Tuesday, 27 January 2015

Drink, Drugs and Committee Business

Health, Social Care and Housing Committee this morning. Busy agenda and some serious items issues were considered. The full meeting papers are available on this link.

Most discussion centred on two specific reports. Firstly, New Psychoactive Substances , sometimes referred to as Legal Highs although "Legal" should not be misinterpreted as safe, quite the opposite in fact. We heard that many of these substances, whose ingredients are not always clear, have been implicated in recent deaths and other incidents that are causing great concern to the Police and NHS. Bizarre and dangerous behaviours can follow their consumption / injecting leading to harm to the user and others. Some of the anecdotal evidence is truly frightening. Committee agreed an addition to the recommendations as follows –

“ Committee is concerned about the harmful impact of NPS in Edinburgh.

In addition to the ongoing work being carried out by Police Scotland, NHS, EADP and other agencies, Committee requests that the Leader of the Council writes to the Scottish and Westminster Governments seeking meetings to discuss the legal framework within which public agencies are operating and looking at ways of overcoming existing legal barriers to controlling NPS and preventing harm.”

The second report referred to a strategy being produced on behalf of the Edinburgh Partnership looking at reducing the negative impact of alcohol in the city. One of the headline stats was "Approximately 7,000 children in Edinburgh live with parents with some level of problematic alcohol use" - a sobering thought, no pun intended. Committee agreed the recommendations and added - 

“ Committee supports the work of the strategy group established by the Edinburgh Partnership to produce a higher level strategy on alcohol to underpin the delivery of the SOA 2015-18 and requests that the group’s findings be shared across all relevant service areas within the Council to ensure an effective Council wide approach.”

Drink, drugs and growing demands on public services is not a good combination. Further work to follow and solutions need to be found.

Juniper Green Community Council this evening at the Village Hall. Going to keep one eye on the weather, snow is forecast overnight that might make travelling tomorow difficult.

Only 70 Years Ago....

Wednesday, 7 January 2015

Back to it.... and upsetting Boris

Well, the New Year derby wasn't a classic but we'll take a draw and happy to remain the only unbeaten senior team in the UK ! 

I held a brief, informal event at St Martin's Community Resource Centre in Dalry on Sunday for Labour members who are eligible to take part in the Edinburgh South West selection process. It went well and I was delighted to receive so much support and encouragement. 

Back to work now though and other than popping in during the holidays to clear the decks, my first task was to head for Our Dynamic Earth to hear Jim Murphy's first speech of the new year on Monday, effectively the opening contribution of the General Election campaign. It was a steady, confident start in my view and I'm looking forward to the debates ahead. One announcement that did cause a bit of a stooshie after was Jim's confirmation that one of Labour's manifesto commitments would be to use the Scottish share of the proceeds from a Mansion Tax to fund the recruitment of 1000 NHS nurses. Decent headline grabber one might think, but also seemed to provoke Boris Johnston into a lather accusing JM of "punishing" the south east of England, - by redistributing conspicuous wealth into front line public services, presumably. I thought Jim's response that the strength of the UK was all about pooling and sharing resources was sound and why Dianne Abbot decided to weigh in is not entirely clear. You can see the speeches and get more detail on the Scottish Labour website.

Then back to the City Chambers, via the Serenity Cafe, for the usual run of Monday meetings and confirmation that the long awaited draft Health and Social Care Integration Scheme will go to the next meeting of Policy and Strategy on 20th January. The clarification we were seeking from the Scottish Government has now been provided and makes for interesting reading. I'll post the report here once it goes public. 

Both surgeries at Clovenstone and Currie were quiet apart from one case that I thought had been resolved. Further work required...

Thursday, 1 January 2015

Happy New Year !

Happy New Year to one and all. We ventured up town last night to experience the Edinburgh New Year Street Party. Great atmosphere, cosmopolitan and good natured. The music stage at the top of the Mound was particularly popular and resembled an outdoor club night. As is our tradition, we left way before the bells to head home and watch the remainder of the celebrations from the safety of the armchair !

Man in a kilt !
Thirty minutes on the treadmill this morning (I promise !!) and now looking forward to the challenges of 2015. I sent out the message below to Labour members in Edinburgh South West as part of my campaign to be selected as the candidate for the general election. Work on that will continue apace for the next few weeks.
The Apple Beggars are playing later at Tanners so we're going wander up there for some new year Beatles style covers.

The New Year is the perfect time for reflecting on the year just past and looking forward to the year ahead. For me, it is always a positive time and I feel a real sense of renewal. It’s a good time for planning ahead but this year more than most, there are real grounds for looking forward to the future and very good reasons for putting plans in place. Eighteen weeks from today – May 7th 2015 – the General Election takes place. And Labour has to win, particularly in Scotland.
It would be a huge mistake to think that Edinburgh South West is a safe Labour seat. If the recent opinion polls are correct and remain unchanged in the weeks ahead we will lose Edinburgh South West to the SNP.
While the Nationalists may have more money to spend, more activists to call on, we have the values and policies that will make the UK and Scotland and Edinburgh South West fairer and better, especially for the most vulnerable people in our communities.
I believe that we need a credible local candidate with a strong track record of success to retain this seat for Labour. I have lived, worked and brought up my family in this part of the city for the last 35 years. In addition to the dozens of organisations I have worked with and the hundreds of constituents I have helped through being a local Councillor for 16 years I also have a campaigning record to be proud of.
•Between 2007 and 2012, I increased the Labour share of the vote in my ward by 9%.
•Even in 2011 (not a good year for Scottish Labour) as the Scottish Parliamentary candidate in Pentlands I increased the Labour share of the vote by 2%.
We can and must hold this seat and help return a Labour government. But we can only do it if we do it together: your contribution, whether that’s time, campaign ideas or both, will be vital. The General Election is going to be as hard, maybe even harder, than the referendum. But we pulled together and we got a good result. We can and will do it again this May. That’s why I am optimistic going into this new year.
I hope that you had an enjoyable festive season and that you too are starting 2015 with the same sense of optimism and determination that I feel.
Best wishes,
Ricky Henderson
p.s. I hope you can make it to our idea-sharing session on Sunday. If you can't make it along I'd be happy to chat any other time and can be contacted on 0771 549 0859 or on this email address - ricky.henderson@btinternet.com

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