31 October 2009

Defeat

Friday was the climax of the selection contest. The long and the short of it was I came a close second and it took three rounds to decide it. I put a lot into it and the gap between thgetting the job of my dreams and missing out completely was so small. I have to be frank I feel very low today. I shall take stock and think about what the future holds for me.

Today I have been having my first weekend off in weeks. I think this is the second since July! I am at a bit of a loose end but I need to rest up and recharge my batteries.

29 October 2009

The Grass is Definitely Greener...

Here I am at the end of a trying day. I finished up with a meeting at Murrayfield with residents and the SRU. The long and the short is that the residents are still rightly cheesed off with the SRU about Junes Oasis concert which was a nightmare for the neighbours. The SRU have the view that this is not their problem as everything in the Stadium went off ok and they have no responsibility for what happens outside. This as you can imagine has gone down like a lead balloon as the concert goer’s behaviour was shocking. This is going to run and run as Murrayfield is used as a concert venue.

We were treated though to a view of the new piece equipment which grows grass overnight – special lights which were developed for the Dutch flower industry. The surface at the National stadium has been problematic since they built the new stand in the 1980’s but this will sort that problem out. Now all they need is a team to play on it!.

Blowing bubbles and blowing up buildings

It has been a busy week. We started with a blow down on Sunday. Three 1960's tower blocks demolished in 3 seconds to make way for the first new council housing in a generation.

www.edinburgh.gov.uk/internet/Housing/Development%20and%20regeneration/CEC_gracemount_multies_demolition

It meant a lot to me. I worked up in that part of town for 20 years and knew a number of colleagues who had raised families there. The Council staff were fantastic from the catering ladies who were in at 4 am to the street cleaners who got going once the charges had gone off.

Monday was wall to wall meetings with the day finishing up with a meeting in St Andrews House with the Housing Minister. It was very productive but more of what we were talking about in later posts. St Andrew's House was where my father worked when he was a Civil Servant. He ended up looking after approved schools. The place is an amazing At Deco building with amazing fittings. They have display cabinets with the standard Scottish office brief Cases which dad used to bring home with him. The interiors are amazing. still many of the original fittings. I understand that the Scottish Government is moving out and it will be turned into a hotel. Maybe more accessible to more people then.

Tuesday was awful. I fond myself at a 4 and a half hour finance meeting discussing care and support tendering. I won't go into the political nuances but it was a rough ride and under our weird 25% rule it ended up at Full council in three weeks time. £100 K lost as a result of this procedural device by Labour and the Greens but more importantly 10 000 care hours. The price for the sort of student stunt is paid for by the vulnerable but that seems lost on some people.

From there to North Berwick for 2 days of meetings with the NHS in a hotel with no signal. Great for the soul I was informed by a sage latterly but hellish if you are busy and need to be in touch with the Office. My line of work does not lend it’s self to that degree of disconnection during the working week. Some interesting issue though particularly around health stats.

Last night was a long trip to Glasgow (due to footie traffic and road accidents) for the Herald Society Awards. We got pipped at the post by Edinburgh Leisure. A late night and I am still feeling jaded. Tomorrow is my big day with the counting of postal votes for the West Edinburgh nomination. I am in with a good chance but you never can tell how people feel about you. Hopefully it will; al come out in the wash in my favour but if not I still have a great job working with good people.

I also had my sisters big birthday bash last week and various toddlers from various levels of the family (I am still too young to be a great uncle). They were staggering around in ankle length kilts etc. The star of the show was me nieces bubble machine. I must get hold of at some point. Very therapeutic.

19 October 2009

Its been a while between postings. In that time I have had various meetings on various topics. I attended my friend Eric’s funeral. A life long Hibs fan he had sunshine on Leith played and Eric’s sense of humour was present when they played I’m on my way!

Full Council was over and done within the blinking of an eye. The highlights included the retirement tributes to John Sturt our departing Council Secretary. Jenny Dawe the Council Leader did one of her excellent “McGonagall Burns” Poems as she calls them; riotously funny Scots language poetry. The week ended with a Diwali reception to mark the Indian Festival of light. I spent last Diwali in Calcutta. The whole city was light up and bands played on many street corners. The Indians know how to party.

Saturday involved the Hustings meeting for the West Edinburgh Liberal Democrats parliamentary selection. I am told I performed well but you can never tell how you have gone down with people.

This morning I spent being briefed about the triple blow down on Sunday. Three high rises being taken down in a oner to be replaced by new council houses – the first for a generation. Preparations look like they are going to plan. It was then on to Chair a meeting of our Neighbourhood Partnerships Health Group. A really interesting discussion.

Tomorrow I have my Aunt Aileen’s funeral. I then have later this week the Council staff awards. I can at last let my hair down.

6 October 2009

A Sad weekend

Tragic news came my way this morning - one of my former colleges died of a heart attack at the weekend. He was a great guy who had been widowed twice. I really feel for his children one of whom had in effect lost 3 parents. That brings to 3 the number of former work mates who have died since the shut the place down.

I spent a part of yesterday out and about in my ward delivering my newsletter and bumped into my former landlord. The chap in question was when I lodged with him 20 years ago a stone mason. Now he is a happy househusband with a couple of tennis mad kids who he drives from court to court! The part of Roseburn I was delivering in is amazing. Less than 30 yards from the A8 the only noise was the sound of birds singing.

Today was all about the committee. I am pleased to say it was as dull as dishwater which, when you are the politician who is the chair, is really good! Major steps forward included agreeing to empty Fort House in Leith to ready it for demolition and further redevelopment thereafter.

1 October 2009

Lib Dems leapfrog lacklustre Labour

It’s been an interesting couple of days. Yesterday was dominated by the Policy and Strategy Committee where discussion ensued on a range of major issues such as alternative business Models and returning bus and taxis to Princes St when the tram work finish there on November. This morning I was sod cutting for the new King’s Inch Care Home. This will be a magnificent 60 bed unit for frail older people and will be 18 months in the building. We are moving to fewer care homes as we switch the balance of care towards looking after people in their owns homes but we need to replace some of our older homes which are crumbling with new modern facilities.

Last night I witnessed one of the worst performances on Newsnight by Ed Milliband which reminded me of the character in the Thick of it who blinks his way through Newsnight. Last night performance was excruciating. He kept telling Paxo to let him finish in spite of Paxo not interrupting him. He was so at sea when he claimed that they would cut waste he reeled put a list of Labour initiatives such as ID cards as examples. The whole conference is an exercise in misleading the Public. They are claiming still that there are not going to be painful cuts and there is going to be growth in areas but it defies common sense and the evidence of our own eyes. They have promised a referendum on Voting reform just they did this in 1997 and haven’t delivered). As they say “you can fool some of the People all of the time and all of the people some of the time but not all of the people all of the time” or words to that effect!

On a cheerful note Labour slipped to third behind the Lib Dems in the most recent opinion polls for the first timesince Michael Foot was Labour leader!