Welcome to my first eMagazine of 2016. Any feedback on the slightly tweaked format would be greatly appreciated.

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I know it is February but I wanted to take this opportunity to wish you a very prosperous 2016. 

This first eMagazine of 2016 is produced using a new software package so may look and feel different to previous magaiznes.  It would be good to get your thoughts on the new style and functionality.

Its been a very busy start to the year in Edinburgh South at Parliament and I hope you get a flavour of it from this publication.

As always, please get in touch with me if there is anything I can do to assist.

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Shelter Scotland

Last month I had the pleasure of meeting the Shelter Scotland staff at their South Charlotte Street office hub to discuss housing in the constituency and throughout Scotland.

The staff at Shelter Scotland offer specialist housing advice and support services. Shelter Scotland helps over half a million people a year struggling with bad housing or homelessness and campaigns to prevent homelessness in the first place.

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University of Edinburgh Honours Parliamentary Studies Course

I was delighted to speak to the students who are taking the Parliamentary Studies course.  This course is taught in association with the Houses of Parliament and the Scottish Parliament and is designed to give students an insight into the inner workings of both institutions.  I was delighted to accept the invitation of Dr Alan Convery, Lecturer in Politics andDeputy Editor, British Journal of Politics and International Relations.  It was a superb discussion and we covered everything from international politics to how political institutions operate.  Good luck to everyone taking the course.




                                                Luke Robertson Expedition

Some of you might remember Morningside resident Luke Robertson wrote a guest blog for the eMagazine last year. Well, I’m delighted to say that Luke reached the South Pole at 2.30am, on 14/01/16. In doing so Luke became the first Scot to complete a solo, unassisted, unsupported trek to the South Pole. A great achievement- to find out more or donate you can visit Luke’s website

St Catherine’s Primary School


Edinburgh South has some of the best schools in Scotland and I always enjoy visiting.  On my recent visit to speak to St Catherine’s Head Teacher, Paul Hunter, I got roped into the P6/P7 dance class.  Let’s just say the pupils were much better than me.  My application for Strictly is in the post.

Strathearn Road Sorting Office

It is traditional to visit a local sorting office in the run up to Christmas to see how our local posties are delivering all our Christmas cards and presents.  This year I went to Strathearn Road Sorting Office and was amazed by the number of letters, cards and parcels that our post men and women sort and deliver each day.  Come rain, hail, snow or shine they made sure our Christmas deliveries were all received on time.  Thank you to everyone who worked so hard over the festive period for us.



Friends of Al-Aqsa

This month I was delighted to take part in a lively cross-party discussion hosted by Friends of Al-Aqsa on the plight of the Palestinian people. The multi-faith crowd packed the hall at the IQRA Academy where we discussed what action we can take here in Scotland to assist in the ever more complicated situation in Palestine and the wider Middle-East.

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Planning Update

As ever there has been a lot going on in terms of planning. I have provided an update of a few cases. Please get in touch if you would like an update on any other applications. Regular readers will know that I think the planning laws are deficient and don’t respect local communities.  The recent decisions around major applications that are also part of the Local Development Plan process shows how ineffective the planning process now is.

Broomhills- Local Development Plan (East Frogston Road)

Following a meeting of the Development Management Sub Committee in December a decision of ‘Minded to Grant’ as been made in relation to the Broomhills development. This means that the Council is minded to grant consent subject to legal agreement. As you may be aware there was serious concerns that the local infrastructure would be unable to cope with this development. There is a requirement to reconfigure the Kaimes junction to ease congestion for north/south traffic and the provision of extra school places however I remain concerned this will not be enough.

You can view the full report here.

Burdiehouse Burn- Land for Sale

As you may be aware there is a substantial plot of land for sale just off Gilmerton Road, behind Gilmerton Care Home. The deadline for offers was Jan 15th. The land is designated Open Space in the current Emerging Local Plan and is also part of a local nature conservation site. I will be keeping an eye on any developments.

You can view the details here.

East Suffolk

A planning application to build 11 homes on this area and move the historic pavilion has been submitted.  There was a hearing on Wednesday 18 November at the Planning Committee. The Planning Committee rejected the application as it contradicted the Local Plan Policy but approved the relocation of the pavilion.  I’m sure this will go to appeal.  Thanks to the local Grange Association and the Grange Prestonfield Community Council for their work on this issue.

Scottish Refugee Council

This month I was pleased to meet with Graham O’Neil from the Scottish Refugee Council. Graham and I discussed the plight of refugee’s going through the asylum process in the UK as well as the Syrian refugees who have been settled here in Edinburgh.  We also covered the integration of refugees arriving in Scotland and current Government policies.

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                                         Edinburgh Southern Burns Supper

Edinburgh Southern Labour Party celebrated Burns Night in traditional style with bagpipes, poetry recitals, and maybe even a dram or two. The supper was at the Gorgie Suit in Tynecastle Stadium (a living wage employer), and as ever the staff did a great job. This year I’ve also attended Burns events in Jarrow, Workington and the House of Lords.  Always a great excuse to commemorate Burns and meet up with friends.  Pictured here with our guest speaker this year, Stella Creasy MP.


                                       Moredun Community Centre Christmas Quiz

I was delighted to attend the annual Christmas gathering at Moredun Community Centre. The Centre does a lot for the community and it was great to catch up with everyone. My team lost the quiz to the cheats eventual winners by just 2 points.  Maybe next year……




WASPI Debate

Westminster Hall recently hosted a debate on the Government’s proposed increase to the state pension age, and the detrimental effect this will have on some women, particularly those born in the mid-1950s. It is a dreadful Government policy and we are determined to keep the pressure on the Government.  We have now had a debate in Westminster Hall in December, a debate in the House of Commons in January and another petitions debate eon 2 February.  We will keep this at the top of the agenda until the Government helps alleviate the hardship for over 300,000 women.  We even won a vote in the House of Commons in January by 158 votes to 0 when the Government absented itself from voting.


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                                                        Marie Curie Pledge 

I was pleased to meet up with John Culshaw to support the Marie Curie campaign calling on everyone to have palliative care when they need it. Currently, one in four people each year who need palliative care miss out on it because their needs are not recognised and they are not referred on to the right services. 

For the second year I had the great pleasure of speaking to a capacity audience at the Usher Hall for the New Years Day concert to launch the Marie Curie fundraising campaign and encourage them to dig deep.  Cancer touches us all and I’m very fortunate to have such a wonderful organisation such as Marie Curie in the Edinburgh South Constituency.  The audience initially thought I was the conductor for the evening.  I think they would have been asking for refunds if I had taken the orchestra.



The United Nations Day for the Elimination of Violence against Women

Last month I showed my support for the United Nations campaign for the Elimination of Violence against women and girls. Shocking statistics show that approximately one quarter of women in Scotland will experience domestic abuse in their lifetime.

The United Nations Day for the Elimination of Violence against Women is an international event to highlight and combat violence against women and girls. In supporting the campaign I am demanding a world without violence against women and girls and committing to challenge the attitudes and norms that allow this to exist.

Gender-based violence is a worldwide concern, and Scotland is no exception to this. In addition to the Scottish Government’s assertion that one quarter of women in Scotland will experience domestic abuse in their lifetime, Police Scotland noted that of the 60,080 incidents of domestic abuse recorded during 2012/2013, 80% were female victims of a male perpetrator. Worryingly, in addition to this, Police Scotland figures released this year demonstrated a 9.3% increase in reports of sexual crime.




                                                 Scottish Questions 06/01/16

At the first Scottish Questions of the New Year I asked Secretary of State, David Mundell MP, why the UK and Scottish Governments are keeping the people of Scotland in the dark by failing to publish details of the fiscal framework negotiations, which underpin the Scotland Bill. 

Watch Video


“Drop the Student Debt”


I met with students from Edinburgh College, Edinburgh University and Napier University at a national demonstration against the Governments changes to the Student Maintenance Grant.  The debt of students in England and Scotland has rocketed and this latest decision is severely hampering young people from pursuing a higher education.

We also talked about the the cuts to further education that they explained to me will lead to the closure and merger of many colleges, leaving many students with a longer, more expensive journey to study. 

Thanks for coming to Parliament.

Council Report- Primary School Capacity

The Council’s statutory consolation on “Addressing Primary School Capacity & Accommodation Pressures in South Edinburgh” is now out. You can view the full report and consultation documents here.

Applying for Lottery Funding: Letter from Andrew Lindsay, Big Lottery Fund Scotland

Dear Mr Ian Murray MP

I am writing to give you information on new plans for Big Lottery Fund Scotland, and how we will commit our significant Lottery funds here in Scotland over the next five years.

Big Lottery Fund Scotland is opening a new main funding offer to applications today (26 November 2015). It will award grants of £10,000 to over £1 million to communities and people most in need across Scotland. We intend to invest £250m over the next five years.

Over the last 12 months, Big Lottery Fund staff have worked with people and organisations across different sectors to develop our new funding offer. We have built on learning from previous funding programmes and taken significant input from stakeholders as we refreshed and redeveloped our approach.

Our mission is to help communities and people most in need. We have designed our new funding offer to best achieve that in Scotland over the next five years. We want to help tackle inequality by putting people in the lead. We will also ensure we are as flexible as possible and able to respond quickly to change and the shifting environment.

People-led, strengths-based and connected

For the first time we are asking communities and organisations to tell us how their approach is people-led, strengths-based and connected.

We know that the best projects meaningfully involve those they are working with in the development and delivery of their activity. We know that building on the strengths, gifts and assets of those involved can lead to lasting change. We also believe that the activity we are funding should be connected to what else is going on locally, not only to ensure the best use of lottery funds but to contribute to stronger local services overall.

Medium and large grants for improving lives

We will make medium (up to £150,000) and large grants (up to £1 million) that are about improving lives. We know many people experience challenges at some point in their lives and we want to support activity that helps them overcome these difficulties and become more resilient.

We will be funding work which:

•           Supports children, young people and families currently experiencing challenging circumstances

•           Supports people who have experienced abuse

•           Tackles loss, isolation and loneliness

•           Challenges discrimination and supports people affected by this.

And we will welcome activity that takes, or includes, a preventative approach to these issues.

Most types of organisation will be eligible to apply for an improving lives grant but we are particularly keen to see applications from smaller organisations working at a local level.

Medium grants for community-led activity

We will also make medium grants (up to £150,000) for community-led activity to support communities to bring real improvements to the places they live and the wellbeing of those most in need. We know community organisations play a key role in addressing inequality and strengthening communities. We want to support those organisations to carry out the work that they do best -; bringing local people together around the things that matter to them.

This funding is specifically for organisations in Scotland that are based in the local area they serve and are run by local people.

We are also planning to build on the success of our Growing Community Assets funding stream as we look to develop a further programme of large grants for community assets in March 2016.

Simpler and more straightforward

We have not stopped making grants under £10,000. Awards for All our main small grants scheme and Investing in Ideas and the Communities and Families Fund have been open all through this year and remain so. They make awards from £250 – £10,000 and are open for business.

Overall, we have simplified our approach to make applying for our funding more straightforward and to ensure that those who have not applied to us before feel they can do so now. Our new offer has shorter forms and faster decisions where organisations are asking for less funding. We are also boosting our consideration of place in our work, so that we are better connected to and informed about what is going on all across Scotland and how Lottery funding can help.

If your constituents are interested in knowing more about our new programme then please direct them to our website www.biglotteryfund.org.uk/scotland or they can contact our Advice Team on 0300 123 7110 or at advicescotland@biglotteryfund.org.uk

For more information on our new plans please go to our website or you can contact me at Andrew.lindsay@biglotteryfund.org.uk. Alternatively you can contact another member of the Public Affairs team at 0141 242 1400.

Please note that today, as part of our launch day, we are all out of the office visiting projects to celebrate the work that they do. 


Yours sincerely,

Andrew Lindsay

Policy and Public Affairs Adviser

Big Lottery Fund Scotland

1 Atlantic Quay | 1 Robertson Street | Glasgow | G2 8JB

Tel: 0141 242 1490 | Ext: 1490

Email: andrew.lindsay@biglotteryfund.org.uk

Constituency Office Carbon Report

The Scottish Carbon Metric is attempt to measure in tonnes of CO2(e) instead of the tonnes sent to landfill. Here you will see our annual report for the constituency office. As you can see we are doing our bit to reduce our waste output!


Financial Services Ombudsman: Edinburgh South Facts

  • During the last financial your (2014/15), 534 people living in Edinburgh South contacted the helpline- a decrease of 29% on the previous financial year.

  • This led to the Ombudsman taking on 328 complaints which required investigation from people living in Edinburgh South, down 518 in 2013/14.

  • The Ombudsman are currently upholding around 49% of complaints from Edinburgh South in favour of the consumer. This meant they found that the business had not treated the consumer fairly, so the business was told to pay some form of compensation.

  • The top 5 most complained about products from people living in Edinburgh South were: PPI, house mortgages, packaged bank accounts, current accounts, and motor insurance. 


As you can see, we’ve seen a decline in the overall number of cases from people in Edinburgh South over the last year. This is primarily down to the number of PPI cases levelling off from an all-time high of over 10,000 cases a week. 

Contact the Financial Ombudsman Service on 020 3487 3038.



James Gillespie’s High School- Scottish State School of the Year 2015

I was delighted to hear that James Gillespie’s High School was named Scottish State School of the year by the Sunday Times School Guide, moving up 8 places from 2014, and coming just 2 years after Boroughmuir High School won the award. What makes this even more incredible as it was all achieved whilst significant redevelopment of the school was being carried out. A huge congratulations to all the staff and pupils!

You can read the Evening News article here.




A Message from the new CEO at the Eric Liddell Centre:

Dear All,

I’d like to take the opportunity to introduce myself as the new CEO at the Eric Liddell Centre. My name is Fraser Quin, I’m 51, married with two grown up children, 4 dogs and a motorcycle. I have now been in post for 5 months, but it seems like 10 minutes, so busy has it been. I’m sure you all know where we live, and many will know what we do, but it has been clear since my arrival that we need to do much more to engage with everybody in Morningside, Bruntsfield and Edinburgh.

So what are we? Well, we are a dementia charity with Day Care services Monday to Friday, a business centre leasing rooms to other Charities, a Community Centre catering to local groups such as Yoga, Pilates, toddlers groups and so on. We also host craft fairs regularly, birthday parties, youth groups, sports clubs and on top of that, we have a Café.

Our Café is run by volunteers with support from the management team at the Centre, and in Fiona, we have a superb chef and serve much finer coffee than some of our larger neighbours (naming no names and not mentioning corporation tax).

So in describing some of things we do, I would hope that we can attract more individuals and groups into the centre, be it to hire a room for a meeting, or to have a cuppa or a bowl of soup. As a Community Centre we are eager to welcome all into the building from all faiths and none, all backgrounds, races, and persuasions. I am told we once welcomed a group from Glasgow!

Why not look us up on Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/EricLiddellCentre/?fref=ts

Or our website: www.ericliddell.org

Or for a warmer welcome, drop in and meet the staff, have a coffee and see what excellent social and fitness classes we have. I hope to see you soon.

Dr Fraser Quin

CEO, the Eric Liddell Centre.

0131 4474520

 Letter from Graham Nisbet, Community Policing Inspector:

Dear Community Members,

In the summer of 2015 Police Scotland began to receive reports of antisocial behaviour in and around the Morningside Park area. We responded by increasing our patrols in the area, tasked ward officers, provided support and engaged with the local School Link Officer and spoke with complainers and the community direct.

As a result, we received good feedback of our activities and several local young people were either charged with offences or warned in the presence of their parents regarding their behaviour.

Recently over the last six weeks we have received further reports of youth related antisocial behaviour in Morningside and Bruntsfield areas. These incidents have involved abuse towards residents, committing acts of vandalism (including fire setting) and smoking drugs.

I do want to stress this is a small minority of individuals who we have identified as responsible and a collaborative partnership approach has been in place since the autumn of last year to deter and disrupt those involved.

I want to reassure you we are continuing to respond to complaints and have a local partnership management team in place to oversee, monitor, respond and assess the impact in the community.

We have tasked our ward officers and CPT officers to conduct high visibility patrols in the area and the issue has been raised at the local partnership South CIP process and I have recently met with the head teachers from the schools in the local area to discuss our approach within and out with the school. A number of actions and options are being explored and I am confident we will be able to have a positive impact on the situation and manage those responsible.

Should you have any concerns please feel free to get in touch with me direct or any of the community policing team or of course the local ward officers.

Graeme Nisbet

Community Policing Inspector


Southside /Newington

Police Station St Leonard’s

0131 662 5071

Website: <http://www.scotland.police.uk/>

Twitter: @EdinSouthPolice

Facebook: www.facebook.com/policescotland <http://www.facebook.com/policescotland>

Letter from Scottish Water: Bogus Callers

Scottish Water is reminding customers to follow our Card, Check and Call advice to stop bogus callers.

With the dark winter nights here, and our staff taking thousands of water samples from customers across the country, we are advising people how to recognise a genuine Scottish Water employee from a bogus caller when we turn up at their door.

The advice is reinforced in a Scottish Water advertisement which is featuring on television and radio between November 16 and 29.

Scottish Water carried out more than 150,000 water quality tests at customers’ taps last year to enable us to ensure we continue to provide customers with clear, fresh drinking water.

These ongoing tests are carried out by a sampling team whose members will arrive in recognisable vehicles and will always have photographic identification available.

Following Scottish Water’s simple Three C’s advice could help people to beat the bogus caller:

  • Card -; You can ask callers to pass their ID card or letter through the letter box in order to verify their identity.
  • Check -; Check the identity card carefully: Is the photo on the card the same as the person at the door? Does the card contain the Scottish Water Customer Helpline number? Has the card been tampered with in any way? If you are not confident that they are a genuine caller, then send them away.
  • Call -; If you are in any doubt about the caller’s identity please call our Customer Helpline on 0800 0778778. We advise customers to contact utility companies by using phone numbers found in telephone directories or the internet, but never from ID cards or letters presented, because these could be false. If you are still suspicious contact a neighbour or call the police.

When householders receive a cold call from anyone claiming to be from Scottish Water they should not, under any circumstances, open the door without first checking the caller’s ID card or letter -; this should be passed through the letter box for verification. This stops a bogus caller forcing their way in, even if the door is ajar, or on a chain. Our employees will be more than happy to wait while you check their identity.

Scottish Water’s Chief Operating Officer, Peter Farrer, said: “All of our employees carry identity cards, which they are more than happy to show when requested to do so. Householders shouldn’t let anyone into their home until they are sure of their identity. Check through the peep hole on your door; ask them to pass their ID card through the letter box. Our employees will be more than happy to wait while you check their identity.

“If you’re on your own and feel that you need more support then call a neighbour or a friend, and if you are at all worried about a caller, then please contact the police straight away. The advice is easy to remember – just three C’s -; Card, Check and Call.”

In a bid to help protect customers against bogus callers, Scottish Water is again offering an Anti-Bogus Caller Pack which contains a personal electronic alarm, door viewer, UV Marker Pen and guard bar.

Packs are available to the first 100 customers contacting Scottish Water by emailing customermarketing@scottishwater.co.uk  or writing to us quoting Bogus Caller Pack, Customer Marketing, PO Box 8855 Edinburgh EH10 6YQ.

Further information is available on our website www.scottishwater.co.uk/boguscaller or follow us on Twitter @scottish_water.

For further information please contact the Scottish Water press office on 01383 848236 or Keith Sinclair, press officer, on 0141 414 7186.


Reminder: New surgery times!


Ian Murray MP · United Kingdom
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