(ex) CITY OF EDINBURGH COUNCILLOR, ANDREW BURNS; FOUNTAINBRIDGE/CRAIGLOCKHART WARD 'EDINBURGH LABOUR GROUP' LEADER; & 'THE CITY OF EDINBURGH COUNCIL' LEADER. --- just very brief comments (both work & personal), as often as possible, that's all :-)
--- just very brief comments (both work & personal), as often as possible, that's all :-)
Friday, October 31, 2008
Anyone for India?
... and I reckon this is a decision to match those made on robes, traffic-lights and old desks ...
It is, unquestionably, an inappropriate time for this type of expenditure. Someone, surely, should have recognised that?
... the very fact that it's made its way into an official Council report just about sums up the political miasma that appears to be suffocating all prospect of decent decision-making within the City Chambers at the moment.
Busy few days ahead
... and, amazingly, the Council website has JUST put up all the relevant details about voting etc. Much of it, regarding postal voting and so on, is completely out of date now of course :-(
I hope this is not an omen for the efficacy of the electronic count on Thursday night :-((
Thursday, October 30, 2008
Edinburgh University (2)
Enjoyable evening, with good contributions on a wide range of topics.
There does seem to be a renewed effort by the student bodies across the city to engage with the City Council, and local communities - I think it can only be to the good that such communication is happening on a regular basis ...
... that's not to say there will 'always' be agreement - but there's a sense of an open-dialogue now happening, which I'm certain will help understanding from all sides of the debates which surround student communities in Edinburgh.
Edinburgh University (1)
I did repeat my terrible habit (only at these closed-door events I hasten to add!) of being ridiculously frank and I may have been just a little too blunt about how much I admire (NOT) first-past-the-post as an electoral system ... oh dear ;-)
Wednesday, October 29, 2008
... frankly, they are quite simply wrong on this. There seems to be an almost complete blind-spot (when it comes to certain Catholic church representatives) to the fact that a huge percentage of female eggs are lost in the natural process of conception anyway?
Edinburgh credit crunch?
Its all well-and-good to blame some of the current local, financial difficulties on the 'credit crunch' ... but I'm certain all the Opposition Groups on the Council will be looking at the forthcoming budget detail very, very carefully.
... 'credit crunch' or not, I'm fairly certain the financial challenges within several Council Departments are still causing their own problems, precious little of which has been solved since last May - despite all the promises to the contrary?
Tuesday, October 28, 2008
A banquet for our times?
... so, I'll reserve my judgement until I know who is paying for year 2 - as its not at all clear that funding is secured beyond the first year for this event, which is being paid for by an anonymous benefactor??
... on the face of it (sorry, couldn't resist that!) I reckon this innovation has decent potential and is a good development.
What it absolutely must avoid though - otherwise people will just see it for what it is - is being "nothing but" a propaganda tool for the Department ... and if the lead-article in the first edition is anything to go by, then its not a great omen. I'll quote:
"Improving our school estate is one of Edinburgh's priorities and in recent years there has been a huge investment in our school buildings. We are committed to continuing with this investment and a number of construction programmes are currently taking place in the city."
Slight failure to mention that NOT ONE construction programme has been initiated in the last 18-months and that come early 2010, when the current second-round of the school building programme is finished, there is nothing to follow it.
To be fair, the rest of the Newsletter content is fairly informational - as opposed to the 'aspirational' quoted above!
Sunday, October 26, 2008
Thankfully didn't encounter any more friendly Alsatians as I was doing my rounds :-(
... weather still not that great mind you - certainly hope it's a bit drier on Thursday 6th November!
Saturday, October 25, 2008
... you would think being in Opposition would have led to a reduction in the volume of incoming e-mails, but no - if anything there seems to be a never-ending increase in the sheer scale of e-mail traffic that comes my way!
I dread to imagine what it will be like when the remaining 30% (or so) of local households get direct access to a computer??
... all part of the joy of being a public servant, of course ;-)
On Thursday, Tyndrum (just a few miles down the road from where we were staying) had a daily rainfall of 7.2cm :-((
This picture of the River Orchy in spate just about sums it all up!
Saturday, October 18, 2008
Normal service will be resumed shortly
Friday, October 17, 2008
... just cannot see any way back from such a poll deficit, across so many states.
As usual, Steve Bell pretty much sums it all up in today's Guardian - its all in their "cartoon-persona's" body language!
So close to the truth.
October Full Council meeting
Main divisions were on:
- the (so-called) Fairer Scotland Fund
- Wave 3 schools project update
- review of funding to Third Parties
- review of Neighbourhood Partnerships
- and most of the motions from item 10.1 onwards :-(
No division on item 8.1, as it was all ruled 'incompetent' - I'll leave you to judge on that ...
The Lord Provost did verbally guarantee that the whole saga would come back before the Full Council after the Standards Commission has duly reported.
Very little accommodation to any other viewpoint (other than their own, of course) given by the Administration ... Neighbourhood Partnerships were the exception, where at least some sort of a compromise was offered and then agreed ...
... it can be done, but precious little evidence of it yesterday unfortunately.
Wednesday, October 15, 2008
Full Council tomorrow ...
... there are actually quite a few substantial items on the agenda and I suspect there will be more political divisions this month, than in the last few meetings?
Monday, October 13, 2008
Gordon Does Good?
... have a look at this article in today's New York Times - and do take note that it is written by a man who has just, this very day, won the Nobel Memorial Prize in Economic Sciences.
Gordon, and Alistair, do good?
... time will tell.
Sunday, October 12, 2008
... managed to fit in an early Sunday evening visit to the allotment and picked a few of the still-growing brussel sprouts, took them home, and cooked them as part of our Sunday dinner.
Absolutely delicious - even if I do say so myself ;-))
... spent most of the time in Royston/Wardieburn and the majority of people we spoke to were pretty receptive, and even positive ;-)
I did have one of those heart-stopping moments when I entered a front-garden gate (in Royston Mains Green, think it was?) and casually proceeded up the path, only to arrive at an open door with a truly huge Alsatian bounding out towards me looking as if it was about to rip my head off :-(
Fastest I've moved all year, I'll tell you :-((
... but all was okay really, as the owner followed the dog out, just as I was exiting the gate at close to 100mph, and told me not to worry as the dog wouldn't have touched me as it was trained to bark only??
Forgot to ask him if he would be voting Labour ;-)
Friday, October 10, 2008
No more passing the buck?
It follows their 'Leaders' meeting earlier this morning when they discussed the collapse of Icelandic banks ... the News Release mainly deals with this issue, and this is obviously what the BBC have picked up on.
BUT - have a look at the last three paragraphs on 'school meals' ... the last paragraph, in particular, is code for 'We may have signed up for the school meals commitment, but we now believe we don't have the money to implement it and want to renegotiate the deal'.
Well, I won't say it - but follow the links ...
And do have a quick read at paragraph 4, on page 6, here ... escape hatch or warm words?
Thursday, October 09, 2008
Biting the bullet?
... so, it is obviously noteworthy that he has an opinion-piece in today's Guardian that applauds yesterdays actions by the Treasury.
Well worth a read - although, as ever, the ensuing comments prove that not everyone is convinced :-((
Wednesday, October 08, 2008
No.1 for the Forth Ward
... I'm able to confirm that he is (as of this afternoon) the first - and only - candidate formally nominated for the by-election on 6th November ;-)
... and, by the way, elections officers told me earlier today that there had been a small 'typo' on the nomination papers sent out to all the Parties, and that the deadline for nominating was out by a week - should have read 4pm on the 8th October and not 4pm on the 15th October ;-))
... if only!
Tuesday, October 07, 2008
North Merchiston Football Club
... think all the details should be up on this website very soon.
I know that a huge amount of effort goes into the successful running of this local club and I was really delighted to learn that all the hard work which goes on behind-the-scenes has been recognised with this Award.
Congratulations to all concerned ...
Monday, October 06, 2008
Back from lunch?
... I still can't help wondering just what on earth the Convener of Transport is doing - other than keeping absolutely silent on all of this, that is?
Been quite a week - even by Liberal standards:
I'm sort of dreading what might happen next :-(
Saturday, October 04, 2008
... I do need to rebut wide spread rumour-mongering that I knew what was about to happen ... see my 'light-hearted' reference to Mr. Mandelson's supposed political skills earlier in the week ;-))
Of course, it was all complete coincidence!
Friday, October 03, 2008
'Big Brother' enters the by-election!?
... actually, its not as bizarre as it sounds - John Loughton, who hails from that part of the city, and who did indeed win Big Brother back in January, is said to be launching a local campaign this coming Monday at the West Pilton Neighbourhood Centre?
So, if John does stand as an Independent ... that'll make at least 8 candidates I reckon - and probably more to come??
Thursday, October 02, 2008
... on a brighter note!
Appears that an improved offer HAS now been made, and the third round of strike action - which was penciled in for next week - has been suspended whilst consultation with Union Members takes place.
I had been of the view that the original 2.5% offered could be improved - and, without pre-judging what Union Members conclude, I'm glad it now has been.
'Free school meals' - at no cost?
... BBC Scotland are reporting today that all P1-P3 pupils will receive free school meals from August 2010 (quite some way off) - and, on the face of it, this is welcome news ...
... BUT - sorry - it is also being categorically stated that:
"However, the government will not be allocating extra money to fund the roll-out of the initiative."
No extra money - we, in Scotland's Local Authorities, have got all the cash we're going to get and we dutifully signed up to all of this in that 'historical concordat' - go on, check out those specified commitments on page 4 and 5 here.
I said it back in early May this year:
"The rest of the "specified set of commitments", and the fact that they are practically all unfunded, make very, very worrying reading financially..."
Those who signed that concordat, and those who have since remained silent on it, frankly have a lot of serious questions to ask themselves.
Local Government in Scotland HAS been emasculated and - mark my words - will subsequently be blamed for all the 'political ills of Scotland' come late 2010/early 2011. The Political Party of "Independence" has indeed removed that very same thing from the tier of Government they control and democracy is the weaker for it.
As for this City Council Administration Coalition of Libs/Nats - they can't even provide decent school meals for existing pupils, never mind rolling out such to all Primary 1-Primary 3 pupils ...
... and, of course, you simply cannot ignore the small matter of money to pay for all of this at a local level?
... today's Scotsman has a brief piece on the near complete gridlock that was the City Centre yesterday, which was a result of the start of tram works at The Mound - you can read the article here.
PLEASE have a look at the article - you'll note that the Chief Executive of TIE has at least apologised for the problems, but when the journalist asked the City Council to comment here's what happened:
"Despite the extent of the problems, the city council declined to comment on how the first day of the tram works had gone."
Thousands - no, probably tens of thousands - of commuters were affected by this yesterday and not one word from any Lib-Dem politician currently in charge of this project.
... actually, the likely truth is that no politician is currently in charge of this project :-(
In my darker (and generally uncharacteristic) moments of feeling 'less-than-charitable', I sometimes think the Lib-Dems in Edinburgh are metaphorically "out to lunch".
I've been badly mistaken - yesterday proves there's nothing metaphoric about it :-((
Wednesday, October 01, 2008
Forth Ward Campaign Launch
Excellent turnout - candidate managed to attend, and even one or two MSPs made it along ;-)
Really good atmosphere in the campaign shop and I sense a very lively and up-beat five weeks of campaigning in front of us :-))
... mind you - I feel like I know most of these streets pretty well already!
Lack of leadership
... but I've also, very recently, made clear my disdain at the lack of political leadership from the current Council Coalition on the project.
Well, today, I think that lack of clear leadership has become all too apparent to thousands and thousands of commuters - it's the first day 'The Mound' junction has been closed and by all accounts it is causing complete gridlock within the City Centre.
I know that some problems are to be expected, but the scale of what's happened this morning strongly suggests to me that the changes just have not been explained, publicised or communicated effectively.
Transport Officers cannot do that job alone - they need senior political figures to get their heads above the parapet and start 'championing' the project from the front! Can you tell me the last time you saw such a politician on TV, or heard them on radio, explaining what was about to happen??
Everything (politically) appears to be reactive and not proactive - and all (political) energies are used up with the in-fighting between the Coalition partners who disagree on this project.
I despair, I really do ...