Wednesday 17 February 2010
Chaired a debate today at APSE's Scottish Housing conference at Peebles Hydro. We had a first class panel of speakers with Alex Neil MSP the Housing and Communities Minister facing the opposition spokespersons for Labour, the Conservatives and the Liberal Democrats, Michael McMahon MSP, Derek Brownlee MSP and Jeremy Purvis MSP. Dave Watson the UNISON Scotland organiser also spoke in the debate.
We kicked off with an opening contribution from each and then moved on to a question time format. We had views expressed on everything from the recession to the Scottish financial settlement from Westminster and whether PPP / PFI delivered better than the proposed Scottish Futures Trust (SFT) will. On housing however I think there was a universal acceptance that a real need exists to build more social housing units. The only debate was around the balance between housing association grant and council housing grant.
The audience seemed to appreciate the honesty of the debate and the only worrying issue was for Dave Watson, who Alex Neil kept referring too as Dave Prentis when responding to some of the points he had made. With Dave Prentis on the campaign trail for re-election as UNISON General Secretary I bet Dave Watson was hoping he hadn't dropped any clangers!