Constituency Round Up
Parliament has been in a week long recess for Whitsun. Who knows why this still merits Parliament not sitting for a week. I know many MPs were looking forward to it due to the workload (honest most do work hard!) and were taking small trips. I opted to maximise my time in the constituency and attend as many events as I could as well as doing a “work experience” initiative, which involved visiting many workplaces and learning what they do and where possible join in.
The first Friday I did a “pop up” surgery within the Burns Mall as a different venue where passers-by could have a chat or raise matters. Thanks to the operators of the Burns Mall for providing the use of a unit for free. I had a really busy two hours plus and thanks to all those who said hello. We also received a number of queries, and even some health queries that we channel through Willie Coffey MSP’s office as health is devolved. I bet they were glad I did the pop up surgery!
Saturday saw the Holy Fair in Mauchline which is one of the bigger local one day events. There was a great atmosphere with open air performances, great crowds, great produce and great weather. Well worth a trip.
Sunday saw the Junior Cup Final at Rugby Park. It was a great game and Hurlford were so unlucky to lose it at the death. I thought they were the better team, but credit Auchinleck for never giving up. You don’t become the most successful team on Junior football without creating a winning mentality and having self-belief. It is such a fantastic achievement to have won twelve Scottish Cups when the next best record for any team is five trophies.
Monday saw a visit to Alan White Design, based in Hill Street, Kilmarnock. The team there do specialist civil engineering design work for countries all over the globe. It was fantastic to see the unique and inspirational work they do from their Kilmarnock base. Specialist scaffolding design for a bridge in Australia; specialist design for a hotel in Gibraltar, work in Dubai, and more locally the specialist engineering design to allow the Victoria and Albert museum in Dundee. They were the ones that provided the vital design to allow the architect’s design to be physically constructed. I was then supposed to do a town centre walk around with the police who had to cancel as they were on standby due to the trouble on Troon Beach. There’s the unpredictability of life as a police officer right away!
On Tuesday afternoon I managed the town centre walk around. The two police officers were great explaining the different methods they use to deal with anti-social behaviour. It is a sign of the times however, that statistically they are the busiest officers locally I believe. I also hosted a pop up surgery at Ayrshire College on the Tuesday working in Partnership with East Ayrshire Council and a number of partner organisations who were there to provide money and housing advice.
Wednesday saw me making sliced sausage at Afton Glen Meats in Galston. Whilst I didn’t slice my finger, I did nick it a wee bit. Warning – knives are sharp! I then visited the foodbank distribution centre in Darvel to see the fine work going in there. Sadly more donations are always required so I would urge people to donate when they can even if just a couple of items every time you are in the supermarket. This was followed by a visit to the fantastic William McIlvanney Campus in Killie. It was great seeing this bright airy building, including the dance studio and new gym. Great facilities. I then helped the kitchen staff, drying dishes and serving food. After my butcher experience I think they kept me away from sharp instruments!
Thursday saw me at Mossgiel Farm at 5.30am to help milk the cows. I was asked to help round them up using a quad bike. Apparently the cows knew I wasn’t the farmer and so dawdled more and took a loan of me. Refreshing when even cows don’t comply with your wishes! After a constituent visit, I was at the newly refurbished Hurlford Primary School. Again it looks great and I got to see the healthy eating initiative as well as a cooking demo from Christopher Hill who, following a competition has his recipe printed in an international cookbook. Well done Christopher!
I then joined the CHIP van for a health check and saw the great work they were doing and it was amazing how many people simply popped in on the way by. If you see the van – pop in. You will get simple checks such as blood pressure and weight checks. With regards high blood pressure checks this really can save your life.
After a long day, I helped at The Harriers and joined a training session, which after great support from Kenny the coach I managed to do 20 laps of the track. However, remember the Harriers cover all ages and all abilities. They are very hospitable and I recommend the club to anyone.
Following my surgeries on Friday I paid a visit to the Egger factory in Auchinleck, where it was great to hear the multimillion investment they are doing. More importantly, the apprenticeship scheme, so keep an eye out.
I rounded my working week off with a stint behind the bar at The Clansman. I had always fancied myself as a barman, but had to admit to some difficulty with the lager. However, I thoroughly enjoyed my stint and the chat with the regulars. I was frightened it was going to turn into another MP surgery right enough!
My relaxing Saturday started at Dunlop Gala Day. The weather helped but having so much going on was fantastic. This was followed by dropping in to the Newmilns [cattle] Show. I am old enough to remember when it was held in Newmilns.
“Hooray for Hollywood” by A choired Taste was the perfect way to end the week. I congratulate them on ten years of professional shows.
I love getting out and about and I cannot wait to take up the new offers that have been put my way. Any others, just let me know…
These thoughts were first published in the Kilmarnock Standard.