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Talk Porty ~ Portobello • View topic - Sheila Gilmore MP enewsletter Edition eight – March 2011

Sheila Gilmore MP enewsletter Edition eight – March 2011

Discussion and debate on the issues affecting Portobello

Sheila Gilmore MP enewsletter Edition eight – March 2011

Postby administrator » 02 Mar 2011, 20:37

Sheila Gilmore MP enewsletter Edition eight – March 2011

This government is for turning (?)

A few weeks ago my inbox was flooded with emails and letters about the proposed forestry sell-off in England. Like every MP across the country, hundreds of constituents contacted me opposing the plans, urging me to put pressure on the coalition to drop the privatisation. Even though these forests were based south of the border, the Forestry Commission has offices in Edinburgh so jobs would be lost up here. The sell-off would have only saved £15m a year. People wrote to me because they had concerns for the environment, loss of right of way and harm to wildlife. Responses from the public, including many public figures, has been overwhelming, and I am pleased that Cameron stood up at the last PMQs in February and said he was unhappy with the plans; the next day Caroline Spelman scrapped the consultation just three weeks in, and said sorry. I’m glad the Government did change its mind.

DLA Reform

Later that day, I asked if the government would make any further U-turns, in order to protect vulnerable people as much as vulnerable trees, but I did not get a favourable response. I was referring to the now closed consultation on Disability Living Allowance. Changes to DLA and other benefits in the forthcoming Welfare Reform Bill will affect many vulnerable members of our society. Constituents have rightly contacted me concerned that the Bill was published on 16 February, two days before consultation actually closed, and they feared that their submissions would not be used or acknowledged. Government guidance notes that in certain circumstances a consultation can be extended to allow more people to be involved, this certainly would have been appropriate in this case and along with many colleagues, I have made representations to this effect. Carers and claimants have all said to me that they are concerned that the assessments will bring uncertainty and burden the Tribunal Service when appeals are required, many have also raised their concerns the assessments won’t take into account fluctuating conditions or the social and day to day impact of their disabilities; similar difficulties have been faced with ATOS assessments for ESA claimants and these fears are not unreasonable. To see my submission please go to http://bit.ly/gSse2o.

Blindcraft

Sadly, workers at Blindcraft have rejected plans to move to three day week, after they clearly lacked confidence in proposed changes. After over 200 years of manufacturing, the factory will close. The Council administration failed to offer an alternative to closing the factory or agree to go further consultation. Over 70 workers are set lose their jobs and move to the unemployment register. The City of Edinburgh Council says it will save £700,000 a year but the cost to the public purse overall will be high.

Fairer Scotland Funding Cuts

With the City of Edinburgh Council Budget announced on 10 February, many local organisations found their funding had been cut, either in part, or altogether. Both The Chronicle and The Speaker newspapers had their Fairer Scotland Funding cut entirely and are now considering other funding options. Previously, funding for these community newspapers, researched and written locally, was decided at Neighbourhood Partnership level. However the decision to remove all funding was this time made at city-wide level. . This decision threatens not only jobs, but the benefits of having two local newspapers to engage and inform residents. The Chronicle operates an excellent training scheme as well as producing the paper, and so this will also be lost if new funding is not found.

Leith Biomass
image002.jpg
image002.jpg (79.28 KiB) Viewed 784 times

An application for permission to build a Biomass electricity plant at Leith Docks has now been lodged. Leith Docks might not be in our constituency of Edinburgh East, but the proposals, a joint venture between Forth Ports and Scottish and Southern Energy, stand to affect many constituents. A member of the http://www.noleithbiomass.org.uk campaign has set up a Google Earth mock-up of the anticipated view of the plant, below is a shot of what the plant should look like from Bath Street in Portobello.
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Biomass plant from Portobello?
bathst-biomass.jpg (34.2 KiB) Viewed 784 times

At a meeting in February, residents were shushed when organisers tried to claim the greater efficiencies would come thanks to the municipal heating system. This municipal heating system is at present only an idea that may only be developed at a later date, so, efficiency of this green ‘renewable’ plant will be around 30-40%, similar to existing electricity plants. We need to reduce carbon emissions and use the resources that we have in Scotland. Sourcing the wood chippings from around the world is not green, nor is ferrying waste and ash through the already clogged roads in Edinburgh East. My submission will be available at http://www.sheilagilmore.co.uk shortly.

Portobello High School

Planning permission for the new school was granted by the Council’s Planning Committee on 23rd February. I know that the use of Portobello Park for the new school was controversial, but there are also very many people who will be glad that progress can finally be made.

The Alternative Vote

Finally, a date has been set for the Alternative Vote referendum; as originally planned the vote will take place on the same day at the Holyrood elections, May 05. In error it had been reported in December that I was backing the NO campaign. However, I have not yet decided whether to back one campaign or the other. I feel that the impact of changing to AV is being overemphasised by both sides. On the one hand it may lead to perpetual coalitions, the plusses and minuses depend on your own view of coalitions; and on the other hand, one campaign says that AV will make MPs more accountable, whereas pollsters work out that heartland seats will become even ‘safer’. The jury is still out on this one for me, and I am more than happy to engage in further debate if you wish to speak to me about the matter.

Finally if please pass on this news to those that may be interested. Anyone can sign-up by sending an email to david.baines@parliament.uk with ‘SUBSCRIBE’ in the subject line.

Contact Sheila: T: 0131 661 7522 (Edinburgh) 0207 219 7062 (Westminster)
A: 84 Niddrie Mains Road, Edinburgh. EH16 4DT. E: sheila.gilmore.mp@parliament.uk
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