News & Articles

Some published articles and blog posts from Tommy Sheppard MP

Independence is still a simply capital prospect

Independence is still a simply capital prospect

Three and a half months on from Brexit and things are still as clear as mud. David Davies’ statement in the House of Commons this week told us literally nothing about how the Government intends to leave the EU. He talks of a Great Reform Bill, but seems to have no idea what should be in it.

Little wonder people are anxious. Many, from some unlikely quarters, are now asking if it might not be easier for Scotland just to become an independent country after all. Things are clearly going to change. The UK most Scots voted for in 2014 will not exist. The deal has changed. Perhaps the best way to give certainty to our businesses and citizens is to just go for it.

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Tourist tax scheme is an open and shut suitcase

Tourist tax scheme is an open and shut suitcase

Edinburgh should have a tourist tax. A small levy on the hotel bill for visitors would help pay the cost of keeping our magnificent capital city going.

The city attracts around four million visitors per year. In 2014, there were 5.8 million bed nights in Edinburgh hotels (2.3 million domestic tourists and 3.5 million overseas tourists). Even if these were in shared rooms we’re talking nearly three million hotel rooms a year (not including B&Bs). If there was an average £2 levy on the cost of a hotel room (a modest two per cent of a £100 room), that would bring in at least £6 million a year – and that’s probably a serious underestimate.

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The Cat and Dog Home

The Cat and Dog Home

Without a shadow of a doubt one of the highlights of this Summer’s tour has been today’s trip to the Edinburgh Dog and Cat Home. Like lots of people, I’ve been vaguely aware of driving past it on the Seafield Road but never given it a lot of thought. It was great to meet Howard Bridges the new Chief Executive – he lives on the premises with an uninterrupted view of the sea - and has been appointed to raise the profile of the Home.

Howard, and Operations Director, Lindsay Jardine, gave us a tour of the premises where we met lots of happy animals – so deserving of a forever home. Pictured here are Sasha – who, following cancer, has only three legs and is a big softy – and Miko - a boisterous collie who has gone from being very wary of strangers to forming a strong bond with his carer Vicky and will be snapped up when he’s ready. We also saw some adorable kittens and their young mum. The Home is particularly keen to promote their slightly older cats including Luna and April – two gorgeous torties and Andie a big, cuddly black and white charmer. My colleague fell in love with little stripey Mimi (pictured) who isn’t ready for rehoming yet. No wonder the staff here love their jobs! 

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Drake Music Scotland

Drake Music Scotland

Had a great visit to Drake Music Scotland – another hidden gem in the constituency. They offer musical opportunities to people with disabilities in the local community, the city and throughout Scotland. Everyone can make music and Drake’s vision to is to enable that to happen via the tiniest adjustments to musical instruments, through to developing and using the highest tech equipment. I even got to play harp using Thumbjam on the iPad with Equilibrium who were playing their own, lovely, composition using a combination of the latest software and a real viola. Then we nipped in to listen to Ceilidh Band who were rehearsing and they spontaneously struck up Scotland the Brave which I really enjoyed! They demonstrated how Figurenotes works - a music notation system based on coloured shapes that is much easier than normal music notation.

 

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Books for Babies

Books for Babies

I had the pleasure of visiting Craigmillar Books for Babies this morning and meeting Kara Whelan and Michelle Jones. They have been doing very important work with families in Craigmillar, Niddrie, Bingham and Magdalene for the last 17 years.

They aim to foster a love of books, rhymes and words both spoken and written, from a very early age.

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In the office...

In the office...

We arrived on day one thinking we would be getting our desks and computers sorted, at a push we thought we'd be carefully positioning out pencil holders on our own desks by the Friday. Four weeks later our desks have just arrived - and we are very grateful - but we are still waiting on our computers. We are learning the pace of the Westminster administrative machine.

We have all had to undergo extensive security checks. I have never in my life been asked on a form about where my partner lived three years ago, or the date of birth of my mum and dad. At least we know they are thorough. Once this has all been cleared we will get access to the intranet and our own email addresses, which will be a joy. Currently we are all using Tommy's parliament one which I think may be confusing for the recipients. Tommy is getting upwards of 100 emails a day which is incredible. A huge part of our day is just managing them all and making sure the important ones like those from constituents, charities and local groups get responded to.

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