News & Articles

Some published articles and blog posts from Tommy Sheppard MP

Subcategories from this category:

Surgeries, Local Organisations

March Newsletter - Constituency Business

March Newsletter - Constituency Business

I met with RBS at Portobello High Street to raise my concerns about the impact the closure of the branch would have on the local community. The bank have made a commitment to continue to invest in the local community with charitable fundraising for local projects – if you have any ideas let me know and I will pass them on.

They are also running sessions to equip those who want to switch to digital banking with the skills they will need. But I recognise that many will still need to access a branch. If you want to switch to a bank that will continue to have a presence on the high street you can do so easily - find out more here.

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Israeli Settlements in the Occupied Palestinian Territories

I am a longstanding advocate of the Palestinian people and am vice convenor of the All Party Group on Palestine.  I am very proud to have written the motion and worked with colleagues across the political parties to succeed in having the motion discussed in the main chamber.

It is clear that if there is to be a viable two-state solution then the occupation has to end and the settlers will either need to be relocated or become citizens of a new Palestine. It’ll be one of the most difficult and complicated negotiations in international conflict resolution. But unless a halt is called to the settlement building programme and both sides commit to starting peace talks the situation will only get worse.

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February Newsletter - Constituency Business

February Newsletter - Constituency Business

Planning is always a hot topic of discussion. Baileyfield South is a brownfield site and, given the number of houses required to meet the need in Edinburgh, it's right that it should be used for residential development. But the application seeks to squeeze too many houses into the available space, which would be bad for both the existing neighbours and the future residents. Developers know that people want to live in a vibrant, lively community like Portobello but unchecked development pressure could harm Portobello’s character. I've put in my objections - the developer should withdraw it, rethink it and resubmit it.

If you’re not already aware, a process of revaluation of business rates has been undertaken.  I have been liaising with a range of business owners, particularly in Portobello, who are seeing rates increasing beyond all reason (nearing 500% in one case). I will be fighting their corner in the weeks ahead – there is no way these increases can be justified and we cannot see some of our most popular pubs, restaurants and cafes go under because of this.If you are a business owner and haven’t already checked your proposed rates change – please do so at https://www.saa.gov.uk/ and do let me know if you have any issues.

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January Newsletter - Constituency Business

January Newsletter - Constituency Business

In the run up to Christmas, I put out an appeal for presents for those who wouldn't otherwise receive a gift. The generosity of constituents was overwhelming and I was delighted to be able to hand over bag after bag of gifts for all ages to the Trussell Trust Foodbank in Craigmillar. Thanks to everyone who donated.  

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December Newsletter - Constituency Business

December Newsletter - Constituency Business

We handed in our petition to the TSB branch on Niddrie Mains Road a week before it was due to close. Sadly, despite vocal protests from local residents and our petition having nearly 1000 signatures, it did close. The situation has been made worse by the Post Office closing a couple of weeks earlier. There will undoubtedly be an impact on residents who find it difficult, for a variety of reasons, to travel that bit further. This week I wrote to the bosses at TSB and at the Post Office. I asked the bank to provide some pop-up banking services and I asked the Post Office to hurry up and find a new postmaster. We will keep asking until services to the area are improved.

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November Newsletter - Constituency Business

November Newsletter - Constituency Business

I’ve been working hard with the community to try and keep the TSB on Niddrie Mains Road open. The petition is going strong, if you haven’t signed it already pop in to my office, the Neighbourhood Alliance, the library or one of the many shops on Niddrie Mains road with petition sheets in them. We plan to present it to TSB on 4th November at 4pm – please come along and be part of the campaign to save our bank.

You may be aware of the decision to allow a large hotel to be built in the Old Town - at the site covering the beautiful A-listed India Buildings and the B-listed Cowgatehead. Alongside my piece in the Evening News, I’ve written twice to the Council’s Planning Convenor, and to the Local Government Minister to highlight concerns about the decision. The effects on the neighbouring Central Library, the finest Carnegie-endowed library in the nation, could be huge, especially the loss of natural light to the principal lending room. I fully understand the Council’s desire to sell some assets so it can look after others properly but we need to reflect on how we, as a city, go about this and make sure that we don’t sell off our heritage to the highest bidder.

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October Newsletter - Constituency Business

October Newsletter - Constituency Business

This year marks 20 years of the Ripple Project. It was great to be able to pop in and join them in their celebrations.  If you're not already aware of it, the Ripple Project is a community organisation and charity that works to improve the quality of life for residents of all ages in Restalrig, Lochend and Craigentinny. Their hub offers all sorts of activities from toddler groups and youth clubs to gentle exercise classes and a knitting network. Find out more on their website. 

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Community Councillors Needed

Community Councillors Needed

Have you walked down the street in your community, seen something you would like to change, and wondered how easy it would be to make that happen? Maybe it’s a neglected bit of land that could become a community garden. Maybe it’s a new development that you feel needs input from local people who will be affected. Maybe it’s improvements to cycle provision, or somewhere crying out for benches or a wall that needs painted.

Democracy functions on many levels, and in some ways the closer you are to the coal face the more you can be part of making actual, tangible changes happen. On Monday nominations opened for Community Councils across Edinburgh and I hope that many of you will consider putting yourselves forward for them.

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Save Our Bank Campaign starts petition to keep Craigmillar TSB branch open

Save Our Bank Campaign starts petition to keep Craigmillar TSB branch open

A few months ago TSB called to say that they were closing the Craigmillar branch on Niddrie Mains Road. This concerned me a lot. There are branch closures happening all over the country, but in this case it is the only bank in the area. And this is an area that has had its fair share of difficult times over recent years.

Craigmillar has many elderly people and disabled residents. Having to get a bus and walk further will be a real barrier to them being able to access banking services. And as there are no other banks they can't take their custom elsewhere.  But this is also an area which is regenerating itself and has a bright future - not to mention the thousands of new people who will be moving in over the next few years.

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Community Renewal Scotland

Community Renewal Scotland

I had a great time meeting the folks at Community Renewal Scotland. Sheila McWhirter, Sean Connor and Archie Lowe took me through all the work they are doing across East Edinburgh and the projects specifically focused on Magdalene and Bingham.

They have a holistic approach which involves employability services for all but also a focus on supporting young people into employment and other positive outcomes such as training, education or volunteering. They have a Health Case Manager who offers individually tailored support from counselling to referrals. They also work with communities, listening to what they want and then helping people connect and become active and find ways to achieve change. This is what they have been doing in Magdalene and Bingham and they are now looking at how to build on the response from the community.

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Visit to the New Porty High School Site

Visit to the New Porty High School Site

Seriously impressed at the new Portobello High School which is entering the final phase of construction. The council and contractors are now confident that the school will be ready to move in for the half term break in October – and from what I saw today they look like they are on schedule.

Big thanks to Stuart Danskin from the main contractor Balfour Beatty who took time out to show me round the building. It’s massive – you’ve got no idea how big as you look in from Milton Road. Stuart’s in charge of an operation that had more than 150 workers on site the when I visited – and has had over 200 at one time.

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Easter Holidays

Easter Holidays

So it has been a busy old recess kicking off with some canvassing and campaigning over the Easter weekend. My Westminster constituency takes in parts of four Holyrood constituencies so I am doing my best to get around all of them.

The four fantastic Edinburgh SNP candidates are Ash Denham for Edinburgh Eastern, Alison Dickie for Edinburgh Central, Ben McPherson for Edinburgh Northern and Leith and Jim Eadie for Edinburgh Southern. Here’s me with Ash and some activists at a street stall in Portobello.

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Portobello Toddlers Hut

Portobello Toddlers Hut

Tucked away near the Beach in Porty is a little gate in a wall. I must have sauntered past that gate may times but recently I managed to get to the other side to discover the wonderful, community run, Portobello Toddlers Hut.  I had no idea it had been running as a toddlers group since in 1929, making it one of the oldest community run childcare facilities in the UK.

I was warmly welcomed by a number of parents on the committee along with staff and volunteers.  There was the usual February wind blowing on the prom (as you can tell from the photo!) but the toddlers didn't even seem to notice as they played happily outside in the yard of the hut. It was great to hear about the history of the place alongside the activities the current toddlers enjoy. The new book corner looks particularly inviting.

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Money, Money, Money

Money, Money, Money

Prestonfield Primary School held a money week from Monday 8th to Friday 12th February.  It was a fun filled inter-disciplinary approach to learning where children learned about money, and the management of it, through a wide range of activities.

I was invited to a special showcase event at the end of the week, along with parents and other supporters of the school.  At the event, every class made a short presentation (even the Primary 1s) about what they had learnt during the week. We heard about class visits to places such as The Museum on the Mound (The Money Museum) and the Trustee Savings Bank (TSB) at Cameron Toll Shopping Centre. One class even had a visit to Pizza Express to learn about how a real business works.

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Community Alcohol Partnership (CAP)

Community Alcohol Partnership (CAP)

Earlier this month I met with the Portobello and Piershill Community Alcohol Partnership (CAP). Across the UK there are CAPS taking place in over 100 areas – the one in Edinburgh East being a Scottish Pilot. The CAP began in 2013 and brings together key local services (e.g. police and schools) with local businesses (supermarkets and independent retailers) and voluntary agencies.

The CAP aims to support Young People to have a balanced view of alcohol and to reduce alcohol related anti-social behaviour. Indeed, our local CAP has seen significant results in its short time: there’s been a 17% reduction in alcohol related anti-social behaviour in just 2 years.

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Down the Allotment

Down the Allotment

What better way to spend a Saturday morning than down the allotments?  Craigentinny and Telforton allotments is run by committee and enables local individual, families, groups and charities to work plots of land in the community.   I spent some time with them recently, discussing their work and the latest threat from a bid to build on the site.

There have been allotments at Telferton for over 90 years, throughout that time they have been worked and managed by generations of people from the surrounding area. The committee have turned Craigentinny and Telferton allotments into a limited company and registered charity. However, they do not own the land. 

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Craigmillar Hub Opening

Craigmillar Hub Opening

I was delighted to be able to open my new office hub in Craigmillar recently. The old post office, turned campaign hub, is now a sub office for the team fulfilling the promise I made to voters during the election campaign.  Areas like Craigmillar and Bingham are now the bedrock of our party and people have put their trust in me. The problems that people in this community face are only going to get worse with the Tory cuts. This office will form part of the resistance to their plans.

The office was opened by my new colleague Alex Salmond MP/MSP. In his speech he stressed the importance of the community having a strong voice representing those in need.

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Local School Visits

Local School Visits

In the last few weeks I have been continuing my visits to local schools taking in Castlebrae High, Leith Academy and St Francis R.C. Primary School.

Local people will be well aware with the challenges that have faced Castlebrae and the school remains below capacity with regard to pupil numbers. However, this is a school on the up. During my visit I was impressed by the incredible passion and commitment of the Senior Leadership Team and wider staff team.  Their care for, and belief in, the pupils is outstanding and pupils respond positively to this. I also took the opportunity to express my support for a swift move forward in the building of a new secondary at the heart of the community.  

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The summer tour continued

The summer tour continued

 

Any of you that follow my Facebook page will already have a pretty good idea of what I have been up to, but I cannot say enough how amazed I am by the constituency and what we have going on within it. 

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Big Beach Busk

Big Beach Busk

Superb afternoon at the Big Beach Busk at Portobello on Saturday. It was the sixth year of the sandcastle and yours truly was asked to be the judge. Forget the Tories welfare bill, arguments about power for Scotland, or even fox-hunting - decisions don't come any harder than this.

The sun shone and the beach was a hive of industry as more than 40 teams started to make sculpture from the sand. Most entered the family category with sometimes over enthusiastic dads taking the lead... but some kids did it all by themselves.

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Tommy's Blog Articles

Tommy Sheppard
30 November 2017
Tommy's Blog
My work for you in Westminster
The EU Withdrawal Bill entered its committee stage this month in the House of Commons.  As it is a constitutional bill it is considered by a committee of the whole house – in other words all MPs consider it in the main chamber. While hundreds of amendments were tabled, only a few are selected for a vote each day. There will be eight days of debate in total, three of which took place in November. O...
Tommy Sheppard
23 November 2017
Tommy's Blog
My work for you in Westminster
So the EU Withdrawal Bill was back in the Commons for Day 3 of the committee stage this week and, as promised, I’m writing to update you on what happened.Before I talk about the Bill itself, you might be interested in the events of Monday’s Ways and Means debate. Ways and Means is a traditional term for taxes or other charges levied on the public in order to fund Government spending. And while not...
Tommy Sheppard
16 November 2017
Tommy's Blog
My work for you in Westminster
I know how difficult it can be to not only keep up with what is happening as Brexit proceeds, but to understand the antiquated political systems that make up the UK parliament. So I will be sharing regular updates as the Bill makes its way through parliament. As you may be aware, the Bill entered its committee stage this week in the House of Commons. That means MPs debate specific aspects of the B...
Tommy Sheppard
09 November 2017
My work for you in Edinburgh East
Tommy's Blog
Media
All over Scotland last weekend families enjoyed watching the fireworks.  The spectacle of fire and colour brought happiness to many – young and old. The same was true in Edinburgh. All over the city – and especially at Meadowbank – majestic displays thrilled the crowds.But in a few parts of the city a tiny minority set out to cause havoc and intimidate local people. In a few places in north and ea...
Tommy Sheppard
11 October 2017
Tommy's Blog
Articles
Media
I have never been prouder of our SNP Scottish Government than I was last Tuesday when the Energy Minister, Paul Wheelhouse MSP, made a statement to parliament on fracking. He was responding to a huge public consultation on the issue and he made it crystal clear that fracking would not be part of the energy mix in Scotland.Not only was this the right decision but the manner in which the government ...