31 December 2011

Eddie Price - Chair of the Friends of Corstorphine Hill and Champion of Open Space

I was so sad to receive a call from Margaret Price to tell me her husband Eddie had passed away. 

Eddie had served as the Chair of the Friends of Corstorphine Hill since we set it up nearly twelve years ago.

From day one Eddie took charge and over the years the group grew to become one of the largest and most respected conservation groups in the City boasting in excess of 1500 members. They had tapped into all sorts of grants with the result that for the first time in 70 years new saplings were planted in that remarkable wood.

Management plans were worked up and  enacted. We had litter pickups, tours based around archaeology, geology, flora and fauna and even mushroom picking tours. Education packs were supplied to local schools about the Hill.

All of this was done under Eddie’s leadership. Right from the start he was in the driving seat.
When East of Scotland Water decided they wanted to build giant water tanks on the Meadow off Clermiston Rd Eddie led the charge against it. In battling the Zoo proposals to build on Greenbelt and the Nature Reserve Eddie was there leading from the front. 

He was such a fighter for the Hill and a great champion of open space. 

Eddie was far from about being against things though and I always felt he was happiest with positive ideas. The renovation of the Four Acre Walled Garden – the first in Scotland to receive a Green Pennant – the garden version of the Green Flag – was a case in point. In true Eddie style he managed to rope in the BBC and a totally derelict space where you wouldn’t have guessed a garden had ever existed was transformed in a matter of months into one of Edinburgh’s hidden gems.

The Green Pennants were not awarded to the Council but to the Friends Group. The last time I spoke with Eddie was at the event the Friends had to celebrate their Community Green Flag. He wasn’t at all well then but you wouldn’t have known it. He seemed his usual gregarious self.   

Gregarious is such a good word to describe Eddie. He was a generous and warm hearted man who could never do enough for you.  My late mother used to say that “a Great man has Time for everybody”. Well that was so true of Eddie. 

Passionate about the causes he believed in he was so committed to them. Corstorphine has lost a great champion and protector of our open spaces

28 December 2011

More re the Pint Sized Pied Piper of Hobart

Before anyone from Oz lynches me re the story in the Edinburgh Evening News below I know you don't get wombats in Tanzania! If you read my post below it does say Tasmania. 

Tasmanian Resident

Journalism is a difficult profession, it is never easy getting everything absolutely accurate but you're 7000 miles out guys! 

I did wonder if the film loving journos at the News had been seeing to much Dickie Attenborough and not enough David. To be helpful I have included a spot the difference feature on this post.

Tanzanian Wildlife

27 December 2011

Suburban Wildlife Tasmanian Style

This video  - reproduced by kind permission of the young (human) stars dad - definitely  beats the Pandas for the "Ahhh Factor" and this one actually moves!

The toddler is my nephew Hamish in Tasmania and this is what happens to you when your mum get a Ph.D in Zoology! 

It was I am assured a rescue Wombat  being looked after by a neighbour! Not sure what the UK suburban equivalent of these are. 

20 December 2011

A Tale of Two Leaders

I have been struck down by the dreaded lurgi over the last few days. And what an eventful few day they have been.

We have seen the deaths of two remarkable and spectacularly contrasting world leaders. 

Vaclav Havel will be remembered as one of the prime movers behind Czechoslovakia’s Revolution. The bloodless overthrow of the Communist regime there was the tipping point in 1989 and signalled the end of the cold war and of tyranny in Eastern Europe. Havel’s passing was mourned throughout the world. He had been a brave dissident and champion of freedom even when it was not something comfortable to champion.  

Havel is up there with the greats of non violent change. His name will be spoken in the same breath as Gandhi and Martin Luther King. 

Kim Jong-il’s name will not be uttered in the same breath as those pantheons of peaceful change and progress.  He will be remembered as one who drove his country into the ground, one who sanctioned the kidnapping of a Film Director and his wide, for his weird obsessions and high living and for running the most oppressive Sate in the world – the last Stalinist Sate as we know them. 

Havel will be remembered fondly. Kim will not.

12 December 2011

Marxism Today!

I am delighted to hear Radio 4 Extra repeating Flywheel Shyster and Flywheel - based on the Radio scripts of the Marx Brothers. No Harpo but still utterly brilliant! My kind of Marxism!

I thought I would give you a flavour - here is a clip of Groucho with his signature song - Lydia the Tattooed Lady!

Groucho was a passionate liberal Democrat and when asked how he felt when Richard Nixon moved next door to him replied he was happier having him there than in the White House! 

10 December 2011

School Leavers Future Brighter thanks to Edinburgh Guarantee

This press statement tells of how Lib Dem led Edinburgh City Council is to ensure that every student leaves school with a job, training or college/university place.


Edinburgh Guarantee to aim for a positive destination for every school leaver

Published Thursday 8 December 2011
A call has gone out to city businesses and organisations across all sectors to provide jobs, paid work experience, training or continued education for every school leaver in Edinburgh.
Government statistics revealed yesterday that there are currently 394 young people in Edinburgh who have not secured a positive destination since leaving school earlier this year.  This is a big improvement on last year's figure of 538 and Edinburgh has bucked the trend, but city leaders are calling for more to be done for all school leavers.
The call was made at a breakfast debate, hosted by J.P. Morgan, which brought together 120 individuals from Edinburgh businesses and organisations to discuss the ongoing issue of youth unemployment in Edinburgh and to encourage participation in the development of the Edinburgh Guarantee.

City Economic Development Leader Cllr Tom Buchanan said:
"If we want our young people to be ambitious then we, as a city, need to be committed to their cause.  Edinburgh's economic future depends on school leavers having opportunities to develop and that's why public, private and voluntary sector organisations are getting involved.  Our aim is very ambitious and it will be a challenge to achieve but our young people are relying on us all to make it happen."
City Education Leader Cllr Marilyne MacLaren said:
"The Edinburgh Guarantee is building up a head of steam and the early signs are that our approach is making a real difference to many young lives. We have changed the face of careers advice in our schools and young people are more prepared than ever before to make informed decisions about their future. However, they need to move into employment, education, apprenticeships or training quickly and, by pulling together, Edinburgh organisations can make a huge impact on the current situation."
The Edinburgh Guarantee, unveiled earlier this year, brings together employers and other organisations with the aim of creating employment, training and further education opportunities for Edinburgh's school leavers.

J.P. Morgan was one of the inaugural members of the Youth Unemployment Taskforce, established earlier this year to tackle escalating youth unemployment, from which the Edinburgh Guarantee developed.  The firm has committed to building on its partnership with the City of Edinburgh Council to drive the expansion of the Edinburgh Guarantee to ensure young people leaving state school each year move into a positive destination.
The Council has created an additional 50 apprenticeships and 80 training places and is currently recruiting young people to fill these posts. The Council is also working with further education colleges to look at ways of providing more training opportunities.  Standard Life recently became the first company to contribute to the 'Edinburgh 100' target with 12 paid placements.
The Edinburgh 100 aims to offer 100 young people six months paid work experience, personal development and mentoring at city businesses.

The fall from 538 to 394 is the first time in 13 years that there has been a reduction in the number of pupils who don't secure a positive destination.
A total of 3423 pupils left school in 2011.

A Bracing Week

This week Scotland has been battered by storms.We have had very high winds even by our standards though the jibe "Call this a hurricane! You've never holidayed in Tiree!" was uttered within my hearing. 

There are some spectacular snaps but the one above will now probably be the most famous snap of a wind turbine for many years to come. 

BBC Scotland showed various clips but the one entitled Hibs players leave the training ground because they were getting  wet (OK I paraphrase) caught my eye. They play footie outdoors - they should expect to get wet! 

In fairness the title didn't do them justice. They couldn't kick the balls as they were being blown away - a metaphor for this season I hear some wag say - the poles they put into the ground to dribble round like slalom skiers were being uprooted etc no not much fun being a Hibs player that day! Oh and they were getting very very wet!

Across Scotland trees have snapped and playground equipment has been uprooted. And this morning the snow came. Admittedly three weeks later than last years very heavy falls which caused so much aggro and a lot lighter but it is finally here.

Today I have a free Saturday for the first time in several weeks and I intend to get the Christmas tree. 

9 December 2011

Painting the Forth Bridge a Thing of the Past

Today  the Forth Bridge (that is the proper title of the Railway bridge spanning the Firth of Forth ) finally finishes being painted.

The extraordinary cantilever bridge - described by Billy Connolly as Scotland's Eiffel Tower (what an astute remark) - was, according to urban myth,  painted all year and when the painters finished they started again from the other end! 

I'm not sure how true that was but new  technology means that it won't need painting for another 20 of so years and the poly sheeting that has covered it has been removed so you can see the old girl in all her glory!

The experiment to show the strength of the cantilever design is shown below in this famous old photo. I'm no engineer but I understand that the heavier the load the stronger it gets.

One of my brother mentioned to me a wee while back that my late grandfather who had lost an eye in WWI  finished off the Great War as a dispatch rider. He would often have to ride his motor bike across the Bridge in the dark - apparently there was a track of some description in the middle. How much this is family myth or fact I am not  sure.

Anyho' visitors to the City will now be able to see one of the true wonders of the industrial age  as it was meant to be.

6 December 2011

New Home Rise From Gracemounts Tower Blocks Rubble

Local Liberal Democrat Councillor Conor Snowden at the Gracemount site
This afternoon I visited the new Council Housing development at Gracemount with a group of Councillors. We were getting inside the new council homes we are building up there and they look fab! The first tenants are due to move in in January and I am sure they will love their new homes.

There are many things Edinburgh's Liberal Democrat led administration have done over the last few years of which I am proud; cutting crime by 21%, cutting homelessness by 15%, reforming Home Helps so people get a service when they need it and this building project is right up there with those!

The new Gracemount Council Homes
There are fewer better things you can do with your life than to build homes for people that need them. Shelter is, after food and warmth, the most basic of human needs. That is why I am so proud of this development, proud to be building the first council homes for a generation in Scotland's Capital City. 

4 December 2011

Black and White on Corstrophine Hill

What's black and white and red all over?

Well there are a two answers to that one.

 A newspaper or a   sun burnt penguin.

I always boast that I represent more penguins than anyone else in the Northern Hemisphere having Edinburgh zoo in my constituency. The penguins are a star attraction particularly with toddlers at the time of their daily parades during the summer being much the same size as toddlers that makes then so irresistible to them.

As of today though the little fellows have some serious competition in the shape of two Giant Pandas hot of the plane from China.

I understand that much of the bamboo they will consume will be grown in Scotland - an interesting spin off for Scottish agriculture. 

To read more of this and see the bears  just follow the link below.