Queen’s Speech Highlights Economy and Crime

By Martyn Young
Stabilising the economy and introducing tough new measures on welfare and crime were the main features of todays Queen’s speech whcih outlines Prime Minister Gordon Brown and the governments legislative programme for the next twelve months.

The speech features 14 legislative bills on subjects ranging from the economy, law and order and immigration.  In the speech delivered by Her Majesty and prepared for her by the government she outlined the governments plans that showed they were:  ” Committed to helping families and businesses through difficult times.”

“My governments overriding priority is to ensure the stability of the British Economy during the global economic downturn.”  the Queen said.

The speech was slimmed down from last May’s draft version which featured 18 pieces of legislation due to the need to introduce new measures to combat the financial crisis.

The main piece of legislation was the banking reforms bill which aims to protect peoples savings and reduce the possibility of banks getting into difficulty in the same way as HBOS and Royal Bank of Scotland.

Crime and social welfare also featured heavily in the speech as Gordon Brown attempts to focus attention away from the economy.

New measures to tackle benefit cheats with the introduction of lie detector test and a scheme to give communities a say in how criminals are punished were announced.

The speech appears to be of a more populist nature as Gordon Brown tries to attract votes before a possible general election in 2009. The focus on crime and disorder can be seen as an attempt to appeal to working class voters who are very concerned about crime and anti social behaviour. The government also promise to introduce new measures to improve policing and cut crime levels. Tighter immigration controls will be brought in with the merging of customs and immigration powers.

Underlining the governement’s commitment to social welfare are the plans for an equality bill which will promote fairness,fight sexual discrimination and address the pay gap between men and women.

The bills will now proceed through parliament during the next 12 months.

Missing Manics’ Guitarist Declared Dead

Manic Street Preachers

By Martyn Young

Richey Edwards, the missing guitarist and lyricist with Manic Street Preachers has legally been declared “Presumed Dead” almost 14 years after he dissapeared in February 1995.

A band spokesperson confirmed in a statement that Edwards’ family have obtained a court order which officially changes his legal status. Edwards was last seen in London on February 1 1995 and his car was subsequently found near the Severn bridge which is a common site for suicides. Despite an extensive police search a body was never found. The band and their fans have always held hope that the guitarist would one day return with rumoured sightings of Edwards in places such as Newport, The Canary Islands, and a market in Goa. 

This weeks announcement is highly significant as both his parents and bandmates have refused to confirm his death. In the Uk a missing person can be declared dead after 7 years but his parents have previously refused to take this option until now. The bands spokesperson Terri Hall said that the decision was taken by Edwards parents Graham and Sherri Edwards in an effort to try to move on: “This is a hugely emotional decision for Richey’s parents and the band. It is the parents’ choice and the band is happy to go with what the parents decide is best.

“We all dream Richey will come back one day. You hope he is still around somewhere. But it is no longer a realistic hope and if this offers some kind of closure then the band will be content with that.”

The Edwards family lawyer has stressed that the familys change of heart was prompted by a need to address his legal situation. David Ellis told Walesonline.co.uk that their change of heart reflected “an acceptance that his affairs have got to be sorted” and it was “not the same as an acceptance that he is dead”.

The Manic Street Preachers have continued to pay royalties to Edwards for the three albums they released when he was in the band – Generation Terrorists, Gold Against The Soul and The Holy Bible.  Everything Must Go, the bands most successful record released in the wake of his dissapearence in 1996 also features his lyrics.

Edwards parents have now been granted control of his £455,990 estate.  The Manics had previously announced that their next album will feature lyrics entirely written by Richey Edwards and left behind when he dissapeared.

Guns N’ Roses Album Leaker Pleads Guilty

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By Martyn Young

The man accused of leaking parts of Guns N’ Roses long awaited comeback album Chinese Democracy has changed his plea to guilty.

Kevin Coghill, 27 from Los Angeles California was arrested and charged with copyright infringement after uploading 9 tracks from the rock bands 16 year delayed album. Mr Coghill originally entered a plea of not guilty following his arrest in August but has now pleaded guilty in advance of a hearing to be held on December 8.

The tracks were kept under heavy security and it is unknown how they came to be in the hands of Mr Coghill. The band led by singer Axl Rose will finally release Chinese Democracy in the UK on November 23 after a 14 year delay in which members, including iconic guitarist Slash, have come and gone leaving only Axl Rose from the original line up. Guns N’ Roses were one of the biggest bands of the eighties with their brand of hard-rocking hair metal. Their 1987 album Appetite for Destruction is still regarded as a classic featuring their hit songs “Paradise City” and “Sweet Child O Mine.”

In the 16 years between the release of their last studio album Use Your Illusion and the release of Chinese Democracy the musical landscape has changed immeasurably and many critics now believe that in the 21st century Guns N’ Roses are an anachronism and nothing more than outdated rock dinosaurs. It remains to be seen if Chinese Democracy will help the band scale the heights of their 1980’s peak.

Celebrity Jungle Line Up Revealed

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By Martyn Young

ITV’s annual Jungle jamboree I’m a Celebrity…Get Me Out of Here! is set to kick off on ITV 1 this Sunday with a star studded line up led by nine time Wimbledon Tennis champion Martina Navratilova and disgraced former talk show host and MEP Robert Kilroy Silk.

The hit show presented by Ant and Dec returns for its eighth series of bustucker trials and celebrity fall outs in the Australian jungle. This years line up also features: Star Trek’s Mr Sulu – George Takei, TV presenters Esther Rantzen and Dani Behr, Ex Eastender Joe Swash, Blue Singer Simon Webb, models Nicola McClean and Carly Zucker and former police chief Brian Paddick.

ITV producers are said to be delighted with the line up for their flagship reality show. Executive producer Richard Howels said this year had a: “Magnificent cast of celebrities.” He also warned the pampered stars that this years show promises to be tougher than ever: ” Their trip to the jungle promises to be anything but a walk in the park.

“Each year, in a bid to test the celebrities, we develop new ways of pushing the boundaries and this series will push them further than ever before.

“We have bundles of surprises up our sleeves and some of the most gruelling bushtucker trials ever seen.”

The show is one of ITVs highest rated shows with more than 10 million people tuning in to see Christopher Biggins crowned King of the Jungle in 2007.

Unemployment Figures Reach 11 Year High

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By Martyn Young

The number of people unemployed in the UK has increased by 140,000 over the last 3 months to 1.82 million people unemployed – the highest level for 11 years.

The official figures released by the government show that the unemployment rate rose to 5.8%, up from 5.4% in the previous quarter. The figures are a clear indication of the effect the credit crunch and global economic downturn is beginning to have on both businesses and employers and ordinary British citizens.

With the UK in the midst of an imminent recession and economic confidence at an all time low these figures could not come at a worse time. The Bank of England has announced in its latest set of forecasts that the economic gloom is only set to worsen as it produced it’s bleakest set of forecasts for over 10 years. The bank said that the UK is already in recession and the economy was likely to suffer well into 2009.

Trade Unions have reacted to the latest figures by urging the government to fight unemployment and protect the British public from job cuts and redundancies. TUC general secretary Brendan Barber said: ” The signs are that redundancies are coming even faster since these figures were collected. Countering unemployment must be public priority number one.”

The global economic downturn has already forced many firms to downsize their workforce in order to cut costs with firms such as Virgin Media, Yell and GlaxoSmithKline announcing up to 5000 job cuts in the past week with an increase in redundancies across the country of 156,000 during the three months to September.

Derek Simpson, joint secretary of the Unite trade union also called for government action to help ordinary citizens through the economic troubles: “Only urgent and widespread action by government to protect jobs and homes will help hard-pressed families through the worst of this global turmoil.”

Prime Minister Gordon Brown used his monthly press conference today to vow to help people suffering from unemployment: “My personal guarantee is to help every unemployed person and everybody looking for work into work.”

Record Drugs Haul At Airport

16kgs of cocaine with an estimated street value of £800,000 has been seized at Edinburgh Airport by Lothian and Borders Police.

The amount recovered in yesterday afternoons seizure is thought to be a record for the Edinburgh area.

A Mexican couple, Erindidael Lechuga, 37 and Noe Muchado, 40 will appear at Edinburgh Sheriff Court today charged with being concerned in the supply of the class A drug. The record haul was recovered during a routine luggage search by HM Revenue & Customs.

The couple travelled from Mexico  on a connecting flight from Paris along with four children. The children are currently under the care of social services.

Bill Skelly, temporary Deputy Chief Constable of Lothian and Borders Police has praised the work of the force along with HM Revenue & Customs  for preventing class A drugs entering Scotland. Mr Skelly said: “This is the largest recovery of cocaine the Force has made to date, and is an excellent example of partnership working between Lothian and Borders Police and HM Revenue & Customs.

“Safe-guarding communities against the scourge of drugs is a priority for Lothian and Borders Police, and our intelligence-led approach has resulted in a rise in the number of class-A seizures in recent years.”

Mr Skelly has also called on the public to be look out for any drug dealing activity going on in their local area:

“Rest assured that we will continue to build upon this success, and we would ask members of the public to play their part by providing us with information on any drug-dealing activity they suspect is taking place in local communities.”

Razorlight – Slipway Fires

razorlightRazorlight’s million selling number one spawning  second album propelled the band from a knockabout indie guitar band into the stadium rock stratosphere, now they hope to match its success with their third record “Slipway Fires”.

Johnny Borrell has never been afraid to blow his own trumpet and on this record his force of personality is writ large all over it.  Make no mistake this is very much Borrell’s album, with the widescreen arena rock of “America” ditched in favour of folkier,introspective tales, perhaps as a result of Borrell’s self enforced highland hibernation to inspire the lyric writing process. The House is a laid bare confessional tale of the death of his father: ““In bars and in shaded backrooms/Those who can’t cope just get high/But every place this drink takes me to/Belongs to the house where my father died” While the lyrics may be of a more confessional, poetic  nature the music certainly is not. On “Slipway Fires” Razorlight have upped the bombast and posturing to at times preposterous levels giving ammunition to the critics who lambast the band for being all overblown bluster and nothing more.

The album sounds superb with excellent production from Mike Crossey, allowing Borrell and his trusty lieutenant’s full scope to indulge in their musical excesses. Gospel choirs and arena friendly chorus’ abound, and despite your feeling that the music is teetering on the edge of meatloaf style ridiculousness the inherent catchiness of the tunes just reels you in.  The Glam-pop strut of “Tabloid Lover” and the Kinksian “Burberry Blue Eyes” are particularly hard to escape. Standout track is “Monster Boots” a musical tour de force led by Borrells cracking vocals and the thumping drums of Andy Burrows, put simply this song is perhaps the most thrilling 4 minutes of music you may hear all year.

It does not all work though, the album is hamstrung by some awful and at times laughable lyrics, for example Borrels claims in “North London Trash” to have a “hot bodied girlfriend who makes the cameras flash!” and “Hostage of love’s” complaints that: “For telling the truth I have been crucified!” it is this type of self aggrandising that provokes such hatred in Borrell and seriously lets down an otherwise excellent record.

“Slipway Fires” is by far and away the best of Razorlights records and will no doubt seal their place at the very top of the Uk’s indie-rock table and will in all likelihood swell Johnny Borrells already considerable ego to gargantuan proportions.

 

 
 

Warrender Park post office to close despite protests

Royal Mail has today confirmed its plans to close 11 Edinburgh Post Offices Including Warrender Park in Marchmont despite over 3000 people signing a petition campaigning for its survival.  

The plans come as part of Royal Mails UK wide drive to shut 2500 branches.

The confirmations of the closures will be met with disappointment throughout the region. Mike Pringle, Liberal Democrat MSP for Edinburgh South who led the protests against the closure said that the decision to close Warrender Park was a “hammer blow to the community.”  Mr Pringle also placed the blame for the closures on the Labour government. “I’m furious that the Royal Mail has gone ahead and shut Warrender Park Road. It just goes to show that Labour doesn’t care about people who rely on the post office, especially the elderly.”

 “The students who chipped in and did so much to try to save the post office will feel betrayed by this decision.”

 “Labour’s cuts to local services are ripping the heart out of communities all over the country. Let’s hope that the people of Marchmont make Labour pay at the next election.”

Royal Mails closure list was originally published in August, a six week public consultation followed in which Post Office ltd received over 3532 responses from local residents and attended more than 100 meetings including one in St Giles cathedral in Marchmont attended by over 150 residents.

 Among the concerns raised by local residents in the Marchmont area was the fact that Warrender Park was the only Post Office which stays open until 7.30 pm on Saturdays providing a vital service for people who work through the week.

 Sally Buchanan, Post Office Ltd’s network development manager for Scotland defended the closures and said: “These are difficult decisions which have not been taken lightly. We have considered carefully all the comments made.

“We believe the amended plan offers customers across Edinburgh, the Lothian’s and the south of Scotland the best prospect for a sustainable network in the future, bearing in mind the UK government’s minimum access criteria and the other factors it has asked us to consider.”

Former councillor Fred Mackintosh also expressed his disappointment at the closure: “Despite all our efforts, Labour has chosen to ignore the will of the people of Marchmont. This decision means residents will now have to slog all the way to Bruntsfield or Tollcross if they want to use the post office.”

 “I’d like to extend my sympathy to Mr Smalley, the sub-postmaster, who made such a great contribution to the community.”

Beverley Jarret, 69, a regular user of Warrender Park said that the post office is a vital part of the local community: “it’s the most popular post office in Edinburgh and has had the biggest response of locals signing petitions against the closing of various branches in Edinburgh too”

“I’ve been using this branch since I was a student nearly 50 years ago and I still use it today- it’s a great shame if we lose this office for all generations!”

 All the post offices listed to close will shut within the next three months and proposals have also been announced to close the branch at Oxgangs Broadway. A full six-week consultation on the proposal will be launched on November 4.

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