Wednesday, August 31, 2011

Re-elected to ERS Council :-)

Amidst all the tram chaos --- eagle-eyed readers will remember that I recently stood for re-election to the Electoral Reform Society Council ...

... well, delighted to report that I have been duly re-elected for another two-year period. I'm also genuinely pleased to see that a mix of new faces and existing experience will now form the new 2011-2013 ERS Council.

Believe me, the intricacies of the Single Transferable Vote are blessed light-relief after the last couple of weeks of local Edinburgh politics :-(
Its all as simple as 1, 2, 3 ...
... unlike that tram.

Material change?

I think its safe to assume that the Lord Provost will rule this a material change of circumstance at that Special Meeting of Council on Friday ...

... we're still awaiting the actual 'Council Report' for Friday - but as soon as I have it (and its on the Council web-site) I'll put another post up and be as open as we have been in recent decisions, about where our thinking is going for the upcoming meeting at the end of this week.

And, who knows, maybe other Groups on the Council might deem to share their views in advance as well??

Tuesday, August 30, 2011

PLEASE - keep it civil

Long-standing readers will be aware that this blog has been running for many, many years - and comment moderation is never switched on ... I'm always (pleasantly) amazed at how civil any debates generally remain!

But obviously the blog is attracting a large new readership (which is good!) at the moment due to the ongoing twists-and-turns in the local tram project ... and as you'll have noticed, there's a large number of anonymous comments being posted (again, that's fine!) but I'd just like to ask for civility to be maintained despite differing political views and positions.

I desperately want to keep the comments open to all, and totally un-moderated ... but please help me achieve that by respecting that we won't always agree.

Thanks :-)


- and please don't hesitate to e-mail if you'd like a more detailed reply to any points you want to raise with me - I simply can't promise such detail in my own 'comments', but am more than happy to do so via e-mail.

Monday, August 29, 2011

Special Council Meeting now called for Friday

Well, those press rumours were true ... 2 hours after the first call from a journalist, Officers had the decency to confirm the meeting was being called, quickly followed by the brief e-mail and News Release that follow:


22.54hrs, 29th August 2011

Please find attached the agenda for the special meeting of the City of Edinburgh Council called by the Lord Provost, under Standing Order 6, to consider the 'Edinburgh Tram Project - Funding Arrangements'. The meeting will take place at 10 am on Friday 2 September 2011 in the City Chambers. Please note the report is marked 'to follow'.


Date 29/August/2011 (22.55hrs)

Status For Immediate Release
Statement: trams to be discussed at special Council meeting

The City of Edinburgh Council has today given notice of a special meeting of the Council which has been called by the Lord Provost, to be held on Friday 2 September at 10.00am. The meeting is to discuss the funding arrangements for the Edinburgh Tram Project to enable Council officers to implement the arrangements required by the Council decision of 25 August 2011.
The Council is currently legally committed to a contract to build the tram line to Newhaven and negotiations have been ongoing since mediation to amend the contract to deliver a truncated line as far as St. Andrew Square, as approved by Council on 30 June 2011.

The Council Chief Executive has met with senior representatives of Bilfinger Berger UK (Civil) and Siemens. On behalf of the consortium they have acknowledged the Council’s position as a result of last week’s decision and advised that they will respond to the Council formally before the 31 August deadline which was agreed by all parties at mediation.

The Council has also noted the public statement by the Scottish Government of its intention to review the business case for the shortened route to Haymarket and to consider its position with regard to the outstanding balance of £59.5m currently payable under the Council’s grant agreement with Transport Scotland and which is also due for renewal.


Serious questions do now need asked about why the information Councillors were given just a few days ago (as well as back in June) is apparently to be 'adjusted'?

Special Meeting of Council?

Being told this evening that there is definitely going to be a Special Meeting of the Council (soon?) because of a 'material change in circumstances' in relation to last Thursday's Council decision ...

... the people passing this information on are not Senior Officers of the Council; nor are they Politicians (of any Party) of the Council; but the local press.

Its frankly indicative of the way this whole project has been handled in recent years.

I'll certainly be interested to hear what's materially changed, since the very detailed and supposedly definitive reports of both June and August 2011 upon which earlier decisions were based?

Anyhow - we'll again base any eventual decision on the definitive facts before us ... which is what we thought we had in June and August 2011?

Local school surgeries start again ...

Local school surgeries start again this week, now that term has recommenced - all the details here ...

... and don't forget, I'm at Fountainbridge Library every Wednesday at 6pm also.

If you can't make any of the above, then you can e-mail or 'phone and I'm always happy to visit you.

Sunday, August 28, 2011

The joy of veg?

As a general rule, I don't bang on about being vegetarian ... I remember in my pre-1993 meat-days, those that did used to slightly irritate me :-(

... but, Hugh Fearnley-Whittingstall's article in yesterday's Guardian is well worth a mention - and a read!

He does make many of the same arguments about why I moved to vegetarianism back in the early 90's - and I have once or twice referred to them before on the blog.

Most importantly, he is obviously a convert - I don't really know why he just doesn't go all the way? - and reinforces the point that if someone like him (or I) can manage, then its almost certain many more people could as well --- the benefits are many ;-)

Saturday, August 27, 2011

Finance and Resources Committee this week

With all the focus on trams, shouldn't lose sight of other, ongoing Council business ... the Finance and Resources Committee meets on Tuesday: main agenda is here, and all the reports on CPOL as usual here.

It's an exceptionally long agenda, but I suspect the most controversial items will be the 'Framework Agreements' and 'Block Contracts' that are up for approval.

Given all that happened with the Care and Support Services tender, I think it completely crucial that these reports are scrutinised fully --- I do hope the Committee allocates sufficient time and discussion to them.

Friday, August 26, 2011

Those Amendments (and full report) in detail ...

Obviously, ongoing and significant interest in yesterday's tram decision!

I've had several people ask for sight of the actual Council report (from yesterday) and all of the Amendments (which I referred to earlier here) to be put on the blog ...

... so, in an attempt to be helpful, here are the appropriate links:
  • the main Tram Report from yesterday can be found here 
  • and all of the tram amendments can be found here (I've scanned them all into one PDF)
Please do read through these links/attachments, if you want to go over all of the detail behind the decision. 

I can only repeat that , for us, the risks associated with pressing on to St. Andrew Square (just now) were monumental and would have seen the Council's debt levels rise to over £1.5billion, requiring over 11% of our annual revenue budget to service that in interest payments alone every year.

Frankly, i
n the current economic climate, we simply could not support the St. Andrew Square option. It would have meant £15.3million of Council-Tax Payers money being spent on tram interest payments every year, for 30-years.

£230million per mile tram debt deal was ‘unacceptable’

Edinburgh Reporter has an update on the tram developments yesterday - you can read/hear it here ...

... includes a further News Release we put out this afternoon, which I'll simply repeat below:

£230million per mile tram debt deal was ‘unacceptable’

Following the decision on the Edinburgh trams project yesterday to reject a £230million borrowing requirement that would have affected city services for 30 years Labour Leader, Cllr Andrew Burns said today:

“The requirement to borrow £230million for completion of just over one mile of track to St Andrew Square, some £36,000 per foot was, and remains, totally unacceptable to the Labour Group.

“We believe that the Haymarket option can be delivered within current budgets and expect the Chief Executive and Council officers to vigorously pursue this option with the contractor.

“Following delivery of the project to Haymarket, and full integration with Lothian Buses, a rational decision on the future can be taken.  That is the best course of action for the Council’s finances, Council services and Lothian Buses.  The Lib Dem plan to rush into massive debt would be complete folly, and would affect Council services for decades to come.”

Labour Group Transport Spokesperson Lesley Hinds added:

“Payments plus interest for the St Andrew Square option would have seen the Council paying some £15.3m per year over the next 30 years.  Funding that we believe should be invested in our schools, social care and other Council services.  Lothian Buses also highlighted a significant threat to their operations should St Andrew’s Square option have gone ahead.

“Labour Councillors have also been increasingly concerned at the tone of briefings from Council officers who could not provide certainty that the £230m borrowing would be sufficient.  Given the history of the project and the relations with the main contractor we believe that the ‘significant risks’ attached to St Andrew’s square could lead to significant further borrowing.  Senior officers have privately outlined their personal concerns to me on this.

“Given the deep concerns of Group members, officers and the general public we believe that Haymarket was the least risky option.

“The current divided Administration have consistently shown that they are unable to take the project or our city forward. They have no authority on this matter and should consider their positions.”


Thursday, August 25, 2011

That Tram vote in detail ...

I've had a lot of e-mails asking for the Tram vote to be explained in a bit more detail ...

... so, with apologies if I'm about to bore you to death, but here's what happened:

  • Lib-Dems had a 'Motion' to support the St. Andrew Square option - known as Motion
  • Labour had 'Amendment' to support the Haymarket option - known as Amendment 1
  • SNP had 'Amendment' not saying much at all frankly - known as Amendment 2
  • Tories had 'Amendment' seeking clarification on certain costs - known as Amendment 3
  • Greens had 'Amendment' seeking clarification on certain costs - known as Amendment 4

So let the voting begin ...

  • Motion gets 16 votes (Lib-Dems)
  • Amendment 1 gets 15 votes (Labour)
  • Amendment 2 gets 13 votes (SNP)
  • Amendment 3 gets 10 votes (Tories)
  • Amendment 4 gets 3 votes (Greens)

ROUND 2 (Amendment 4 has fallen)
  • Motion gets 16 votes (Lib-Dems)
  • Amendment 1 gets 15 votes (Labour)
  • Amendment 2 gets 13 votes (SNP)
  • Amendment 3 gets 10 votes (Tories)
  • 3 Councillors Abstain (Greens)

ROUND 3 (Amendment 3 has now fallen)
  • Motion gets 19 votes (Lib-Dems + Greens)
  • Amendment 1 gets 25 votes (Labour + Tories)
  • Amendment 2 gets 13 votes (SNP)

ROUND 4 (Amendment 2 has now fallen)
  • Motion gets 19 votes (Lib-Dems + Greens)
  • Amendment 1 gets 25 votes (Labour + Tories)
  • 13 Councillors Abstain (SNP)

So 'Amendment 1' has received the majority of the votes cast (abstentions are not 'votes cast') and is carried as an "Act of Council" --- Officers will now work to deliver it ... and so should a mature political Leadership, even if its just lost the vote!

I should pay all-credit to the Tories for backing our position, once theirs had fallen ... thus avoiding a repeat of the situation in June when 16 Lib-Dem votes won the day.

Hope that helps explain what happened - happy to try and answer any further questions: just get in touch.

Council backs Haymarket option

Well - there will be plenty of press coverage of today's vote in the City Chambers, of that I'm sure ... BBC news already have it here, and Evening News also here.

Frankly, the SNP/Lib-Dem Council Leadership now need to deliver on the democratic will of today's vote in the City Chambers - if they can't, they should move aside.

For information, I'll simply paste our News Release below:



Plans for Edinburgh City Council to take on £231m in debt to complete the Trams Project to St Andrew Square have been blocked by Labour.

Edinburgh Labour Leader Andrew Burns has hit out at the inept handling of the city's tram project by the SNP/ Lib Dem Council Administration and berated them for their lack of leadership on the project.

As a motion today calling for the project to be completed as far as Haymarket was passed by the Council, Councillor Burns also called into question the authority of the SNP/ Lib Dem Administration to lead the city. Following the debate, Councillor Burns said:

"The SNP/Lib Dem Administration do not have what it takes to move the city forward. They are divided, bereft of leadership skills and lack a vision for Edinburgh.  Today their authority on the trams project has been completely shot.

Since 2007, when Audit Scotland gave the project a clean bill of health, this project has unravelled completely.  The division and ineptitude of the Administration has obviously taken its toll.

The decision to complete the tram project to Haymarket is clearly the option with least risk and which leaves the city with an asset.  It was the only option before Council today which provided a viable way forward, and I am glad that the Council supported that option.”


Full Council today

Full Council Meeting later this morning - main agenda can be found here, and all the reports are on CPOL as usual, here ...

... tram report at item 8.2 on the agenda is set to dominate the day: quite rightly so.

If the Council decides on the St. Andrew Square option, our levels of current debt will go up to over £1.5billion, with over £110million of revenue payments being required every year to service that debt --- that will be over 11% of our overall revenue budget, every year, being spent on servicing debt.

As outlined below, we cannot support such a proposition and strongly believe the project should be delivered to Haymarket, and no further, at this time.

I'll blog about the outcome of the meeting as soon as I can.

Wednesday, August 24, 2011

Slight revisions to tomorrow's Tram Amendment

As expected, there have been some slight revisions to tomorrow's Labour Group Tram Amendment ... the substantive position hasn't changed .... but here's the final text:


City of Edinburgh Council
Labour Amendment

Full Council Meeting
25 August 2011

Item 8.2 Edinburgh Tram Project

1. Council again notes that this is a project which Audit Scotland gave a clean bill of health in June 2007. Since then it appears to have totally unravelled.

2. Council notes that the earlier decision of 30 June 2011 to pursue the St. Andrew Square/York Place option was subject to funding.

3. Council further notes the report’s recommendations but does not agree them, with the exception of 8.1(d) on the project governance arrangements.

4. Council accordingly rejects the proposed funding package for the St. Andrew Square/York Place option and agrees that option has not been sufficiently de-risked.

5. Council notes that, as a result, the earlier decision of 30 June 2011 to pursue the St. Andrew Square/York Place option effectively falls away.

6. Council therefore now agrees that the proposal with least risk is to build from the Airport to Haymarket as phase one of a longer-term, strategic plan.

7. Council therefore:
• instructs that a new settlement agreement reflecting paragraph 6 above should be negotiated and finalised by the Chief Executive after consultation with the political group leaders;
• authorises the Chief Executive to enter into a new settlement agreement substantially on the terms set out in the earlier ‘settlement summary’, with such amendments as may be necessary to reflect paragraph 6 above, following consultation with political group leaders, all prior to 1 September 2011 or any later date mutually agreed by the main parties; and
• instructs that the Council, as shareholder, gives Lothian Buses a primary role in preparing for operations as soon as possible to ensure maximum operational income and public transport service integration.

8. Council finally notes that there are ongoing and significant concerns within Edinburgh’s business community about the specific issues of: rates relief; general business support; and potential compensation.

9. Council thus finally instructs the Chief Executive to bring a separate report on the issues referred to in paragraph 8 above to the next meeting of the Policy and Strategy Committee on 6 September 2011.

Proposed __________________________________

Seconded __________________________________

Tuesday, August 23, 2011

Group Meeting this evening

Huge interest in the tram-saga at the moment, with yet another crucial decision coming up at Full Council this Thursday ... relevant report can be found here.

Our own Group Meeting was earlier this evening, and we're firmly of the view that the current report just confirms our earlier decision to support the Haymarket-option.

I'll repeat below our draft amendment, following our Group Meeting ... it may well be slightly altered during the next 48-hours but I don't expect the main thrust of it to be changed:


City of Edinburgh Council
DRAFT Labour Amendment

Full Council Meeting
25th August 2011

Item 8.2 Edinburgh Tram Project

1. Council agrees that the report presented for decision today contains a material change of circumstances since the 30th June Tram Report – as regards:
• the detailed financial implications for the Council’s revenue budget over a 30-year period
• the acknowledgement (see para. 3.14) that it is not possible to guarantee a fixed or maximum cost for the works to St. Andrew Square
• the financial risk to Lothian Buses’ revenue-stream and its long-term viability
• the scale of (until now) unreported utility diversions
• the severity of the potential impact on local businesses

2. Council notes the report’s recommendations but does not agree them, with the exception of 8.1(d) on the project governance arrangements.

3. Council again notes that this is a project which Audit Scotland gave a clean bill of health in June 2007. Since then it appears to have totally unravelled.

4. Council now agrees that, given the material change of circumstances, the proposal with least risk, is to build from the Airport to Haymarket as phase one of a longer-term, strategic plan.

5. Council therefore instructs:
• That the finalised terms of the Settlement Agreement should be delegated to the Chief Executive to take forward, as per decision 4 above, and following consultation with political group leaders.
• The Chief Executive is thus authorised to enter into the Settlement Agreement substantively on the terms set out in the earlier ‘settlement summary’, with such amendments as may be necessary and following consultation with political group leaders – all prior to 1st September 2011, or any later date mutually agreed by the main parties.
• That, as shareholder, Lothian Buses is given a primary role in preparing for operations as soon as possible, to ensure maximum operational income and public transport service integration.

6. Council finally notes that there are ongoing, and significant, concerns within Edinburgh’s business community about the specific issues of: Rates Relief; General Business Support; and Potential Compensation.

7. Council thus finally instructs the Chief Executive, regardless of which option is ultimately pursued today, to bring a separate report on these issues to the next meeting of the Policy and Strategy Committee on 6th September 2011

Proposed __________________________________

Seconded __________________________________

Sunday, August 21, 2011

Last week to vote in ERS Council elections!

Last week for any Electoral Reform Society (ERS) Members - who haven't already done so! - to vote in the 2011-2013 Council elections.

I posted some details a few weeks ago here --- and, as indicated then, my Candidate Statement can be found directly here.

You can even vote on-line here ... you'll need your two-part security code ... or make sure your ballot paper is posted to arrive before this coming Friday 26th August.

I do hope you can consider giving me a significant preference - many thanks!

Allotment update!

One downside of any by-election campaign (as all you political anoraks out there know only too well!) is the inordinate amount of time and effort that they take up ... not that I'm complaining: all self-inflicted :-(

But, AT LAST, this afternoon we'll have some time to get down to the Allotment and catch up a bit on a whole host of long-overdue jobs ;-)

... of course, the potatoes were cropped a few weeks ago, and onions just before that; but there is still plenty of produce growing:

  • brussel sprouts
  • broccoli
  • runner beans
  • blackberries
  • celery
  • pears
  • apples
  • & big pumpkins!

Not too bad at all for this stage of the season :-))

Saturday, August 20, 2011

Local Lib-Dem disarray

I promised a bit more analysis of the by-election result yesterday ... but I think the Evening News has beaten me to it and their front page today just about sums it all up!

... all further emphasised by the results-graph on page 2 (here) which contrasts the Parties' 2011 vote in the City Centre Ward, with their 2007 vote.

For the local Lib-Dems, its all a grim picture:

  • their vote just went from 20% to 7%
  • they were 'first elected' in 2007
  • 'first rejected' in 2011
  • one of their Councillors has already defected: Morris
  • there are now only 16 of them left
  • 6 of those 16 have now publicly announced that they are not standing again in May 2012: Dundas, Grubb, MacLaren, Peacock, Snowden and Wheeler
  • I'm certain more will follow and will announce soon they don't intend to contest a seat next May

    Frankly, they are in total disarray.

    Some more interesting analysis of the by-election can be found here and here ... the second link contains a good graphic (also on the left here) which shows just how close it all was ...

    ... but not for the Lib-Dems :-(

Friday, August 19, 2011

City Centre Ward result!

All the details of the City Centre Ward by-election result can now be found on the Council web-site here ...

... more analysis to follow; but for now I'll pass on my congratulations to Alasdair Rankin of the SNP and many commiserations to Iain McGill of the Tories.

And, a HUGE THANK YOU to Karen Doran and all the Labour activists who made sure Edinburgh Labour's vote went up!

On today's showing, Karen will get elected next May and the City Centre Ward will have a Labour Councillor ;-)

Wednesday, August 17, 2011

vote DORAN 1

Just a little reminder for tomorrow :-)

Might not be much blogging now for a few days!

St. Kentigern's update ...

St. Kentigern's planning application was approved this morning - bit of a disappointing outcome.

The Committee (there were 8 Members present) were obviously minded to go ahead and grant the application, but several Members were sufficiently concerned about the impact of the proposed restaurant that an amendment was approved ... that amendment was to change 'condition 8' (see page 24) which originally restricted any opening hours from 10am through to 11pm - the amendment adjusted that to restrict opening hours from 10am through to 9pm.

That position was supported by 5 votes to 3 votes, so was carried

Local residents not best pleased :-(

St. Kentigern's Church planning application

I mentioned the planning application for St. Kentigern's Church a couple of times a few weeks ago - well, the site visit has now taken place and the report is up for final decision at Committee later today ...

... luckily, I am free to go along and speak again to try and persuade the Committee not to accept the Officers' recommendation, which is to grant (approve) the application.

As mentioned before - I'm not opposed to the sympathetic re-use of this empty church - but what's come forward just isn't appropriate, in my opinion, and will only cause long-term problems if approved.

Tuesday, August 16, 2011

Karen back in the driving-seat!

I mentioned yesterday that Karen was back 'directing' operations --- well, here's the photographic proof that she's in full "command and control" mode :-)

More seriously, there was one final local by-election Hustings (in the West End) this evening, and my colleague Lesley Hinds (our Transport Spokesperson) stood in for Karen ... again, I hear it was reasonably well attended (despite the appalling weather!) and that the whole evening was dominated by questions on the tram project.

One more full days' campaigning and then Polling Day on Thursday --- details of all the Polling Stations can be found here.

And, don't forget, the count (which is manual) isn't until Friday morning - so there won't be a result until at least early Friday afternoon!

Monday, August 15, 2011

An abdication of responsibility

Plenty of campaigning activity throughout today in the City Centre Ward --- only 2 full-days left, after today.

Karen back home (as mentioned yesterday) and busy 'directing' operations once again!

... and we're making very best use of her telephone-skills at the moment :-)

She couldn't though get to tonight's Hustings organised by Unison (and others), so my colleague Ricky Henderson (our Group Finance Spokesperson) stood in for her. Initial reports that have made it back to me, indicate it was a well attended event with current Administration (SNP/Lib-Dem) representatives showing a staggering lack of awareness about the mass-privatisation programme their own elected colleagues are currently pursuing with vigour.

It really is a shocking abdication of any responsibility for a programme that they themselves are prosecuting.

Sunday, August 14, 2011

Campaigning, BBQ, raffle-success!

Very busy day of campaigning - it is the last Sunday before that local by-election!

Great turnout of activists to help with the numerous tasks-at-hand ... and everyone somewhat buoyed by the news that Karen is out of hospital this evening with her 'ankle-pinning' (ouch!) operation having gone well ...

... I sense she may well be doing quite a bit of telephone-canvassing in the coming three to four days :-))

And I even managed to fit in a quick visit to the 'Edinburgh West Labour Party' barbecue late this afternoon/early this evening ... winning a small prize in the ubiquitous raffle :-)

Next week promises to be pretty hectic, with the final by-election push ... and, of course, the small matter of Junior starting S3 at Tynecastle on Wednesday!

Where does the time go ;-)

Saturday, August 13, 2011

Grassmarket Fair, riots and more campaigning

Grassmarket Fair today and spent a bit of time at the local Labour Party Branch stall ... glad to see the rain was off for a while, which helped generate a good atmosphere at the Fair ;-)

With the local by-election; the candidate's broken ankle; my own Ward 9 re-selection, and the ERS Council elections ---

--- I've just noticed I haven't posted a single word about last week's riots ... rather than add to the literally millions of words already written, I had several friends and colleagues draw my attention to Peter Oborne's piece in the Telegraph last Thursday: you can see it here.

Just about sums it all up for me :-(

But - here in Edinburgh - onwards this afternoon with the City Centre Ward by-election campaign :-))

Friday, August 12, 2011

ERS ballot papers now out

Those of you who are Electoral Reform Society (ERS) Members will have your ballot papers - for the 2011-2013 Council elections - by now ...

... you'll either get my candidate-statement in the mailing (as part of the AGM booklet) or you can also view it directly here, on the ERS website.

As I say in the statement - I’m personally delighted that there are so many new candidates for this year’s Council elections. I hope many are successful and that a positive mix of fresh thinking and existing experience can take the Society forward to successfully meet its next challenges.

If I am re-elected to the ERS Council, I would continue to bring invaluable experience of real political campaigning and practical coalition building ...

... I do hope you can positively consider giving me a significant preference vote - many thanks :-)

Get better soon Karen!

Very sad to report that our candidate in the City Centre by-election - Karen Doran - had a really nasty fall the other night and has ended up in hospital with a broken ankle ... in three places :-((

Evening News ran the story today - here ...

... terrible news for Karen obviously, but she has been helped, throughout the last few months, by dozens of enthusiastic supporters who will ensure that everything runs smoothly even if Karen can't personally be around for a day or two.

I'm personally very grateful for the dozens of good wishes I've received to pass on to Karen - every single one has been very much appreciated.

Re-selected as Ward 9 candidate :-)

Amidst all the by-election mania, Edinburgh South West Constituency Labour Party held its nomination and re-selection meetings last night ...

... pleased to report that I was successfully re-selected to stand as the Labour candidate in Ward 9 next year :-)

All four, other South West Councillors were also re-selected: Ricky Henderson (Ward 2), Donald Wilson/Eric Milligan (Ward 7), Eric Barry (Ward 8).

Of course, these 5 are part of the whole team of 15 current Labour Councillors who are all seeking re-selection for 2012 ... it really is quite a contrast to some other local parties.

Thursday, August 11, 2011

5-more years??

Oh well --- appears it wasn't meant to be said after all ...

... then again, that penultimate paragraph just keeps the uncertainty alive.


38-weeks today and we'll all get our say anyhow!

Wednesday, August 10, 2011

The Monster in the Hall

No - I'm not talking about junior ;-)

... regular readers will remember that I'm a bit of David Greig fan, and my better-half treated us to tickets for "The Monster in the Hall" at the Traverse tonight.

What can I say - do go and see it ... it's laugh-out-loud funny with a deadly serious undertone, and the acting/singing performances are truly marvellous.

If you can get a ticket, don't miss it :-)

5-years is enough?

There's really not much more I can add to this story from today's local newspaper...

... I remain astounded at the entirely self-inflicted own-goals the current Council Administration keep scoring!

As I'm always the first to admit - we had our weaknesses during our 8-years of being the ruling Group (from 1999-2007) but this lot have simply taken political misjudgement to a new level.

Roll on next May.

Tuesday, August 09, 2011

City Centre Hustings tonight

Karen had her first hustings tonight ... couldn't make it along myself, but I hear all seemed to go well ...

... well done the Broughton Spurtle for organising the event.

I'm expecting many more next year, as we experience the first stand-alone Local Council Elections for several decades in Scotland ... I do recall having very, very few 'specifically' local-hustings in 1999, 2003 & 2007; due to the shared-date with the Scottish Parliament elections on the same day.

Should be quite different in 2012 - and a focus on all-things local can only be a good thing as far as I'm concerned ... but the level of overall turnout must be a slight worry for us all?

Anyhow - Karen has 2-more next week ...

... the joys of a stand-alone by-election!

Monday, August 08, 2011

Policy and Strategy Committee tomorrow

Policy and Strategy Committee Meeting tomorrow ... main agenda can be found here; with the individual reports on CPOL as usual.

I think the main item of interest - on an otherwise fairly light agenda - will be the final draft of the Commissioning Strategy for Care and Support Services.

Regular readers will know there's been a long, and painful, path to the production of this Strategy ... but, it has to be said, that the final document has indeed been through a rigorous consultation process and will hopefully serve as a very good basis for the future.

And stating the obvious - it will now be crucial to make sure this 'document' comes alive and 'off-the-page' ... being properly and professionally implemented --- to that end, I was pleased to see the recommendation to regularly review its progress.

I look forward to seeing the first update.

Sunday, August 07, 2011

Very, very wet campaigning

A busy campaigning-Sunday --- out in the New Town this afternoon, and it was incredibly wet :-(

The 'canvass sheets' were nearing disintegration at one point, so made a beeline for a nearby coffee-shop until the rain eased off a little ;-)

Still a very encouraging number of activists out helping with Karen's campaign.

Saturday, August 06, 2011

Campaigning and potatoes

A long afternoon canvassing in the City Centre by-election ... a great crowd of activists out to help Karen Doran :-)

Managed to steal some time down at the Allotment this evening and got those two-beds of tatties dug up ...

... here's a picture of the crop: three very large bucket fulls of potatoes :-))

Best crop of our four years I reckon!

Challenge now, is to store them properly so we can have some home-grown potatoes on Christmas Day again this year?

Friday, August 05, 2011

Planning update

Pleased to report that the Planning Committee, which met on Wednesday, agreed to a site-visit before reaching the final decision on St. Kentigern's Church ...

... the visit was actually yesterday - couldn't make it along myself - and the application will now come back (I believe?) for final decision on Wednesday 17th August.

I'll certainly do my best to get along to that meeting!

Wednesday, August 03, 2011

Planning Committee today

Attended Planning Sub-Committee today, to speak against the proposed approval of the application at St.Kentigern's Church --- canal-cyclists will know it well :-)

I'm certainly not opposed (and neither, do I detect, are residents) to the sympathetic re-use of this empty church - but what's come forward just isn't appropriate and will cause longer-term problems if approved.

Transport Committee yesterday approved the Officers' recommendations (see pages 4 and 5), thus removing some of the South Edinburgh streets form the proposed 20mph zone --- very varied views received from all quarters on this issue.

It is though now going to a formal Traffic Regulation Order (TRO) and support/objections can be formally voiced through that process.

Tuesday, August 02, 2011

Transport Committee today

As if to underline that 'back to normality' point, the Council's main Committees started meeting again today.

First up was the Transport Committee, with a whole swathe of detailed reports - main agenda can be found here, and individual reports here.

By far the most hotly-debated, at least in the days leading up to the Committee, has been the report at item 23 on the agenda ... South Edinburgh 20mph Speed Limit Pilot (report here - its a big file!) ...

... submissions from Lothian and Borders Police and Lothian Buses have certainly caused some consternation.

Monday, August 01, 2011

Routine returns

Ever so slight return to normal-routine today, with the Group Executive meeting (formally) for the first time in several weeks ...

... summer is most definitely over :-(