Wednesday, 29 May 2013

Leith Waterworld is a sorry tale of dysfunctional decision taking

Tomorrow the Labour/SNP administration will decide on whether to honour its ill advised commitment to allow pressure group Splashback yet more time to work up a feasible plan to run Leith Waterworld.  The alternative is to accept an offer for the sale of the empty premises. An offer of £1m has been received from a company intent on creating a commercial play facility for young people and their families.

Today the administration has indicated their intention to break their commitment to the Splashback campaign group and sell the premises.

This will be the welcome culmination of a period characterised by indecision and U-turns which has up to now cost the taxpayer dearly and will continue to do so. 
Edinburgh Conservatives have consistently urged that the only responsible option is to sell the premises.  The campaign group bid has been an expensive distraction of time, money and resources long after the key decisions were taken. 

Proceeds from the sale were to have been  allocated to the funding of the refurbishment of the Commonwealth Pool and the delay in the closure and sale has resulted in annual increased costs to the council tax payer of almost a quarter of a million per annum (including £85,000 in borrowing costs £154,000 for annual maintenance of the vacant property).

At last it appears the current SNP/Labour administration has been forced by common sense to do the right thing – albeit belatedly. 
1.  The report can be found here. (Further links to previous reports and decisions can be fond in this document).
2. Background timeline:
1.       A decision to close Leith Waterworld was taken by the Council in September 2005
2.       The pool closed in January 2012
3.       A closing date for offers was set for 8th February 2012
4.       Indications were received of likely offers from several interested parties
5.       On 2nd February 2012  Council voted to delay the closing date for up to six months to enable the campaign group Splashback to prepare and submit a bid
6.       A new closing date was set for 7th August 2012 by which time the only bids were from Splashback to take possession of the premises for a nominal sum
7.       Council again agreed on 20th September 2012 to provide assistance to Splashback to see if they could create a viable bid ‘with a strict deadline of 31st January 2013'
8.       On 31st January 2013 the Council voted to
  • extend the feasibility phase to the end of 2013 again promising Splashback support to establish feasibility 
  • provide further support, including up to £125,000 to help the process
  • and a further £225,000 support in the following two years
  • to remarket the property 
Media Contact:  Cllr Lindsay Paterson

Wednesday, 22 May 2013

Cllr Cameron Rose - We need to build on Engine Shed brand, loyalty and success - not jeopardise it.

Cameron Rose, local CouncillorLast week, on my own blog, I said I had sought a briefing from council officers on the proposals.  I have done that.  Next, I consider the leader of Economic Development, Cllr Frank Ross, needs to make a personal visit to the Engine Shed.  I have corresponded with him:


 I have listened to and questioned the officers. I have looked at the draft report. I have spoken to Marian MacDonald the Engine Shed's Chief Exec

It is not as simple as moving to a ‘pure supported employment' model from an 'employment pathway'. The Engine Shed involves training (time limited) which is very focused on taking people into employment in which they will remain for a lengthy period. Changing is not a simple matter – especially bearing in mind the Engine Shed brand, loyalty and success which has been built up over a long period.

I believe it is essential that you see and hear of the Engine Shed enterprise business model and operation first hand and I urge you to pay a visit as soon as possible to shape the direction of the report. It is a business and I am not sure how the proposals in the report will satisfactorily replace the loss of valuable expertise and service to the community for young people with learning difficulties.

I appreciate there are complex issues and the goals the Council is seeking to achieve have merit. However I look forward to continuing our discussion and search for a satisfactory solution. For me, the closure of the Engine Shed is not a realistic option.

Best wishes,


Friday, 10 May 2013

Stephanie Murray selected for Liberton/Gilmerton By-Election

Stephanie Murray
Stephanie Murray has been selected by local Conservatives as Scottish Conservative & Unionist candidate for the upcoming by-election in Liberton/Gilmerton.

Stephanie is in her 20s and was born and raised in the ward.  She currently works for KPMG in the field of tax.  Standing as the Conservative candidate in the 2010 by-election in the same ward, she took the Conservatives into 3rd place above the Lib Dems.  Her performance was seen as a key building block on the road to the Conservatives gaining a seat in the ward at the 2012 council election when fellow local activist Nick Cook became Edinburgh's youngest councillor.

She is a previous chair of Conservative Future Edinburgh, the organisation of young Conservatives in Edinburgh.  Stephanie has a degree in law from Edinburgh University and a BA in humanities and social science.  She is well known locally.

Cameron Rose, leader of the Conservative Group on Edinburgh Council welcomed her nomination:

“Stephanie brings youth, local knowledge and common sense to this by-election contest."

Nick Cook, Edinburgh's youngest Councillor and current Conservative Councillor for the Liberton/Gilmerton ward commented: 

" Stephanie is an excellent choice as Conservative candidate for Liberton/Gilmerton.

 Having campaigned in the ward alongside her at the 2010 by-election and during my own election campaign in 2012, I know first hand that she is a very approachable, knowledgeable and compassionate individual. She was born and raised in the ward and has an excellent understanding of the local community."