Friday, March 30, 2012

London bound

Off to London on the sleeper this evening - ERS Council meeting tomorrow!

Will actually be a bit of a welcome change of pace/topic in the midst of what's been a pretty full-on local election campaign ;-)

Back in Edinburgh very late tomorrow night.

Thursday, March 29, 2012

Nominations closed

That's it - nominations closed for the 3rd May Local Elections!

A complete list of all the candidates, across all 17 multi-member Wards, is now up on the Council's website - you can see it here.

Ward 9's final list of candidates (of which there are six) is here and I'll reproduce that Ward table/list below:
Burns, Andrew
Scottish Labour Party
Corbett, Gavin
Scottish Green Party
Key, David
Scottish National Party (SNP)
Lowrie, Jim
Scottish Liberal Democrats
Searle, Will
Scottish Conservative and Unionist
Strode, Tom
Liberal Party in Scotland

Wednesday, March 28, 2012

Care Home clarity

My colleague, Maureen Child, was speaking at an Age Scotland hustings earlier today ... a little bit of preparatory work has clarified the truth behind a recent spout of "lets claim credit for everything", in relation to Edinburgh's recent Care Home expansion ...

... Edinburgh Council has opened four new care homes in the last five years, an achievement of which the city can be rightly proud. But it is wholly facetious for the the present SNP/Lib-Dem Council to pretend that this is something for which they are entirely responsible.

Like all major construction projects, the process of commissioning, planning and building these new homes took years, and in reality all four new care homes were conceived in 2002 when Edinburgh Labour ran the Local Authority.

As Maureen explains:

"The SNP/Lib Dem coalition claim credit for building four new care homes, but the reality is that they were all conceived in 2002. The sites were identified and planning permission granted while Labour was running the council, and construction on two of the projects was even started under Labour.  All the the SNP/Lib Dem coalition has had to do is cut the ribbon on each one!"

"Like their claims for schools, they claim credit for the initiatives of Labour and have coasted along on Labour's record over the last five years."

The construction timetable for each of the new care homes is as follows:

On Site
Completion Date
Opening Date
January 2006
July 2007
September 2007
August 2006
December 2007
January 2008
North Merchiston
July 2007
November 2008
December 2008
July 2009
January 2011
February 2011
Drum Brae
October 2011
Due February 2013
Due March/April 2013

Tuesday, March 27, 2012

Policy and Strategy Committee

Policy and Strategy Committee meeting later this morning ...

... I predict a 'very' quick meeting: absolutely nothing of any serious contention on the agenda, which you can see here; with a full set of papers available on CPOL here.

Various other meetings this afternoon, followed by Craiglockhart Community Council later this evening (agenda here) ---

--- no rest for the wicked ;-)

Monday, March 26, 2012

Community Safety Sub-Group Meeting

Edinburgh South West Neighbourhood Partnership, Community Safety Sub-Group Meeting this evening ...

... next three months of 'local priorities' likely to be decided, so hope a reasonable number of the local Community Groups are in attendance to help direct resources.

Think this might be the last (local) Neighbourhood Partnership meeting (of any descrition) prior to the upcoming Local Elections? --- their role may change post-election (hopefully for the better!) and I'm surprised this general topic hasn't featured more at the various hustings I've done to date?

Sunday, March 25, 2012

Stockbridge Market

The 'food-theme' to the weekend continued, with an Edinburgh Labour stall at the Stockbridge Market today ...

... well, okay - we were selling second-hand books - but there was a lot of very tempting food on the adjoining stalls ;-)

Another sun-filled morning. Long may it last.

Diet starts tomorrow.

Saturday, March 24, 2012

Shandon Food Fair

Managed to get along to the (now relatively regular) local Shandon Food Fair this afternoon ...

... haar did clear in time (just about!) and seemed another successful event, with the good weather (and good food!) certainly bringing out the crowds ;-)

The cauliflower soup was particularly good :-)

Thursday, March 22, 2012

Elections Consultative Group

Elections Consultative Group meeting this afternoon ... with nominations now in full-swing, its obvious the Elections Staff are becoming increasingly busy!

I hope I don't regret saying this - but I'm not expecting any of the chaos and confusion of 2007, when the conjoining of the Scottish Parliament ballot paper led to endless problems. ... as I made clear at the time, the spoil rate for STV voting in Scotland in 2007 was lower than in Northern Ireland, who have used the system for decades.

Voters aren't stupid - it's only stupid to think they can't understand 1,2,3.

Wednesday, March 21, 2012

Flower Colonies planning application

Regular readers may remember a fairly (locally) contentious planning application from back in 2010, which was subsequently refused, for the vacant-land next to the Flower Colonies on Slateford Road ...

... well, a revised version of the application was up at Committee this morning and both Gordon Buchan and myself managed to get along to express our continuing opposition to the specifics of this proposal.

It was, once again, rejected by Committee (on a division this time) and I for one would now really welcome a truly constructive engagement between the developer and the local community ... I'm certain a mutually agreeable solution can be found for this site but it will need genuine dialogue.

Tuesday, March 20, 2012

Finance Committee

Finance Committee this morning - main agenda here; and all the individual reports on CPOL here ...

... last meeting of this Committee before the Local Council Elections, and not much of any contention on today's agenda.

Pleased to report that my colleague's, Donald Wilson, motion from an earlier meeting of the Edinburgh South West Neighbourhood Partnership (see item 5.1) in relation to the Wester Hailes Healthy Living Centre access-issues was passed on an all-Party basis.

Officers do now need to consult fully - including with the author of the motion! - on the report to be produced.

Monday, March 19, 2012

ELREC Hustings

Campaigning weekend was very successful; Saturday was indeed inspiring and Sunday was ... well ...super ;-)

ELREC Hustings this evening - remember they held a similar event back in late November 2011, at which I was able to reference our own draft Manifesto ... was able to reference the final document tonight.

Still no sign of any other Party Manifesto - or Manifesto policy-process for that matter?

Friday, March 16, 2012

Libraries, Visitor Levy, and a weekend of campaigning

Well, yesterday's Council Meeting was indeed (relatively) brief, finishing just before 1pm!

Main items of debate were the reports on the 'Future Libraries Strategy' and the 'Transient Visitor Levy' (tourist tax); with no change-of-heart on either issue by the current Coalition ...

... no political will to pursue the tourist tax any further; and a point-blank refusal to accept that they have removed over £300,000 from the libraries revenue budget across the last 2-years :-(

Gave the whole meeting an air of being in a 'parallel universe'.

Back here in the real world, a busy campaigning weekend coming up, with (hopefully) aptly-named 'Inspiring Saturday' and 'Super Sunday' ahead of me ... more details over on the Edinburgh Labour site here.

Never a dull moment ;-)

Thursday, March 15, 2012

Full Council Meeting today

Full Council Meeting today - the penultimate one before the Local Elections!

Main agenda for today can be found here ... with all the individual reports on CPOL (Committee Papers On-Line), as usual, accessible from here.

I've got a feeling - and I just know I'll regret this prediction - that it could be a fairly prompt meeting?

Apart from the 2 reports referred via Committee - at 7.2 and 7.3 on that agenda - there's probably not a huge amount of other, potential division ...

... that's assuming, of course, the Administration are sensible and simply refer many of the Motions into the next round (post-May) of Committee Meetings?

Mind you, maybe that is a bit of a bold assumption ;-)

Wednesday, March 14, 2012

Nominations from today ...

Nominations for the Council Elections can be made from today!

Needless to say, there's been a bit of a rush on in recent days ( all amidst the Manifesto-mania) to ensure that as much expenditure is expended, as was feasible/possible, before we got to this regulated period ...

... I'm sick of the sight of envelopes, believe me :-(

And, all eyes - at least from our Group anyhow - will also now be carefully monitoring the Council's press machinery, just to ensure that no politicians (of any Party!) receives support and/or promotion that's inappropriate?

Just 50-days to go :-))

Tuesday, March 13, 2012

Manifesto Launched

Edinburgh Labour's 2012 Local Government Manifesto now publicly launched ;-)

Huge thanks are due to everyone who made it possible - over 100 local organisations, and a 1000 individuals have responded; and made clear their own priorities ...

... we've tried to reflect that in the final document.

Thanks to Johann Lamont as well, for speaking at the launch event, and being so supportive of our work locally.

Moving Edinburgh Forward Together - all the details here.

Monday, March 12, 2012

Manifesto at the printers!

That's it - the Manifesto is now at the printers ...

... hope it comes back tonight, as we definitely need 100-copies for tomorrow's launch ;-)

Bias admitted --- I'm really proud of the document - and looking forward to its public launch tomorrow.

Just a little nervous, mind you ...

Sunday, March 11, 2012

Allotment update :-)

Amidst all the deadlines, still managed to squeeze in a few hours at the Allotment this afternoon ...

... fencing project is very near completion now!

As reported earlier, the old fence has gone, and I'm now getting the re-cycled posts into place. I've even sourced some rope :-))

Rope not yet up, so until it is, here's a little shot of the inside of our well-loved 'greenhouse' --- of course, that plastic wine-glass on the work surface is for planting purposes only ;-)

Saturday, March 10, 2012

Edinburgh Student Forum hustings

Edinburgh Student Forum organised a Student Congress event - and local Council Hustings - this afternoon ... I attended the Hustings to represent out Group.

There's a report on the event here.

Thoroughly enjoyed the debate and very impressed with how organised the Student Forum were - maybe my fears of a really low turnout in May are just a touch unjustified? I would love to be wrong.

Friday, March 09, 2012

Edinburgh Labour Group Away Day

Our final Group Away Day, this afternoon, prior to the Local Elections ...

... used The Engine Shed as our venue once again: great facilities and, most importantly of course, great food as well :-)

Anyhow, a very productive afternoon, and all is looking to be in-place for the start of the short campaign which begins imminently :-))

Thursday, March 08, 2012

Edinburgh Partnership Board meeting

Edinburgh Partnership Board meeting ... and that presentation mentioned earlier, was indeed interesting.

A lot of really commendable work happening in the area of 'Youth Offending' diversionary work - there seems to be, at last, a proper grasp of the connectedness of many of the issues that a wide variety of agencies deal with in this policy area.

I did end the afternoon though, with a lingering worry that all the focus - a commendable focus! - is on youngsters from Primary 4 upwards ... and, for me anyhow, I believe many problems are so deep-seated that if they can't be addressed prior to Primary age then it may simply be too late to successfully break the cycle of offending?

Wednesday, March 07, 2012

Print deadlines looming

All you political activists out there will know this only too well ... but with a matter of weeks now remaining before the Local Government Poll on 3rd May, the array of various printing deadlines that are speeding down the track is truly scary :-(

Several items can be left until pretty late in the day, but those 'introductory leaflets' for the start of the short campaign need to go to print all-too-soon ...

... not that the slick-machine, which is Edinburgh Labour, is in any way flustered ;-)

Tuesday, March 06, 2012

Health & Social Care Committee

Well, that Party Flats motion was passed without a whimper?

... both Marco Biagi and Jo Mowatt presented to the committee, strongly in favour of it being approved obviously, and it duly was - without any further debate.

Will now be for any incoming Administration (post May 3rd) to make sure that a really comprehensive report is produced, that doesn't just analyse the problem but actually puts forward potential solutions as well.

Here's hoping.

Monday, March 05, 2012

Edinburgh Labour manifesto nearing completion

Edinburgh Labour's draft manifesto has now been out to consultation for some 4-months ...

... I'm delighted to report that we've had a really healthy level of responses and some very helpful suggestions for both inclusion and revision.

Needless to say, there's now a major internal-panic (mainly created by myself!) to make sure that everyone-and-their-dog is happy to sign-off the document before we send it to the printers :-(

Friday, March 02, 2012

Edinurgh Partnership papers now out

Edinburgh Partnership papers now out, for its meeting next Thursday - you can see the whole package from here ...

... there's a lunchtime presentation (1st page here) which looks very interesting: (on Youth Offending) will definitely make sure I get along to this meeting!

Thursday, March 01, 2012

'Party Flats' motion at next week's Committee

I mentioned the issue of 'Party Flats' a few weeks ago - see here ...

... well, pleased to report that I've actually managed to substitute for one of my colleagues (Ewan Aitken) so I can actually be present when the Committee discusses the motion I mentioned last time (see item 10.11).

Of course, I hope it will just be formally approved - but you just never know this close to an election what could happen!