27 September 2009

Thankful that the world is a little safer this week

It's been far to long between postings. The week has been dominated by my birthday. I got a few nice presents (thank you one and all) and a very nice chocolate cake. That doesn't happen that often with chocolate cake. With all due respect to my friends and family the very best birthday present was when Gordon Brown and Barak Obama announced they were taking steps to remove large numbers of nuclear missiles. As someone who entered politics to make the world a safer place and to campaign against the nuclear arms race I was delighted.

I visited the Currie Respite Centre on Friday. Apart from the crumbling fabric of the building - a replacement is currently being built – the centre is run brilliantly with excellent marks from the Care Commission. Respite is so important to stressed carers and I am so proud that we managed to increase the hours of respite we provide as a council. It is still not enough but at least we are moving in the right direction.

19 September 2009

More Care for the Elderly

Been all go this week! Community growing meeting went off rather well and we have a workable way forward. I had my surgery at Roseburn Primary followed by Corstorphine Community council. I have been a member of that august body for 15 years and we has the results of the recent community Council elections - which resulted in no elections! Good to see so many familiar faces carrying on with their invaluable service to the community.

Thursday was Full council in which the opposition spent their time pretty much arguing over which end of the egg was the top. We had a spat about limiting the length of time our leader faces questions. We wanted a time limit of 40 minutes and the opposition didn't. 40 minutes is 10 longer than either Gordon Brown of Alex Salmond face and I have to say Jenny Dawe handles them a lot better!

Friday I had hours of agenda planning meetings and then skipped off to Wester Hailes to open a day centre. This was part of a £1 million investment in day services for older people. We have a strategy to try to switch the balance of care towards keeping more people in their own homes longer. This is what older people tell us they want. To that end we have reformed our Home help service to allow us to support frail elderly people as far as we can. This Centre was a really attractive environment with plenty of activities.

Liz the STV Journalist along to interview me told me she as a great track record of winning raffles and sure enough she netted a hat full of tombola prizes! My record in these things is that I can always be relied upon to win the shampoo (see my photo to see how futile this is).

16 September 2009

Come on Gordon. Tell us what you think!

Spent part of yesterday shivering through the briefing for Parliamentarians on re-ablement. Much of this was based on the Scottish Governments evaluation of the project which was very positive. My Labour Shadow has over the years boxed herself into a corner over this because she couldn’t be bothered to get a proper briefing on the subject and ended up voting against a really far sighted policy. It just makes them look like latter-day luddites.

Today I visited the North East Re-ablement team who have been shortlisted for a staff award. I was really impressed by their professionalism and commitment . As well as a job lot of briefings on various issues I also had a group meeting, School Council Meeting before going to meet local groups to discuss what we do about the zoo. All in all a 13 hour day and I am quite tired. Tomorrow should be just as long. I have a meeting at the NHS about community growing which I hope is about using NHS land for allotments....

Gordon Brown is finally admitting what Vince Cable has been saying for ages - that whoever wins the general election will be making cuts. Now he has taken that courageous stand and we have heard his views on the Ashes victory and he has apologised for the cruel treatment to a brilliant government agent who committed suicide more than 50 years ago due to homophobia perhaps he will stick his head above the parapet and tell us what he thinks about the Lockerbie release!

I am pleased to hear that George Burley has remained as Scotland Manager. The SFA have decided to keep him on. George as done a good job but needs time to work with the squad. I read that his skin was saved by his peers which is really gratifying. Good luck to you George!

14 September 2009

Action on racial harassment

Friday was spent visiting the Firhill Day centre and meeting the residents. The centre it's self is lovely. A former family home to the Salvesen’s I was told and then a Old Folks home for men. It is enormous and very attractive with a lot of different client groups using it. The Care commission had recently given it top marks and it was easy to see why.

Then off to do a round of TV interviews relating to an eviction. This was the first one in Scotland to have been initiated for Racial Harassment. I never like the idea of eviction but some cases are really beyond the pale and in this instance the Council had worked long and hard with the family to change their behaviour but to no avail.

I then went to see the new Almodovar film which was brilliant. Typically funny and of high calibre Penelope Cruz continues to be, for me, the outstanding film actress of recent years.

I have a very hectic week coming up with Full Council on Thursday. I have three questions placed for me to answer by the opposition. They don’t do that to make me look good but so far I have bested them at each and every turn much to the delight of my team.

Tomorrow starts with the parliamentary briefing for Edinburgh MP’s and MSP’s. This is on the subject of Re-ablement the radical approach this administration has taken to older people services which has resulted in a far better quality of life for older people. I am due to visit the North east Re-ablement team on Tuesday.

9 September 2009

Back to my roots...

Very much back to my roots today. Started by visiting the ancient Physic Well in Dunsmuir Court. This is over the wall from my childhood home and indeed it had been mover 50 yards in 1972 out of the burn at the foot of my garden when the Stank (the name of the burn) was culverted. The well is a very old planter now and allegedly haunted.

The slabs and foliage surrounding the well are not what they were so the Council is looking at how we can spruce it all up.

Visit to the East Neighbourhood Office. This is part of Services for Communities. This is where a lot of local working takes place across agencies. The results from Joint working are spectacular which Police and council working really well. The Neighbourhood Manager I know well and is really sharp. He has a great rapport with his staff. We then went on a tour of various places in the area including some new Council housing which looked fantastic. Then on to a visit to the Figgate Park which blew me away. This paradise has a new board walk but there was a massive pond with weeping willows and other mature trees surrounding it. Idyllic! Then it was over to the Craigmillar Library – it was much bigger inside than outside like the Tardis! The place was full of kids enjoying after school activities and the staff were all looking after them really well.

On to South Gyle for an evening’s canvassing before heading to a meeting about what to do regarding the zoo proposals now that they seem likely to get the land re-zoned. Finished up at 10pm - another 14 hour day but great fun.

Home to find that Scotland have been elimentated from the World Cup on goal difference. Suppose it saved agonising about it next year. Humph...

8 September 2009

Tripe and a real Jewel

It seemed like a revolving door today. I had loads of fiddly wee meetings and a visit to a Day Centre.

The latter was to the Jewel which is an appropriate name for it as it recently got top marks in the care Commissions Report. About a dozen older people enjoy the centre and the staff are all highly regarded especially the chef who cooks really nice food for them...except today"! The Scotch i.e. today was rock hard and every service user took the opportunity to tell me that! Poor chef! Talk soon turned to the service user’s penchant for tripe. As they waxed more and more lyrically about it I steadily got greener and greener. I am the queasiest person you will ever meet (19 year in Blood Transfusion and I still can’t stand the sight of blood). In all of the new homes and centres I visit they do say great things about the cuisine. Getting the food right is a very big deal I have found.

It was off to Clermiston for an evenings canvassing. Good response on the door step - a very settled community. My old metalwork teacher was still resident as were the family of one of my brother’s old school friends. This was an area which was in my original regional division so I have some track record there. Vote seemed to be holding up nicely.

7 September 2009

Win for Scotland

This is the first Saturday in 6 weeks without some political meeting or organised activity of some description. Will ensure I make the most of it. In reality it means chores then off to visit family later. Catching up on the washing and reading up on Party policy.

Beginning to calm down again after my planning disappointment. Finished yesterday with a radio interview for Radio Forth to have in the can for Monday morning. It was about the second part of our adult protection campaign. Due to changes in the legislation last year and awareness campaign the numbers of people coming forward has risen steeply. These stats are always difficult to make judgements on. Some issues are under reported and so when you run an awareness campaign your stats go through the roof. The problem probably hasn't changed in terms what is happening on the ground. The plus side of the increase is that people can access help. If we had a few hundred less coming forward they might live in silence with abuse instead of getting help.


Re my post relating to Nationalism and South America I read with interest that there are Colombian inspire anti Chavez demos across Latin America. A real factor in this is a reaction to Chavez's interference in Colombian affairs. As well as lecturing Colombia about their relations with the US he has apparently backed the setting up of a pro Chavez party there. The reason I find this fascinating is that Bolivar’s vision in the early 19th Century was for a super Colombia which would have taken in Venezuela and Panama as well. Chavez is a very interesting character. Yes he is authoritarian but he isn't a Castro. The British Left has a very rose tinted view of the Castro regime which has been responsible for a lot of human rights abuses. Chavez is an authoritarian ruler but not to anything like the extent of Castro!

Scotland beat Macedonia 2-0 at football keeping manger George Burleys slim hopes of qualification alive. George seems like a good guy and he really knows his onions when it comes to football. Good luck to him and the boys on Wednesday when we take on the might of Holland in a make or break fixture.

4 September 2009

Zoo Troubles

Rotten day! Not just the incessant rain but the saga of the Zoo reached a climax and not in my favour. The issue is that the zoo wants to build on greenbelt land which leaves them short of land for a zoo. They have said all along that they want land to the east which is a nature reserve and owned by the council. The Planning Committee has flip-flopped over this over the years. Some have swallowed the zoo line hook line and sinker others are more sceptical. Today the former won what may well be the last round. The Lib Dems stuck to our guns with the Greens (who voted the other way last time). The SNP switched sides and voted with the Tories and Labour have always had contempt for the residents of Corstorphine. Deeply disappointed as you I am sure can tell.

1 September 2009

Action on Falls

Today saw the launch of our Telecare Falls Prevention initiative. I am a great enthusiast for Telecare which gives many vulnerable people independence and dignity. Today saw the launch of the £120k project aimed at 300 or so residents who are in danger of falling giving them falls alarms. Falls account for nearly 10% of acute Hospital admissions in the UK and result in some 70,000 hip replacements. Falls don’t just injure people they really can knock your self confidence and result in you leaving your home for a Care Home much earlier than you might want or really need to. This project will help us to switch the balance of Care away from Care homes to looking after more people in the community which is what older people tells us they want. The project is expected to save 1000 hospital bed days which should save the NHS a bundle. A real win-win if you ask me.

Bad news! Iconic Edinburgh ironmongers Greys of George St is to close next year. This is a disaster for those of us who need ...well anything!