John McLellan: The hills are alive with the sound of grumbling

Cammy Day took to the pages of the Evening News to justify staying in coalition with the SNP. Picture: Ian Georgeson
Cammy Day took to the pages of the Evening News to justify staying in coalition with the SNP. Picture: Ian Georgeson
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You know there’s trouble when politicians have to take the newspapers to communicate with their own party members, but that’s for whom city Labour Group leader Cammy Day’s justification for staying in coalition with the SNP in this week’s Evening News was written.

Stung by accusations that he is rolling over and helping the SNP impose its cuts on local services, he wrote that “The SNP government makes its own choices . . . the Labour Group will continue to campaign against Holyrood and Westminster on reductions in local government funding”.

READ MORE: Cammy Day: Why I’m proud to be part of the Edinburgh Council coalition

Tellingly, there was no criticism, despite adding that “I don’t want to sit on the side-lines.”

Indeed, Cllr Day rarely criticises the SNP in the Council Chamber, and sitting on the side-lines is what some of his colleagues suggest he is doing; why else would local activists have to call on both sides of the coalition to campaign against austerity, as spelt out once again by Cllr Gordon Munro in the Evening News this week.

The unhappiness is spreading, with finance vice convener Marion Donaldson apparently taking flak from colleagues who feel she should be more vocal. This is not a problem for housing and economy vice convener Lezley Cameron, whose relationship with the SNP convener Kate Campbell shows no sign of improvement

And this week the planning vice-convener, Labour’s Maureen Child, didn’t take her usual place sitting next to the SNP convener Neil Gardiner.

This coalition makes the Conservative-Lib Dem government look as harmonious as the von Trapp family.

Two cheers for new brewery and distillery

Despite the relentless campaign to shame us all into drinking less, the prospect of new breweries and distilleries opening up in the city still generates more excitement than any tech start-up.

READ MORE: Innis & Gunn reveals plans for Edinburgh brewery
Although the Heineken-owned Caledonian in Slateford is the only major brewery left, beer is a huge part of Edinburgh’s industrial heritage and the plan by Dougal Sharp (pictured) to establish an Innis & Gunn plant somewhere in town keeps the family vat bubbling, the Caledonian having been rescued by his dad Russell in the 1980s.
Edinburgh Gin’s plan for a distillery on East Market Street sounds controversial, and although an industrial operation in the heart of the Old Town might raise eyebrows, the current city centre plan appears to allow for that.
A cheeky Edinburgh G’n’T chased by a pint of I’n’G? That’s your quota for the day, sir.

Rail depot is back on track

Most people will have been through it, but never stopped. Yet the Craigentinny Rail Depot is one of Edinburgh’s most important facilities, employs 300 people and with little fanfair earlier this month it changed hands.
It opened in 1904, the Flying Scotsman and the world’s fastest steam train, Mallard, were serviced there, and it has now become part of Hitachi Rail, with the Japanese engineering firm taking over a 27-year contract. It will give the maintenance base some much-needed continuity after years of regular ownership changes as train operating franchise holders like East Coast and Virgin came and went.

Liquidity problem

The closure of the COMAS charity which helped recovering drug addicts and ran the Serenity cafe in Jackson’s Entry is sad news, but judging by a motion to Edinburgh Council from Cllr Lezley Cameron, the consequences might be more drastic than usual. The organisation, she says, has been liquidised, which hopefully hasn’t happened to the volunteers themselves and nothing has been poured down the drain. Or perhaps Cllr Cameron meant to say liquidated?