Wednesday, 24 December 2014

Compliments of the Season

This does seem to be the appropriate moment to wish everyone a Happy Christmas and a Peaceful and Prosperous New Year. Regardless of beliefs I hope everyone gets some time off and manages to be with family or friends for a while.

2014 was fairly momentous, the Referendum, Commonwealth Games, Ryder Cup, some significant and worrying developments on the international stage, an increase in social inequality at home and an increase in the presence, and use of foodbanks. On a positive note, Hearts came out of administration and continue to build on firm foundations.

2015 is promising to be just as challenging. Council budget pressures will dominate my attention for the first couple of months with Health and Social Care currently projecting a £5.3m overspend ! Not good, but a timely illustration of the pressures on health and social care services. Basically the demand for care services is overtaking the resources that we have available.

I've also announced my intention to stand for selection as the Labour candidate in Edinburgh South West now that Alistair Darling has decided to stand down after 28 years at Westminster. The selection process is underway and that might occupy a fair bit of time and energy in the next few weeks too.

Clovie youngsters receive awards
Of the numerous commitments in recent weeks a few stand out as worthy of mention. The Youth Awards event held at Clovenstone Community Centre was terrific and its great to see youngsters achieve awards that go towards their formal qualifications and help to build confidence and prepare for the challenges ahead. The project work is based at Clovie Community Centre but is backed by Wester Hailes Education Centre.

I was delighted last week to support the festive campaign against domestic violence. It was pleasure to meet Superintendent Liz McAinsh from Police Scotland and Hibs Captain Liam Craig and Hearts striker Osman Sow to get some photographs taken for the local media.

Sadly, incidents of domestic abuse increase at this time of the year, hence the need for the campaign. The Scottish Domestic Abuse Helpline, which is available 24 hours can be contacted on 0800 027 1234.

Finally, amongst the festive duties it was a great pleasure again to support the Currie and Balerno Round Table's annual Santa Runs. I joined the Currievale route this year but many of the guys do numerous shifts throughout the month in the local area. They raise thousands of pounds for local good causes and have great fun doing so. What's not to like ? The Balerno Christmas Market was a great success again and myself and fellow judge Alistair Darling MP took on the onerous task of judging the Christmas Tree festival. Over 30 magnificent specimens were on show and I think we just about managed to award 4 prizes that seemed to meet with general approval !

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