17 November 2009

Out and about in Captains Road/Capitaines de route

Monday morning I visited the South Edinburgh Neighbourhood Office to get a progress report about how things are functioning there. Everything looked in good order. Work is progressing on a Library initiative at the front of the office to be known as the Captain’s Road library. I get a real sense of enthusiasm in whatever local office when the staff get on to the subject of their libraries whether it be Craigmillar, Morningside, the proposed Drum Brae or Kirkliston (a terrific we place). I was also pleased to note that the debris from the demolition was being cleared at a staggering pace and suitably sorted for recycling. The building industry do keep telling us how they have an excellent record on recycling.

The visit to Captain's Road where the Office is based prompted a discussion about who the Captain was. The legend had it that it was a Napoleonic POW who used to ride past the area 200 years ago. The trouble with this is that was known as Captains Road in the 1760s which kind of stymies that theory.

Today I chaired the Edinburgh Community Safety Partnership. This is a subcommittee of the Edinburgh Partnership who look after Community Planning on a pan Edinburgh basis. The ECSP pulls together Police, Fire, various council departments, Vol Orgs and the Fiscal is a very assiduous attendee. The quality of discussion is very high and the various initiatives such as the Hate Crime Strategy, the first in Scotland, have been ground breaking and produced excellent results.

A friend is off to Bolivia next week to monitor their next vote. She does this in elections around the world. This one I think she said was a constitutional vote of some description. Another chum said she should look out for the coloured lakes and flamingos. Check these out on the link below...



Great news. The recommended calorie intake should be higher! There is a theory doing the rounds that it should have been set 16% higher. Can I draw your attention to the name of the guy from the Obesity forum. Tam Fry! What a fantastic name for the job. I did have a Religious Education Teacher called Priestley!


I’m off to each my bodyweight in biscuits...

Contrasting fortunes for Scotlands Coaches

Visited Friends in Central Scotland this weekend. I finally got a glimpse of the Falkirk Wheel and managed to track down Antonines Wall for the first time. We studied this in school when I was 12 years old so finally seeing it was rather satisfying.

On the news front happy we beat Fiji at rugby – Andy Robinsons first outing as Scotland coach and sadly George Burley last as we crashed to a 3-0 defeat to Wales at footie. George sadly was fired by the SFA this morning. A great pity if you ask me.
Actor and Lib Dem supporter Edward Woodward sadly died. I loved his film Breaker Morant all about Australian Cavalry soldiers who were executed during the Boer War. It has a terribly moving final scene where they walking out to be shot hand in hand.

14 November 2009

Water on the Moon

Remembrance Sunday passed with a good crowd outside The Old Kirk in Corstorphine paying their respects to the fallen. A very well organized event we had school children laying wreaths for the first time.

The week was full on. I had an excellent briefing on planned Drum Brae Library. This is progressing very well and we are also going to manage to get a new day centre in the building for older people. This will be of immense use during the evenings for community groups. Added to that there will be space for a Learning disabilities project to be based there. All of these in the same building as a library should mean excellent access to the services on offer.

Wednesday was the day of the Annual Social Work Lecture. Peter Gilroy Chief Exec of Kent County Council was the speaker. His topic personalisation. He was very inspiring and we have a great deal to learn from down south.

I also attended the Cares Forum – a group of carers whose offspring (they are really to old to be called children) all have learning disabilities. Many are on the waiting list for Housing and care packages. We have gone up from 200 or so people who live in supported accommodation in 2004 to 666. In spite of this the waiting list have lengthened - almost doubled since 2004. When we got into power we managed to put substantial additional investment in but the demographics are such that still the waiitng list has hardly shifted. The Forum wanted to know where I stood on various issues and what my vision of services for people with disabilities was. I understand they were left contented and we will meet after the budget.

Thursday saw the return to the Council Housing agenda with the Political sounding board discussing the more detailed plans for Gracemounts new council houses. I have lofty ambitions for these the first new council housing in a generation. I know they will be good quality and very energy efficient but I would also like them to be attractive.

Today I had an excellent meeting with the NHS Strategists and 3 of our Neighbourhood Managers to see what we can do about improving the NHS involvement in Neighbourhood Partnerships. I got a sense that we are almost about to hit on something that could be a bit special. A little more work on this and we could be there.

The week has finished with me inaugurating the new floodlights at Corstorphine Tennis club. Our former local Chief Police Inspector was on hand to help. The lights mean that they can coach throughout the winter and the kids belting the balls around the court were very impressive.

The Glasgow by election last night was interesting. The SNP were soundly beaten by Labour and sadly the Lib Dems trailed in 5th behind the BNP. It was not a seat we have had any tradition in but to be beaten by that lot rankles.

I shall finish with the astonishing news that they have de facto found lots (25 gallons) of water on the moon. This is remakable in that it means that a permanat base can be placed there as the stuuff of life is present. No need to fly in Evian water. As well as being impressed by this I still canot understand how a Nation that uses something as illogical as Imperial untis for measuerments still can be at the forefront of space exploration!

7 November 2009

Morris Dancing

Funny day Friday. A stacked diary suddenly emptied as meeting after meeting found its self cancelled. Not a bad way to finish the week. I went out to see the Mark Morris Dance Company – these are modern dancers not, as my younger brother thought, Morris dancers! They wore pyjamas and there wasn’t a glimpse of a hander kerchief. The show was excellent and I bumped into a stack of people from the Council and a couple from the Film festival.

Today I have been cleaning the house. After months of campaigning the old place was in dire need of a good clean up. Not perfect but better. I have various remembrance duties to perform tomorrow. Laying a wreath in Corstorphine and then off to the memorial lunch for McRae’s battalion the Pals regiment from Edinburgh which the whole of the Hearts team of 1914 – the runaway league leaders at the time and one of the finest teams in Scotland ever –and quite a few Hibs player fought and dies in.

I find Rememberance day very tough. I laid a wreath last time 2 years ago( I alternate with another councillor) and it occurred to me I was twice the age of the latest young man to be killed. I don't consider myself that old. Very humbling.

Remebering Sir John Crofton

Today started with a visit to the various operating theatres at the Royal infirmary. Gowned up in scrubs for the first time. Not a flattering set of garments. The theatres were very high tech. A new one is opening with I-pod speakers. They play music to the staff operating. Who decides was a question posed and the difference in tastes was fascinating. Can you imagine inserting the scalpel at AC DC? Doing an amputation to the Saw Doctors. From there to watch some op on their video. I hate the sight of blood - after 19 years in Blood Transfusion. Still managed to stay on my feet!

Off then to visit the South West neighbourhood office where I met staff and heard about the great work being done on the ground there. The Manger there Mike Avery has only been in post since January and has transformed the team there showing real leadership!

Then home to log onto the news to see that Sir John Crofton - sure I have spoken about him in other posts - had passed away. By a mile the greatest man I have ever met he led the team who wiped out TB with an early combination therapy. He was 97 and an early recipient of re-ablement. Millions owe their lives to this man described as one of the world great physicians. I planted a tree with him in Princes St Gardens on a miserable Friday afternoon in February. He retired for tea and scones afterwards and he held court. My Director of Health and Social Care Peter Gabitass remarked afterwards that he felt we were in the presence of true greatness. I totally concur with that.

1 November 2009

A Wasted Sunday

A good nights sleep always help pull you out of misery. Today it has rained heavily all day. I ventured across the road to get rolls, bacon and the Observer. I watched old films , drank tea and frankly did nothing. The house is still a state and I never touched the washing. Next weekend I will regret this. I had big plans to go to the cinema, visit galleries and so on but the weather was just too awful.

Took calls from various relatives from across the globe all commiserating. Very nice of them but I am moving on and it doesn't pay to pour over these things.

Time to put a bad last week behind me and come out fighting.

On the bright side Hibs (the mighty Hibernian) are now second top due to 2 last minute goals. I've seen this so many time with this lot. One season the win a barrel load of games by scoring in the last minute and the next season with the same players they leak last minute goals like crazy.

On the poltical front the Lib Dems sensibly have decided not to back an independance referendum. Having stood on a platform opposing it to do a volt face this side of a Scottish Election would have been selling out the people who had voted for us. That is not to say we shouldn't find a mechanism for a referendum in future after the nexy Holyrood elections I just thing in poltics you shoudl do what you say you will do.

On the world stage Afghan democracy took another pounding with the opposition leader pulling out due to his lack of faith in the process.

The new season of the Thick of It has started. This is billed as Yes minister for the 21st Century. It has far more bad language and Peter Capaldis portrayal of Malcom Tucker a Labour spin Doctor is truly frightening. The funniest thing on TV.