Friday, October 31, 2008

Brief reminder

Just a brief reminder of the overall result for the four main political Parties in the Forth Ward election in May 2007.

Please don't believe other misleading figures, and PLEASE do vote next week to ensure that Forth has a Labour Councillor to re-join the three that the Ward already has:
  • one SNP
  • one Tory
  • one Liberal
  • Only one more is elected next week!

    Official by-election details

    City Council website has finally put up all the relevant details for the forthcoming by-election.

    You can access it all via here - and if you're still not certain of the location of your Polling Station, then the map here may be of assistance.

    Of course, please don't hesitate to get in touch with me (all the details are within the right-hand side-bar) if you think I can assist directly.

    Shocking waste of money

    I can't tell you just how many people have mentioned the lead story in the local Newspaper to me today.

    It's definitely been the main topic of conversation in the Forth Ward!

    £6,000 could be a lot better spent on some street-cleaning, or pavement works, in the communities of Forth.

    What with plans to re-introduce robes, and now plans for pointless trips to India, one really has to wonder at the judgment of those currently running the City Chambers?

    Thursday, October 30, 2008

    Lib-Dem no-show for the second time

    Well, hustings earlier this evening (at the Royston/Wardieburn Community Education Centre) was well attended by the public, which was very good to see.

    Unfortunately, it wasn't so well attend by candidates (or substitutes?) from the main Political Parties. The Lib-Dems failed ONCE AGAIN to send either their candidate or a substitute.

    Pretty poor if you ask me.

    People in Muirhouse, Royston and Wardieburn are frankly wondering just who the Lib-Dem candidate actually is??

    My Local Priorities

    Very busy weekend coming up - the last one before Polling Day, which is now only 7-days away!

    A further Labour leaflet is being distributed around the Ward over the coming few days, and it contains my own 'Local Priorities':

    • Environment: Forth is a mess - weeds on the pavements, graffiti, dog dirt, neglected parks. I will not accept this standard for Forth and will work hard to make a difference in all areas.
    • Road Works: I will demand co-ordination and speedier work, so that traffic can flow.
    • Housing: I will fight to make sure Pennywell, Royston and Wardieburn are top of the list for regeneration.
    • Crime: I will fight to get more police on the beat to help tackle local crime.
    • Education: This is a Labour priority. Nursery provision for all, small class sizes in primary schools and making sure every young person succeeds at school to go into work, training or further education.
    • Sport: Labour is committed to protecting sports centres - vital for the health of young and old.

    Wednesday, October 29, 2008

    More financial woe

    Yet more financial woe announced by the Council today!

    The shortfall of £20million in Capital receipts is bad enough, but even more worrying is the potential extra £10million Revenue pressure due to energy costs.

    Whilst I'm willing to accept some of this may well be beyond the direct control of the Local Authority, it must not be used as an excuse for the failure to get the financial basics right - such as keeping the streets of Forth Ward in a decent condition of cleanliness!

    More hustings

    Another local hustings coming up tomorrow night - this time at the Royston/Wardieburn Community Centre.

    Will be interesting to see if all the major Parties are actually represented tomorrow? I won't be holding my breath.

    Tuesday, October 28, 2008

    Local hustings

    Attended a local 'hustings' at the Muirhouse Millennium Centre (in Muirhouse Medway) last night.

    Enjoyed the evening, but pretty disappointing (to say the least) that several candidates failed to show up - including one of the main Parties, the Liberal -Democrats, who sent neither their candidate nor any substitute?

    Monday, October 27, 2008

    10 days to go

    A mere 10 days to go to Polling Day!

    The pace of campaigning locally is now really gearing up and I don't anticipate much respite between now and the 6th November.

    Still a huge number of very local issues being raised with me on the doorsteps, and a continual mention of several key-points:

    And more generally, the lack of funding for devolved school services and the dreadful condition of many local streets, are also persistently raised.

    The SNP/Lib-Dem Council has failed to successfully pursue any of these local issues in the last 18-months - I remain confident that the people of Forth will send them a very clear message on Thursday 6th November.

    Sunday, October 26, 2008

    Postal votes arriving soon

    The weather was a lot better today - thankfully!

    Plenty of the campaign-team out and about, with a big effort going into ensuring that as much information is in the right-place, for the arrival of postal votes - which are being dispatched tomorrow.

    Detailed planning for the actual, election-day of 6th November also now taking shape.

    Only 11-days to go!

    Saturday, October 25, 2008

    Rain on Forth!

    Some VERY wet conditions in the Ward today - didn't stop the large band of campaign-stalwarts from getting out and about across Forth.

    That said, we are hoping for slightly better campaigning-conditions tomorrow!

    Friday, October 24, 2008

    Pilton Reach out Project

    I had a great time visiting the PROP Centre in West Pilton, with Malcolm Chisholm MSP, and was made so welcome by Penny (manager) and PROP's Board of directors.

    PROP is a user-led community health project, in the heart of West Pilton, and is always welcoming to any one who feels they may need to utilise PROP's services.

    No pressure, at your pace, in your time, the relaxed, homely feel, made me want to stay longer!

    An increasingly utilised service that works in partnership with community mediation and other local services, to benefit local people.

    SUNSHINE in Muirhouse!

    I was pleased to visit the Sunshine Club in Muirhouse on Wednesday with Former Lord Provost, Cllr Lesley Hinds.

    The SUNSHINE club, is a social activity club for older people, and is warm and welcoming, hosted in the Muirhouse Millennium Centre, one of the Forth Wards finest community centres.

    On speaking to some of the ladies, I found that while they love the Millennium Centre, and of course the sunshine club, they are furious about the state of their community!

    One lady of 74 years old said: "I've lived here for over 55 years, and its never been so disgraceful, broken glass on the pavements and the park, litter all over the place, street lights out, I wont leave the house after dark".

    This shows us the respect the SNPLib-Dem administration have for communities like Muirhouse.. The Councils own monitoring system shows that Forth Ward FAILED its cleanliness test - basically the streets are a disgrace - and none of the SNP/LIB-DEM councillors will stand up for Muirhouse!

    I will ensure the street cleaning and maintenance are a priority, and that people can feel safe to walk in their streets!

    Tuesday, October 21, 2008

    Safe in your community!

    Cammy Day welcomed Home Secretary Jacqui Smith to the Pilton Community Mediation Service recently.

    Cammy was welcomed by Tracey Stewart-Kellagher, a local woman who has been employed for some time now to lead on innovative projects around community mediation, which has seen referrals from the city council, the police, and self-referrals rise dramatically.

    Jacqui Smith commented:

    "Asbos provide a way to stop groups engaging in antisocial behaviour from making the lives of other people a misery, but there also has to be work by projects like this to intervene early before it starts. "The fact that it's based here in the community means it's also easier to engage young people."

    Tracey - who's project has not been able to receive council funding due to the SNP/Lib Dem administrations cuts to the voluntary sector commented:

    "These kids were never given a voice before. They've become used to simply being shouted at. The kids from Pilton and Muirhouse actually came to us looking for help to resolve their issues."

    LABOUR's Forth by-election candidate Cammy Day who hosted the visit, said:

    "The Community Mediation Service is a fantastic resource. Supporting parents and families to resolve problems before getting into serious conflict, which usually results in police or housing taking enforcement issues. The Community Mediation Service is further complimented by the range of services on offer from the Pilton Community Health Project, like Barri Grubb, Women Supporting Women and 'smoking cessation' to name a few - all of which are likely to suffer at the hands of the LIB DEM/SNP cuts to be imposed in the coming weeks. I will fight to save these local services!"

    Saturday, October 18, 2008

    Robes for Councillors?

    Well, well, well - just look at this story in today's Evening News.

    I wonder why the planned report on 'bringing back robes' has been delayed because of an "administrative oversight" and now won't come back to the Council for decision until its next meeting on Thursday 20th November, which just happens to be 14-days after the Forth Ward by election?

    I personally think the voters of Forth Ward will, once again, see this for what it is and pass judgement on those currently in charge of the City Chambers on Thursday 6th November.

    A long weekend ahead

    A long weekend of leafleting and door-knocking ahead.

    Less than three weeks to go to Polling Day now and the pace is really picking up!

    Looking forward to speaking to many more people, right across the Ward, over the next few days.

    That said, if I don't manage to chap your door!, don't hesitate to get in touch - all my contact details are on the right-hand side bar.

    Friday, October 17, 2008

    'Burying bad news'

    Confirmation in the local press yesterday that some judicious 'burying of bad news' is indeed going on surrounding the (so-called) Fairer Scotland Fund.

    The people of Forth will see this for what it is.

    Black Community Development Project

    Visited the Black Community Development Project (BCDP), with Malcolm Chisholm MSP, to discuss the services they provide for young people and families.

    BDCP grew from the late 1980's 'Muirhouse Anti-Racism Campaign' and was formed following the receipt of mainstream funding in the early 1990's.

    There was clearly concern about the security of their current funding-stream/s and a great deal of unhappiness about the way that the change to the Fairer Scotland Fund has been (mis)managed. Possibly up to a third of their funding appears to be under threat.

    Not good at all.

    Wednesday, October 15, 2008

    Close of nominations

    Close of nomination period (for Forth Ward by election candidates) this afternoon - at 4pm!

    And it appears that the previously stated intention of the BNP to stand a candidate in the by-election has come to nothing?

    Good news.

    Tuesday, October 14, 2008

    Unfair treatment

    Well, the (so-called) Fairer Scotland Fund implementation goes from farce to fiasco in the Forth Ward.

    Rumour is sweeping the local area that a meeting which was supposed to be held tomorrow, to allocate the Fund across the Ward, has been summarily postponed until - wait for it - after the by-election is over.

    Of course, it has nothing to do with the fact that the meeting would have led to the confirmation of hundreds of thousands of pounds worth of cuts to local services?

    Sunday, October 12, 2008

    Street weeds

    Out in Royston/Wardieburn most of today.

    Biggest single issue on the doorsteps today was the totally uncontrolled growth of weeds in the local streets; along with many people mentioning serious litter problems in the local area.

    And, it is true that the general state of the streets is simply not good. There are weeds everywhere. And litter is pretty abundant.

    Now, some of the litter issues 'could' be down to the recent industrial action days, but there can no excuse for the prevalence of weeds on the streets of Royston/Wardieburn. It does smack of yet more funding-reductions having a direct impact on an area of the City that the current SNP/Lib-Dem Council appear to pay precious little attention to?

    Saturday, October 11, 2008

    Fairer Scotland Fund?

    Out on the doors again today and a generally good reception from most folk we managed to speak to.

    It has to said, that I'm pretty surprised at the sheer number of people who keep mentioning the funding reductions for local organisations that have arisen due to the switch to the (so-called) 'Fairer Scotland Fund'. Several folk even specifically mentioned the now-infamous letter (4th down) from the Lib-Dem Council Leader to the local press!

    The switch to this Fund has frankly been botched, and its clearly affecting an awful lot of individuals and organisations across the Ward.

    Not acceptable.

    Friday, October 10, 2008

    Inaction on new buildings

    I know that none of the schools mentioned in this Council report (just out today) are within the Forth Ward, but do have a quick read through it.

    In essence, the report is simply an update on a completely stalled-programme of school building, which reinforces the fact that nothing new has been initiated - as regards new school buildings - in the last eighteen months.

    Its a shocking indictment of inaction.

    The impact of which, sadly, parents at Granton Primary are all too aware of.

    Thursday, October 09, 2008

    School budget cuts hurting

    As if just to emphasise the point in my last post - having looked through the dozens of 'feedback -forms' from our campaign leafletting so far, its clear that local residents have local services as their main concern also.

    It has to be said, that 'school services' (or the diminution of them) is a theme that keeps coming through. Hardly surprising (sadly) when you consider the decisions of the 2008/09 SNP/Lib-Dem Council budget:
    • every Primary and Secondary school was forced to take a 1.5%-2.0% budget cut
    • that amounted to at least a £10,000 reduction per average Primary School
    • at least a £10,000 reduction per average Special School
    • and at least a £50,000 reduction per average Secondary School

    These cuts are clearly having a serious and negative impact on young people and families across the Forth Ward.

    Local Services are what matter to me

    Dear oh dear - bit of a stooshie in the local paper today. You know you've won the argument when people rely on idle gossip and tittle-tattle, rather than facts.

    Frankly, the leader of the Council SNP Group should be defending the local-SNP role in:

    These are some of the real issues that matter to the people of Forth.

    Its clear to me that the local SNP/Lib-Dem Council is failing Forth and, personally, I am campaigning to give voice to the old, the young and the vulnerable so they have a chance of retaining the local services they so badly need.

    Idle gossip and tittle-tattle won't help a single resident of Forth.

    Wednesday, October 08, 2008

    No.1. for the Forth Ward

    I'm told this afternoon, that I am now formally nominated as the Scottish Labour Party candidate for the Forth Ward by-election on Thursday 6th November.

    Apparently no one else has put themselves forward (formally) yet?

    No.1. for the Forth Ward indeed!

    Tuesday, October 07, 2008

    Royston/Wardieburn Centre?

    The new Royston/Wardieburn community-wing, to be built at Royston Primary, has also been raised with me today as a project that appears to have stalled?

    Again, checked with the Council, and the fears do have some basis as I'm told the project is under ongoing review and no firm date for signing contracts and starting work has yet been agreed!

    This contract needs to be signed and work started, as it appears to me little progress has been made in the last eighteen months.

    Granton Primary School

    On the doors again today, in Granton, and many local parents angry about the lack of progress with the redevelopment of Granton Primary School.

    Checked with the Council, and it appears this was indeed a project which was contained within the 'Capital Programme' up until last year, but has now been removed in favour of 'refurbishment' and not a rebuild!

    And worse still, no one is able to give a straight answer as to when that 'refurbishment' will actually commence.

    As an elected Member on the Council, I would pursue commencement of this project with great vigour.

    Monday, October 06, 2008

    CAB Pilton under threat?

    Another issue I've picked up on the doorsteps over the last few days is the threatened closure of the Pilton CAB Branch.

    Frankly, there appears to be a lot of confusion on this - the local CAB Board claim the threatened closure has been 'suspended', but the Lib-Dem politician in charge has written to the local press saying they were pleased to assist in the centralisation plans! (see the 4th letter down again - here).

    Whether its the so-called Fairer Scotland Fund or the Citizens Advice Bureau, it does seem the local Lib-Dems don't care much for the real issue affecting the Forth Ward.

    Weekend of Campaigning

    Have spent most of the past weekend speaking to people on the doorsteps of Forth Ward.

    It's clear that local issues are uppermost in many people's minds - not least the funding reductions from the previous CRF/SIP arrangements to the new 'so-called' Fairer Scotland Fund.

    There may be some doubt about the 'exact' amount that these monies are being reduced by - but no-one is anymore denying that such reductions are taking place.

    Even the politician in overall charge at the City Chambers (a Lib-Dem) has accepted that reductions, to the value of several hundred thousands of pounds, are indeed happening - see the 4th letter down here!

    Sunday, October 05, 2008


    Labour's leader in Scotland, Iain Gray joined us on Wednesday evening to open our campaign rooms.