Friday, 21 December 2007

Needle Exchange

That excellent blogger Clairwill and I seem to be singing from the same hymn sheet when it comes to drug abuse and discarded needles:

The press release I put out on the subject has received a fair amount of coverage, and surprisingly, it seems to have been given the seal of approval locally. There seems to be an expectation of change now, with many people simply fed up with having to put up with anti social behaviour from people who think it is their right to behave in any matter that suits them on the basis that they know their rights and someone will pick up, not only after them, but also pick up the tab for their behaviour and their kids behaviour.

Many people refuse even to pay their rent, seeing it only as an interest free loan (on top of their anti social behaviour). When eventually all the legal hoops (and I'm talking a three ring circus here) , have been jumped through (as well as intervention/support mechanisms etc), and it goes to court for eviction there is no guarantee that a Sherriff or Procurator Fiscal will make much (if any) effort to back up the council and may not even grant the eviction order. What this says to the person is that their tenancy agreement is not worth the paper its written on and they can do what they look because the Sherriff/Fiscal won't exercise their powers.

Now I don't know any Sherriffs and I have only met one Procurator Fiscal, but I'm guessing that not many of these guys live next door to the kind of people that refuse to pay their rent and choose to treat their neighbours with complete contempt. In fact if they did, I suspect they could well afford to move. But many of those who live, say in a fairly small block of council flats where everyones life is a misery because of perhaps one individual or family cannot do so. So when the council goes to the extraordinary lengths of trying to evict someone like this, the legal profession should perhaps bear this in mind rather than wringing their hands and treating people with kid gloves.

Its not going to change overnight, but things do need to change, and that means that the legal profession, as well as local/national govt need to be prepared to take a firmer line. I'm all for personal rights, but equally, I'm all for those rights to be tempered by personal responsibilites too.

Wednesday, 19 December 2007

Procurator Fiscal Strike Threat

I see the Procurator Fiscal Service is threatening to "cause chaos" in the judicial system. How will we know?

Chewing the fat

Taysiders In Space....I love it!

Needle Exchange

I know I don't normally put anything too political on here, but along with 'Chaotic Lifestyles', something that irks me greatly is the subject of drug users discarding their dirty needles. Below is a press release I did on the subject, and if anyone has any views I'd be happy to hear them:

Discarded Needles "Tip of the Iceberg"

Arbroath Councillor Jim Millar has backed Cllr Spink in expressing concern at the amount of discarded needles in the area, but adds that this is just the tip of the iceberg.

Commenting, Cllr Millar said "The emerging picture of the amount of needles given out to users of illegal drugs and not returned is horrifying. Government statistics published in 1996 show that in Angus, some fifty thousand needles were distributed, giving an average of 156 needles per user per year. That's 3 needles per user per week."

The 'Needle Exchange Provision in Scotland' report showed that in Scotland as a whole, over three and a half million needles were dispensed to users, with only one and a half million needles returned, leaving almost two million needles unaccounted for in Scotland in one year, although it states that the true number is thought to be far higher.

Mr Millar said "I have every sympathy for anyone who is caught in the vice-like grip of drug addiction. The drug trade is fuelled by misery and crime; it destroys lives, families and careers, but sympathy should be tempered by the fact that discarded needles are a danger, especially to kids. It is often because of the high number of discarded needles that our facilities,-parks, shelters, toilets etc. are forced to close, and Council staff, although trained to deal with this, are put at risk when disposing of them."

"The thoughtless and unnecessary actions of a few are putting whole communities in danger and it is especially galling to consider that the majority of this material is actually being supplied by public agencies paid for by the very people being put at risk by this habit. I call on all those concerned to ensure work is concentrated on educating and dealing with those individuals who are causing these problems to ensure responsible disposal becomes the norm not the exception."
"I appreciate that needle exchange programmes were introduced to help combat blood borne infection such as HIV and Hep C, but with this amount of needles in circulation, I believe that more needs to be done to encourage users to return the needles that are issued to them, rather than disposing of them in people's gardens or public toilets."

North East Tory MSP Alex Johnstone backed the stance saying "Discarded needles are only the very tip of the iceberg, figures released only this week show that in the financial year 2006/07 there were 42,422 drug-related offences recorded by Scottish police forces, with 25% for possession with intent to supply, but behind these figures are the many crimes such as burglary and shoplifting that are committed to fund a drug habit. These crimes are being fuelled by the actions of a minority involved in the use, supply and distribution of drugs into every city, town and village in the country.No community is exempt from the activities of these parasites."

Mr Johnstone continued "I applaud the efforts of the Police Service and the Drugs Enforcement Agency but the Scottish government needs to ensure that the resources are available to ensure this crime wave is stopped before it becomes a tidal wave of lawlessness and misery that engulfs us all. I call on the government to ensure the public are protected by ensuring cash and manpower to tackle crime and disorder are given the highest priority within their future budget settlements."

Mr Johnstone has lodged a question with the Scottish Government, noting the growing concern of constituents regarding drug crime and discarded needles and asking what extra efforts and resources the Scottish Government is willing to make available to combat the problem.

Saturday, 15 December 2007

Father Ted - My Lovely Horse

One of the best comedy moments ever.........

Friday, 14 December 2007


Friday at last. Girlfriend bought me lunch at the German Market. It was the work Christmas 'do' last night, but I didn't go as I'd previously thought I'd be up north so didn't book a ticket.

Walking back to work I saw the best buskers ever on Princes St. Usually, I don't give buskers in Edinburgh a second thought. Invariably they are pipers who often spend most of the time tuning their pipes before launching into 'Highland Cathedral', but today a piper was joined by two guys with African drums who played along. The effect was brilliant and the the trio justifiably had a big crowd round them.

Bought a couple of books today, the first is on the fall of Berlin in 1945. I was briefly based in Berlin in the 80's when I was in the Army and I'd love to go back and see how it is now that the wall is down. I also got 'The God Delusion' by Richard Dawkins. For some reason I seem to have missed the furore surrounding this book and I have only read one chapter, but it seems an interesting read.

I'm meeting Boss, Boss' wife and a colleague from the constituency office for lunch on Monday which should be good. I'm also having a joint surgery with the boss beforehand.

My Christmas shopping seems to have stalled somewhat and I just know its going end up as a last minute rush (again) with some pretty ill thought out presents.

Wednesday, 12 December 2007

Underage Drinking

Fellow Cooncillor David Fairweather (who covers the neighbouring ward) and I had been getting a lot of complaints about underage drinkers gathering in large groups and getting out of hand once they had too much to drink. The 'youths' some as young as 14 had been causing mayhem.

There had been several incidents, one or two quite alarming ones, so we went out to have a look. Sure enough, there was one group of around 16, and a smaller group that had dumped their empty 'Buckie' bottles all over a small park. We have a meeting with the police next week to discuss it further.

Went to a friends house to watch the fight on Sunday morning. I was a bit disgusted that the Brit fans chose to whistle and jeer through the American national anthem. Good fight though, and I got home eventually at 6:30am.

Went to a meeting today to discuss the budget. It started at 9:00am and by 3.00pm I had had enough and headed back to Arbroath. After about two hours in a meeting, I think it becomes counter-productive. After six hours, it really is ridiculous.

I'm looking forward to Christmas. I'm taking two weeks off and relaxing. I like taking the time to choose gifts for people, but I'm struggling to think of things to get for some.

Wednesday, 5 December 2007

Boxing Club

Monday night I was at a meeting of the Arbroath Abbey World Heritage Campaign meeting which my boss had launched some time ago and then handed over to a non political committee. Things are moving slowly but surely with it and its a worthwhile project.

Last night I went along to the boxing club last night to see how things were going. Its a club that's been going for decades and it was great to see a range of ages taking part. I know some people are disparaging about the sport, but I'm a big fan. The bout this weekend promises to be a cracker, and although coverage starts at 3am, I'm tempted to get up early to watch.

Spent the day in Parliament today (I was late thanks to a signal failure) but got here anyway. Had a couple of beers with the boss and some colleagues and I'm just about to meet girlfriend at the Christmas market. Had a fair amount of constituency casework to do recently, mostly on housing and anti social behaviour.