Weekly surgery this evening ... don't think I've mentioned this weekly event much in my earlier posts to date! Well, every week (except bank holiday Mondays) I do have a local surgery - this week, like most weeks, several constituents do turn up with a variety of local issues/problems to raise with me. The vast majority of these problems are housing-related and/or anti-social behaviour related.
The first main category - housing-related problems - can now be very hard to solve. Edinburgh, like most Scottish local authorities, has had most of its good housing stock privately purchased under the 1980's right-to-buy legislation. The housing stock under our direct control is now half what it was a few years ago, and is diminishing on a yearly basis. Many of the requests for help in this area are for larger houses, with more bedrooms, and these are just the type of properties that have in the main been privately purchased. Often, some are available but 'not often' in the areas that my current constituents are keen to move to ... many do have to compromise, if they want a larger Council house, by widening their search areas.
Second main category is equally as difficult - there are many more powers available to local authorities now, but often tenants are pretty reluctant to pursue some avenues. Although, I can only praise my own local Community Council who have been incredibly pragmatic about some fairly serious anti-social behaviour issues in the local estate. As opposed to just complaining, they've actually enlisted support from various Council Departments to put on a series of Summer Activities over the last few years; and this year that is now turning into a permanent programme of youth activities in the local Community Huts. I've helped were I can, but the main effort has definitely come from the local community - pretty impressive when you think about it.