27 February 2011

Lanark at 30

Thirty years ago yesterday Alistair Gray's masterpiece Lanark was published. I read it only ten years ago and it blew me away. His nightmare vision of a future Glasgow is extraordinary.  When will this amazing writer become Scotland's first Nobel Prize Winner for Literature?

The Mitchell Library in Glasgow will be hosting an exhibition. You can see a slideshow about the book at the link below.

http://www.bbc.co.uk/scotland/arts/lanark.shtml

23 February 2011

New Mayor for the Windy City

Congratulations to Rahm Emanuel who has secured 55% of the vote in the Chicago Mayoral race  circumventing the need for a further runoff election.

Today has been all about volunteering. I was at an NHS Board Development day and the topic was how we can work better with the volunteers we have and also how we can develop volunteering. 


There is terrific scope for using volunteering to help with people’s health outcomes. One of the most positive things you can do for someone’s mental well being is to have a useful occupation. It doesn't need to be paid to give the person the pride and esteem and can often be a very helpful stepping stone into paid occupation.

I have more on this topic tomorrow when I chair a debate on the Big Society at tomorrow’s Volunteers Gathering. 

More on that after tomorrow though... 

22 February 2011

Chicago Goes to the Polls

Voters in Chicago go to the polls tomorrow to elect a new mayor. Current Mayor Richard Daley is retiring. 

Daley was one of Al Gores team parachuted in to sort out the Florida  situation during the dimpled chad election. He is also the son of the infamous Mayor Richard J Daley (pictured right) who ran the city for 21 years from the 50's until his death in 1976.


The  field  includes a former State Senator, a former US Senator and former  Ambassador, a former Chief of Staff for Mayor Daley and  Rahm Emanuel, Obama's former Chief of Staff and a former Rep in the US House.

Looking at that the calibre it is jaw dropping! Local Government is quite obviously alive and well in the US!

21 February 2011

New Care Home for South Edinburgh

This morning I joined Council Leader Jenny Dawe in visiting the new Inchview Care Home. This is one of four new Care Homes completed since we came to power.

Inchview is surrounded by parkland's and mature trees. To the North East you have a stunning view of Arthur's Seat, to the South West the Pentland Hills. Mature trees are everywhere. It will look particularly nice in the autumn. 

The building is terrific with good sized rooms and wide corridors allowing for easy access of equipment. Wider space means that it is easier to get equipment in and out and to operate hoists etc leading to fewer muscular skeletal injuries to staff. 

The gardens, still in the early sprouting, will look great when the residents have imposed themselves on them. The first few residents are  due to move in in a fortnight. The chef was telling us how she was meeting some of them in their existing homes already to find out their needs and tastes. 

All the new units I have visited over the last three years  the quality of catering has been very high. I am so pleased that we have taken food so seriously in our care homes and respite units. I  will post in more detail in future on food issues for older people as that is a really interesting topic and I have strong views.

The next new Care Home will be at Drum Brae and will provide much needed local employment to the area.

20 February 2011

Rawnsley on AV

Andrew Rawnsley once again hits the spot with his column this morning.


http://www.guardian.co.uk/commentisfree/2011/feb/20/andrew-rawnsley-electoral-reform

Of Gods and Rabbits

This week saw the Chinese Spring Festival (Chinese New Year) celebrations draw to a close.

I was delighted to be asked to speak to a group of Chinese carers as part of their celebrations this week. The event was run by MECOPP, the Leith based Minority Ethnic Carers of Older People Project who had just won a  European Commission Award.

They are the first winners of the 'European Local Authorities Competition on Good Practices on the Support for Migrant Elders' Initiatives.' 

MECOPP  currently provides support to around 400 people in the Edinburgh and Lothian's.
Some of their principal achievements include:
  • providing advocacy and carer support to black and minority ethnic residents in Edinburgh and the Lothian's.
  • running a short breaks/respite service within Edinburgh for carers
  • providing a range of education and training opportunities for carers
  • ensuring a black and minority ethnic resource library is available to anyone in Scotland.
The event on Thursday went off very well. Everyone in very good spirits. I was asked to help draw the raffle and was introduced as "the God of Good Fortune", a description that frankly rendered me speechless. While we politicians are noted for being an egotistical bunch  I usually manage to keep my messianic tendencies in check!

Good fortune is what people born in this Chinese year are usually noted for. Those born in the year of the rabbit are generally considered to be lucky, good at business and gambling. It didn't occur to me at the time to check with the raffle winners what year they were born in to verify this.

Many congratulations to MECOPP. To be honoured at a European level is major recognition and well deserved.

19 February 2011

Operation Astrodome Slashed Christmas Crime

Before Christmas I was involved in the launch of Operation Astrodome aimed at cutting crime during the party season.

For the fourth year running we have managed to cut crime in the city centre during the festive season. The overall crime rate dropped by 17% in the city centre compared with the same period last year, and by 21% when compared with averages for the same period over the last 3 years.

This success is largely down to the extra initiatives put in place to ensure that residents and visitors could enjoy the night-time festivities in the city centre as safely as possible. We have been very successful in this and I am really proud of the strong Partnerhsip working we have had between the Council, Police and other agencies and the results that is producing.

Well done all!

15 February 2011

My Take on the Council Budget

The Council  budget last week was all about priorities in difficult times.  It was widely consulted on. More people out there were involved than ever before.  When the opposition cry foul you have to ask why didn't they do better when they were in power?  

In 2007 when I took over as Chair of Health and Social Care the biggest  headache I had was  "unbudgeted pressures" - accountant speak for a massive demand for care that the previous lot hadn't made any contingency for in their budget. It was a nightmare. Care was rationed and we had to  work out a series of short term savings none of which were painless.

On Thursday the Opposition parties coalesced  behind the Labour group budget which again made totally inadequate provision for expected increased demand in care services and children's services. They ducked every difficult decision that needed to be made. Bizarley two of the parties, Labour and the Greens  had, rather lamely, opposed the closure of Blindcraft that morning but had still made the saving from its closure in their budgets such was their opportunism.  If their budget had passed then we would have been in dire straits with a rise in Bed Blocking being the likely outcome.

In my time in charge of Social Care we have increased the numbers of people receiving weekend care by 60% and  evening care by 110%.  That wouldn't have happened if the Lib Dems were not  in power. We have slashed homelessness thanks to our radical strategy worked up with partners in the voluntary sector. Again that wouldn't have happened if we hadn't been in power. 

Later this year we will hand over the keys the first tenants of the first council housing in this city in a generation. That would not happen if we had not been in power.

I have in the last four years never ducked difficult decisions. I have led from the front to modernise and to get better value from our scare taxpayers pound. The reason I have done this  has, and will always be, so that I can get better care for more people who really need it. 

Our budget has been set in the most difficult time I can ever recall but my Liberal Democrat council group have  kept care and protection of the vulnerable and elderly as our absolute top priority.  I am so proud of them for doing so.  It's a shame I can't say the same for  the opposition.

Life Immitates Art as Jedward Get Eurovision Nod


Tedward?
Being brought up in a strict Catholic household so many priest and seminarians visited the house when I was young that when Father Ted was first broadcast it could easily be mistaken for  reality TV.

I am sure that I have met the dancing priest and the Graham Norton over excited preacher was also a caricature I was familiar with.

Brothers Grimes
I  recall an episode where Ireland were desperate not to win the Eurovision song contest. Having won so many times recently they couldn't bear the costs of hosting  the contest again - a perk (??) of winning.



So keen were they to lose they decided to throw the contest and they selected Fathers Ted and Dougal as their entry because they were...er... rubbish. 

Well here we are in 2011 and enter stage left Jedward who were to the X Factor what John Sargent was to Strictly Come Dancing. Noting Ireland's economic woes you have to wonder if they are trying the same trick.

11 February 2011

Council Budget Passed

Yesterday was budget day at the Council. I have copied the Council press release below and will try to blog over the weekend  about it especially the items relating to my portfolio.

Tough choices budget protects frontline services and vulnerable people

Published Thursday 10 February 2011
It is expected that protection of front line services and investment in children and the most vulnerable will be the priorities of the City of Edinburgh Council’s budget announced today.
Supporting Edinburgh's economic competitiveness to build prosperity and quality of life for all residents is also prominent. The unprecedented fourth successive freeze in Council Tax maintains Edinburgh's Band D rate as the lowest of Scotland's four major cities.
Faced with the challenge of  making over £90 million savings over three years, the most difficult  financial climate for many years and UK wide reductions in public expenditure, the performance of many Council services has improved and a balanced budget has been achieved for the next two years. Plans for delivering a substantial level of savings are also in place for 2013/14.

Cllr Phil Wheeler, Convener for Finance and Resources said:
"We are facing the greatest of financial challenges head on. We went out to the community in the largest, most open and transparent budget engagement ever undertaken by the Council. We listened to what people said, acted on the call to protect front line services and vulnerable people and have delivered a balanced budget.
"We knew things were going to be extremely tough when we started our budget considerations last year. In September we approved savings of £16 million and the first of these are already being implemented. Despite our Local Government Grant settlement in December being £6 million lower than expected, we have done our utmost to get this city to a position of financial stability with investment in the right places.
"The savings in this budget, together with the first package in September include £51 million of efficiency measures. This equates to 75% of the total savings proposed over the next three years. The remaining savings were determined using a prioritisation process which referred to public feedback. Savings have been fully assessed for impact on equality."
Investing in children and schools remains a central priority. A total of £81million capital is committed to deliver the Wave 3 priority schools - Portobello, James Gillespie's and Boroughmuir High Schools, St John's Primary and St Crispin's Special School. A further £29 million will progress vital upgrades to buildings, toilets and improve energy efficiency.
The huge pressures associated with the demand for vulnerable children and the very young are also being addressed with additional funding of over £4million to support increasing numbers of vulnerable children over the next three years. There will also be an additional £8.4 million for people with learning and physical disabilities and £5.5 million for older people, over the next three years.

Councillor Jenny Dawe, Leader of The City of Edinburgh Council, said:
"This Budget will help give our children the best start in life and improve care for our increasingly elderly population and the most vulnerable. We have successfully managed the city's finances in order to provide efficient, high quality services. We will continue to look at innovative ways of providing essential services while ensuring that we protect, develop and invest in Edinburgh's future."
"In delivering record efficiency savings year after year, this Administration has been pursuing maximum value for money and greater workforce planning. This has proved invaluable in protecting services and staff from the damage that the extreme reductions in funding may otherwise have required."
Council paper
Context and more detail can be found in the Council Budgets 2011-14: Policy Overview paper
Council tax band levels
The council tax band levels for Edinburgh in 2011/12 will be:
A: £779.33
B: £909.22
C:£1,039.00
D: £1,169.00
E: £1,428.78
F: £1,688.56
G: £1,948.33
H: £2,338.00
Total budget
The total revenue budget is £1,018.3 million for 2011/12. Council Tax makes up £226.1 million of this with £792.2 million coming from Government grants. The total capital budget (excluding trams and the housing revenue account) is £173.921 million.

Key budget provisions
Investing in our children and schools
  • Additional funding of £7 million over the next three years will ensure £4 million for vulnerable children.
  • Further funding of £500,000 to implement class sizes of 18 on P1-3 in our most deprived communities.
  • £500,000 for additional early years service.
  • £2 million for increasing school rolls.
  • Continuation of £250,000 funding for schools text books, computers and supplies.
(This investment relies upon a successful outcome from the review of teacher terms and conditions).
Protecting our most vulnerable children
  • £4 million extra to support an increasing number of children over three years.
  • Protection of the funding for the Hospital Social Work team that supports children with serious health problems.
  • Protection of the funding for various services for children with additional support needs.
  • £2.4 million for the construction of a new purpose built centre to replace the Seaview Respite Unit on the site of the former Lismore Primary.
  • Commitment to work with the Scottish Government to implement the Carers and Young Carers Strategy, including the maintenance of an extra 10,000 weeks respite provision.

Improving care for our elderly and vulnerable
  • Additional £8.4 million for people with learning and physical disabilities.
  • Additional £5.5 million for older people.
  • Respite care service prioritised (increased by over 1200 weeks in the last year).
  • Edinburgh leading the way in Scotland in Home Care Reablement - nearly 7,200 people received the service in 2010 with the average reduction in number of hours of 34% contributing £1 million a year to savings in the Health and Social Care service.
  • Continued investment in Edinburgh's care homes - the fourth new care home to be opened in March at King's Inch with a fifth to be developed at Drumbrae.

Supporting Edinburgh's economic competitiveness
  • Edinburgh will be the first city in the UK to use Tax Increment Finance to allow development.
  • £442.8 million secured by attracting major investors into Edinburgh - including £385 million physical development and over £57 million commercial investment.
  • Rationalisation of the Council's arms length companies to meet the aspirations of a sustainable city.

Supporting Edinburgh's Cultural, Sporting and Leisure Activities

  • Commitment to improving the city's sporting and cultural infrastructure.
    Recent capital projects include:
    1. a new third generation pitch at Meggetland completed in November 2010
    2. Saughton Skatepark completed in April 2010
    3. refurbishment of Glenogle Swim Centre completed in May 2010
    4. upgrading of City Art Centre completed by July 2010.

    Ongoing capital projects include:
    1. third generation pitches at Lochend Park due for completion February 2011
    2. interim investment in Meadowbank Stadium and Sports Centre due for completion in spring 2011
    3. upgrading of storage facilities at City Art Centre due for completion by July 2011
    4. refurbishment of Acheson House due for completion summer 2011
    5. a new pavilion at Colinton Mains Park scheduled for completion by August 2012
    6. refurbishment of the Royal Commonwealth Pool due for completion in Spring 2012
    7. and refurbishment of the Assembly Rooms due for completion by June 2012.

  • Recognition of the libraries service importance in supporting life long learning and economic growth. The budget ensures that all libraries continue to operate with opening hours more suited to customer demand.
  • Continued funding for Edinburgh's festival and cultural venues in 2011/12.

Providing safe, warm and affordable homes
  • Investing £40.5 million to improve the quality of Council housing including 1500 new kitchen and bathrooms, 950 required homes, 850 homes with improved heating, 450 homes to receive double glazing.
  • £150 million 21st Century Homes programme will build 1200 homes for sale and rent - the first Council homes to be built in the city for a generation, half of which will be affordable housing.

A safe, green, clean, attractive and environmentally sustainable city
  • Contribution to Lothians and Borders Joint Police Board will allow current police officer numbers to be maintained during 2011/12.
  • Contribution to Lothian and Borders Fire and Rescue Board will allow them to meet their statutory responsibilities as well as maintain a focus on intervention and prevention.
  • Protection of the school crossing patrol service in full.
  • New waste recycling strategy - aiming for at least 50% recycling rate by 2014/15, introduction of kerbside collection of plastics, rollout of food waste collection to all households by 2012 and review of frequency of waste collection service.
  • £57million over four years for carriageway and footpath investment over four years.

Delivering Services which are high quality and efficient
  • Budget savings - together with the first package approved by Council in September 2010 -  include £51m of efficiency measures which equates to 75% of the total savings proposed over the next three years
  • Savings include:
  1. £13m from service redesign to improve the efficiency and effectiveness of services
  2. £10m associated with employee pay restraint
  3. £9m from streamlining and reducing layers of management
  4. £5m through improved procurement of goods and services
  5. £3m net savings in property costs
  6. £11m from savings in a variety of back office and support functions The remaining 25% of savings has been determined using a prioritisation process, with reference to the results of the community engagement process, all savings fully assessed for the impact on equality.

Financial Planning and Sustainability
  • Budget provides a clear financial planning framework for the next three years with a savings strategy set out to balance the financial position for the next two years.
  • Targets specific savings for delivery in 2013/14 which will go a long way towards balancing the budget on a three year basis, subject to confirmation of future grant settlements from the Scottish Government.
  • Includes a £2.3million contingency within the year 2012/13 as a prudent measure against the financial risks within the budget.

10 February 2011

ARCHITECTS ANNOUNCED FOR NEXT 21st CENTURY HOMES PHASE

  I thought the following news release would be of interest.




Edinburgh’s ambitious project to build the first new council homes for a generation has taken an exciting step forward.
Award-winning architects firm Anderson Bell + Christie have been appointed to provide outline designs and guides for the North Sighthill and Pennywell & Muirhouse elements of the 21st Century Homes programme.

 
The North Sighthill plans will see 320 new homes being built and the Pennywell & Muirhouse will result in 700 new homes. Half of all these homes will be affordable and the other half for sale on the open market.

 
Around 35% of the total homes in Pennywell & Muirhouse will be for families with children – exceeding current regulations in the Capital for providing homes for families.
Construction work has already started on the first phase of the 21st Century Homes programme at Gracemount, where 215 homes will be built.

 
Councillor Paul Edie, housing leader for the City of Edinburgh Council, said: “It’s great news that one of Scotland’s leading architects firms are on board. I am sure Anderson Bell + Christie’s design guidance will leave a lasting legacy in North Sighthill and Pennywell & Muirhouse for generations to come.

 
“The 21st Century Homes programme is a vital element of our ongoing long term regeneration plans for the Capital, which will boost the economy by providing new jobs in both the construction industry and support for local businesses.

 
“However, we are still a long way from plugging the huge gap in affordable housing, which is why we are working closely with the Scottish Government to explore new and innovative ways of building more homes such as the National Housing Trust scheme which could see up to another 600 affordable homes being built.

 
“We have an ambitious target to meet the need for 16,000 new affordable homes over the next 10 years and we will do everything we can to achieve this.”
Karen Anderson, partner at Anderson Bell + Christie, said she was delighted that their firm has been appointed for the North Sighthill and Pennywell & Muirhouse design project.
She said: “We are looking forward to working with the City of Edinburgh Council and the communities involved. We will draw upon our extensive knowledge gained in housing and master planning from working on projects like the masterplan for the Raploch regeneration, our built housing projects throughout Scotland, and on our wide-ranging design guidance experience.”

 
The flats and houses will be in a range of sizes up to four storeys in height. The 50% affordable mix consists of 30% council rent, 10% mid rent and 10% shared equity.
It brings the total amount of Scottish Government funding for new council homes in Edinburgh to £7.5m over the past two years.

 
The 21st Century Homes programme aims to build up to 1,300 mixed tenure homes for sale and rent across the Capital over the next eight years.

 
It will also result in up to £150 million of Council-led investment in the regeneration of the Gracemount, North Sighthill and Pennywell & Muirhouse areas of the city.

9 February 2011

Mad Bad and Dangerous to Know

I thought readers of this blog with an eye for Scottish Literature might find this interesting. I sadly won't make this but it does sound fascinating.

We Scots rightly make a lot of fuss about Robert Burns - he was a genius - but we don't make enough fuss about others such as James Hogg the Ettrick Shepard, Robert Fergusson the Edinburgh Poet buried in Brunsfield and of course Aberdeen Grammars most famous former pupil George Gordon a.k.a Lord Byron.


This last one particularly rankles. Lady Caroline Lamb with whom he had a notorious liaison described him as "Mad, Bad and Dangerous to know". I am not sure that Aberdeen makes the most of their close association with poetry’s original bad boy.

FROM BURNS TO BANKS: JAMES ROBERTSON EXPLORES THE CITY IN SCOTS LITERATURE


Edinburgh and Glasgow's countless appearances in Scotland's literary canon will be the topic of debate at the next instalment of the Talking Cities series of Edinburgh Lectures on Wednesday (9 February 2011).

Award-winning Scottish author James Robertson will examine the ways in which writers from Robert Burns, Robert Louis Stevenson and Sir Walter Scott to Iain Banks, Alasdair Gray and Janice Galloway portray the cities in their work.

Mr Robertson will deliver his Edinburgh Lecture entitled 'The City in Scottish Literature' at Edinburgh Napier University, where he is writer-in-residence.

He said: "Many of Scotland's great writers, from the age of Enlightenment to the 20th century, came from rural or island communities: they found cities alien and incomprehensible, even when their political sympathies lay with the mass of the populations that inhabited them. My Edinburgh Lecture will explore what this has meant for the representation of cities in Scottish literature, and how the relationship between writers and cities might develop in a post-industrial age."

Councillor Deidre Brock, Culture and Leisure Convener, said: "From Stevenson's depiction of the duality of Edinburgh in The Strange Case of Dr Jekyll and Mr Hyde, to Alasdair Gray's re-imagined Glasgow in Lanark, Scotland's cities have long provided inspiration to many of our greatest literary figures. It's especially fitting to be exploring this topic here in Edinburgh, the world's first UNESCO City of Literature. James Robertson is one of our most highly-regarded and interesting authors, and we can all look forward to a fascinating and thought-provoking Edinburgh Lecture on Wednesday."

James Robertson is the author of The Fanatic (2000), Joseph Knight (2004), The Testament of Gideon Mack (2006) and And the Land Lay Still (2010), which won the Saltire Society Scottish Book of the Year award in 20

6 February 2011

Might not Right in Six Nations Thriller

The Six Nations International Rugby tournament got under way this weekend.  Much as I like, and write about, footie my first sporting love is, and always will be, Rugby Union. 

Under the watchful eye of coach Andy Robinson Scotland have  managed 6 wins out of their last 7 matches  including beating World Champions South Africa last autumn. I don't know what goes on behind the scenes of these things but from my vantage point Robinson seems to have turned things around - a remarkable achievement especially considering his previous job was coach of the "Auld Enemy" England!

Yesterday  we had the first match of the season against France in Paris. It was a great tussle with France running out worthy winners. The try count was four to three to France. Scotland played  with immense spirit and there are few teams who can boast that they have scored three tries in the Stade de France!

It was the scrum that made all the difference. The French were a stone per man lighter! It was their superior technique that made the difference. The fact that size, in this instance, didn't matter should be a salutary lesson to those young people who are  learning how to play the game. 

There are fewer more magnificent sights in sport than a great pack in a scrum going for a pushover try. A great sight ....as long as it is your team and not the other guys!

HOUSING LEADER'S REACTION TO SCOTTISH GOVERNMENT PAPER

This is a copy of the news release relating to last Fridays announcement  from the Scottish Government.


HOUSING LEADER'S REACTION TO SCOTTISH GOVERNMENT PAPER

The City of Edinburgh Council’s Housing Leader Councillor Paul Edie has welcomed the Scottish Government’s policy paper 'Housing Fit for The 21st Century today'.

Cllr Edie said: “The paper sets out many of the innovative proposals which we have already been developing in partnership with the Scottish Government.  These include being the first local authority to sign up for the National Housing Trust Initiative, delivering mid market rental housing and developing our 21st Century Homes programme which will provide up to 1300 new homes including the first new Council homes for a generation.

“Everyone knows that there is a need for more homes in this country and that the crisis in Edinburgh is particularly acute. The city needs 36,600 new homes to meet the demand for new housing over the next ten years with at least 16,600 of these being affordable. Home ownership is now out of the reach of many people in the city.

“Most people would now require an average deposit of £45,000 to buy a two bedroom property. This is putting increased pressure on the private rented sector and on affordable housing.

“The Council and its partners have a strong track record in delivering a range of affordable housing options which have delivered much better value investment than in other parts of the country. We will continue to work with the Scottish Government to address the serious housing issues facing the city.”

Notes to editors

The average price for a two bedroom property in Edinburgh in 2010 was £181,000 (ESPC)

The Council’s achievements include:

- Plans to deliver up to 600 homes through the National Housing Trust

- The City of Edinburgh Council is delivering affordable housing for an average public sector subsidy of £56,000 per unit compared with a Scottish average of £70,000

Some of the key issues raised in the Scottish Government Paper include:

- Proposals for new powers to increase council tax on long term empty homes raising additional money to spend on building more low cost homes
- Changes in the way affordable housing is delivered. Government funding will be used to lever in the maximum possible investment from other sources and encouraging innovation
- Encouraging more innovative ways of financing and building more affordable homes for less; and
- Recognising the need for Government support for the growing number of people priced out of home ownership who are struggling to afford market rents but unable to access social housing.

5 February 2011

Edie Speaks - Interview with the Guardian online

Ok not quite as dramatic as the famous "Garbo Talks" headline but here is a link to the interview I recently did with the guardianedinburgh on line about this blog.

http://www.guardian.co.uk/edinburgh/2011/feb/04/edinburgh-blogging-councillors-paul-edie

4 February 2011

SCHOOL ARTISTS PAY TRIBUTE TO PAOLOZZI WITH GIANT MURAL

I thought any art lovers would find this  release below of interest. Sculptor Eduardo Paolozzi was the father of pop art and an Edinburgh man. He attended my mothers school and sat at the back of the art class doing his own thing. Did she manage to get any of his early works which might be worth something?  Sadly no!


SCHOOL ARTISTS PAY TRIBUTE TO PAOLOZZI WITH GIANT MURAL

Pupils in Edinburgh today revealed a giant playground mural inspired by the work of famous artist and Leith born former pupil, Sir Eduardo Paolozzi.

The Paolozzi-inspired playground pop art was officially unveiled by the artist’s sister, Yolanda Tartaglia and attended by City Education Leader Cllr Marilyne MacLaren.

The mural is based on mosaic, screen printing, pop art and collage art work by three of the children at the school (Elise Kemp P2, Unzala Ali P6 and Lizzie Robertson-Grier, P7) and took more than two days to transfer onto the playground wall in spray paint by graffiti artist Danny McDermott.

The mural was created as part of a joint project between Leith Walk Primary School and Newhaven Advertising Agency, whose building backs onto the playground.

City Education Leader Cllr Marilyne MacLaren said:

“We want to encourage and inspire creativity in all our learners, and this amazingly detailed mural is a wonderful example of this. The children have created a very personal and fitting tribute to one of Edinburgh’s most famous sons.”

Leith Walk Primary Head teacher, Stewart Crabb said:

“Through learning about our famous former pupil, Sir Eduardo Paolozzi, all the children in the school have been inspired to create their own visual interpretation of his work – based on his own pioneering techniques.

"We’re delighted that Ms Tartaglia was with us to open this permanent tribute to her brother’s creativity and achievement, which we hope will continue to inspire children in the school for generations to come.”

Gareth Howells, Director of Newhaven Communications, said:

"I was reading about Sir Eduardo Paolozzi being a former Leith Walk Primary pupil and a light bulb went off overhead. I thought it would be a nice, neighbourly thing to do to donate the wall-space facing the playground and turn it into a Paolozzi-inspired mural.

"The thinking behind this unique project and extra special mural is to educate and inspire the kids. And hopefully one day, we could be hiring the next Paolozzi to work at Newhaven."

To mark the event, pupils at the school have prepared an exhibition called ‘The Life and Work of Paolozzi’.

3 February 2011

Council Moves to Expand Advocacy Services

Advocacy has dominated today's Council meeting. We have had a review ongoing for two years now and finally we reached the stage of sending it out to tender.


This Joint Review with NHS Partners has involved extensive consultations with service users and other stakeholders.

We eventually plumped to have three contracts covering different group s . We currently have seven providers and as these are new contracts we need to tender them. This has caused existing providers to campaign against the proposals as it threatens their economic interests. They have opposed the move to three contracts and said if we were to move to three they want to have the new contracts gifted to them.

We can't do that. For one thing it would breach EU Procurement legislation which states that we have to procure in an open and transparent  manner . Even if we didn't have to do that I would still want to. When we tendered Homelessness  Services a couple of years ago we got far better quality of services  for  better value  and as a result were able to increase the  number of people able to receive the service.*(Note this part of the post was missed by accident and explains the following paragraphs! Apologies for any confusion)
This was a win for the service user - they got better services - a win for the Council - we got better value and made savings - and, critically, a win for those who in the past we couldn't afford to provide a service for in the past.

These are the people who get lost under the shouts of the vested interests. The silent voices of those for whom we are unable to provide a service for. The decision we took today means that these people will now find their voices.

2 February 2011

First Win of the Year at Easter Rd and Anfield Finds a New Hero

You wait eleven hours for a Hibs goal and then two come along almost at once. This is the first Hibs goal and  win of the new year and it eases a little of the pressure. Hopefully this is us turning the corner. 

Elsewhere Luis Suarez made his debut for Liverpool. For me he was the best player in the World Cup (see previous postings)  and had  he not been suspended for the Semi against the Dutch then I think Uruguay may have won it!

Kenny Dalglish swept him up the other day, for £24 million, from Ajax, in the frenzied spending and selling spree. Liverpool spent £54 million on two players and sold one to Chelsea for £50 million. Crazy! Suarez though is a good catch but no body is worth that much!

Anyho' sixteen minutes into their match with Stoke and Suarez scores. He is off to a very good start!

1 February 2011

Short Film Competition Kicks Off

I was delighted to read of the launch yesterday of the Edinburgh Schools short film competition. This is run in partnership between the Film Festival and the Children and Families Department of the Council. I have had the pleasure of dishing out the awards at this in the past and of viewing the films  in front of the young film makers and their families.  The results are always great fun, often hilarious (deliberately so). Best of luck to this years crop. Who knows it may be the beginning of   Oscar winning careers for some!