There was an amazing turnout for Leith Chooses this year. It's a fantastic opportunity for folk in Leith to have a say in what funds are spent on, and what local groups get support.
It was great to be able to join the Commonwealth Day Lunch at Edinburgh City Chambers to celebrate the links between Scotland and Malawi.
Recently I visited the Royal Infirmary of Edinburgh where I met the inspiring Resuscitation Research Group who are developing innovative approaches to improving the outcomes for out-of-hospital cardiac arrests.
The group told me that every year in Scotland more than three and a half thousand people suffer a cardiac arrest, and unfortunately survival rates are very low at just one in twenty.
You may be aware that last week the Scottish Government implemented an effective ban on electronic shock collars for dogs. These are barbaric devices that have no place in the training of dogs. I congratulate Ben Macpherson MSP on his campaign to get this action. However, the Scottish Government have one hand tied behind their back as powers over the sale of such devices is reserved to Westminster.So Deidre Brock and I are taking this campaign to the Tories in Westminster and you can help. We have a paper public petition on the go (I can then present it in the House) – you can sign it in my office and those of Deidre and Ben. You can also pick up copies of it to get your friends, family, colleagues etc to add their names. An online petition has also been launched and you can sign this here. Read more about it in my Evening News column.
Ban Shock Collars
I held my street surgery in Newcraighall this month. Loads of folk got in contact so it was a busy afternoon. I got some great feedback on the important issues for the local area and was able to offer help with some specific issues. These are a regular occurrence - I'm doing one a month in a different area. It might take a while to get round all 40,000 doors but do look out for a letter coming through your door.
The Scottish Affairs Committee took evidence on the closure of RBS branches across the country. Here's a few of the questions I asked.Scottish Affairs Committee - 17th Jan 18Posted by Tommy Sheppard MP on Wednesday, 17 January 2018
I used my Evening News column this month to talk about fireworks following the extreme antisocial behaviour on bonfire night. I've also written to the Minister asking for the UK Government to toughen up licensing laws. And if they aren't willing to do that, devolve power over fireworks to the Scottish Parliament so they can act. Read the full article here.
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 east Edinburgh a small number used fireworks and fire not to entertain but to terrify. Local people imprisoned themselves in their homes for fear of going out. Cars were set alight and fireworks thrown at emergency services workers trying to protect the public. We’re lucky there weren’t even more serious injuries.
Long before I stood for election I opposed fracking and I’ve been very pleased to be part of the campaign against it over the past couple of years. So I was delighted by the announcement from Paul Wheelhouse, Minister for Business, Innovation & Energy, in the Scottish Parliament earlier in the month, and the subsequent vote last week.
Fracking will have no place in Scotland’s energy mix.
I was delighted to join our sister party Plaid Cymru and make the fraternal address at their conference.
Long before I stood for election I opposed fracking and I’ve been very pleased to be able to coordinate opposition over the past couple of years.
So you’ll not be surprised to hear that I am delighted by the announcement that has just been made by Paul Wheelhouse, Minister for Business, Innovation & Energy, in the Scottish Parliament.
I campaigned with local people against the closure of TSB’s Craigmillar branch. Nearly a year on from TSB closing the bank, the building is still lying empty. This will be costing them money and is no good for the community who have since had the bus to the closest bank rerouted and also seen the post office close.
Wouldn’t it make sense for them to reopen the branch part-time so that the building would be used and local people and small traders could benefit from banking services?
I was delighted to be invited, for the second year running, to the Royal High Primary to join the P7s for a discussion as part of their topic 'Who Represents Us?'.
We had a great discussion about the role of an MP as part of their democracy project.
Welcome to my August Newsletter. Parliament has been in recess for the past month so this newsletter will focus on my work in Edinburgh East. Though of course, politics continues even when the Westminster parliament isn't sitting. And the mess that is Brexit continues unabated. Next week I head back to Westminster where we'll have the first vote on the EU Withdrawal Bill. Let's see if Corbyn and his parliamentary party are ready to work with us on this. August is a great month for me - I'm able to be based at home (the joy of sleeping in your own bed every night cannot be underestimated!) and I get to catch up on all the goings on in the constituency. Though it does feature the toughest decision of my year - judging the Portobello Sandcastle Competition (winner above). It was a great sunny day with lots of people taking part in the Beach Busk along the prom. I'm already looking forward to next year.
This month I was honoured to be asked to give the annual Thomas Muir memorial lecture. Thomas Muir was a tireless campaigner for political reform in the late 18th Century and his actions radically changed the political landscape in our country and across the UK. In the lecture I focused on the parallels between our movement today and Muir's work and the lessons we need to learn from the General Election. You can watch my lecture here.
MPs have been reporting their own constituents to the Home Office for breaking immigration rules. Let me say that again, Members of Parliament - who people come to for help and advice – have been reporting these same people to the Home Office for immigration enforcement. 482 tip offs between 2014 and 2016.
You’d be forgiven for having missed this news that was reported last Friday by politics.co.uk. The mainstream media didn’t exactly jump on it. But it is a major story and we should all be outraged by it. Trust in elected members isn’t exactly at its highest level and this rightly adds to the anger and distrust many feel.
I attended a very inspiring morning at the Jack Kane Centre where they were putting on an event for the Culture, Tourism, Europe and External Relations Committee at the Scottish Parliament. We were taken on a journey through the experiences of the young people who have been on the Erasmus+ plus programme with YouthLink Scotland.
This strand is not for university students but instead engages young people through youth work programmes and enables them to have an experience that broadens their horizons and introduces them to new cultures.
My toughest job of the year (but one I love the most) - judging the Porty Sandcastle Competition! There were some phenomenal entries this year and with over 40 families taking part in that category I wish I could've given a top 10 rather than the usual first, second and third.
Congrats to all who took part and to all the performers at the Beach Busk. Henry (the dog) and I had a great afternoon out.
I was incredibly impressed by my visit to the MRC Centre for Regenerative Medicine in Edinburgh's Bioquarter. Hundreds of scientists from across the globe developing truly world leading research in stem cells and regeneration. Clinical treatment is at the forefront - developing treatments to some of Scotland's most challenging diseases including liver disease, MS and MND.
And they have an excellent outreach and community engagement programme, particularly with Castlebrae CHS. Nathana and Jayanti came along from the school to tell me about the mentors who visit Castlebrae and support pupils with their science coursework and the summer internship programme in the centre.