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Talk Porty ~ Portobello • View topic - Sheila Gilmore MP enewsletter - Edition ten - May 2011

Sheila Gilmore MP enewsletter - Edition ten - May 2011

Discussion and debate on the issues affecting Portobello

Sheila Gilmore MP enewsletter - Edition ten - May 2011

Postby administrator » 16 May 2011, 15:51

One year in
It is now a year since I arrived at Westminster for my ‘first day at school’. I was able to ‘celebrate’ my anniversary recently by being ‘drawn’ in the ballot for PMQs, where I asked David Cameron about reforms to the Work Programme in Scotland. The Work Programme is the Government’s initiative to provide training and help to move people from unemployment into jobs. The tendering process in Scotland has resulted in two large private companies winning the work with only 8% of the programme made up of voluntary sector or social enterprise partners. Mr Cameron replied that the voluntary and third sector was involved in the delivery, but that hasn’t been the case in Scotland. See page 12 here: http://goo.gl/CM8Km. Next month I will meet with Laurie Russell of the Wise Group, one of the third party providers that currently help Jobcentre Plus deliver the New Deal, to discuss the programme.

Export Credits Guarantee Department
I have recently co-sponsored a bill to make the Government overhaul a secretive and unaccountable Government department which has been exposed for using taxpayers’ money to insure private exports which fuel climate change, poverty and human rights abuses in the developing world. Lisa Nandy MP’s Ten Minute Rule Bill to reform the Export Credits Guarantee Department (ECGD) received cross-party backing and passed its first parliamentary stage on 27 April 2011. There will now be a long wait before it receives its second reading on 11 November. I hope the Government will take notice of this bill and overhaul the ECGD which is currently not fit for purpose.

Green spaces and places
During the election campaign the City Council’s development arm, EDI announced a pre-planning application to build mixed tenure housing on Cairntows Park in Craigmillar. The decision to build on the park angered local residents and constituents who have been campaigning for regeneration in Craigmillar. At a public meeting residents voiced their opposition to the plans when brownfield land in Craigmillar is yet to be developed. I have backed the opposition and called on EDI and developers to attend the next meeting to discuss the plans since only the architect was there and could not answers many of the questions. Eric Adair, EDI Group, has now written to me saying that the plans would be looked at again in time for the next meeting. See http://goo.gl/Qi0fa.

Over in Newcraighall, plans to build on green belt land have been put on hold after the Court of Session ruled that Edinburgh Council’s Planning Committee had not given adequate reasons for its decision to allow building of 400 houses in the Newcraighall area. The Planning Committee (by the casting vote of the Committee chair) had gone against the recommendations of a Local Enquiry (see http://goo.gl/zrVQk). The City of Edinburgh Council has not confirmed what action it will now take, but I have backed the opposition to the plans and called for the Council to renegotiate the Lothian Structural Plan which set out the plans to build on green belt. One application to build a convenience store near to the Gilbertoun estate has already been withdrawn. As with Cairntows Park I am against the plans to build over green land when brownfield land in Craigmillar awaits development. I have organised a Public Meeting for residents of Newcraighall and Gilberstoun to discuss the meeting.

PUBLIC MEETING: MONDAY, 16 MAY 2011 at NEWCRAIGHALL PRIMARY SCHOOL. 7PM – 9PM.

Biomass: second submissions
During the election campaign Forth Ports, one of the parent companies of Forth Energy who propose to construct a Biomass fuel plant, submitted an application to demolish the B-listed grain silo at the former port. Many campaigners have already submitted an objection but the deadline has now closed; given the hubbub of the election campaign some may have missed the application. Edinburgh Council have said they will postpone their submission until December, however, the second round of consultation is now underway. For anyone that missed their chance to make a submission the first time round this is a chance to get your submission in. If you made a submission the first time round this is an opportunity to make additional comments based on the expert submissions of organisations such as SEPA and SNH. If you do wish to make a submission, this must be submitted to leithbiomass@scotland.gsi.gov.uk no later than 17 June 2011. Details can be found here: http://goo.gl/H6LQI. Also visit noleithbiomass.org.uk for more details of the campaign.

Green Investment Bank
It would be great to get the GIB in Edinburgh, but it is a matter of some regret that the Government has announced that the new bank will not get borrowing powers until 2015. Until then it will be just another relatively short term government Fund not a Bank. The Government argues that ‘the country’ cannot afford more borrowing at this time, but how can we not afford borrowing which could lead to some serious investment in green energy? This is important not just because it is ‘green’ but because this would be the sort of manufacturing boost the Government claims to want. Cuts in corporation tax (which the Government has announced) will be of little assistance to these new industries in their early stages. This is where the insistence on ‘deficit reduction’ as the cornerstone of Government policy is both short sighted and counterproductive. New industries bring new jobs and export opportunities. This would be ‘borrowing for a purpose’

B&B Homelessness standards
Last month I visited the Grassmarket Community Project to discuss the B&B policy the Council operates for homeless people. I met with a man who told me his story. He has been staying in B&Bs for 8 months. Rules applied include not being allowed to talk to fellow residents within the accommodation and having to be ‘in’ at 11pm. When he wanted to stay with relatives on the occasion of a family birthday party his accommodation was terminated and he had to start again in a new place. Only breakfast is provided, with no cooking facilities, not even a kettle in the bedroom, so meals have to be in cafes or takeaways. Such restrictions would be more tolerable if B& B was genuinely short term as the Council claims it is. But 8 months is not short term. The project is campaigning for improvements in these conditions and for better support for those in B&Bs. I have pledged my support to their campaign.

At the project itself I was pleased to see the activities going on, in the kitchen soup was being made and Easter biscuits being rolled out. Upstairs people learning woodworking skills are producing beautiful furniture and gifts from old church pews (which would otherwise end up in landfill).

Still hugging huskies?
As part of the Government’s drive to cut the deficit, it is reviewing all ‘red tape’ on businesses and organisations. At best some regulations that harm the productivity of businesses, charities, public services and voluntary organisation will be cut but I do have concerns that in some areas protections of the environment and employment legislation may be ripped up.The Red Tape Challenge is being put to the public and regulations for different sectors are being aired for comments every couple of weeks. ‘General Regulations’ are up for comments for the long term and this includes Environmental Regulations. To contribute to the consultation go to http://goo.gl/5Rdlz

Finally 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.
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