Friday, June 22, 2007

Halfway through the first cycle

The cycle of committee meetings continued last week, with Transport and Infrastructure (T&I) on Tuesday, Education, Recreation and Cultural Services (ERCS) on Wednesday, and Environment, Planning and Protective Services (EPPS) on Thursday.

I'm not on the first and last of these, so my focus was on ERCS on Wednesday, where I stood for vice-chair against John Eccles, and lost. I'm not distressed by this as I think John will do well, and he later made an impressive case in favour of building a nursery at the North Walls School. This was one of a number of contentious issues at the committee, and was subject to a lengthy debate, and the decision in the end was a difficult one. The recommendation to build was passed, and I was one of the supporters, swayed in part by the fact that it should have started long ago, and the fact that the compromise amendment to place the build on hold but reserve the funding for the use of the school at some future date could not be guaranteed at all.

Another contentious issue was that of the linked headship of the Evie and Firth Schools. Peace seemed to have broken out from the School Boards' perspective, but the teaching union rep on the ERCS committee was unhappy about this. Now the fact that a representative from an interest group is present on the committee at all is an issue that my colleague Jack Moodie has raised, and it is a good one- why should this committee have teaching staff and religious representatives taking part in the debate as of right, while for example parents and pupils are not represented, even by the school board? In the case of the religious representatives the anomaly is worse, as there are three, and all can vote- on a committee where the majority is 8 this can potentially make a mockery of democracy.

Anyway the committee recommended to link the headships, unanimously- the teaching representatives do not get a vote. About this time the meeting paused for lunch, after 2 1/2 hours of deliberation, returning to conclude the private business at the end of the agenda in the afternoon. A long meeting.
The recommendations from this and all other meetings now go to full council for ratification, passing through Policy and Resources first, if there are implications of resource or policy.

After that I was ready for a break (not had one since last summer, honestly) so on Saturday I headed south for my charity bike run (from Edinburgh to St Andrews), which took place in Orkney weather- constant light rain, and a force 4/5 NE'ly wind in my face for the last 45 of the 68 miles... Completed it in good time considering the wind (people were pushing their bikes on the DOWNHILL part of the Forth Road Bridge). The picture shows me at Freuchie, having enjoyed two cups of tea and a fancy at the church hall. I'm not dour, merely sardonic.

A fine relaxing way to spend a few days, when you add in the day of car breakdowns on Friday, spraining my ankle going down stairs on Saturday evening, and driving back on Monday having to hit the starter motor with a Mole wrench every time I needed to start the car.

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