but the patience and determination of a small band of stalwarts is beginning to pay off and its good to see the local community developing a strong voice again. Thought their meeting was particularly well handled by the guest chair for the evening too !!!

Today was the May Council meeting, if you missed the live webcast a full set of papers and reports are on this link. Among a lot of other business we also considered our first year report card as it were, i.e. a progress report on our Capital Coalition pledges for the city. This particular report is here but progress can also be monitored anytime on the Council's main website under the section called "Coalition Pledges". It means that we can be held to account on the promises we have made and ensures we focus on delivering what we said we would. It's an excellent example of openness and transparency - and also a bit scary too !!!....

Saturday, 11 May 2013

Good Advice

Was delighted this week to be asked to officially open the Council's new Advice Shop which has been re sited from the South Bridge to a refurbished suite of offices on the ground floor of the City Chambers. Entering from the High Street a modern and professional reception area is supplemented by numerous interview rooms of various sizes and an extensive back office area where advice workers can access a wealth of information for customers. It's an impressive set up and I'm pleased for the staff who had to continue to deliver a very important service while dealing with the upheaval of an office move. They're already really busy with the workload set to increase over the months ahead due to the ongoing problems caused by the ConDem Welfare Reform changes. We recently agreed to put more than £200k additional funding into advice services across the city including the Advice Shop. Whether or not that will be enough to meet the demand remains to be seen. At least staff and customers have state of the art accommodation in which to hold their important sessions. I just hope the plaque at the front door bearing my name doesn't put anyone off coming in !

Saturday, 4 May 2013

Currie Riding

The annual Currie Riding took place today. From a sunny but cool green outside the Weavers Knowe more than a hundred horses and riders set off to mark the boundaries of the Currie parish (to ensure no encroachment from bandits in Balerno or Juniper Green !).  An ancient tradition to protect land this celebration now brings together riders and communities from other towns and villages who still uphold and enjoy this ritual. Quite a logistical exercise and much credit to the organisers including my old sparring partner former Councillor Alistair Paisley. The Currie Ride were joined by friends from Annan, Penicuik, Lanark and Berwick, among others and together they all, quite literally, headed for the hills (the Pentlands). I believe there are a couple of pit stops along the way and no doubt much needed refreshment, for the horses, will be taken. While they're out tramping the boundaries I'm going to head for Tynecastle, more out of habit than expectation. I noticed the other day a large banner displayed across Gorgie church, next to Tynecastle, imploring us to "Try Praying". Might be good advice.....