Saturday, 16 February 2013

Healthy Living

2nd half of this week was pretty much dominated by Health related activity. Wednesday saw a visit to the Edinburgh Royal Infirmary to look round the A&E department and their impressive plans for improving and upgrading some areas to cope with increasing demand. Also got a wee insight into the alterations that will be required to facilitate the construction of the new Sick Kids adjacent to the existing complex. This was followed by a meeting NHS Lothian's Finance Committee and then a meeting of the Trustees of the Edinburgh and Lothians Health Foundation (the charitable arm of NHS Lothian). 

Thursday afternoon saw me jumping on a 38 down to the Western where there was a seminar on "person centred care". A great deal of audience participation was required and it was encouraging to see Council and Health colleagues exchanging ideas and the boundaries between the two becoming increasingly blurred. A good sign. 

Yesterday was the latest meeting of our shadow Health and Social Care Partnership. Quite a few strands of work being developed and beginning to look more meaningful and well formed. We also agreed to invite a trade union representative from the Council to join the partnership to match the NHS arrangement where "partnership" (TU) reps are part of the decision making at all levels within the NHS. I could be wrong but I think its the first time we, as a Council, have formally included trade union colleagues as part of the decision making process.

Tuesday, 12 February 2013

Praise Indeed

My attention was drawn today to a press release from the Scottish Parliament Finance Committee regarding a report they have published which deals with how public bodies are addressing the challenges of demographic changes. (people getting older to you and me, the stuff I've been banging on about for the past few months) Apparently they are impressed by our approach to this and say the following -

" The Committee welcomes the approach adopted by City of Edinburgh Council. However, it is concerned that other local authorities and NHS boards appear not to have undertaken similar long term planning. The Committee would therefore welcome the view of the Scottish Government on the need for public bodies to introduce long term financial planning on a similar basis to the City of Edinburgh Council and whether it has any plans to disseminate good practice in this area." I'm assuming this refers to our long term financial planning and the recognition of demographic changes in last week's budget settlement and allocation of additional funding for services, as outlined in previous posts.

Not wishing to hide our light under a bushel (don't know where that biblical reference came from!) we are pleased to accept praise from any quarter.

Very useful H&SC Integration session this afternoon with CEC and NHS managers, the debate rolls on and more and more ideas and questions are coming forward which is all helping to inform the development process. Now, must dash to the South West Area Housing Board tonight at WH Library and hopefully be back in time to catch most of the fitba'.

Sunday, 10 February 2013


Spent an extremely interesting couple of hours at the Tiphereth community at Torphin on Friday. They provide 12 full time residential and 50 day places for people with learning disabilities in a lively community based working environment. In their own words and from their own website - "Tiphereth is part of the Camphill Movement, which was founded in 1940 and works to create communities in which vulnerable children and adults with learning difficulties, can live, work and learn with others in healthy social relationships based on mutual care and respect.Tiphereth is a place where fun, work and care go hand in hand." I was massively impressed with the operation and the atmosphere of the place. They produce jam on the premises, maintain their own gardens, carry out craft projects, cooking and a major composting business. Their workshop also makes charcoal and produces wood chip. I was also pleased to hear they enjoy a very constructive working relationship with the Council and have some ambitious and impressive plans for the future. I hope they continue to do well and look forward to my next visit.

Thursday, 7 February 2013

Budget Day

Trip to Celtic Connections last weekend was excellent. I'd forgotten how good a venue the ABC in Sauchiehall Street is. Three Blind Wolves were great but Roddy Hart and the Lonesome Fire were fantastic. A very varied set that mixed the best of the sound of contemporary Scottish bands with a sprinkling of Gerry Rafferty and Johnny Cash for good measure. His cover of Randy Newman's Louisiana (1927) was outstanding and I hope he tours a bit more this year, it would be good to see him in Edinburgh.

Back to business this week though and the culmination of many months of work took place today in our annual Budget Debate. Pleased to report that all went well and in a significant departure from centuries of budget setting tradition we managed to adjourn the meeting to consider proposals from other parties and agree that some elements could be incorporated into the Capital Coalition Budget Motion. So some proposals from the Greens and the Tories will now be implemented. Didn't accept anything from the LibDems. Obviously. At the risk of being lazy, all the background details and the link to the Council webcast coverage of the debate can be accessed through Andrew's excellent blog.

Saturday, 2 February 2013

Three Blind Wolves and the Budget

Full Council meeting on Thursday was interesting. Leith Waterworld dominated the agenda and debate. Having heard from the Splashback deputation (for the 4th time !) and a private discussion outwith the meeting we agreed that, on balance, it was worth supporting the community bid to the next stage, even though we know it will be difficult to deliver a viable, sustainable operation in the longer term. However, you never know and if it can be made to work it would be a wonderful example of partnership working and looking at imaginative alternatives to traditional service delivery.

We also published our Capital Coalition draft budget motion on Thursday (one week early), first time in living memory that this has been done. Usually the budget motion is still warm from the photocopier as the budget meeting kicks off, but this departure is designed to be more open and accessible. As ever, all the essential detail can be found on Andrew's blog .

Off through to Celtic Connections in Glasgow later to see Roddie Hart and the Lonesome Fire supported by Three Blind Wolves. Should be good.

Finally, good luck to the Jam Tarts today on their long journey north to Ross County and all the Hearts fans making the trip.