(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 :-)
Monday, August 31, 2009
Spinning out of control?
... and then contrast this blatant fantasy with the absolute truth that not ONE SINGLE new school contract will be initiated, and then that school built and actually opened, all within this term (May 2007-May 2011) of the current Scottish Government.
Just what else can one say ???
Sunday, August 30, 2009
NEW weekly Surgery arrangements
So, from tomorrow, here are the new weekly Surgery arrangements:
Andrew holds regular surgeries, right across his local Ward -
no appointment is necessary, just simply turn up:
- Every Monday, 6pm (during school term-time)
@ Craiglockhart Primary School, Ashley Terrace
- Every Tuesday, 6pm (during school term-time)
@ St.Cuthbert's Primary School, Hutchison Crossway
- Every Wednesday, 6pm (all year round)
@ Fountainbridge Library, Dundee Street
These details can also be found on the Council's web-site - here.
Apologies for any confusion caused - I'll get all the local posters etc. changed as quickly as I can over the next few days!
... after a brief visit to the allotment this morning, we processed the following (all) home-grown ingredients:
- 3lbs of green tomatoes
And, bias aside --- it does taste delicious!
Friday, August 28, 2009
Group Away Day
... this will be the third or fourth over the last year or so - and before you start howling protests about the cost: we're going to Muirhouse and no public money is involved!
Actually - posting this has reminded me that we had a few All-Party Away Days prior to the May 2007 Elections ... in the knowledge that it was difficult to know who would be within the ruling Coalition :-(
Been no hint of such an event since - which, given the finely balanced nature of the Council, is a missed opportunity if you ask me?
Thursday, August 27, 2009
No national symbols here?
... but have a quick look at the SNP comment about the (supposed?) plans to brand the line the "Union Railway" (fifth paragraph down):
"The name, intended to celebrate the political partnership that has linked Scotland and England for more than 300 years, irritated Nationalists who slated the UK government for politicising the project by making it an overt symbol of the Union".
Politicising a project by using overt national symbols - well, I never!
Wednesday, August 26, 2009
Policy and Strategy papers out ...
... I suspect there could be quite a robust debate about the 'Carbon Reduction' report - which can be read in full here.
The reality of commitments for Local Authorities in this area (of which I'm generally supportive) are very clearly laid out - and it's certainly not challenge (or potentially, cost) -free!
The future of rail?
There was quite a bit of effort (and political support) put into this project by the last Council Administration, so I am pleased to see some of that coming to potential fruition.
2-hours to Edinburgh indeed ... that really would be a challenge to domestic air travel!
Local amenity diminished
... not great when a request for a mere site-visit is defeated by one vote :-(
The application report can be found here - and my main point of contention is with the top of page 3 where the report says:
"The concentration of similar uses in this area is not deemed to be excessive with only three of the nine units on the frontage to be occupied by a restaurant or a takeaway. The proposed location is therefore in accordance with Central Edinburgh Local Plan Policy L2, finalised Edinburgh City Local Plan Policy Ret 12, and nonstatutory guidance on Restaurants, Cafes and Hot Food Shops."
But just above (in the same paragraph) it acknowledges that "other restaurants and takeaways are close by" --- well, there are actually numerous other such establishments in the adjoining tenement blocks, and across the road at the Fountainbridge Cinema complex.
The report goes on to justify granting the application by mention of 'Policy Ret 12' --- the full text of which says (see page 30 here):
Policy Ret 12
The change of use of a shop unit or other premises to a licensed or unlicensed restaurant, café, pub, or shop selling hot food for consumption off the premises (hot food take-away) will not be permitted:
a) if likely to lead to an unacceptable increase in noise, disturbance, on-street activity or anti-social behaviour to the detriment of living conditions for nearby residents or
b) in an area where there is considered to be an excessive concentration of such uses to the detriment of living conditions for nearby residents.
Frankly, I think granting of this application breaks both a) and b) above - and at the very least, I believe the Committee should have agreed a site-visit to see for themselves the over-concentration of 'restaurant/takeaway' establishments in the immediate area?
Really not a great decision to reject that request by one vote :-(
2-hours to Edinburgh?
... as a complete convert to the train - over the plane - I'd be delighted to see a 2-hour journey time to Edinburgh ;-)
Tuesday, August 25, 2009
The worth of local amenity ...
... main local complaint is one of existing over-provision of restaurants/takeaways around the Dundee Street area; and I think the objectors have a good point. There's no doubt in my mind that yet another restaurant - and quite a big one at that - will diminish local amenity yet further.
I can't get along to the Committee myself, unfortunately, but hoping that Members will at least agree to a site-visit before any final decision?
... but do contrast the fact that over a dozen staff have been suspended for sending these messages, when absolutely NOTHING appears to happen when the current Council Administration:
- put up statements on the bin dispute one day
- change that statement the next day
- and then eventually remove all trace of both statements from the web-site of the Capital City of Scotland
Pressing the delete button appears to work for some??
And yet rather astonishingly, several people have contacted me since I first mentioned this issue to tell me - in no uncertain terms - that it's not a serious problem?
Well - I beg to differ.
Someone, somewhere, approved those statements going on to the Council's web-site; and someone, somewhere approved them being removed.
And ultimate responsibility for all of this has to rest with Administration politicians - if not, then that's an acceptance that they are simply not in charge.
Monday, August 24, 2009
Recession in Britain 'at an end' ?
Possible pattern here --- potential good news, is no news :-((
Trader 'poisoned' by tram works ??
... but it does appear that the latest, local story on trams has really stretched the headline-writers' creative abilities ;-)
... and I'm still quite shocked that no one from the SNP has taken the opportunity to have-a-go at the project ;-))
More seriously - do I detect a glimmer of hope that senior, local Nationalists may, at last, have accepted that this project is going to be delivered and should be supported for the remaining duration of the tram-works?
Sunday, August 23, 2009
Community Food Event ...
... the recently formed Shandon Local Food Initiative organised it, and a very impressive number of folk turned up with a wide variety of 'local food dishes'.
Now, given my well-known proclivity for the consumption of rather large amounts of food - this was an event clearly just made for me!
Can't wait until the next one :-))
And, I'm pleased to report, we also took along:
- a red-onion quiche
- lots of potato salad
- a large apple tart
--- all made from allotment-only ingredients ;-)
... but having kept quiet on the Megrahi decision since the whole episode burst into the news last week, after some serious thought I now find myself - whilst having personal sympathy for the position Kenny MacAskill found himself in - having absolutely no sympathy for the way the ultimate decision was arrived at and eventually communicated.
A man (Megrahi) who is legally guilty (put aside the arguments over his conviction - they shouldn't apply to this moment) of murdering 270 people was released from jail last Thursday, and allowed to leave the country of his crime, where he was being held for his actions on a life-sentence.
I just can't find any justification for what's described above?
Look at the statement on this issue from the Scottish Government (and the relevant legislation) - it is obvious that Scottish Ministers have the power to release on 'compassionate grounds', but the relevant Minister has only 'guidance' to follow and has to be 'satisfied' of any case made. There is no reading of the legislation (not in my mind) that says: if this and this applies, then the prisoner must be released ...
... ultimately it's a subjective process, which clearly relies on some objective facts - such as the prisoner is dying - but nowhere can I see any set of objective facts that must inextricably lead, in law, to prisoner release?
MacAskill was right to say, "these are my decisions and my decisions alone" ... that's correct ... but, for me, he arrived at the wrong decision and released (not just from custody, but from Scotland) a man who is legally guilty of the worst crime committed on Scottish soil, in living memory.
A compassionate decision - just maybe?
The right decision - certainly not.
... have to say that I thought it was completely gripping towards the end and there's no doubt England deserved to win this 5th Test.
... but if you look at the other 4 test results, there is no doubt that Australia will be kicking themselves this evening ;-)
... the Councillor-one is (for me) particularly pleasing, as it covers the whole of the UK.
Mind you, probably just shows how few local Councillors keep blogs :-(
Saturday, August 22, 2009
... indeed, I think he's already wondering what the hell I'm doing wondering around 'his' new domain :-(
That said, he is rather cute - as you can see :-))
He's been called 'Smithy'.
Friday, August 21, 2009
"When the cat's away" ...
... but, fish are still in abundance and the stick-insects just seem to multiply exponentially!
... and today, so I've just been told on the mobile, junior has taken advantage of me being in London by going to a cat-rescue home and recruiting a new moggie for the Burns' household: I'm told by my better-half that said-cat is now in-situ and it's all a done-deal !
"When the cat's away" indeed ...
Thursday, August 20, 2009
Full Council today
... doesn't mean there was no controversy; and I did at least manage to remain in the Chamber for the whole meeting today ;-)
Main point of contention ended up NOT being trams ... the SNP did back an all-Party motion, and it'll now be interesting to note the content of their immediate press comment on the issue? ...
... but the bin dispute did indeed dominate most discussion, with the Administration repeatedly denying that a statement has ever been made indicating that the dispute was over?
Really quite stunning .
They are patently in some kind of parallel universe when it comes to this subject.
Wednesday, August 19, 2009
Star struck - me?
... of course, rumours that I was somewhat star struck are totally outrageous - but I was a bit disappointed when Ms. Lennox refused to autograph my Eurythmics Album collection ;-)
scandal in Shandon
First day at school
A difficult day
... a difficult day.
Tuesday, August 18, 2009
Full Council this week
... trams and bin dispute look set to dominate!
Monday, August 17, 2009
more on trams ...
Well, forgive me for my scepticism - but just look here and here and you'll realise that it's well founded :-(
Back to the grind ...
... and Rome already seems like a journey from another lifetime :-((
Sunday, August 16, 2009
... several of them are currently well over 7-feet tall, and dwarfing the greenhouse/shed :-)
... all we need now is a bit of actual sunshine, and they might actually develop some proper flowers :-(
Formal strike action from tomorrow
... Council Administration seem to be claiming that nobody will notice? Another piece of hard, factual analysis??
I suspect hundreds of local authority employees and their families may just differ on the Administration's latest, rather bold assertion!
Tram decisions already taken??
... but, one thing that I thought I would quickly flag up is the completely preemptive (and not strictly true!) assumption that the City Council has already backed the latest moves in the ongoing tram saga??
The Full Council doesn't meet until Thursday 20th August, so how anyone can claim that the Council has already taken a decision on this (which the News Release certainly does!) is quite beyond me?
One has to assume that the SNP will vote against - Tories/Labour/ Greens: who knows yet what they will definitely do? So only 17 Lib-Dem votes (out of a total of 58) are 'guaranteed' to be backing the latest moves ...
... yet more spin over substance, with due-and-proper-process being seen as an annoying hurdle.
40th Birthday ...
Apologies for the lack of posting this last week ... but I managed to escape Edinburgh for a few days to celebrate my brother-in-laws' 40th Birthday: down in Norfolk!
Now back in civilisation, having managed (just!) to survive said-gathering of 10 in-laws ;-)
Work again tomorrow for a well-deserved dose of sanity ... well, maybe not :-((
Friday, August 07, 2009
A tale of two cities ...
Local ballot result announced
... all somewhat further confirmed by the ballot-result of the Unite workforce, which is out this afternoon - two questions were asked:
1. Are you prepared to take part in strike action?
YES - 67.9%
NO - 32.1%
2. Are you prepared to take part in industrial action short of a strike?
YES - 93.5%
NO - 6.5%
Of course, such action does not have to automatically follow if a negotiated settlement can still be reached meantime --- but the results above clearly indicate the current feelings of the local workforce.
Egyptian Belly Dancing?
... very enjoyable evening - although there were some pictures of me taken with an 'Egyptian Belly Dancer' as she made her way around the tables as part of the show?
I safely predict that said-pictures will soon be available on some disreputable web-site or blog :-((
Thursday, August 06, 2009
Electoral reform shootings!
... I should report that on my trip to London yesterday, a large section of Blackfriars Road (just off of which, the ERS Office is located) was closed due to an attempted shooting of a couple of Police Officers :-(
... the actual meeting thereafter was obviously relatively tame by comparison to events right outside the window!
Bin dispute remains unresolved
Wednesday, August 05, 2009
Famous last words ...
"Things can only get better --- I'm attending my local Neighbourhood Partnership 'business meeting' this evening: I mean, what could possibly go wrong there?"
--- well, it went on until 9.15pm :-((
Wednesday (now today!) just has to be better ... off to the metropolis for an ERS meeting - surely even discussing electoral reform for several hours has to be refreshing after the Tuesday I've just been through??
Tuesday, August 04, 2009
- not only have I just realised that the Chancellor's cat is dead
- that the Council's website is in a constant state of flux
- but that 'highly principled' report on revoking an earlier Council decision was passed at the Policy and Strategy Committee meeting earlier this afternoon :-(
Things can only get better --- I'm attending my local Neighbourhood Partnership 'business meeting' this evening: I mean, what could possibly go wrong there?
... I'm personally assured there is no truth whatsoever in the rumour that the Prime Minister had anything to do with the cat's demise :-))
All is not what it seems?
Here's the headline from last night (as I referred to in an earlier post yesterday) - it clearly states "Successful resolution of current dispute".
You'll notice my earlier link to it is now broken??
Well, this morning the Council headline reads differently, as you can see in the second screenshot (not sure there's much point in putting up a link, as it will be taken down in due course, no doubt?!) - it clearly states "Resolution of current dispute likely".
This might not all seem earth-shattering to some of my readers ... but for me, its just yet more evidence of the complete malaise at the heart of the current Lib/Nat Council Administration ...
... where's the truth; who has authorised all of this; who is in ultimate charge; does nobody care about these constant mixed messages; is it acceptable to alter the second largest Council in Scotland's website in such a fashion???
It is indicative of a swaggering arrogance that no politician-in-charge appears to care about these important details ... and it's details that make the bigger picture.
NB - you can click on the screenshots for better definition ...
Low-order issue ...
I'm a devolutionist, one who campaigned vigorously to see the Scottish Parliament come into existence, and I remain convinced of the worth in its current powers. But Holyrood Parliamentarians (and yes, local politicians like myself!) need to constantly defend and define that worth ...
Just 'using' the powers that the Parliament has will not do that of itself - there simply needs to be that broader (more widely debated) narrative underpinning the existence of the institution. For me also - the actual 'identity' of the people whom are represented therein still remains a very, very low-order issue.
Monday, August 03, 2009
Bin dispute over??
... well, tonight we've got this (successful resolution of current dispute!) from the Council: the bin strike is off?
... and this more qualified statement (see announcement column for 3rd August) from the Union: indicating that it all depends on whether proposals stack up?
And as far as I understand it, nothing has changed in terms of the actual Council offer ... there have simply been yet further talks to clarify what is actually on the table; but obviously the Union still believes that the offer (and its implications) have not been properly explained.
From the 25th June (the start of the current action) to the 3rd August, and we still have no clear communication from those in charge - to those affected by these proposals - stating without any dubiety just what is on offer ... meantime, six weeks of disruption to the residents of Edinburgh have ensued :-(
I'd love to be wrong - but I'll wager the two sides left the room today without agreeing a joint written-statement which was to be released to the press, and then one side (the Council) has gone to the press with their version of events?
Frankly, I hope that the Council version of events is correct - but it does appear to me to be somewhat premature to claim that the Union have agreed to recommend to their members that the current action should be called off.
And worse still, if that's not actually true then emotions will only be further inflamed by the Council Leader claiming today that the dispute has been successfully resolved ...
Sunday, August 02, 2009
... there was so much produce to carry that we had to use the wheelbarrow to get it off the site ;-)