Tuesday, November 30, 2010

Christmas Light Switch on Cancelled!

Disaster - the Christmas Light Switch on Ceremonies have all been cancelled (including the one in Gorgie Dalry) due to the weather conditions. I fully understand why they have done it though. It is so they can concentrate on gritting / clearing roads and safety has to come first. Disappointing but the right decision I think.

Sunday, November 28, 2010

Christmas is here!

The celebrations have started all over the ward so it must be officially Christmas. The impression is helped by the fact that there is at least a foot of snow outside - and still falling! Gorgie Dalry has been particularly well organised this year putting up a special Christmas what's on, courtesy of The GD and Pol Steele who runs it. Communications in the area have not been this good since the days of the sadly lamented Gorgie Dalry Gazette (who had there funding pulled by the Lib Dem / SNP Council Administration four years ago). Pol has made a huge difference to the area from the successful campaign to save the Gorgie War Memorial Hall to the thus far equally successful campaign to keep the Dalry Swim Centre open. The online campaigns have been vital and is know looking like an exciting development as it goes from strength to strength. Long may it continue.

For my own part I will be donning a well known disguise on Saturday for the party at the Gorgie Mem. and then compering at the Christmas Lights Switch on Ceremony on the Sunday (5th Dec.) . Big surprise for Hearts fans at the switch on ceremony (?).

Check out the The GD website for details...http://thegd.org.uk/christmas/

Friday, October 01, 2010

Pleasant visit.
Volunteered to do a Bailie duty last week which is worthy of note. I was visiting Jeanette Brown who is 107. She is in a care home in my ward so it was all the more significant that I was able to stand in for the Lord Provost and attend. It was something I will always remember. How pleased she was to see me and how much she obviously enjoyed my visit was humbling. To be able to do something like that for someone else makes it all worthwhile. I will remember little things like, when I was putting my Bailie chain back on, having let her try it on as she said she had enjoyed trying on the LPs a few years previously, she lent forward and buttoned my jacket and adjusted it to get it just right (that is what my mother whom I recently lost would have done). She said she thought I looked good in the photos we took! Still looking after others at 107! I gave her a small civic gift but she was just as delighted with the LPs paper carrier bag that it came in , saying 'Do you want this back ? ' 'I said of course not! ' and she clutched it tightly and she said 'Good , you can't have it back it's mine!' . She was lovely to talk to and amazing for 107. She likes the home she is in . The care staff clearly make a fuss of her and she deserves it. The staff were excellent. By way of philosophy she said she would like to have her whole life to live again , wouldn't change a thing but just would like to live it over again. She said the secret of long life was a not a secret but just to be happy and contented.

Wednesday, September 01, 2010

Time Time Time!

Never enough time. So what's new? Quite a lot.

A strange but interesting couple of weeks. First two weeks back at the school of course (not counting the in-service days the week before). Easy to forget how mentally demanding teaching is. My results were as expected (couple of exceptions in both directions) so I am generally pleased about that .

Now that I have replaced Ian Murray on the Police Board I have been taking the opportunity to observe a variety of activities including firearms training last week. That was the 'strange' one. Interesting though. Very clever intelligent headphones that are capable of deadening only the loud bangs of the guns but allowing you to hear even a whisper from the person next to you. How does that work? Very impressive score on the targets.

On a happy note it was the official celebration of the saving of the Gorgie War Memorial Hall last Saturday. Grant Stott said a few words and introduced me and I in turn introduced Sarah Boyack MSP.

There were three purposes to the event-

1. To celebrate the saving of the Hall. It was a marvelous campaign involving a petition , Facebook, the Internet, deputations and yes, even T shirts! Support for the Campaign came from everyone from the British Legion to (most importantly ) the community. These proposals should never been brought forward in the first place. The campaigners won by pointing out the truth. The truth that community space in Tynecastle was too small to accommodate the activities of the Hall (not to mention the safe outdoor green area). The truth that it is a War Memorial and it neither could be nor should be moved , it is already in the right place , the heart of the community with everyone from children to the elderly meeting around it. The truth that it has survived for 128 years since Gorgie was a village and laterally adopted by the Council to be held in trust for generations to come. I could go on! What on earth was the Lib. dem. / SNP Council thinking?
2. To make sure people know that it has been saved.
3. To encourage local people to get involved. We (I have joined the Management Committee) are particularly looking for anyone with time to spare and financial expertise. Although saved in the short term (16 months) the Hall has to develop the ability to run itself over this time. All help would be great.
Attendance at the event was excellent including stalls from the local Police and groups such as 'Health Help for All'. We even got the weather and were able to use the aforementioned safe green outdoor space.

Thursday, July 01, 2010

Two events at the new Tynecastle High School in under a week! The official opening last Friday and the Concert and Awards Ceremony on Tuesday evening (29th of June). A highlight of the official opening for me was ex-pupil Jenny Douglas singing over the rainbow. I was glued to the series and, of course, voted for her. She lit up the auditorium with her presence and sang beautifully ( without a mike ).
The school is very like I remember seeing it on the original artists impressions and it has been heralded as , if not the best then certainly one of the best of the PPP2 schools in terms of design and implementation. From the eco friendly heating (working too well in the auditorium - it was boiling!) to the Smartboards in every classroom. The staff have always been good at Tynecastle but now they will have the tools and the environment to reach new heights. Most of all though it was a joy to see the effect on the kids, polite, articulate and enthusiastic; Clearly delighted with the new school. This is an exciting development for Gorgie Dalry .
All of the above aside however, one disappointment is the size of the community 'wing'. It is really one side of a corridor or more specifically ; a reception area , one full sized classroom , a smaller classroom and toilets! So much for shoe horning the Gorgie War Memorial Hall and Gorgie Dalry Community Association (the centre at McLeod Street) with their busy programmes into it. Cllr. McLaren must have thought it was the Tardis! Speaking of the head of Education, Children and Families I cannot escape the irony that not only do myself and the others in the Labour Group get never a mention for the fact that it was us that brought forward the plans, developed them and signed them off before the Lib. Dems. and SNP tool over but the Lib. Dems. voted against the buiding of the new school not once but three times! The new Tynecastle is there in spite of the Lib. Dems. not because of them. Such is politics.
Anyway lets not dwell on the past the Community Centres are staying where they are for the moment (due to a successful campaign with which I helped) and things are starting to look brighter in Gorgie Dalry.

Friday, June 11, 2010

Just a quick reminder to folks in the area that it is the Gorgie Dalry Festival tomorrow (Saturday 12th June). The opening is at 12 for 12.30 in Murieston Park. We still miss the Gorgie Dalry Gazette for this sort of thing but maybe electronic means can make up for it a little.

Monday, May 24, 2010

It was a good week for me last week. Mainly this is due to the decision of the Education, Children and Families Committee to keep open the Longstone Community Centre and the Gorgie War Memorial Hall. The Sighthill Community Centre is still to be relocated in the , now empty Westburn Primary school sight. Personally I would rather have kept the primary school and I opposed its closure by this Lib. Dem. / SNP Council but I suppose you can't win them all. Although this relocation is bad news at least there is a site in the plans for the development of North Sighthill for a replacement and we will just have to make sure one actually gets built!
The 'Gorgie Mem' was the best campaign I think I have ever seen. This shows the strength of feeling in the local community and I was proud to support them in any way I could. There is no question in my mind that the campaign caused a reversal of the proposals to close the Mem and Longstone. People power at its best. This Lib. Dem. \ SNP coalition in the Council started of the consultation telling local people that the decision to save this money had already been taken and that secret talks had taken place to decide which of the 45 community centres across the city should be put forward for closure. Strangely enough 4 out of the 6 were in the South West of the city and people in this area should never forget that. It was impossible to criticise the deliberations of the group set up to decide on where to make the cuts as the meetings were held in secret with even opposition local Councillors being excluded. Local people were told if they wanted to save a centre from closure they would have to say which ones should be closed instead! This was a shocking travesty of a consultation and the fact that it arrived at a reasonable outcome for Longstone and the Gorgie Mem is down to the strength of their campaigns and not the Lib. Dem. and SNPs ability to listen. It also has to be added that the Labour Group would not have closed any community centres as we protected these front line services and took the cuts from elsewhere.
This is the second time I have had to fight to save the Gorgie Mem. from this Lib. Dem. \SNP Council, they tried to close it a couple of years ago as part of the Schools Rationalisation Program ( which thankfully fell apart). Hopefully the Administration at the Council have at last seen that this is a War Memorial , sold to the Council for a nominal sum (£70) in the 1930s for safe keeping, and also a vibrant community centre proving a unique friendly atmosphere and irreplaceable safe green space. It is disgraceful that it was ever put forward for closure in the first place.
See below thank you statement by the Chair of the Management Committee of the Gorgie Mem..

Keep the Hall Open Campaign – A Success!!!!!

Dear Hall users and supporters,

I am writing to tell you about the success of our campaign to save the Gorgie War Memorial Hall. After months of campaigning since we were first informed of the proposal for closure we are delighted that at Edinburgh Council’s Education, Children and Families Committee meeting last week they voted to keep the Hall open.

Our campaign emphasised the strength of public support for the Hall as well as the strength of public feeling that a war memorial should be protected. We also emphasised the potential that resides in the Hall as a community space. Consequently, as well as voting to keep the Hall open the Committee also encouraged us to do what we can to make the war memorial a more significant feature of the Hall; to develop the potential of the Hall to appeal to more people in the community; and to build up the strength of our management committee.

We are happy to take on these challenges because, having gathered substantial support for our campaign from the community, we feel that the people of Gorgie value the Hall and would be happy to invest further in it. Perhaps you feel that you have some ideas to offer the management committee about how the Hall could be run, or about how the Hall could be developed? If you do then please don’t hesitate to let us know on the phone number above or by giving Dave or Wendy a message.

In order to realise our potential one of the most important things we need to do is to build up the strength of our management committee. The current volunteers have done a fantastic job, and I would like to take this opportunity to pay tribute to their hard work over the past months in particular. However, we are always looking for volunteers from our supporters and user groups to serve on the management committee. I would be delighted to welcome you if you feel you have an hour or so to give each month to help keep the Hall open, keep it economical and to help make it a versatile space for the local people to use. Now that we have saved the Hall please consider serving on the management committee to help ensure that we are not faced with closure again in the future.

I would like to take this opportunity to thank everyone who has been involved in the campaign to save the Hall. As a management committee we were overcome by the enthusiasm of everyone’s support. Hall users, supporters and members of the community wrote to the Council, signed the petition, came to the public meeting, and offered us words of support and kindness. Thank you.

I hope you will continue to enjoy the Gorgie War Memorial Hall. As a community centre it is an important community space and as a war memorial it is an important community marker.

Best wishes,

James Aitken

Chair, Gorgie War Memorial Hall management committee

Monday, May 10, 2010

Excellent article on the attemps to close the Gorgie War Memorial Hall. One of the best articles I've seen in the EN or is that because the issue is so clse to my heart? Read it for yourself.