Thursday, December 23, 2010

Last day in the office & Merry Xmas!

Last day (physically) in the office today ... I am around all over the holiday period though and will keep checking e-mails and you can always get me on the mobile.

First of the 'holiday-gathering' also arrived this evening, so the flat is starting to fill up and with junior now off school, feels like Christmas is finally here :-)

10 in total for Christmas dinner!

Blogging may well be light now for a few days ... hope everyone has a very Merry Christmas :-))

Tuesday, December 21, 2010

only 36-months left :-(

No blogging tomorrow.

I'll be too busy panicking that there's only another 36-months of my forties left :-((

... only saving grace is the fact that my eldest sister will reach the Big-60 a few months before December 2013 ;-)

Rubbish Update

Well - mailbox still overflowing with a 'lack of rubbish collection' complaints ...

... but, and I almost daren't say it, Cowan Road and surrounding streets appear to have been completely cleared during today. What a difference it makes!

Lets hope that the remaining streets, which still haven't seen a collection, do get one before the upcoming Christmas weekend - do just let me know if your street is so affected: I am passing on all details to the relevant Council Staff.

Monday, December 20, 2010

Rubbish, rubbish collection

Despite the return of the snow, my mail box is now dominated not by road and pavement conditions (although they do still feature strongly!) but by an ever-increasing annoyance at the complete lack of rubbish collection in many residential streets ...

... including in Cowan Road, I should hasten to add :-(

And what's really got people's backs up is that ridiculous statement from a couple of weeks ago saying that all services were due to run again on Monday 13th December!

Well - for the whole of last week I saw not one collection of rubbish in my own street, and I know all too well from my mail box that it has been the same picture for thousands of residents right across Ward 9.

With Christmas Day looming - and all that means in terms of packaging etc. I really do think that some serious attention should be paid to making sure that every residential bin is emptied before the end of this Friday.

If that doesn't happen, parts of Edinburgh are going to be in a terrible state throughout the holiday period ...

... not to mention just how annoying it is for local tax-payers when their Council can't even collect the bins :-((

Sunday, December 19, 2010

Glasgow snow ...

Well - there is quite a lot of snow over in Glasgow ... maybe not as much as back here in Edinburgh ... but still a considerable amount.

I did notice two very big differences with Edinburgh:

- we were staying near the Byers Road, and 'mini-pavement gritters' were up-and-down the street's pavements (as well as the adjoining Great Western Road's pavements) on a fairly frequent basis throughout late Saturday afternoon. Result: pavements were fine underfoot first thing this morning, despite it apparently being -10C in Glasgow last night!

- communal bin areas (with the exception of 1 or 2 plastic recycling bins) all seemed to have been emptied recently ... it's the other way around here in Edinburgh and this News Release from Friday 10th December looks more and more outrageous as time goes on and some areas of the Capital City enter their 4th or 5th week without rubbish collection :-(

I certainly hope that any 'review' of what's happened in Edinburgh this year won't forget to look at the experience of our city-cousins in Glasgow?

Strictly victory :-)

I really don't want to say "I told you so" but I did :-))

Saturday nights will hopefully now return to some semblance of normality? ...

... at least until next year's competition starts in September 2011 :-(

Friday, December 17, 2010

Glasgow weekend

Off to (Scotland's) metropolis for the weekend ;-)

Leaving junior with my parents until Sunday morning - need a bit of a break after that damn Council Meeting :-(

Will also be interesting to see how they're coping with this weather over in the West?

Thursday, December 16, 2010

In office but not in power

9pm finish to the Council Meeting - not as bad as I'd thought actually!

And the day was indeed dominated by the Alternative Business Models and Tram Project debates ...

... with only the Greens backing our stance of suspending the ABM programme,we clearly lost that vote, but I do feel the Cross-Party Grouping established earlier has at least allowed some significant concerns about the programme to be properly aired. And the Trade Union deputations on this issue, in my opinion, did a good job of presenting their case.

As for the Tram Project debate - well have a look at our Amendment here, do read through it, and then reflect on the fact that the Liberal-Democrats actually voted in favour of it alongside ourselves, the Tories and the Greens?? The SNP obviously moved an alternative Amendment, which fell.

It really says all there is to say about the way this project is being run - by a divided Administration who are in office but not in power.

Frankly, Edinburgh deserves better.

Wednesday, December 15, 2010

Rubbish - again

Sorry - back to rubbish ...

... despite the protestations of a return to normality - in my own street the communal bins remain un-emptied now for over three weeks; and this story is repeated right across Ward 9 and the rest of the City.

I don't think there are any serious access-issues to many of these streets now and, going from my mailbag, residents are increasingly annoyed at the level of rubbish that is being left lying around. Recycling collection has recommenced - and they use quite large trucks - so why not regular rubbish collection?

And if the staff are still deployed on other duties, why put out a News Release saying things will return to normal this week?

They patently have not :-(

Tuesday, December 14, 2010

Full Council week

Full Council week - and the agenda for Thursday looks (time-wise) completely horrendous :-(

All the papers can be accessed via CPOL - and there are, at least, half-a-dozen significant/contentious issues, all of which will quite rightly command a lengthy debate:
  • Alternative Business Models
  • Tram Project
  • Gaelic Medium Education
  • Modernising Pay/Protected Pay
  • Advocacy Services
  • Revenue Budget update
  • Assembly Rooms refurbishment
  • Fairer Scotland Fund

- and that's not to mention all the usual motions, questions, and issues that flare up into a full-scale debate unexpectedly ... there's always at least one!

It's going to be a very long day on Thursday.

Monday, December 13, 2010

Local Government settlement

Scottish Government budget settlement now out - as of last Thursday - and all the details can be found here ... and as I mentioned last Friday, the deal is certainly not as good for the City of Edinburgh as some were earlier arguing :-(

With the period of 'shadow-boxing' now over, and the figures finally confirmed, there really is a frantic few weeks now (and that's all it is!) whilst each of the Political Groups on the Council constructs it's draft budget, which will go before the Full Council for decision on Thursday 10th February 2011.

And, unlike last year, there can be no rational argument about whether we have more or less money than the previous year ... we have LESS money and it underlines - more than ever - the crucial importance of political choices.

Our political choice will be to construct a budget that robustly defends front-line public services, especially those for the young, the elderly and the vulnerable.

I have a depressing feeling other priorities may well prevail :-(

Sunday, December 12, 2010

Campaigning Sunday + rubbish!

Might only be a couple of weeks to go until Christmas, but no respite on the campaigning front I'm afraid :-(

... several hardy souls braved the pavement-ice this afternoon to spend a few hours delivering materials for Sarah - of course, there are less than 5-months to go!

In passing, it has to be said, that rubbish is piled up all over the City at the moment - some three weeks worth of it for many residential properties! - and I can't help wonder if the Council Administration will live to regret putting out this News Release last Friday?

I'd be amazed if they manage to get back to a full service next week?

Saturday, December 11, 2010

Festive spirit

High excitement in the Burns' household today ...

... junior may be a teenager now (I can hardly believe it!) but putting up the Christmas tree and decorations still gets everyone into the festive spirit :-)

Friday, December 10, 2010

Labour Group Xmas-party

Labour Group Xmas-party earlier this evening ... numbers seemed down slightly on last year: sure the weather didn't help!

Nevertheless, a very good time had by all :-)

COSLA Convention Meeting

COSLA Convention meeting this morning/early afternoon ...

... quite obviously an ever-growing awareness that the Local Government settlement isn't all that it initially appeared - especially with further details being published just yesterday.

Fascinating to listen to some of those who actually negotiated the deal with the Scottish Government to now be decrying it :-(

Thursday, December 09, 2010

Edinburgh Partnership afternoon

Edinburgh Partnership meeting this afternoon ...

... you can see recent papers/reports here; today's not yet there I'm afraid.

Unfortunately got unavoidably called away half-way through the afternoon and missed the latter part of the meeting :-(

Ah well ... wonder if I can arrange the same for the COSLA meeting/s I need to attend tomorrow morning ;-)

Local pavements disgrace

Apologies for returning to the weather - but been out locally again this morning and it has to be said once more that the pavements right across Ward 9 ... from Fountainbridge all the way up to Craiglockhart ... are a complete disgrace.

I've got nothing but praise for the Council staff trying to help - they're doing the best job they can - but there are simply not enough resources being applied to the overall task.

In Fountainbridge - within the Controlled Parking Zone - several people are asking what the 100's of Parking Attendant's are currently doing? It's a very good question ... they're certainly not operating as normal at the moment as most lines are completely covered in snow!

Have they been 'asked' to assist clearing pavements instead? Okay - they may not work 'directly' for the Local Authority but they could well be amenable to a bit of civic goodwill??

Indeed, the clearest pavement areas are those where businesses and residents have done the work themselves ... several are now asking me about previous bye-laws which 'encouraged' (not compelled) local businesses and residents to clear their own frontages? Again, I doubt very much if those in charge politically have even considered the implications of re-introducing such a bye-law??

I'm afraid that the whole winter-weather response, over the last couple of weeks, just seems to have completely lacked any form of such lateral-thinking :-((

Referendum polling

Interesting polling figures published yesterday about the possible outcome of the AV Referendum ...

... the Left Foot Forward blog seems to have claimed the exclusive - full details here - and also has news of the launch of the Labour YES! campaign.

And 'Political Betting' has a very clear explanation about the differences in recent polling figures on the likely referendum outcome.

Game On, I'd say.

Clear political leadership?

I find the Deputy Leader of the UK Liberal-Democrats comments today, that he might vote against tuition fees completely remarkable ...

... don't get me wrong, I hope he does vote against them!

But, this is a Party which is now helping the Tories to run our country and their Deputy Leader is considering voting against not only his Leader's clear position, but also against the Coalition Agreement (see page 32) which he approved only a matter of a few months ago.

It really is a complete and utter shambles - and these people are running the UK :-(

Wednesday, December 08, 2010

The cure is in sight

Enough of the weather - for the moment ...

... on a much more serious note, my addiction to Strictly did thankfully survive the recent weekend in London ;-)

Was delighted to see the sure-fire winner go through to the semi-finals, but am becoming increasingly worried by the wife of that Scottish comedian chap :-((

Thankfully, a week this Saturday, it'll all be over and my addiction will be cured.

Tollcross Community Council and ice

Managed to get along to Tollcross Community Council this evening ...

... second evening in the town centre - been walking there and back mostly - and the pavements (even on Lothian Road) are a complete disgrace. Like many, I've been wearing my professional walking boots - I could have done with attaching my crampons this evening, the pavements really are that bad :-(

I know that some 600 staff were working on the roads and pavements during today - every one of them deserves enormous praise for their efforts - but it's clearly just not 'enough' resource as the city is still in a shocking state.

And, if you check out this briefing note, page 2 appears to indicate that less than 30 Council staff (out of a possible c17,500) have been working overnight on the roads/pavements? Just simply doesn't sound enough to me??

So - 10 days into this winter-weather and ... sections of several main bus routes are still impassable; a few Primary Schools are still closed; and the Capital city's pavements are like toboggan runs ... the sooner the Army start helping the better as far as I'm concerned!

Tuesday, December 07, 2010

Too little, too late

Just got back home after an evening meeting near the town centre ... most roads and pavements still in a shocking state and my mail-box is awash with further complaints from all across the Ward.

I'm also receiving an increasingly significant number of complaints from beyond the Ward - mainly from people in areas such as Ratho and South Queensferry who feel completely ignored by the Council.

I mentioned yesterday the problems with 'Lothian Bus 48' access to Ratho - there has been no bus access for nearly 10-days!

Well, same type of problem appears to be afflicting large areas of the 'First Service 43/X43/X4' which simply cannot access many parts of South Queensferry.

I remain completely convinced that not enough priority is being given to clearing these (and other) routes for bus access.

And we've still got some Primary Schools closed tomorrow - three, I believe: Murrayburn Primary, Prestonfield Primary & Ratho Primary.

Although, I also understand these closures are all now connected to safety issues relating to the actual school buildings and that Officers are hopeful of having them re-opened on Thursday - but please do watch the main Council web-site for any further updates during tomorrow.

And - at last - we appear to be getting a bit of lateral-thinking from those in charge:
  • with requests for all Council Staff with 4X4's to consider helping to deliver essential resources and supplies for vulnerable people around the city
  • and confirmation that the Army have been asked to potentially help out in clearing roads and pavements in the worst affected areas of the City

Whilst I very much welcome both these initiatives, frankly these are the type of requests that should have been planned for in advance and made some days ago.

I cannot help feel that asking for this type of assistance now is simply too little, too late.

All local surgeries cancelled this week

Very sorry about this, but all evening school-lets across the city are cancelled this week (see bottom of this News Update), and the Libraries are closing at 5pm ...

... so no local surgeries this week at all I'm afraid. I do apologise.

But please do just e-mail and/or pick up the telephone if you need to get in touch meantime.

Monday, December 06, 2010

Winter-weather conditions ... urgent action required

I've tried hard not to be unjustly critical of the Council in their efforts to keep Edinburgh moving over the last week, and I have nothing but praise for the hundreds of Council workers - and contractors - who have put in endless hours, in atrocious conditions, to try and assist as many residents as possible. And all the feedback I've had from residents is supportive of the individual efforts of Council staff.

But, their admirable efforts are clearly not coping with what is fast becoming a real emergency situation.

Some areas of Edinburgh - which is the Capital City of Scotland - have now had no bus services for over a week; likewise some Primary Schools have been completely closed for over a week; and the ongoing condition of many residential pavements and roads across the city is truly appalling. (see some examples - of many - below)

The Council are just not grasping the gravity of this situation for many thousands of Edinburgh residents, and they are letting those residents down very badly by not directing significant additional resources to the areas most in need.

The Council Administration needs to show real leadership in pro-actively solving these problems for the Capital and ensuring that every available resource is applied to alleviating the real hardship that residents are suffering.

Frankly, urgent action - a lot more urgent action - is required.


Some Examples

  • Bus service 48 to Ratho has not been reaching the village of Ratho for 8 days now, due to snow and parked cars.
  • Bus service 33 is not completing its route into Baberton Mains Drive due to snow and parked cars.
  • Bus service 44 not going beyond Balerno High School due to snow and parked cars.


  • first thing this morning (Monday 6th December) every Primary School in East Lothian, West Lothian, Midlothian and The Borders opened on time. In the Capital City of Scotland the following schools remained shut, having already been shut for a whole week:
    - Colinton Primary School
    - Currie Primary School
    - Dean Park Primary School
    - Gilmerton Primary School
    - Nether Currie Primary School
    - Newcraighall Primary School
    - Ratho Primary School
    - St Cuthbert's RC Primary School
    - Clovenstone Primary School

Residential Pavements/Roads

  • the condition of residential pavements and roads across the City is truly appalling, with many busy pedestrian areas being completely untreated i.e. pavements along Colinton Road have yet to be cleared or gritted - a key main route with a Supermarket, a further set of shops at 'Happy Valley' and the Craiglockhart Sports Centre.
  • outwith the City Centre, this picture is recreated right across Edinburgh in almost every main residential pedestrian area.


Sunday, December 05, 2010

Back in Edinburgh

Back in Edinburgh this evening ... snow-conditions here seem just as bad as when I left on Friday!

London is in the middle-of-Spring by comparison :-(

I have come back to a cacophony of complaint on my work e-mail account - primarily about the condition of residential pavements - and I will catch up on all the correspondence by tomorrow morning latest, if not tonight ...

Thursday, December 02, 2010

London weekend

Off to London tomorrow, for the whole weekend unusually, not coming back up to Edinburgh until Sunday ... so blogging may well be a bit light, if not non-existent.

Hasten to add, I'm going by train - so should make it okay ... a bit slower than planned; East Coast trains are taking 6-hours from Waverley to King Cross!

A whole series of electoral reform meetings and events to attend - with only 5-months until that referendum, campaigning activity is really picking up.

Edinburgh Schools update for Friday

Schools update for tomorrow (Friday 3rd December) now up on the Council website ... full details can be found by going here.

Majority of Primary Schools now open; along with all Secondaries - but mostly for S4-S6 pupils only: but there are exceptions, so do check out the official list!

Junior will be delighted - he becomes a teenager tomorrow and has another day off school on the day of his birth :-))

No World Cup in England :-(

Personally, I'm desperately disappointed that England haven't secured the 2018 World Cup ...

... despite not really being a huge sport/football fan, I do thoroughly enjoy (like many) the big events such as the Olympics and the World Cup.

Would have been good to have actually been able to go to some of the games :-(

Wednesday, December 01, 2010

School details for tomorrow

Details of which Edinburgh schools are open tomorrow are now up on the Council website - here ...

... looks like another day at home for me!

Sorry - no surgery tonight :-(

Very sorry about this - but no local Surgery tonight again ...

... all city libraries (for understandable reasons) are closing at 4.30pm, so no 6pm Surgery at Fountainbridge I'm afraid.

Please don't hesitate to e-mail/call if you need any assistance meantime.