Friday, May 31, 2013

Our much-loved, Allotment-shed :-)

Just can't resist posting up this shot of our beloved Allotment Shed:-)

We were lucky to catch the last of the evening sun, at Saughton Mains, the other night and I thought this hastily taken shot (click to enlarge) summed up a lot of what is so good about being lucky enough to have an Allotment ...

... flowers, fruit, vegetables, sunshine, shed, space, peace, quiet, oasis, calm.

Wonderful :-))

And I know - the city needs more Allotments and growing spaces!

Crown to appeal sentence

I posted earlier this month about my complete lack of comprehension at the sentencing of the individual responsible for knocking Audrey Fyfe from her bike ...

... so, I was really pleased to hear this afternoon that the Crown Office have agreed to appeal the original sentence: on both the length of the Community Payback Order (originally set at 300-hours) and the length of the disqualification from driving (originally set at 5-years).

I understand that the Crown Office only appeal a dozen or so cases a year, and there's no doubt in my mind that the weight of public opinion will have impacted on their decision to pursue this specific appeal. They received over 6,000 pieces of correspondence concerning the case.

I really hope that the content of that correspondence is now studied carefully - as I'm equally certain that if it is, then only one outcome is justified, and that's an increase in both the sentence and the driving-ban.

It's the very least the families, who have been involved in this case, deserve.

Thursday, May 30, 2013

Webcast of Full Council at 10am this morning

As I indicated a few days ago, several important topics up for discussion/decision at today's Full Council Meeting ...

... formal proceedings commence at 10am and, as with all Council/Committee Meetings, members of the public are very welcome to attend.

And, for those interested, all the meeting reports can be accessed via this link.

If you can't get along to the meeting, then it is broadcast live on the internet via this link; and if you're busy at 10am, then the meeting will be archived for viewing later.

Wednesday, May 29, 2013

Leith Waterworld (a) Progress on Community Bid and (b) Potential Sale of Leith Waterworld

I'm acutely conscious of the level of interest in the upcoming debate tomorrow, in relation to the future of Leith Waterworld ...

... and, of course, there will undoubtedly be deputations and robust political exchanges across the Chamber - all before any final vote is taken.

But, in the interests of being as open and frank about all of this as possible, my personal view is that its best that I publish the current Coalition-position (far below) and the aligned News Release (immediately below) which will - absolutely undoubtedly - both get into the public domain today anyhow.

I know, only too well, that this decision will be a huge disappointment to many campaigners - and I'm not going to pretend their frustration, annoyance, and likely anger isn't very real and/or understandable ... but I do hope that people can also try and place themselves in our shoes and see that we have had a very difficult choice to make here, and have tried to ensure wider (and longer term) positives beyond the use of the Leith Waterworld building itself  ...



The City of Edinburgh Council is set to consider a motion put forward by the Capital Coalition proposing to sell Leith Waterworld to A&G Property Group for £1m to create a substantial soft play and leisure facility.

The coalition motion also proposes to allocate £125,000 to fund swimming programmes for primary school children in Edinburgh – in recognition of Splashback’s commitment to making swimming accessible and affordable. This motion will be presented tomorrow (Thursday 30 May) at a meeting of the City of Edinburgh Council where they will consider two reports, one on the potential sale of Leith Waterworld and one containing an update on the progress of the community bid.

A&G Property Group have offered to purchase Leith Waterworld for £1m from the Council and propose to spend around £1.3m on refurbishing the building. Their offer would also see over 80 jobs created in the local area.

Councillor Richard Lewis, the city’s Culture and Sport Convener, said: “This has been a very difficult decision and one that this Council does not take lightly. Firstly I’d like to thank Splashback for the work and commitment they have demonstrated in progressing the community bid. However this coalition feels that the potential purchaser will create a high quality leisure facility that will greatly benefit the community in Leith and the wider Edinburgh area.

“In recognition of Splashback’s commitment to creating affordable and accessible swimming opportunities for young people in the community, we’re proposing to commit £125,000 towards free swimming for primary aged children in Edinburgh.
“Ultimately this option ensures that the community in Leith has an accessible leisure facility for many years to come, that swimming opportunities are available and also that the Council gets best value for the taxpayers of Edinburgh.”



Item No. 8.2 (a) & (b)

Report Title: Leith Waterworld (a) Progress on Community Bid and (b) Potential Sale of Leith Waterworld

1)       Council notes the progress on the Community Bid for Leith Waterworld detailed in report number 8.2(a) and thanks all members of the Working Group (comprising Splashback, elected members and officers) for their significant efforts.

2)        Council notes the bid for Leith Waterworld from A&G Property Group detailed in report number 8.2(b) in order to convert it to provide a high quality soft play leisure facility.

3)        Council notes that the potential purchaser is committed to satisfying any suspensive conditions and concluding the purchase of the property within 60 days of Council approval of the sale being given.  And, as paragraph 2.8 of report number 8.2(b) concludes, this means that the missives which will be put in place for the sale of the property will incorporate safeguards to ensure that the proposed leisure facility is created within a specific timescale.  The Council will thereafter rigorously monitor the agreed timescale.
4)        Council therefore reluctantly agrees to conclude further development of the Community Bid and:

(a)       to sell Leith Waterworld to A&G Property Group for £1m for the creation of a substantial soft play and leisure facility;

(b)       to include the Council’s interest as landlord in the long ground lease to Tesco over the adjoining store car park; and

(c)        to approve the sale in accordance with the terms set out in report number 8.2(b) and on such other terms and conditions as to be approved by the Finance and Budget Committee.

(d)       to ensure ongoing dialogue with A&G Property Group in order to maximise any community benefits that may accrue from their development, such as local employment opportunities and community access arrangements.

5)        Recognising Splashback’s commitment to make swimming accessible and affordable for children across the city, Council further agrees, in accordance with the earlier decision of 31 January 2013, to proceed with the release of £125,000 from Corporate funds in the current 2013/14 financial year; these monies now to be ring-fenced to fund a ‘Culture & Sport-led programme’ of free swimming opportunities for primary aged children in Edinburgh, and other free swimming initiatives; and that the impact of these programmes will be monitored and assessed.

Moved by                   Councillor Richard Lewis

Seconded by              Councillor Norma Austin Hart


Tuesday, May 28, 2013

May Full Council - Leader's Report

Leader's Report

May 2013

Andrew Burns
Colleagues across the political divide were saddened to hear of the death of a well known former Councillor Ian Berry, MBE, JP whose career spanned three decades. He was a very personable individual and came across in the Chamber as calm, respectful and a very genuine representative of the people of Duddingston. He retired in 2007.

He was passionate about the area he represented and the people in it. As well as his background in Portobello, where he was a local historian, he held many honorary positions in local organisations. His style of politics, putting the interests of local people before party politics or personal interest, was certainly much appreciated.


Pledges on track

While there is still a lot of work to be done in the coming years, there's also much we can be proud of in the year since last May. A review of the pledges we made to Edinburgh residents when we formed the Capital Coalition with our SNP colleagues last year, shows that the vast majority are on track. The Contract with the Capital details 53 specific commitments that will be reported on annually.

We have introduced a living wage for the lowest-earning Council staff, created a new Transport Forum to help develop a vision for how we all get around the city and helped to get more young people into work.

We have also tackled some of the more challenging issues facing the Council. The Deloitte reports into the allegations about property services were recently published and a new shared repairs service to help homeowners began in April.

There is now a bill lodged with the Scottish Parliament that we hope will pave the way towards creating a much-needed new high school in Portobello.

The tram project is making very good progress against the revised timetable and budget and the recent reopening of St Andrew Square is just one of several major milestones we expect to reach this year.

I'm not aware of any other Council in Scotland that has made the same commitment we have to regularly and visibly report on progress on specific pledges. Accountability, as well as performance against the targets we set, is essential in fulfilling our aim to rebuild trust with the people of Edinburgh.

Full details of the performance report will be considered at the Council meeting on 30 May.


Castlebrae High School

In March this year the Council decided to back the local community by keeping Castlebrae High School open rather than closing it. We committed to look at options for improvement to ensure future success, until the new Craigmillar High School is delivered (by 2020 at the latest).

I’m pleased to report that progress is already being made to ensure parents and the wider community play a key role in the improvements, that staff are consulted and a refreshed team put in place, and new measures created to increase the numbers enrolling in the school.

One of the important measures for improvement is the establishment of a working group made up of local people, council staff and further education providers as well as a separate panel of experts. The working group will be chaired by my colleague Cllr Cathy Fullerton and is charged with developing the longer term improvement plan. I give them my full support in their efforts to develop the school and improve outcomes for the pupils who go there.


Edinburgh Services – what others think

We are very pleased with the results of the Children’s Services inspection by the Scottish Government's Care Inspectorate. It shows we currently have good services for most children in Edinburgh and our ambition is to improve further so that we have excellent services for all children. In particular, the following areas of work were identified as strengths; partnership working, keeping children and young people safe, consultation, leadership and high staff motivation and commitment. Our good practice in encouraging young people and families to stay active and eat well, along with our programmes for building self esteem and providing family nurse support for all young parents under 20 have been highlighted for particular praise.

We also won a Homes for Scotland award last week, jointly with our partners Dunedin Canmore Housing, Hart Builders and Lovell Partnerships for the Best Partnership in Affordable Housing for the regeneration project at Moredun Park and Hyvots. The total investment was more than £60 million and includes accommodation adapted for wheelchair users and a housing complex for the elderly.

This is more than just a pat on the back from the industry as the 400 new homes and refurbishment of 371 is important progress in making sure the city's people are well housed (one of our 53 pledges). Edinburgh has a housing shortage as our population and households continue to grow. We need 16,000 new affordable homes over the next ten years and that is a significant challenge. My colleague Cllr Cammy Day, in charge of housing, is working hard with Cllr Frank Ross, who chairs the Economy Committee, to look at innovative ways to help kick start the building industry in the city and encourage much needed investment in housing.


Tram update

All road and track works are now complete around St. Andrew Square which will be a welcome sight to traders, residents and visitors to the area. This is the first of the major city centre work sites to be completed in 2013, with the others on course to be finished in line with the revised schedule.

Track preparation (grinding) has been taking place over the past two weeks and contractors are currently making final preparations to install overhead and underground cabling for the city centre section of the tram line. 2013 has been a very productive year for the tram project and we’re on course for this to continue.

See the latest pictures highlighting the progress made. You can also get regular updates by following @edinburghtrams on Twitter.

Keep yourself in the picture with our news section online. Watch live full Council and some committee meetings on our webcast. Join the debate on Twitter #edinwebcast

If you wish to unsubscribe please email us.

Monday, May 27, 2013

Full Council Meeting this Thursday

Full Council Meeting this coming Thursday - starts at 10am, and all the reports can now be accessed via this link.

And, as usual, you can watch the meeting live via this link.

Several important topics up for discussion/decision!

Sunday, May 26, 2013

Help bring the National Performance Centre for Sport (NPCS) home for Edinburgh!

Edinburgh needs you!

Can you help bring the National Performance Centre for Sport (NPCS) home for Edinburgh?

Please do have a look at this new website and back the Edinburgh bid - The National Performance Centre for Sport Bid is a partnership between Heriot-Watt University and The City of Edinburgh Council.

Do sign up today and help inspire a new generation of champions and deliver a  world-beating competitive advantage for Scotland's sportsmen and women.

Scotland's athletes deserve to be the best-prepared contenders wherever they compete. 

Edinburgh's bid delivers for them. An exclusive combination of sporting facilities and expertise. One premier location. Accessible from across Scotland.


Friday, May 24, 2013

Report card shows Council pledges on track, one year on

Published Friday 24 May 2013
A review of pledges made to Edinburgh residents by the Council shows that the majority are progressing well.
The ‘contract with the capital’, published after the 2012 local government elections, details 53 specific commitments that will be reported on annually by the Labour and SNP Capital Coalition.
Four pledges have been completed, including creating a transport forum and introducing a ‘living wage’ for the lowest-paid Council staff. However, most are at the stage of having actions agreed and are in progress.
Council Leader Cllr Andrew Burns said:
“While I’m pleased that we’re making headway with the commitments we made, the most important thing about this first report card is that we are openly letting the public see how we’re doing so that they can make up their own minds about the Council’s performance. In terms of the biggest issues facing the city, we have seen some big steps forward with the tram project, property conservation and youth employment. But in these, and other areas, there are still very significant challenges such as ensuring we build a new high school in Portobello. Next year and beyond will be the real test as we see if the actions underway are going to deliver on our contract with the capital.”
Deputy Council Leader Cllr Steve Cardownie added:
“We must now continue to make sure that councillors and officers work together to maintain the momentum. There’s been a lot of discussion and effort in getting us to this stage, but what we all want to see is the delivery of the outcomes of the pledges that we made. The Council is united in the vision of Edinburgh as a successful and sustainable capital city. We will keep working towards that and the public will be able to see how we are doing in future reports.”
After the local government election in May 2012, the Capital Coalition set out six high-level commitments:
  • Ensuring every child in Edinburgh has the best start in life
  • Reducing poverty, inequality and deprivation
  • Providing for Edinburgh’s prosperity
  • Strengthening and supporting our communities and keeping them safe
  • Ensuring Edinburgh, and its residents, are well-cared for
  • Maintaining and improving the quality of life in Edinburgh.
These are further broken down into specific pledges, of which:
  • 4 are complete
  • 36 have actions that are agreed and on track
  • 7 have new actions under development
  • 6 are on track but with some actions that are not met
Full details of the pledges and their status are contained in the first year’s performance report to be considered at the Council meeting on 30 May.

Monday, May 20, 2013

Edinburgh Marathon 2014, Venture Scotland & a promised pint :-)

Just a little bit of uncharactersistic, self-promotion on the blog today I'm afraid ...

... as some friends, family and colleagues know; I reach a fairly significant age-milestone this coming December, 2013  :-(

And ... somewhat insanely I know ... I plan to run the Edinburgh Marathon in May 2014 (next year) when I will indeed be a stately 50-years old ;-)

I have run 5 Marathons before, a very long time ago in 1983/1984, when I was a mere-youth at 19/20years of age. The five I completed, none of them at any great speed I hasten to add, were:

  1. Belfast, May 1983 (Northern Ireland)
  2. Glasgow, September 1983 (Scotland)
  3. Dublin, October 1983 (Eire)
  4. Seven Sisters, Eastbourne; February 1984 (England)
  5. Barmouth, April 1984 (Wales)
... and, rather foolishly in hindsight, at the completion of the last one in April 1984, I bet my Dad I'd run another when I turned 50-years old.

The bet was for a pint and a fiver.

I'm not bothered about the fiver, but I do want to win that pint :-)

I also plan to do the run for the charity, Venture Scotland - you can read more about them here ... and my JustGiving page is here (that was an unsubtle hint!).

I was involved in the early days (1988) of Venture Scotland, when it was initially formed, and established its unique brand of personal development programmes for young people aged 16-30, who face complex and difficult problems. They are a great charity and really do deserve as much support as possible.

And, for the duration of my training, I also intend to keep a blipfoto diary (for 1-year only) from May 2013 through to late May 2014, to record my running and fundraising exploits ... you can see that here.

My last blipfoto entry will hopefully be of me, drinking that pint :-))

I now promise to keep all-things fundraising on the blipfoto diary, and via twitter, and the blog will promptly return to much more important matters, such as the shocking progress with my Allotment-crops this year ;-)

Saturday, May 18, 2013

Candidates confirmed for Liberton/Gilmerton by-election

All the voter-information you need for the upcoming Ward 16, Liberton/Gilmerton Council by-Election on Thursday 20th June can now be found via this link.

And all the candidates standing in the Liberton/Gilmerton by-election have been confirmed.

They are:

  • Derek Howie - Scottish National Party (SNP)
  • Phil Hunt - Pirate Party Scotland
  • John Christopher Knox - Scottish Liberal Democrats
  • Alys Mumford - Scottish Green Party
  • Stephanie Murray - Scottish Conservative and Unionist
  • Keith John Robson - Labour and Co-operative Party Candidate
  • John Scott - Independent
  • Jonathan Stanley - UKIPScotland 

Voters in this ward have until Wednesday 5 June 2013 to register to vote or apply for a postal vote for the by-election. To register to vote or apply for a postal vote people should contact the Electoral Registration Office or phone 0131 344 2500. 

Polling stations will be open from 7am to 10pm. The location of some polling places has changed so voters should check their polling cards carefully to find out where to vote. 

Polling Places:
  • Gilmerton Community Centre
  • Goodtrees Neighbourhood Centre
  • Liberton Kirk Halls
  • Liberton Northfield Church
  • South Neighbourhood Office and Library
  • St Gregory’s Church Hall
  • TA Centre
  • Valley Park Community Centre

The by-election will use the Single Transferable Vote (STV) system where voters can rank candidates in order of preference using numbers rather than a single cross. Voters can give a rank to as many or as few candidates as they like. The result of the by-election will be announced once the votes are counted on Friday 21 June. 

The vacancy in the Liberton/Gilmerton ward was created by the death of Councillor Tom Buchanan on Wednesday 3 April.

Tuesday, May 14, 2013

Castlebrae Community High School visit

I've posted up information, a couple of times, since the decision to keep Castlebrae High School open was made back in March ... here and here specifically.

And I did promise to write further about the Education Commission/Working Group, as it developed ...

... well, next Tuesday the Education Committee will consider a report (now available here) on the formal establishment of the Group - the Evening News covered some of the story last week - including the fact that my SNP-colleague, Councillor Cathy Fullerton, will Chair/oversee the upcoming work.

So, I was delighted earlier today to visit the school with Cathy, and to meet the Head Boy, Head Girl, and members of the Parent Council ... here's a shot of us outside the entrance to the school :-)

And, it gives me the opportunity just to reinforce the March Council decision ...

... if you want to hear either my own actual contribution to the debate on the 14th March, or Councillor Cardownie's, just follow these two links:

To paraphrase my own brief speech:

I'm now really looking forward to hearing more from the Working Group and seeing its deliberations, and proposals, put into practice over coming months and years.

Sunday, May 12, 2013

#ROBSON1 & May Allotment Update #2 :-))

Bit of canvassing, up in Gilmerton Dykes Drive, this afternoon with our local by-election candidate: Keith Robson (and others).

Apparently it was a deeply disturbing experience for Keith because of some football game that was ongoing at the time??

Anyhow, I really enjoyed speaking to folk on the doors ;-)

And, to make things even better, after leaving team #ROBSON1, we managed to get a bit of family-time down at the Allotment ...

... which amazingly means I've managed two allotment visits in one month :-)

And almost the whole site is now planted-up: got the brussel sprouts in today, and probably only about one-third of a bed left to fill with a final crop!

Here's a shot of the pond area, now starting to really come to life - not just around the edges, but the water itself is alive with tadpoles.

Ah well - onwards into another busy week at work: Corporate Policy and Strategy Committee on Tuesday - main agenda here, and all the individual reports can be accessed here ...

... never a dull moment.

#ROBSON1 for Liberton/Gilmerton on Thursday 20th June

I mentioned a couple of weeks ago that Edinburgh Labour had selected its candidate for the upcoming Liberton/Gilmerton by-election ...

... well, Polling Day is a mere 5-weeks this Thursday, and the #ROBSON1 campaign team is in full swing throughout Ward 16: you can see regular updates from the campaign trail via their Facebook page:

Please do get in touch if you have any queries and/or would like to help during the campaign ... all the key phone numbers can be found via the link above.

Hope to see you in Ward 16 over the coming 5-weeks :-)

Tuesday, May 07, 2013

First year of the Council’s "contract with the Capital"

First year of the Council’s "contract with the Capital"

One year on from the local government elections, Council Leader Cllr Andrew Burns and Deputy Leader Cllr Steve Cardownie reflect on the progress made over the first twelve months of the ‘contract with the Capital’:

Cllr Burns said: “While there is still a lot of work to be done in the coming years, there’s also much we can be proud of in the year since last May. We have introduced a living wage for the lowest-earning Council staff, created a new Transport Forum to help develop a vision for how we all get around the city and helped to get more young people into work.

“We have also tackled some of the more challenging issues facing the Council.  The Deloitte reports into the allegations about property services were recently published and a new shared repairs service to help homeowners began in April. There is now a bill lodged with the Scottish Parliament that we hope will pave the way towards creating a much-needed new high school in Portobello. The tram project is making very good progress against the revised timetable and budget and the recent reopening of St Andrew Square is just one of several major milestones we expect to reach this year.

“I’m not aware of any other Council in Scotland that has made the same commitment we have to regularly and visibly report on progress against specific pledges. 

“Accountability, as well as performance against the targets we set, is essential in fulfilling our aim to rebuild trust with the people of Edinburgh.”

Cllr Cardownie added: “The progress we have made really underlines the importance of having a strong coalition. This gives the city stable leadership and allows us to create a new way of working within the Council and with our partners.

“Yes, there are many pledges that we need to keep working towards and there some big issues that the Council still has to resolve. But, it’s worth remembering that there is a lot to be proud about in the Capital, as demonstrated by the positive feedback in last year’s Edinburgh People’s Survey.

“From increasing satisfaction with neighbourhood services to our international reputation as a Festival City, Edinburgh is a great city for locals and visitors alike.

“We will continue to build on that and I’m really confident that we will go from strength to strength. Of course, we will continue to keep our own performance under review. But thanks to the open approach we have taken, residents will be able to judge for themselves how the Council is meeting their expectations.”

A full report of the Council’s performance against thepledges made in the ‘contract with the capital’ will be presented to the Council meeting on 30 May 2013.

The Capital Coalition was created after the 2012 localgovernment elections, with the Labour and SNP partnership making up 38 of the Council’s 58 councillors.

Labour and SNP join forces to take Edinburgh forward

Of course, it was a year ago today!

Here's the News Release below, from this very day last year - and the obligatory, suspect picture ... think I may now have less hair than Councillor Cardownie ;-)

More seriously, a full report on the Council’s performance against the pledges made in the ‘contract with the capital’ will be presented to the Council meeting on Thursday 30th May 2013.

I'll publish a short commentary, later today, briefly reflecting on these first 12-months.

Labour Party and Scottish National Party form historic coalition at the City of Edinburgh Council.

The Labour Party and the Scottish National Party have signed an agreement to work together to run the City of Edinburgh Council following the local government elections on 3 May.

The agreement follows concerted efforts to reach an all-party alliance between all the groups that had councillors returned by the electors last week. The coalition partners said they hoped to continue to work with the other groups in the interests of the people of Edinburgh. 

Andrew Burns, Labour Group leader, said: "After listening to the will of the electorate and after intense negotiations over the last few days I am delighted that we have managed to reach an agreement to lead the city of Edinburgh for the next five years. Edinburgh electors gave a very clear mandate to Labour and the SNP, delivering 38 out of 58 councillors. A Labour-SNP coalition will now provide the stability and certainty needed to move Edinburgh forward."

Steve Cardownie, SNP Group leader, said: "The SNP looks forward to working in partnership with the Labour group with a progressive and exciting agenda to meet the challenges the city faces. With this strong partnership we are best placed to ensure Edinburgh serves its citizens well and emerges from the recession quickly and strongly. Our groups' economic policies are almost one and the same and we are confident they will deliver for the people of the city."

Chief Executive Sue Bruce, who was notified of the agreement today, said: "I look forward to working with the new administration, and indeed all councillors, over the next five years.

"A successful Council needs a partnership between the elected members who set the direction and policies, and the officers charged with putting that into practice. Together, our responsibility is to ensure that we take Edinburgh forward and make a real difference to the people who live and work here."

The coalition parties have agreed the following division of positions: the Labour Party will nominate candidates for the positions of Leader and Lord Provost; the Scottish National Party will nominate candidates for the positions of Deputy Leader and Deputy Lord Provost.

The first meeting of the new Council is on Thursday 17 May, at which it will appoint a new Lord Provost. It is intended that the other aforementioned positions will be agreed at the same meeting.

For full details of the results from the election on 3 May see our news release.

Monday, May 06, 2013

Neighbourhood Partnerships going from strength to strength

The good practice of Neighbourhood Partnerships and how to increase their positive impact on communities is being considered by the newly formed Communities and Neighbourhoods Committee.

A review of the work of the 12 Partnerships in the Capital has been completed and aims to develop ways in which they can be strengthened and developed.

The review focuses on improving community participation and increasing the influence of Partnerships, with a significant commitment from a range of public sector and voluntary organisations to respond to locally identified needs and priorities.

Residents and representatives from the public and voluntary sector actively collaborated on identifying the improvements needed. Members of the Communities and Neighbourhoods Committee will consider the options presented in a report tomorrow (May 7).

The range of options include increasing communication about the work of Neighbourhood Partnerships and Community Councils, developing the use of online participation, and strengthening the links between organisations.

Councillor Maureen Child, Convener of the Communities and Neighbourhoods Committee, said: "Neighbourhood Partnerships allow for dialogue between the community, the voluntary sector, the local authority and public sector agencies. They have the potential to give people the chance to have their say, and have an influence on matters which are important to them in their area, or to express themselves about something that interests them.

"Feedback from online and workshop consultation found that 70% of respondents agreed that the role of Partnerships should be increased, which corresponds with the Capital Coalition's pledge to do so.

"Increasing community involvement in the democratic process can empower local people and organisations and encourage community pride."

#ROBSON1 for Liberton/Gilmerton on Thursday 20th June

Edinburgh Labour have selected their candidate for the upcoming By-election in the Liberton/Gilmerton Ward: Keith Robson.

Keith lives in Southhouse with his wife Gillian and their four-year-old son Struan. He knows the issues affecting the local area and would love the chance to represent the Ward 16 community at the City Chambers.

Keith's campaign team have set up a Facebook Page, which you can access here: 

Please do get in touch if you have any queries and/or would like to help during the campaign.

Sunday, May 05, 2013

May Allotment Update :-)

Attended the annual 'Kirking of the Council' service this morning ...

... reminded me that at this time last year, we were in the throes of post-election coalition negotiations; its certainly been a very busy 12-months!

Anyhow - to take my mind off all-things political, we escaped to the Allotment for several hours this afternoon and I finally got the last of the potatoes planted ... nearly a month behind previous planting-seasons :-(

Also managed to get our two 'rockets' erected, as you can see in the second photo here, and some sweet peas planted around the base/s.

Everything does, at last, feel like its about to spring into life ... even though its almost summer ;-)

Ah well - back to the grindstone tomorrow.

Friday, May 03, 2013

Astounding comments - no basis in fact, and totally irrelevant ...

I didn't know Audrey Fyfe, but my heart goes out to her family and friends ... it really does. I'm frankly incensed by what happened in the Court Judgement, relating to her death, earlier today - and can only begin to imagine how they must feel.

Please read the BBC report of the case, which concluded today - here ... the Sheriff's closing comments are astounding:

The sheriff said Mrs Fyffe "wasn't to blame in any way for the accident", but added: "She was not wearing a safety helmet and that in my view contributed to her death."

And he gave the driver (who was jailed for 2-years in the 1980's after previously killing a cyclist) 300-hours of Community Service.

The sentence is a complete disgrace, and I'm pleased to hear that the Crown Office is giving careful consideration as to whether it was unduly lenient.

But - equally as appalling, to me, are the Sheriff's comments ... please, please also read the evidence on helmet usage  - here.

Then have a glance at this same Sheriff's words/actions in 2010 - here.

All appalling. Truly, truly appalling.

Thursday, May 02, 2013

Full Council Meeting Webcast

Full Council Meeting earlier today ... as ever, all the Reports can be found via CPOL (here); and for those interested the Webcast of the meeting can be found here.

Actually, one consequence of today's meeting is that all Webcast meetings will now be available (via the archive) for at least 5-years ;-)

Not within any of today's reports ... we are also looking at the potential introduction of i-pad voting; so that all individual votes will be automatically recorded and displayed on the system. At the moment, you can only see the overall voting figures (not individuals) via the (later) minute of the meeting. Watch this space!

Wednesday, May 01, 2013

Portobello Park Private Bill introduced in Scottish Parliament

Meant to mention the fact that, at the end of last week, we lodged the Portobello Park Private Bill in Parliament ... I'll simply repeat the relevant News Release below:

Published Friday 26 April 2013

A Private Bill to allow the new Portobello High School to be built in Portobello Park was introduced in the Scottish Parliament yesterday (Thursday 25 April).

The City of Edinburgh Council is taking the comparatively rare step of seeking to introduce new legislation as the existing law presents an impediment to the Council building the much-needed school.

The Private Bill, which is being promoted by the City of Edinburgh Council, aims to change the Common Good status of Portobello Park from inalienable to ‘alienable’, but only for educational purposes. This means although the land would remain in the Common Good, the Council would be able to ‘appropriate it’, or change its use, to an educational purpose.

The Council recently consulted on its proposals for a Private Bill and received resounding support to take it forward. The consultation produced the highest number of responses for any Council consultation in recent years, with over 12,000 individual responses received. Of the valid responses received from those who live in the city, 70% supported the proposals with the level of support from those in the local Portobello area being higher at 76%.

Councillor Paul Godzik, Convener of Education, Children and Families, said: “The Council is absolutely determined to deliver a new Portobello High School and this is an important milestone in the project.  The existing school is greatly in need of replacement and it is clear from the response to our recent consultation that the people of Edinburgh support our Private Bill to change the status of Portobello Park to allow the new Portobello High School to be built there.

“We believe we have a strong case to put to Parliament. This by far the best location for the much-needed new school and our open space compensation measures mean that the people of Portobello would not only gain a new park but also see improvements to other green space in the local community.”

Additional information:

1.   Following the introduction of the Private Bill there is a sixty day period for objections.  Local residents living near the park have already received notice from the Council that the Bill is being introduced and that they have a right to object.

2.   The Council anticipates that the Private Bill can be passed by February 2014 but since the existing planning permission is due to expire in February 2014, the Council will mitigate any risk by seeking to renew the planning permission in the Autumn with consultation on this being due to start in May 2013.

3.   The Portobello Park Private Bill, if successful, will only change the categorisation of the Common Good land at Portobello Park and will have no impact on any other Common Good land in Edinburgh, or elsewhere in the country.

4.   A local campaign group, PPAG (Portobello Park Action Group) took Court Action to prevent the new school being built in Portobello Park.  The initial court case found in the Council’s favour but on Appeal, Judges ruled that under existing legislation, while the Council could sell off the land with court permission, the law did not permit change from one of the Council’s functions to another.