As you may be aware, I love August. I get to sleep in my own bed every night, get out and about in the constituency and take in some of the Fringe highlights. As the MP for around 80% of Fringe venues I do feel I have a role to play in looking at how the city can benefit most from the summer Festivals. I used my August column in the Edinburgh Evening News to do just that – you can read it here.
I also ran my regular street surgery in the Old Town this month – focussing on the Canongate polling district. Alongside individual problems and support, I talked with a number of residents about the issues affecting the community, many of which are enhanced by the influx of visitors from short term let concerns to the increase in litter and noise.
If you live in Craigmillar you’ll be well acquainted with the wonderful Green House. I had a great time helping Julie out in the Green House one lunchtime. It's a brilliant community resource - helping folk save money and the environment. If you're able to volunteer for a few hours, donate high quality goods or are looking for some bargains, make sure you pop in and support them!
A highlight of every summer is the Portobello beach busk. Due to a travel mess up I wasn’t able to get back from London in time to judge the sandcastles. Thankfully Cllr Kate Campbell stepped up to take my place – doing an excellent job. Was great to meet up with her later in the day at the busk.
Thanks to John Moore and the team at Lothian Community Transport Services for welcoming me on a visit. They're a wonderful organisation, providing vital lifeline services to many of our most vulnerable neighbours. LCTS also works closely with community groups like the Ripple Project in Lochend, helping older people and people with disabilities to access their services. The UK Government is considering changes to the rules for provision of community transport which could disadvantage LCTS and the many great organisations who rely on them and other providers like them. I'll be doing everything I can to stop this.
In addition to my meetings around the drug campaign, I had a very productive chat with Chief Superintendent Gareth Blair, the new divisional commander of Edinburgh's police. We discussed a wide range of issues affecting Edinburgh East including bike crime, domestic violence and drug policy. I'm looking forward to working with Gareth in his new role.
I spent some time with the team at the Recruitment & Skills Centre at Fort Kinnaird. I had an interesting discussion with Rona, Liam and John about how they match job-seekers in the local area with vacancies at the retail outlets. We also spoke about the importance of the real Living Wage from employers and potential ways to drive this forward.
Nearly 40 years after I last delivered the post as a student in Aberdeen, I headed out with Saman to help with deliveries in Craigentinny. I really appreciated the team at Royal Mail setting up the visit to the local delivery centre – it’s incredible how much hasn’t changed in 40 years. During the visit I had a useful discussion with Willie - the CWU rep and political officer about some of the issues facing the work force. I’ve got serious respect for the job our posties do – out and about in all weathers making sure we get our letters and parcels.
Time is running out for many of Edinburgh's small businesses. Today I've written to the Chancellor asking for additional emergency assistance for our hospitality sector through the COVID-19 epidemic.