Recess, that is when Parly does not sit

Tuesday July 26th 2016

Christine Grahame MSP in Parliament

Out and about

Recess, that is when Parly does not sit, sets me free to roam the constituency, in an organised fashion I would add.

Yesterday I met up in Galashiels with the recently appointed man in charge of Fire and Rescue in Midlothian, East Lothian and Borders (see below). Then with constituents having humongous problems with a retaining wall in Walkerburn, which urgently needs repair and are in dispute with the local authority over responsibility for repairing it. There is also an insurer involved as it was part demolished by a car. Then there is the Scout Hut (quite substantial) at Tynehead which Network Rail in building the Borders railway has disconnected from access and water.

Tomorrow I am off to Dolphinton Junction where the saga of the bus-shelter continues. It has been promised now for a couple of years and I am running out of patience so a site meeting is called.

Friday and Saturday there is the Borders Union Show, a large agricultural show which covers part of the constituency: Lauder, Earlston, Oxton, Melrose and Galashiels for example.

I tell you this because some folk wonder why they don’t always see me in Gorebridge or Nitten or indeed Penicuik as often as they and indeed I would like.

Can I tell you I am also accused of forgetting West Linton! Actually I am off there next week to visit a young carers’ camp. I know your heart is bleeding for me! But back to my fire fighter.

David Farries is the chap recently appointed as Area Manager and Local Senior Officer for among other pairts, Midlothian, for the Scottish Fire & Rescue Service.

Note the title, not for Officer Farries but the Fire Service as it has evolved from house and chimney fires to mountain rescue, road traffic and now is even trailing dealing with cardiac arrests where the service can get there faster than an ambulance. It seems however that house fires are still one of the commonest and usually cooking related, and yes there are still chip pan fires.

But just as the service has expanded its role, it is also much more involved in prevention than in the olden days.

In Penicuik we rely on retained firefighters, that is people who have other day-time jobs, but fear not, they are fully trained.

Speaking of retained firefighters, reminds me of the time my lum went up many moons ago in a wee village I lived in and on Boxing Day of all days and with deep snow on the ground. My lovely polished floor, gleaming especially for Christmas, was soon covered in muddy footprints and while the village children, including my own, danced around the fire-engine having their pictures taken I sat weeping in a corner.

I knew every man of course as they were retained firefighters: the insurance man, the farmer and so on. Soon the hale village knew that the schoolteacher’s house had been on fire. Oh the humiliation. I could hear my mother’s words ringing in my ears “get the chimney cleaned more often”. Just a thought when “real” fires are coming back in fashion!

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