THERE’S a lot said about women’s abilities to multi-task – a word which always makes me imagine some poor female trying to breastfeed a baby while riding a unicycle, juggling tampons and writing a PhD thesis on man’s inhumanity to man.
Personally I think I’m doing ok on the multi-tasking front if I can make the kids breakfast while cleaning my teeth, pulling up my tights and nodding sagely at the discussion of topical news stories on Radio 4.
But I have a new hero on this front: step up city council chief executive Sue Bruce.
Not only is she a past winner of the Leader of the Year Award in the Scottish public sector thanks to her remarkable skills of running Edinburgh City Council, getting the trams contract disputes resolved – although unfortunately she arrived too late to get it on time and budget – and launching laudable new schemes like the Edinburgh Guarantee apprenticeship scheme, but she is also now to be a non-executive board member of energy firm SSE, helping them sort out their many, many (let’s say it again) many problems.
She deserves a cape – and perhaps a lasso of truth a la Wonder Woman – which would come in handy in both roles.
She probably also deserves the £50k for the work she’ll do for SSE and it’s great to see a woman appointed to a private sector board – they’re rare beasts.
What I have concerns about, though, is that she apparently has the head space available to dedicate to SSE at a time when the council is still trying to deal with its annual £110m debt repayments, is still trying to get in place it’s “co-operative council” ideas, is trying to attract a major new sports facility to the city and, of course, still does not have a tram running, not to mention inquiries ongoing into the ashes scandal and the property conservation department scandal and the fact that they are still attempting to organise a proper whistleblowers policy.
She’s involved with all this while also already sitting on the board of the Scottish Council of Development and Industry. That’s already multi-tasking taken to the max.
Of course local authority leaders – be they political or public servants – are invited to join the boards of other organisations and help impart their vast experience and wisdom. A couple of meetings a year harms no-one. But 12 full days of work for SSE which Sue Bruce’s new job will entail?
That’s very different and made worse by her statement that she’ll be doing this when she’s on annual leave from her day job. This is where I have another huge issue with this whole appointment – as well as the obvious potential conflict of interest when it comes to awarding council power contracts to the private sector.
Being able to multi-task brilliantly is all very well, but holidays are there for a reason: to be used as periods of time away from work, to rest and recuperate, to recharge the batteries so that on returning to work, you are refreshed and up for the challenges coming your way.
Sue Bruce has an extremely stressful job, and holidays break the stress cycle.
And personally I’d rather my city’s chief executive was doing this on her days off rather than de-fusing SSE’s problems.
Show a bit of leg
A SIGN in the window of a High Street shoe shop is tempting Fringe-goers with a bargain: “Tartan tights, buy two get one free”. Who knew there were so many three-legged visitors to our city?
Get off bikes on the pavements
I REALLY try to hold sympathetic views towards cyclists. Their mode of transport is, after all, the cleanest, greenest one around, it keeps them fit, and I admire their courage to take to Edinburgh’s roads where there are far too many careless drivers.
But cycling on pavements when there’s signage telling them to dismount?
It’s not on. They need to get off and walk.
Benefits changes can hurt Maggie’s
EDINBURGh’S Maggie’s Centre, which offers holistic help to the city’s cancer patients, has developed a much more practical side over the years.
Apparently people list money as their second biggest concern – behind pain – when told they have cancer, which is why Maggie’s offers advice which last year helped patients in the Capital claim more than £1.486 million in benefits.
This service will come under more pressure when the “universal benefit” is launched in October.
So think on that the next time you’re asked to sponsor someone, a can is rattled under your nose, or a Tory politician wants your vote.
One sheriff that should stay in the Wild West
LOCAL policing is now well and truly dead. The merging of Scotland’s police forces into one behemoth, Police Scotland, run by a former Strathclyde chief constable – Stephen House, pictured – has resulted in a west coast zero tolerance approach towards sex workers, overturning this city’s pragmatism when it comes to the sex industry by the licensing of saunas.
Years ago our police decided against driving the sex industry underground to leave those involved open to criminal excesses such as extortion, violent crime and drugs and for attempting to make it safe. The Glasgow approach has no place here.