Friday, July 31, 2015

Lord Provost's Community Garden Party

Attended the Lord Provost's Community Garden Party today - some details in the News Release re-produced below ...

...  thought this *unofficial* snap of various Provosts, along with Edinburgh's High Constables, was rather good :-)

Lord Provost's thank you to city volunteers

Published Wednesday, 29th July 2015

Edinburgh volunteers are amongst those set to be recognised for their crucial contribution to local life at the Lord Provost’s Community Garden Party 2015.

LifeCare Edinburgh (external link) and Duddingston Kirk Lunch Club (external link), which support the independence and wellbeing of older people in Edinburgh, will be presented with ‘Queen’s Awards for Voluntary Service’ by the Lord Provost Donald Wilson at the celebration on Friday (31 July).

They will be joined by a guest list featuring dedicated workers from the city’s third sector, community council members, Edinburgh British Empire Medal recipients and local philanthropists in the grounds of Lauriston Castle (external link) as a ‘thank you’ for their contribution to community life.

Sponsored by Virgin Money, more than 400 people will attend the celebration in the grounds of the historic castle to enjoy afternoon tea on the lawn, with live music from local Edinburgh choir groups and pipe bands.  Members of the Lauriston Castle Living History Group, suitably costumed in Edwardian dress, will treat guests to tours of the visitor attraction which are open to the public throughout the year.

The Lord Provost, who is also the city's Volunteering Champion, said: “I want this celebration to recognise and reward those who make a positive contribution to our great city – particularly the unsung heroes who give up their time tirelessly for others and for the good of their local community. I look forward to welcoming guests to the fantastic Lauriston Castle, and to presenting awards on behalf of the Queen to two of Edinburgh’s great volunteer organisations.

“I hope an event like this helps to promote this gem of a venue and that guests are encouraged to come back. I am extremely grateful to Jayne-Anne Gadhia and everyone at Virgin Money for the tremendous support and their ongoing commitment to the city.”

Su Millar, Chief Executive of LifeCare (Edinburgh) Limited, added: “We are absolutely thrilled to be presented with an award from the Lord Provost on behalf of the Queen, and proud to be one of two organisations to receive this prestigious award. It is humbling to have the excellent work of our volunteers recognised in this way and we are all really looking forward to meeting with the Lord Provost and all of the other guests at the Community Garden Party at Lauriston Castle.”

The Lord Provost’s Community Garden is a bi-annual event, first held in 2013 with young local harpist Anna McLuckie who has since received recognition on BBC’s The Voice.

Thursday, July 30, 2015

August's Corporate Policy and Strategy Committee

Of course, normal Council Business has also recommenced and August's "Corporate Policy and Strategy" Committee is next week; Tuesday 4th ...

... the papers/reports are now in the public domain: the main Agenda can be found here.

The individual reports are all on Committee Papers on-Line (CPOL) linked from here.

Several reports that may well attract some attention and debate this month:

Just click on either of the above links for access (as a PDF) to the specific report ...

... and, of course, all the Policy and Strategy Committee meetings are now being webcast live - and thereafter archived!

All available via here --- it's TV; but most certainly not like you've ever seen before ;-)

Wednesday, July 29, 2015

Holiday over - and on the By-Election trail :-)

Back in Edinburgh now, after a great trip up North to Skye and Knoydart ... even the weather was relatively kind to us :-))

Anyhow, back to work - and, as mentioned a few weeks ago, there's an impending local By-Election on the horizon --- so, straight out onto the doors for yous truly!

Actually - date, and details, all now set: see here ...

... 6-weeks tomorrow, is the big day :-)

Thursday, July 09, 2015

Summer is here :-)

Summer is here - well, the holiday period anyhow ;-)

So; absolutely no blogging now for a few weeks; and I also intend to completely (and I do mean completely!) lay-off twitter, facebook and blipfoto as well ...

... and I'm afraid e-mails won't be read directly by me, but Staff will pick them up and respond accordingly.

My mobile will be on, in case anyone needs to get me by phone/text urgently (signal permitting!) - but, in the nicest possible way, I hope not to hear from too many folk ;-)

Normal service will resume around Monday 27th July.

Tuesday, July 07, 2015

Edinburgh Labour Selects Candidate for Leith Walk By-Election

News from Edinburgh Labour
Immediate Release
Tuesday 7th July 2015

Edinburgh Labour Selects Candidate for Leith Walk By-Election

Marion Donaldson has been selected as the Scottish Labour Party candidate for the upcoming City of Edinburgh Council by-election in the Leith Walk ward on Thursday 10th September 2015.

Marion is a team leader for a local Food Bank and a member of the Leith Central Community Council. She lives in Leith Walk Ward with her husband and children.

Marion said:

I have witnessed first hand the issues that affect our community, I know what has made a difference and what still needs to be done. People with very little money are having their dignity removed by the so-called sanctionsbrought in by the Tory government.  These have a severe and personal impact on the poorest families and the poorest children. Its these families local food banks try and help."

If elected, I will work tirelessly to represent the people of our area and to help continue the positive work we have seen from the Labour-led Council."

Over the past three years, Labour-led Edinburgh Council has protected services, doubled investment in roads and pavements, provided record support to get young people into employment and helped the lowest paid by introducing the Living Wage, at £7.50 per hour, for all Council employees."
Edinburgh City Council leader, Andrew Burns said:

I am delighted Marion has been selected as our candidate for the upcoming by-election. I believe she would be an outstanding representative for the people of Leith Walk and would be an asset within the Chambers as we continue to try to work with local residents to act on the priorities for their area."


The official campaign launch will take place on Saturday 11th July at Northern and Leiths Campaign Headquarters,  180  Easter Road at 4pm. 



Sunday, July 05, 2015

Allotment update!

Spent a few hours down at our Saughton Mains Allotment earlier this afternoon ...

... with all the recent sunshine & rain, everything is growing rally fast - and, as you can see from this snap, the flower-beds are an absolute riot of colour!

Pleased to report that all the veg/fruit crops, are also coming on well, and we've now got our first batch of allotment-strawberry jam bottled-up :-)

Saturday, July 04, 2015

2015 International Day of Co-operatives

As mentioned earlier, today is the "2015 International Day of Co-operatives" ...

... regular readers will hopefully be aware that the 'Cooperative Capital' agenda features strongly as part of the Council's approach - some background information available here and here --- and immediately below I'll embed a short video, from yours truly, explaining the approach a bit further:

--- and here's a short article I've penned, to note the day, the progress made, and acknowledging the work still to do:

Towards a Cooperative Capital

The ‘UK Cooperatives Fortnight’ draws to a close this weekend, culminating with Saturday 4th July being the 2015 International Day of Cooperatives. The fortnight has provided an excellent opportunity to showcase how Edinburgh has been working with citizens and communities to encourage greater cooperation and collaboration.

As part of a wider programme of events, I was delighted to speak about the importance of cooperatives at an “Edinburgh Partnership Conference” last week. This was the first time that we have hosted an event as part of the annual Cooperatives Fortnight, which celebrates the economic and social impacts of the sector, as well as the cooperative potential of communities.

Following the elections in 2012, the Council’s Capital Coalition set out a clear vision to become a Cooperative Capital, where public services work better together, and where communities have more influence over the services they use. We pledged to be a Council that does things ‘with people’ rather than ‘to people’.

We have been working on this in a range of ways, such as encouraging specific initiatives in energy, housing, childcare and adult social care. And since May 2012, communities have helped to set up 14 co-ops, some of which have asked for and received Council backing. This is great news for local communities because it shows that people are feeling empowered and want to have a stronger say in the services they access.

An example of this can be seen in talks between the Council, Castle Rock Edinvar and students from the University of Edinburgh, which led to the Capital’s first student housing co-operative, which offers quality and affordable accommodation. The students initially approached the Council to talk about their ideas as they knew that we were keen to support this type of structure.

We all know that many communities feel disengaged from local democracy at the moment; Councils can seem like distant bureaucracies; and, as organisations, we are struggling to manage significant funding reductions just as local people are putting more and more demand on local services.

If Councils are going to meet this challenge, and if communities are going to thrive, then we all need to start doing things differently. We need to work together, in genuine and equal partnership with local people and organisations, to make the most of the strengths that lie in our communities. Most importantly, we must drive real innovation, with services shaped around the needs of local people.

We have numerous local examples of this taking place, such as the South East of Scotland energy switching project, which was funded by the Energy Savings Trust and helped communities to collectively buy power to get a better deal on energy bills. In Edinburgh, 116 switches took place, saving participating households an estimated total of £16,000 on their energy bills. Other examples include the Edinburgh Guarantee, the After School Clubs Cooperative Charter, the Edinburgh Alcohol and Drug Partnership Commission, the Tenant Participation Strategy and the Homelessness Prevention Implementation Plan.

And within the Council, transparency of decision-making has also improved with the introduction of web-casting, a petitions committee, revised scrutiny – with new governance, risk and best value oversight. The Council’s 2015-16 budget process has also benefitted, with proposals only finalised once three months of public engagement and consultation were carried out.

Cooperatives are simple to set up, easy to join and more effective than working alone. This type of working will help enable Edinburgh to continue to move towards its long-term objective to become a Cooperative Capital. I firmly believe that the cooperative principles of empowerment, equal partnership, and collective action offer a positive route not simply to survive through tough times, but to enable local communities to thrive, supported by relevant and meaningful local public services.

Indeed, Edinburgh is now seen as a leading centre for cooperative working, and we currently Chair the Cooperative Council Innovation Network (CCIN) – a collaboration between local authorities across the UK who are committed to finding better ways of working for, and with, local people for the benefit of their local community.

Now more than ever, I see Cooperative Councils being at the forefront of innovative partnership working across sectors, tackling the serious challenges that lie ahead together with local communities.

Councillor Andrew Burns
Leader, City of Edinburgh Council

Friday, July 03, 2015

Co-operatives Fortnight 2015

Cooperatives Fortnight (some details below - and via this additional link) draws to a close tomorrow (4th July); which is also the 'International Day of Cooperatives' ...

... I'll post some more on this tomorrow - but, for now, further general background available here.




Co-operatives Fortnight 2015 

Saturday 20 June - Saturday 4 July

Co-operatives Fortnight is an annual awareness campaign to help people become more familiar with co-operatives in their local area and is organised by Co-operatives UK.

Co-operative businesses are not limited to the food stores, pharmacies and funeral care services that most people are used to seeing on the high street. The sector is truly diverse covering everything from bakeries to bicycle stores, childcare providers to cheese producers, and farms to football clubs.

Click here to find out more about Co-operatives Fortnight and how to take part.


Wednesday, July 01, 2015

National Railway Museum

Actually been back down in Yorkshire during this week - but for work-related purposes this time!

Was attending the Local Government Association conference in Harrogate - speaking at a Cooperative Councils Innovation Network  fringe-event, amongst other tasks - and very luckily had a couple of spare hours in York on the way home:-)
And, from the pictures, you can probably guess that I spent the time at the National Railway Museum ...

... the Mallard (above), and a replica of Stephenson's Rocket (right), were my two highlights --- but the whole museum (which I hadn't been to for several years) is just a complete joy.

Back in Edinburgh now - and no more imminent Yorkshire-visits planned!