Wednesday, September 17, 2014

YES or NO - on Friday, we all need to work collectively

I will vote NO tomorrow, as variously explained over recent months and repeated in this blog-post from earlier, but whether the result is NO or YES; come this Friday, we are all going to need to work collectively together ...

... and here's a reminder of that plea I made on September 17th last year.

I'll certainly be keeping these thoughts at the forefront of my mind over coming days and weeks. I hope you can too.


The morning after ...

* Friday 19th September 2014? *

A year to go until the referendum.

I've a shocking acknowledgement to make - I don't think the sky will fall in, if Scotland votes yes next year ...

... even more shocking - I don't think the sky will fall in, if Scotland votes no next year either.

Life will go on; the earth will continue to turn; the sun will rise.

Of course, the actual result will have a profound political impact on the country we live in.

But neither possible result - and I only wish more politicians would honestly admit this - will be a panacea for all of Scottish society's ills.

Now, it won't shock anyone to hear that I'll be voting no.

Just type 'devolution' in the top-left, blogger search-box; and scan through the results, and you'll quickly realise that I'm a (relatively) unusual - but hopefully consistent - unreformed, Labour Party (con)Federalist.

If I was to pick out one post, to illustrate my thinking, I guess I'd choose this one (and the links therein); but there are many more if you're inclined to undertake the suggested search ;-)

I have thought (rather sadly!) about these issues over several decades now, and basically remain fully committed to the cause of a Federal UK.

I completely accept that others, have arrived at a different decision - many of them may have settled on supporting Scottish Independence via a similar, constitutional (and political) trajectory to my own ... that's fine by me; I respect their view; and hope they respect mine.

366-days from now, regardless of the result, we'll wake up and the sky won't have fallen in; the earth will still be turning; and the sun will have risen ... and we'll need to collectively get on with attempting to make our country a better place to live in, for as many of its inhabitants as possible.

The vast majority of the people I know, on both sides of the referendum debate, are working to do just that today ... they'll be doing just that tomorrow; in a months time; and in years time.

Wouldn't the next 12-months be a little more interesting, and engaging, if we could all just keep that in mind as we move towards the morning of Friday 19th September 2014?

Referendum tomorrow ... it's a NO from me

It probably hasn't escaped your attention that there's a referendum here in Scotland tomorrow!

Huge amount of attention here in Edinburgh - not only will the Capital City result be counted/announced here, but the overall Scotland-wide result will also be collated/announced at the Edinburgh Count-Centre out at Ingliston.

I made a bit of plea, over a year ago, for all sides to keep the campaign in perspective ... because, come what may, this Friday morning/afternoon we'll all need to collectively get on with attempting to make our country a better place to live in, for as many of its inhabitants as possible. The vast majority of the people I know, on both sides of the referendum debate, are working to do just that.

In a moment, I'm going to re-blog that post, as my last entry before the polls open ...

... before that - here's a reminder of a much earlier post I put up; from way back in September 2011, before the referendum had even been finally decided upon - it really explains why I'll be voting NO tomorrow, whilst I remain completely respectful of anyone who takes the opposite-view:


Back to the backbenches
Now, my local political opponents shouldn’t get too excited as I’m not talking about the City of Edinburgh Council ;-)

No, I’m referring to the Electoral Reform Society (ERS) ... as regular readers will know, the ERS AGM was held a couple of weeks ago and I didn’t report on events then as the election of Officers (of the ERS Council) was postponed for a couple of weeks due to a few absences from the meeting in London on the 3rd.

So, this Saturday’s Council Meeting had the task of electing the Officers for the next 12-months.

And yesterday, I stood to remain Chair and lost the vote by the narrowest of margins – 1.

And I should start these reflections by congratulating the new Chair – John Ault – and wishing him all the best in the role for the coming 12-months. He’ll have my 100% support.

I’d taken the decision before the meeting, not to contest any other Officer post if I didn’t get the Chair’s position – as the title of this blogpost indicates, I’d concluded it was either Chair or ‘back to the backbenches’.

And that’s where I’ll now be for the next while on the ERS Council. Less trips to London, a lot less e-mails and possibly a bit more time to spend on that allotment ;-)

Inevitably the events of Saturday have led me to reflect on the state of the democratic reform movement as we move on from last May’s referendum defeat and into a new phase of campaigning. I’ve not engaged in the endless post-mortems about last May and that deeply disappointing result ... and I don’t intend to dwell on it here, given the acres of print already expended on the subject. Suffice to say, all of us involved in that campaign have to accept a degree of responsibility for what went wrong.

But I do want to reflect on wider issues and put May’s defeat into some sort of context.

If I had a pound for every time (since May) I’d heard someone argue that the democratic reform movement was dysfunctional and had achieved nothing, I’d be a rich man :-(

Of course, the ERS – and all the other non-Party Groups – have their problems ... as do all the major and minor political Parties in this country. Stick a bunch of disparate activists together in a campaign (non-Party or Party) and an element of dysfunctionality is beyond certain ;-)

Democracy, properly practiced, with real people, is messy, difficult and bloody frustrating.

And thank goodness for it.

But it’s the claims of ‘just what has the democratic reform movement ever achieved’ that have become just a tad annoying for my liking. I want to explain just why I think that.

I guess I first became involved in the wider movement back in late-1990 when I joined Charter88 (as it was then) when I lived and worked in Stoke-on-Trent, and shortly thereafter attended the Charter88 Manchester Convention in November 1991. It was a complete turning-point in my political awareness and a period of a few months for which I will be forever grateful. If anyone involved in organising that Convention is listening – you changed my political life.

Shortly after, during late 1991/early 1992 I think it was, I joined the Electoral Reform Society (ERS), and in 1993 I moved back to Scotland (Edinburgh to be precise) and went completely native within the devolution-movement and the imminent 1997 referendum campaign, first being elected to the ERS Council in the mid-1990s and eventually being elected as a Local Government Councillor in Edinburgh for the first time in 1999.

Back then, in the early 1990’s, many of the newly elected Members of this year’s ERS Council would still have been at Primary School and here’s what didn’t exist:
  • A Scottish Parliament
  • The use of proportional representation (AMS) to elect that Scottish Parliament
  • A Welsh Assembly
  • The use of proportional representation (AMS) to elect that Welsh Assembly
  • A Northern Ireland Assembly
  • The use of proportional representation (STV) to elect that Northern Ireland Assembly
  • A Greater London Authority (GLA)
  • The use of proportional representation (MMP) to elect that Greater London Authority
  • The use of proportional representation (Regional List System) to elect the European Parliament
  • A House of Lords free from hereditary peers
  • The Freedom of Information Act (England and Wales)
  • The Freedom of Information Act (Scotland)
  • The incorporation of the European Convention of Human Rights (ECHR) into British Law
  • The use of the Single Transferable Vote (STV) to elect Scottish Local Government
  • I’m one of 1,222 Councillors in Scotland now elected by STV :-)
It’s not a bad list of achievements within a 20-year timeframe ... and we all too readily forget it.

If you never experienced it, I can understand it’s probably hard to imagine what the UK looked and felt like prior to these reforms – what can I say ... politically, it was a pretty dispiriting state of affairs for any genuine democrat.

But these hard won reforms are not enough for me, and come 2031, I’d like to see the list above added to by the following:
  • The implementation of fixed term Parliaments at Westminster
  • The use of proportional representation to elect English Local Government
  • The use of the Single Transferable Vote (STV) to elect the House of Lords
  • and yes, the use of proportional representation to elect the House of Commons
  • Votes for those of 16-years of age, for all levels of Government
  • The formation of Regional Assemblies in England
  • All as part of a federal-settlement for the United Kingdom
  • All contained within a Written Constitution
Do I really think these things can be achieved in the next 20-years?

Yes I do. The evidence of the previous two decades proves that these seismic constitutional changes can be won, with hard work, determination, and a willingness to learn lessons and keep going in the hardest of moments.

Just ask those involved in that first 1979 Scottish Referendum how they felt in the months after defeat?

But, many of those very same people were still involved in the later-1997 Referendum Campaign that led directly to the formal establishment of the Scottish Parliament.

Regular readers will know that I'm not really one for heroes - but looking back, if I do have any 'political heroes' it’s those people – some of whom I was lucky enough to work with in that 1997 campaign – the ones who kept the flame of constitutional reform alive after the darkest of days. And, eventually they did indeed achieve what they aspired for.

And I’ve no doubt whatsoever that the new Members of the ERS Council – and the many others who are working tirelessly for meaningful democratic reform – will see further achievements in the next two decades.

It may not seem likely right at this minute, but history tells me it will indeed happen.

But not if we spend any more time feeling sorry for ourselves or asking ‘just what has the democratic reform movement ever achieved’.

It’s achieved an enormous amount - literally having transformed this country’s politics.

But there’s some unfinished business and, for me, we simply now need to get on and complete the job.

Just like those 'political heroes' of 1979 did.

Tuesday, September 16, 2014

Change is coming; yes or no ...

The state has tried to control too much from the centre for too long

The Scottish referendum is now just a couple of days away, but it’s already clear it will have a profound effect on the UK whatever the outcome.

The status quo is no longer on offer – the choice is between the gamble of separation or an unprecedented transfer of powers to Scotland within the UK. But this plan for more powers is only the start of the change we need in exactly where power lies.
Regions right across the United Kingdom, individual communities and the households and individuals that make them up, all feel excluded from power over the decisions that affect them day to day. The game is up for top-down decision-making based in Whitehall as people make it clear they want big change. The risk facing Scotland is that Alex Salmond’s plan to replace centralised Whitehall control will just result in a new top-down centralisation based in Holyrood.

Labour is developing ideas that have the potential to deliver the change that’s really needed. Andrew Adonis’ proposals for powerful city-regions will shift decision-making over transport, housing, regeneration, infrastructure and elements of welfare and the economy closer to the communities they affect. This is a start that will go further in future, and it would benefit the Scottish cities and regions just as much as those in England, Wales and Northern Ireland. 

Ed Miliband’s radical call for a people-power revolution in public services would see more power placed in the hands of those who use public services, rather than leave them subject to decision-making by the organisations that run them. In an age when people experience so much more control over their lives and their choices as consumers of goods and services, and with the age of deference long dead, it’s simply unacceptable that so many public services are offered on a take-it-or-leave-it basis by those who tell us they know best. For too long now, government, at all levels, has done things to peoplewhen we should be doing things with people.

The state has tried to control too much from the centre for too long, whether that power is based in Whitehall or the town hall. We need to shift power as close as possible to the people it affects if we want to restore trust in the political system. Parents need more control over schools, patients need a bigger say in their treatment, tenants need more control over how their homes and estates are managed, victims need more power to help stop crime. That way we can harness the insights of individuals and communities to make public services more effective at doing the things people really want to see, and force organisations to work together in local partnerships that focus on local priorities and prevent problems from happening rather than try to manage failure.

We need to accept, too, that different places will do things differently. We should welcome that as the way to let innovation flourish. We can strengthen civil society, rebuild broken relationships within communities, and give people back the self-reliance they need to aspire to a better life by involving them in the decisions that affect them. All of this works best if the United Kingdom’s family of nations remains together, giving us the strength we need to support each other in a fast-changing world even as we devolve power down as close as possible to the people it affects.

Whatever the outcome, there can be no doubt that this referendum has changed Scotland. But it has not just changed Scotland; it will change Britain, because the thirst for democratic and economic change that has been heard from the Scottish people is shared by people throughout Britain. We need more power for every nation, region, community and individual in our country as part of a revolution that will change Britain for good.

Steve Reed is the Labour MP for Croydon North and former Leader of Lambeth Council.
Andrew Burns is a Labour Councillor and Leader of Edinburgh Council

(First published at the New Statesman 16/09/14)


Monday, September 08, 2014

Craighouse Hearing

I think it's fair to say that most local people (not to mention those further afield) where pretty stunned at the final outcome of last Wednesday's "Craighouse Hearing" meeting ...

... I had to leave the Hearing, having spoken in objection earlier, to get over to Glasgow for the early evening; and couldn't quite believe events as they unfolded before me, via twitter :-(

Given that the meeting was taken in the Main Council Chamber, the whole +7-hour event was webcast/recorded; and after some frustrating delays, the whole video is now up on the Council's archive site - here:

... if you're so interested, you can hear me speak, from here:

Just for the avoidance of any doubt, I'll list the vote - as cast and evidenced on the webcast - at the bottom of this post.

And I'll re-produce immediately below, the note I had before me, when I spoke to to the meeting ...

... and I am most definitely minded to support calls for this application to now be called-in by the Scottish Government. To that end, I will - as a local Councillor - write to the Minister for Local Government and Planning, within the next few days.


Application 12/04007/SCH3 (Scheme 3)
Planning permission and listed building consent for the proposed Craighouse development (12/04007/SCH3) should be refused as;
The proposals have been assessed against the relevant provisions of the development plan and it is concluded that they do not fully accord with development plan policy.
The proposed development is contrary to local plan policy to a greater or lesser extent in terms of:
·        the impact on the setting of the listed buildings
·        the impact on the character and appearance of the conservation area
·        the impact on landscape character and views to and from the site
·        the loss of trees
·        and the loss of open space, namely
  1. policies Des1
  2. Des3
  3. Des10
  4. Env3
  5. Env6
  6. Env11
  7. Env12
  8. and Os1 of the Edinburgh City Local Plan 
·        Further, it is contrary to Local Transport Strategy 2014-2019 policies aimed at increasing modal share for active and sustainable travel

And crucially, I believe the new-build elements of the proposal do not meet the definition of enabling development, either within Scottish Planning Policy; or within English Heritage Policy ...
While there is no specific local plan policy relating to enabling development Scottish Planning Policy states:
"142. Enabling development may be acceptable where it can be clearly shown to be the only means of preventing the loss of the asset and securing its long-term future. Any development should be the minimum necessary to achieve these aims. The resultant development should be designed and sited carefully to preserve or enhance the character and setting of the historic asset."
English Heritage Policy
There is no specific Scottish guidance in respect of enabling cases and therefore it is considered appropriate to consider the English Heritage guidance 'Enabling Development and the Conservation of Significant Places'.
The English Heritage document states;
"Enabling development that would secure the future of a significant place, but contravene other planning policy objectives, should be unacceptable unless:
a) it will not materially harm the heritage values of the place or its setting
b) it avoids detrimental fragmentation of management of the place
c) it will secure the long-term future of the place and, where applicable, its continued use for a sympathetic purpose
d) it is necessary to resolve problems arising from the inherent needs of the place, rather than the circumstances of the present owner, or the purchase price paid
e) sufficient subsidy is not available from any other source
f) it is demonstrated that the amount of enabling development is the minimum
necessary to secure the future of the place, and that its form minimises harm to other public interests
g) the public benefit of securing the future of the significant place through such enabling development decisively outweighs the disbenefits of breaching other public policies."
So, in conclusion:

·        I believe the Scheme 3 proposals are self-evidently contrary to numerous development plan policies
·        They do not meet the definition of enabling development, either within Scottish Planning Policy; or within English Heritage Policy
·        And there are therefore no material considerations which indicate that the development should be granted

I ask the Committee to refuse this application.





Friday, September 05, 2014

Find out where, when and how to vote ...

All the information you could possibly need on where, when and how to vote - via this one handy link!

And not a single mention of yes or no :-)

Whichever way you're thinking of voting - PLEASE DO VOTE.

Monday, September 01, 2014

Tony Benn: Will and Testament

A special event screening of Tony Benn: Will and Testament followed by a panel discussion and audience Q&A.

Tony Benn: Will and Testament is a unique autobiographical feature-length film - an intimate and personal reflection on life, work, love and loss from one of the UKs most influential and charismatic political figures - Tony Benn.

In the film Tony presents his own personal reflections on his childhood and youth, marriage and family, political career and retirement through intimate, confessional interviews wonderfully illustrated by his personal photographic and film archives.

Tony Benn was very proud of his Celtic connections. His mother was born in Paisley, one Grandfather was a Clyde ship worker and another an Irvine steeplejack.
It is therefore fitting that the “Will and Testament Town Hall Screening Tour” should come to the City of Glasgow:

The Grand Hall, City Halls, Glasgow
Film starts at 7.30pm. Doors open 6.45pm

Friday, August 29, 2014

Edinburgh Printmakers’ Future Home at Castle Mill Works, Fountainbridge

Local Ward 9 readers may well be aware that Edinburgh Printmakers has recently received a Heritage Lottery Enterprise Fund 'round 1 pass' for an award of close to £5 million for the redevelopment of Castle Mill Works. The site is the former HQ of the North British Rubber Company in Fountainbridge, a 2000m2 ‘at risk’ building of significant industrial heritage value.

The ambition to save Castle Mill Works, a building of huge industrial heritage significance in Edinburgh stemmed from Edinburgh Printmakers’ search for the ideal home in which to build a world class contemporary arts centre specialising in printmaking, a vision that is now well on the way to becoming a reality.

Over the next 3 years of capital development, Edinburgh Printmakers’ artistic programme will deliver ambitious projects featuring art work by accomplished international artists, who will each in their own unique way respond to the distinctive and exceptional cultural heritage and legacy of Castle Mill Works whilst also reflecting on the proposed contemporary use as centre for artistic productivity.

Through ambitious and responsive commissioning of temporary artist interventions, permanent site-specific installations, and integrated community projects, Edinburgh Printmakers hopes to draw attention to the features of this historic building, addressing perceptions around the value of the building to the built environment and develop widespread support for retaining and preserving the industrial heritage of the city for re-use as a centre for cultural production.

Edinburgh Printmakers want local people to be at the heart of the project, sharing their knowledge and memories of the history of the area as a rubber manufacturing plant and getting familiar with the new role the building will have as a home for contemporary art practice.

During the programme the temporary installations on and around the building will have a thematic link to works on show at Edinburgh Printmakers gallery in Union Street.

To launch the temporary installations programme, Scottish artist Calum Colvin has created a stunning and unique intervention using the boarded up window recesses of Castle Mill Works. This installation comprises 120 posters consisting of 60 different images ... see photo above :-)

Thursday, August 28, 2014

Corporate, Policy and Strategy Committee

The eagle-eyed amongst you will have spotted that there was no Corporate, Policy and Strategy Committee during July - and I personally missed August's meeting, due to Annual Leave ...

... what do you mean, you never noticed :-((

Anyhow - to make up for this death of scintillating Local Government Reports ... wait for it ... there are TWO Corporate Policy and Strategy Committee Committee meetings taking place in September ;-)

... all the papers for the first one - on 2nd September - are now in the public domain: the main Agenda can be found here ---

--- and the individual reports are all up on Committee Papers on-Line (CPOL) linked from here.

Reports that may well attract some attention and debate:

Just click on any of the above links for access (as a PDF) to the specific report.

Sunday, August 17, 2014

Register to vote - by Tuesday 2nd September!

High levels of excitement during the week just past, as my own and my partner's Referendum Poll Cards arrived ... but, my excitement wasn't so much about those, as the third card that dropped through our letter-box --- the one for our 16-year old son ;-)

I've long been a supporter of Votes at 16, and I'm absolutely delighted that the franchise has been lowered for this vote --- it must surely now come down for other elections?

As things stand at the moment, Junior will get a vote in a few weeks time on the constitutional future of Scotland (quite rightly so, as far as I'm concerned), yet on the first Thursday in May next year he won't be able to cast a vote in the UK General Election, and won't get to do so until May 2020 by which time he'll be 22-years of age :-(

But - all that aside - and whichever way you intend to vote on the 18th September ... I really hope you will vote!

There most likely will not be such a significant electoral event again in our lifetimes - and if you haven't yet got a Poll Card and/or you're not sure if you are on the Electoral Register; then you have until Tuesday 2nd September to register ... just go here: ;-)

Saturday, August 16, 2014

August Leader's Report

August 2014

Games set gold standard


Andrew Burns
Having personally sampled the fantastic atmosphere and organisation of the Glasgow Commonwealth Games, I can only echo the praise heaped upon the organisers - and with a record haul of 53 medals, TeamScotland did the country equally proud.
Edinburgh, of course, also played its part. Thousands took to the streets to welcome the Queen's Baton Relay back in June, setting the tone for an unforgettable three days of diving competitions in the 'Commie Pool', including career best performances from local divers Grace Reid and James Heatly.

All in all, around 80 Edinburgh born, based or trained athletes took part in the Games, bringing home 15 medals, and the Council is planning to recognise their achievements with a public celebration later this month.
Councillor Andrew Burns
Leader of the City of Edinburgh

Exams success


And speaking of success, congratulations to Edinburgh's school pupils on gaining excellent exam results yet again this year. The number of S6 and S5 pupils (61% and 54% respectively) who achieved one or more Highers improved on last year and over 23,000 awards were given out for the new National exams.

It's been a challenge for pupils and our teaching staff to prepare for these new exams but I think the results speak for themselves. Last week's figures also reinforce recently published statistics from Audit Scotland that Edinburgh is outperforming similar city and neighbouring authorities when it comes to S4 results.

In addition to exams, another key aim of the Capital Coalition is to make sure all school leavers enter a positive destination of employment, training or further education through initiatives such as the Edinburgh Guarantee - and this year a record 91% of young people achieved this.


Greener Edinburgh


Another priority for the Council is to make Edinburgh a greener city, and next month we'll be making it easier for residents who use our wheelie bin service to recycle. This new service will help us meet our target of recycling 70% of our waste.

The range of things residents can recycle will increase, resulting in less waste being sent to landfill - allowing us to reduce both our carbon footprint and the amount of landfill tax we pay.

The service will be rolled out in phases to 140,000 households over the next year with the first 20,000 starting in September. If you're in Phase 1, you will shortly receive information in the post, including a new collection calendar. You can find out more by visiting the Council website.


Tram latest


This month, Edinburgh welcomes the world, with hundreds of thousands of people thronging the City to enjoy the festivals. And for the first time since 1956, Festival-goers can again travel in the Capital by tram.

Trams continue to attract an average of over 90,000 passengers per week. We're very pleased with this consistent performance, which is in line with the business model, but we will continue to work closely with Transport for Edinburgh to ensure that any issues are picked up on and resolved swiftly.

Two Celtic European Games at the BT Murrayfield Stadium went well, with thousands using the trams to get to and from the games. These events certainly put the Edinburgh Trams team to the test but I'm pleased to say they coped admirably with the large crowds.




Next month, EdinburghApps will once again challenge residents to come up with high-tech solutions to help improve the lives of people visiting, living and working in Edinburgh.

The first of its kind in the UK, the competition lets teams and individuals use Council data to create ideas and concepts for the benefit of the city. In its first year, it attracted a range of innovative entries, including an app to help Council lorries operate more efficiently and another helping residents locate their nearest recycling point.

This year's event has two themes: Culture & Sport and Health. If you are interested in taking part, please visit the EdinburghApps website or email


Don't lose your vote


This week, more than 350,000 registered voters in Edinburgh (over 4m across Scotland) will begin to receive poll cards for the Scottish Independence Referendum, providing them with details on how and where they can vote on 18 September.

This is set to be the biggest poll in Scotland's history with a turnout of more than 80% predicted. But only people who are registered to vote, and are aged 16 or over on the 18 September, are able to take part. That's why it's essential that you register by 2 September.

I would urge all those who want to take part in this historic vote to check their details are on the register by visiting Lothian Valuation Joint Board's website or calling 0131 344 2500.


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Friday, August 15, 2014

August Full Council Meeting

The August Council Meeting is this coming Thursday (21st) ...

... all the reports are now up on Committee Papers On-Line (CPOL) and you can access the main agenda directly here; and each of the individual reports separately via this link.

Of course - as ever, if you're so minded, you can watch all the proceedings live here ... or the meeting will be archived a few hours after it finishes for viewing at your leisure!

Monday, August 11, 2014

Back in Edinburgh ...

Back in Edinburgh now, after a couple of weeks break with the family ...

... no Surgeries on Monday/Tuesday, due to ongoing School-holidays, but I will be at Fountainbridge Library at 6pm this Wednesday evening, and then back to the normal surgery-timetable from next week!

Please bear with me for a couple of days whilst I catch up on e-mails ... I've got an awful lot in the inbox to deal with ... but I will get through them by mid-week.

Hope everyone has had a restful Summer ;-)

Friday, July 25, 2014

Currently Off Air

The family summer-holiday is here :-)

Absolutely no blogging for a few weeks; and I also intend to completely (and I do mean completely!) lay-off twitter, facebook and blipfoto as well ...

... e-mails won't be read directly by me, but Staff will pick them up and respond accordingly.

My mobile will be on, in case anyone needs to get me by phone/text urgently - but, in the nicest possible way, I hope not to hear from too many folk ;-)

Normal service will resume by Monday 11th August latest.

Tuesday, July 15, 2014

East Coast Main Line Authorities Consortium

Was pleased to take part, earlier today, in the Scottish-launch of the "East Coast Main Line (ECML) Authorities Consortium" recent research, on the potential for economic growth along the ECML-route.

I'll repeat the main points from the relevant News Release below ... but important to note that I've certainly not witnessed such a 'whole line approach' to the potential for rail development on this side of the UK before.

Very refreshing to witness, and I'm confident it will help press the case successfully with both UK, and Scottish, Governments.


Invest in East Coast Main Line to see huge economic growth says Consortium

Published Tuesday, 15th July 2014

For the first time, the huge growth potential of economies linked by the East Coast Main Line (ECML) will be presented to Government Ministers, business leaders and Members of the UK and Scottish Parliaments at events in Edinburgh on 15 July and London on 17July.

The research, commissioned by the Consortium of East Coast Main Line Authorities (ECMA), was undertaken over the past eight months and is part of the ECMAs bid for investment for upgrades to the ECML.  It shows that the economies linked by the ECML are worth well over £300bn each year to the UK with significant potential for growth worth £5bn if rail connections were improved along the whole route.

Furthermore, the predicted economic benefits increase to £9bn if the ECML is improved in addition to the eastern arm of High Speed 2 being built, allowing high speed trains to connect Leeds, York, the North East and Scotland to Birmingham and London.

The Consortium will be setting out the action all partners need to take to deliver this economic growth across the ECML at the Events.  It will ask the rail industry to suggest and deliver the schemes that best achieve the potential for economic growth identified in the research.
City of York Council is a member of ECMA and is committed to securing economic growth by improving passenger and freight services across the ECML.


Monday, July 14, 2014

Somehow the ball went in ...

What can you add about that Mario Gotze goal last night - think the look on his face here says it all really ...

... 22-years old, and he's just scored the winning goal in the Football World Cup, ensuring the first ever European-nation victory on South American World Cup soil - no wonder he's smiling :-))

FIFA website has a wonderful interview-piece with him, which you can read here.

And the BBC website now even has a short video up of all 171 World Cup goals - you can see it here ...

... I'm biased, but really do think that Gotze's goal would have won 'goal of the tournament' if he hadn't left it until so late-in-the-day ;-)

Saturday, July 12, 2014

Allotment produce galore :-)

Allotment produce galore, from our visit to our Saughton plot late this afternoon:

- broad beans
- strawberries
- raspberries
- gooseberries
- blackcurrants

... the intermittent heat, and heavy rain, over recent weeks has most certainly led to the best fruit-crop we've had since getting the plot in 2008.

Lots more to pick in forthcoming weeks as well :-)

Thursday, July 10, 2014

Developing Community Assets ...

Part of the Council's "Cooperative Capital" programme is to try and encourage/facilitate Community Engagement and the use of potential Asset Transfer, where there is significant Community interest in such ...

"The Council wants Edinburgh to become a Cooperative Capital where communities are much more involved in planning, managing and delivering services.

The idea of this approach is to give local people a greater sense of choice and control over the public services they use.

The aim is to provide quality services that meet the needs of our citizens and businesses in the face of bigger service demands and less funding."

I was thus particualry interested in some recent information sent through to me by an Edinburgh-based organisation, COMAS, who were asked (in 2008/09) to develop a training pack for community groups that were acquiring and developing community assets for their communities ...

... relevant case studies, and all the significant sections of the training pack, are still freely available on-line - via this link.

It may well be of interest - and still of some use - to many Edinburgh communities?

Wednesday, July 09, 2014

Saughton Park Project

Saughton Park isn't actually in my Ward - but very close to the boundary with Ward 7 ;-)

I've always had a bit of a soft-spot for it though ... spent days (literally!) there when Junior was little; and just love the place.

So - I was absolutely delighted last year when a project to restore the Park to its former glory (this snap is of the Park in the 1930's!), received significant Heritage Lottery Funding; you can read about the funding award here.
And I'm equally delighted to be able to report that the first stages of the project are now moving on apace - you can read a lot more about what's going on via the pages here ...
... and specifically, you can catch up on imminent news and events via here.
Indeed --- during ‘Love Parks Week’ (25th July – 4th August)  there are two fun events:
  • On Tuesday 29th of July (10am) there will be a launch of the Saughton Park Geocaching Trail -- Geocaching is a sort of hi-tech treasure hunt, see or for details. This trail is being supported by the Geocaching Association of Great Britain.
  • And on Wednesday 30th of July (10am-4pm) there will be the first ‘Great Saughton Bear Hunt’ where children and their families are invited to hunt for the 30 bears which have taken up residence in the Park.

Go on; all the details are here - you know you want to :-)