Wednesday, 31 October 2007


I have been shooting back and forward to Edinburgh two or even three times a week just now. Its nice to come down for the weekend if I'm not doing anything in Arbroath. I got up early yesterday and went to the martial arts studio and got in some training, something I haven't done for ages, but I felt better afterwards. If I can get long enough in the same place, I'll put together a decent schedule. I miss taking part in organised martial arts classes on several levels, least of all the effect my absence is having on my fitness!

The council meetings I have attended have been pretty good after the fightfest of the neighbourhood services meeting. I don't mind real debate, I enjoy it in fact, but I really cannot be bothered with empty posturing in a local govt debating chamber. When it goes pear shaped, we all look bad and nothing is achieved.

Locally, things are going ok. Its coming to the time when the former adminstration's policies are tapering off and the Alliance is in more of a position to push forward it's own agenda. The Alliance, given it is a coalition of Independents, Labour, Lib-Dem and Tories is actually holding together well. The secret seems to be that we all seem to get on and no-one is pushing any kind of national agenda. We are focussing on delivery using common sense. What is absolutely obvious is that whether you believe in a Scotland within or without the UK, when it comes to the 'cooncil' it really doesnt matter. What does matter to people are things like housing, anti social behaviour and a decent local infrastructure.

Monday, 22 October 2007


I haven't had much time to post anything lately. The committee cycle kicked off again with the committee I convene being one of the first. It lasted for almost three and a half hours and saw some of the most appalling grandstanding and childish behaviour I think that chamber has ever witnessed. My only regret is that there were no members of the public there to see it. Strangely, the next committee I went to sailed along.

The Licensing Board meeting went OK this time, though it got a bit frenetic around half-way through.

I can genuinely now see why a) some people are attracted to getting themselves onto their local council (and staying there) and b) why some people try it and get sickened by the peurile 'Punch and Judy' behaviour that can be put on display there.

Sadly, my German Shepherd had to be put down. It had been coming for a while, but her condition had taken a sudden turn for the worst and there was no putting off the decision. I'm heartbroken to be honest. She was my second German Shepherd and they were both fantastic pets. I'll miss her terribly.

I have had quite a lot of constituents contacting me over the past few weeks. The vast majority are housing or housing related issues including anti-social behaviour or overcrowding. The cost of property in the area has shot up over the past couple of years. I think this has been made worse by the fact that my own home town, Arbroath, has a history of fairly modest house prices and the rising costs, which seem to be bringing it into line with other areas have made the escalation all the worse. The bottom line is we need more affordable housing for people, and that's not taking into account the amount of European migrants that the area is attracting, which is the subject of another study.

We did a bit of gardening yesterday, which I find to be more interesting than the other option of going walking (plus it means being closer to a kettle and other items of civilisation). I'm by no means a gardener and I suspect that I mistook a fair few plants for weeds. Still looked better by the time we had finished though.

Wednesday, 10 October 2007


We were supposed to be having the weekend in Aviemore, but only got as far as Pitlochry, and stayed in a nice hotel (albeit with a noisy pub across the road). Its amazing where you meet people you know. We bumped into three people from the Parliament and a chap and his wife from Arbroath. It was nice to potter round the area and we spent time in Dunkeld and got some walking done. I'm not convinced about the hill walking bit. I have come to the conclusion that I prefer going on longer walks through woods etc rather than walking up a hill. I know some people get a great sense of satisfaction from bagging Munro's etc, but it just doesn't do it for me at all.

The cycle of committee meetings starts again this week, and the Licensing Board also meets this month. I got a copy of the new Licensing Scotland Act and have been ploughing through it. If you suffer from insomnia, you could do worse than to get a copy for some bed-time reading.

I have taken some time off Parliament work, but due to the committee cycle, I'm not able to get a holiday from Council work unfortunately.

I have a meeting to discuss organising an event to celebrate the 830th Anniversary of the founding of Arbroath Abbey today. Given the importance of the abbey to Arbroath, I'd like to see a celebration of Arbroath's history with historical re-enactments, jousting and possibly lectures etc too.

All in all it will be another frantic few weeks.

Wednesday, 3 October 2007


I have been charging back and forward as usual, and my cold is a bit better but still not shifting. I have two meetings in Forfar today as well as my real job. Its cold here and my parents phoned me from Italy last night to say it was so hot that they had to go inside (thanks for that).

I can't believe it's Wednesday already, where on earth do the days go? I'm going to Aviemore for the weekend and I'm looking forward to it. I'm going to leave my mobile at home I think, just to get some peace and quiet. I have only been there once before and strangely bumped into the ski team from my old regiment, which was quite a strange event by the end of the night.

As it's recess next week, I may ask my boss for a few days off to try and catch up with everything else I need to do. I was speaking to my former trainer this week and may book a few sessions with her if I can figure out far enough in advance where I'm going to be. My training for next year's charity boxing bout still hasn't started and I really need to get going with it, for health reasons if nothing else.