Plans In Motion to Help South Queensferry Businesses One Week After Bridge Closure

Jasper Farrell

The City of Edinburgh Council along with Marketing Edinburgh have pledged to support local businesses in the South Queensferry area, which are among those worst affected by the sudden closure of the Forth Road Bridge a week ago today.

The City has also promised to cease all major roadworks in the city and to put on extra bus and tram services for those whose commute has been severely disrupted as a result of the closure.

The scheme, overseen by the Council’s Economic Convener Frank Ross, aims to help ease the negative impacts that the Bridge closure has had on the area, in terms of diverting potential customers from the area. Mr. Ross said: “ME is in direct liaison with Maggie Mitchell the CEO of Queensferry Ambition and CEC to create content to promote SQ to locals as a great place to visit, shop, eat, drink and enjoy in the lead up to Christmas. And with the reduction in Forth Rd Bridge traffic it’s now even quicker and easy to get to SQ.

‘The content will for part of a plan between ME and SQ and will be used across thisisedinburgh.com and the social media channels to drive additional visitors and customers to this gem of an area of the city.’

John Donnelly, Chief Executive Marketing Edinburgh agreed: “The Forth Road Bridge closure, particularly at this traditionally busy time of year is unfortunately having an impact on local independent business in South Queensferry.

‘Along with our sympathy to business owners, it is Marketing Edinburgh and the City of Edinburgh Council’s responsibility to take proactive action to support them and encourage visitors and locals to get out and enjoy the town’s rich festive offering.’

 Mr Donelly said that it is vital to ensure that businesses in the South Queensferry Area remain open and active over the traditionally busy festive period: ‘Marketing Edinburgh will be working closely with City of Edinburgh Council and the Queensferry Ambition, to ensure we amplify the message that South Queenferry’s many quality retailers, bars and restaurants are open for business and never looked better.’

The council also plans to provide assistance regarding the various transport issues that have arisen in the wake of the bridge closure, with Edinburgh Trams and Stagecoach Buses working together in order to provide extra connections between Islington and either the city center or the airport.

The news comes as ScotRail and Stagecoach similarly pledged to offer more services to those coming to Edinburgh from Fife. Yesterday, it was reported that an elderly man collapsed on an overcrowded train from Edinburgh Waverley Station yesterday.

This morning, the station was quieter than usual, yet several trains inbound from the Fife Circle were still busier than usual. One passenger coming from Kirkcaldy said: ‘Coming through isn’t really the problem, it’s more getting back. Staff are doing all they can, I think. The problems seem to come from some people [other passenger] who simply aren’t giving other enough room.’

The closure of the road bridge has been a heavy blow for many businesses in South Queensferry in the run up to Christmas. One restaurant, Miller & Carter Cramond Brig, revealed on Wednesday to the Edinburgh Evening News that they were on track to lose as much as £50,000 over Christmas.

The proposal by the Council and Marketing Edinburgh has been met with positive support from many businesses in the area, with Mr. Ross stating that ‘…the majority, if not all, businesses have been very supportive’. A spokesperson for Railbridge Bistro, who did not wish to be identified, welcomed the plan: ‘We’re happy to participate in any kind of scheme that attracts more customers to our business.

‘To be fair, while our figures are obviously quite a bit down from last year, and some of our competitors are doing better this Christmas in terms of attracting customers, we’re not doing as bad as some other businesses in the area. The weather tends to affect us more than the bridge, to be honest.’

The Council has advised that more information regarding the scheme shall be posted on thisisedinburgh.com along with further details of any businesses that become involved over the coming weeks.

Marketing For Edinburgh Press Office spokesperson, Katy Allison, revealed that various campaigns throughout the city will be running, including poster campaigns and frequent social media updates in the run up to Christmas, detailing various events throughout South Queensferry.

An example of the social media activity include blog posts highlighting different aspects of South Queensferry, such as: Top 5 Things to do in South Queensferry This Christmas; The Alternative Christmas, which highlights family trips and tours in the area; and Spend Christmas by the Sea, which details various eating and drinking hotspots.

 

Edinburgh Colleges cuts might cause job losses

Course cuts at Edinburgh College could result in job losses due to courses being cut, merged or shrunk.

 A spokesman from the Educational Institute of Scotland welcomed the college’s ‘belated’ recognition of the recruitment issue but added: ‘There’s inevitably that the fear of axing courses means axing jobs.’
Leaders at the college branch of the Educational Institute of Scotland, the country’s largest teaching union, have warned the institution is in’meltdown.’
They have called for suspension of the application process and course reviews until negotiations are complete.

 

The plan to cut and merge courses has been designed in response to new Scottish Funding Council (SFC) policies which imposes caps on the amount of money provided for each student.

A member of the Edinburgh College, Gordon Coutts said: ‘We do not know yet how many courses are going to be cut or merged.

‘We will re-plan the programme in the following weeks. We will focus on courses that students do not show such a big interest.’

Mr. Coutts continued: ‘We will try not to have job losses.’

Student association vice-president Jenni Behan said: ‘Since the Scottish Government embarked on its college merger programme, colleges have suffered crippling cuts. Edinburgh College has been hit incredibly hard.’

A spokesman for the Scottish Funding Council said:’We support Edinburgh College’s plans to tailor its courses to meet changing patterns of demand.’

The most up-to-date figures show there are 15,256 students currently attending college courses, 316 fewer than at the same point last year.

Preparations are under way to recruit an estimated 3500 additional students before the start of the January semester.

 

 

Obesity epidemic endangers women’s health in the UK

By: Yasmeen Fekri

Obesity endangers health of mothers and Children in the UK with health officials recommending ways to tackle the issue.

A report published today by England’s chief medical officer Dame Sally Davies highlighted how much strain obesity is placing on the NHS and on society, causing harm to the country’s productivity.

In her annual medical report, she focuses on this issue saying ‘women’s obesity should be a national priority to avert a growing health catastrophe’.

Seventeen recommendations to improve women’s health were made in the report. Dame Davies also called for more open discussion on incontinence and better treatment of ovarian cancer.

 

Health experts have welcomed the focus of the report.

Clair Armstrong, 37, retail employee said ‘This is a big problem we are facing now. I know a lot of people going through this and it is insane that people can’t control themselves around food.

‘Exercise is the key, people need to make time for it.’

Studies show women’s obesity problem shortens their lives. Women must also take good care of their physical and mental health  during pregnancy for the sake of their children and grandchildren.

Women that are obese during pregnancy have an increased chance of premature birth and miscarriage which can also have an impact on the child’s health later in life.

Dame Davies said she wanted to bust the myth that women should eat for two when pregnant, adding a healthy diet with fruit and vegetables and avoiding alcohol was important.

Professor Nick Finer, from University College London’s Institute of Cardiovascular Science, said ‘obesity was now the most pressing health issue for the nation.’

‘Estimates of the economic costs of obesity suggest they will bankrupt the NHS.’

England’s chief medical officer recommended that everyone with an eating disorder such as anorexia, bulimia and binge-eating should have access to a new and enhanced form of psychological therapy, available online, called CBT-E, which is specifically designed to treat any eating disorder.

She added, Bosses need to be sympathetic to women related issues in the workplace.

Debby Mathews, from a charity that supports people with obesity problems said ‘the recommendation could have a positive impact on the population but to follow everything issued in that report would be difficult due to lack of medical experts.’

 

Report showed that there should be more awareness of women’s problems below the waist such as urinary and faecal incontinence and the menopause.

More than five million women suffer from incontinence in the UK, a condition that can seriously affect the quality of their lives.

Bosses should also make it easier for women to discuss their menopausal symptoms without embarrassment, which could help them reduce their sick leave and improve their well-being at work.

The chief medical officer recommended that clinical staff must be better trained to research on screening tests, preeclampsia and foetal growth as well as improve maternal and child mental and physical health.

Dr David Richmond, president of the Royal College of Obstetricians and Gynaecologists, said women should be placed at the centre of their care throughout their lives.

He said issues such as maternal obesity, poor diet, lack of physical activity, high levels of alcohol consumption, smoking and poor sexual health ‘must be addressed… to enable all women to make safe and appropriate lifestyle choices’.

The obesity epidemic can be tackled if food portion sizes in supermarkets, restaurants and at home are reduced, according to researchers.

The team of researchers at the University of Cambridge also said smaller plates, glasses and cutlery helps people eat less.

 

Edinburgh scientists given multi-million pound physics funding

By Abbey Fleming

A group of physicists at The University of Edinburgh has been awarded £3 million which will allow them to take the next steps in investigating the Higgs boson particle.

It is hoped that the research will help to clarify three main areas of particle physics and help to answer some of the ‘outstanding mysteries of our universe,’ say professors at the university.

Dr Victoria Martin said: ‘By supporting our team of academics, researchers, engineers and technicians, we can take the next steps in investigating the Higgs boson particle, and in answering some outstanding mysteries of our universe, such as the existence of dark matter and how to incorporate the force of gravity into theories of quantum mechanics.’

This funding will allow members of staff, research fellows and PhD students to travel to and spend time in Geneva, working with the Large Hadron Collider over the next four years.

PhD Students working on the experiments are expected to spend between a year and 18 months in Geneva as part of the research team, made possible by the new grant.

Professor Franz Muheim, of the university’s school of physics said:  ‘Over the next few years, Edinburgh physicists are looking forward to recording and analysing even larger data samples with the ATLAS and LHCb experiments.

‘Hopefully, this will allow us to shed light on three of the major unsolved questions about how nature works, namely the origin of mass, dark matter and the asymmetry between matter and antimatter.’

The funding is part of a share of £72 million that has been distributed among a further 17 groups of UK researchers, who the Edinburgh physicists will work alongside.

 

 

Study on Scotland’s most expensive streets is misleading

By Yaz Duncan

A recent study by the Bank of Scotland naming Northumberland Street as the most expensive in Scotland may be misleading according to local estate agents.

The study conducted by the bank named Northumberland Street in Edinburgh’s New Town as the most expensive street to buy property, with average house prices hovering around the £1.3million mark.

However, the study has faced criticism from estate agents who say that the statistic is not accurate because more expensive houses have been sold in the surrounding streets.

Peter Lyle, Director of Edinburgh Residential at Savills said: ‘We have sold a property in Northumberland Street for £1.7m, a little bit more actually. That is the most expensive this year.

‘Properties in the surrounding area have sold for more than £1.7m in streets like Heriot Row and Royal Circus. A whole townhouse there will be more expensive than in Northumberland Street.

‘The study is comparing apples and pears and is simply taking an average of what has been recently sold. If you look at some streets in St Andrews houses are selling for three or four million. It is an odd statistic.’

Despite the alleged inaccuracy of the study, Northumberland Street properties are still selling for higher than average prices and the New Town continues to be a desirable area.

Peter Lyle added: ‘Northumberland Street is in the heart of the New Town, walking distance from Princes Street and close to nice parks. It ticks the boxes for people wanting to live in the city centre.’

In response to suggestions by estate agents that the study is misleading Nitesh Patel, economist at the Bank of Scotland said: ‘We took the period from 2010-2015 and there had to a be a minimum of seven transactions over this period.

‘Northumberland Street meets that criteria with an average house price of over £1.3m. There is always research being done on expensive streets. We make clear that it has to be a minimum of seven transactions in five years.

‘We get data from the Registrar of Scotland. I don’t know what estate agents have  said but there will be one or two streets with more expensive sales but they would not meet our criteria.’

The average UK house price in 2015 was £197,000 but the number of homes in Scotland sold for more than £1m has more than doubled over the last 12 months. The capital boasts 13 of the 20 most expensive streets, Aberdeen have four and Glasgow have two.

 

Royal High hotel plan faces city officials’ rejection

by Jasmin Seidl

Planners urged councillors to reject the plans to transform the Royal High School into a luxury hotel, fearing it would damage the city’s World Heritage status.

The A-Listed Calton Hill site would see ‘Inca-style’ terraces on either side as part of the £75 million bid, expected before the planning committee next week.

‘The development would cause permanent and irreversible damage’, according to planning officials.

‘The adverse impacts on the character and setting of listed buildings, the New Town Conservation Area, the designed landscape of Calton Hill and the OUV of the World Heritage site would not be mitigated by the sophisticated design of the proposed extensions.

‘Put simply, too much building is being proposed for this highly sensitive site,’ planning officials added in a report addressed to the councillors.

Conservation bodies say the reconstruction would harm the character of the historic structure.

Alternatively the High School building might be the new home for St Mary’s Music School. The Music School project is also expected to be submitted to the council this week.

Edinburgh Napier News tried to get in contact with the city planners to have further comments, but no reply was given.

 

People’s comments:

Gordon Blackwood, 54, financial adviser, said: ‘Well, just because some experts said it would damage the landscape doesn’t mean they have to make something completely different. The hotel has been here in Edinburgh for a long time.’

Kate Davis, 29, hairdresser, said: ‘I would prefer a music school, because I don’t think we need a luxury hotel here. I think we should not destroy the landscape, because our children have to live in the world we are destroying right now.’

Andy Stewart, 32, IT-specialist, said: ‘I’d say the hotel should stay a hotel, it is a historical building and it would be sad to damage that.’

 

The neoclassical Royal High School was designed by Thomas Hamilton in 1826 and is one of the most valuable buildings of its style.

After the former boys’ school moved to Barnton, the edifice has been neglected for almost 50 years.

 

Edinburgh’s Santa Fun Run and Walk to take place this Sunday

By Abbey Fleming

Edinburgh’s annual Santa Fun Run and Walk will take place this Sunday 13th December to raise money for the charity When You Wish Upon A Star.

Fundraisers will don Santa costumes as they run, walk or stroll through a 2.5km circuit across West Princes Street Gardens.

Organisers say that being a runner is not a requirement to take part in the event and that anyone can get involved regardless of their athletic ability. The track is also suitable for wheelchairs, children in push chairs and dogs on leads.

Owning a Santa costume isn’t necessary as participants will be given a Santa suit on the day when registering.

The Santa Fun Run and Walk will raise money for the charity When You Wish Upon A Star, which takes hundreds of severely ill children to Lapland to meet Santa which the charity says allows the children to ‘swap hospital beds for sleigh rides’.

To take part, runners can either sign up in advance through the website or register on the day.

 

 

 

Dramatic rise in the number of people using homeless facilities in Edinburgh this winter

By Rebekah Sawyers

A leading Edinburgh charity has announced that they have been forced to open their Care Shelter early this year due to a dramatic rise in the number of people who desperately seeking the service.

The Care Shelter, run by The Bethany Christian Trust is open for six months this year to provide essential shelter to homeless people during the winter months. It provides homeless people in Edinburgh with a place they can go for the night and receive shelter and a hot meal.

Housing Leader, Councillor Cammy Day, from the Edinburgh City Council said: ‘Tackling homelessness remains an important priority for the Council especially during the difficult winter months. This year we are continuing to work closely with our third sector partners to provide services for people who are homeless or at risk of losing their homes.’

The Bethany Christian Trust are promoting the sales of Caring Christmas Trees to fund the Care Shelter and tackle the homelessness crisis across Scotland. The charity have said that every tree sold will provide a bed and a hot meal for a homeless person.

Catherine Guthrie, a support worker for the Bethany Christian Trust said: ‘The caring Christmas Trees provide a real necessity to people during the coldest nights. No-one profits financially, all the money goes to the shelter. Then we have other fundraisers throughout the year to fund the Care Shelter. It wouldn’t work without the hundreds of volunteers that so generously offer up their time. We are always looking for new volunteers and people to get involved in our events.’

The Caring Christmas Trees are freshly cut Nordman firs, grown in sustainable, Scottish tree farms. They are grown especially to be Caring Christmas Trees and more trees are planted as soon as the grown ones are harvested.

The caring Christmas trees are farmed in a way that is good for the environment, and are recycled after Christmas via a home collection service.

The demand for homeless services, like those provided by The Bethany Christian Trust, are increasing. The Bethany Christian Trust are constantly appealing for volunteers.  The Caring Christmas Tree Order Hotline is 0845 111 8733, and the lines are open Monday to Friday, 9am to 5pm.

 

 

College lecturers to hold Edinburgh protest over cuts

By Giulia Maccagli

College lecturers from across Scotland will hold a protest later this afternoon to express their concern over ‘Draconian cuts’ to colleges.

The demonstration will take place at 2:30pm outside the offices of the Scottish Funding Council (SFC) in Edinburgh and will be supported by the Education Institute of Scotland – Further Education Lecturers’ Association (EIS-FELA).

The EIS-FELA campaigns for equal pay across the further education sector and is aiming to highlight the ‘appalling attacks which FE provision in colleges has come under over the past few years.’

John Kelly, EIS-FELA president, said: ‘The SFC has implemented Draconian cuts on FE Colleges which have been exacerbated further by light touch regulation. If the regulation of colleges had been any lighter it would have floated off to meet the Space Station orbiting Earth.

‘Principals in conjunction with Boards of Management have awarded themselves enormous pay-offs at the same time that we are repeatedly told that there is no money for FE courses.

‘Colleges have experienced course cuts and job cuts at the same time as reports of £2.4 million being shared among 13 Principals.’

College lecturers are calling on Scottish Education Secretary Angela Constance to inject more money into the sector, and are urging the SFC ‘to switch off the green light which has been shown to colleges allowing them to spend on a few, at the expense of further education students and staff.’

Commenting on today’s demonstration, a spokesperson for the Scottish Funding Council said: ‘Our Chief Executive, Laurence Howells, will meet a small delegation from EIS-FELA to listen to the points people wish to put across at this  afternoon’s protest.

‘On the specific issue of severance payments to former college principals, we will seek to reassure the delegation that there is now a much-strengthened set of control arrangements for severance-related financial decisions taken by colleges. These arrangements require colleges to consult with the Funding Council in advance of any decisions being made.’

A spokesperson for the EIS-FELA said the association is considering a programme of industrial action in pursuit of fair pay.

Lecturing and support staff groups have been offered a 1% pay settlement for the year, and both have rejected the offer.

Colleges Scotland, the body representing colleges all across Scotland, expressed their hope that today’s unofficial demonstration has not caused disruption to any students.

Shona Struthers, chief executive of Colleges Scotland, said: ‘While we recognise that there have been a few legacy issues, they should not detract from the excellent work that colleges do for the benefit of students and the hard work and dedication of staff in colleges.’

 

Danes vote No to Europol

By: Frederik Gammelby

Danish voters yesterday voted No to change their Europol opt-out into an “optional arrangement” membership.

Despite a majority of parties in the Danish Parliament recommending a Yes-vote, 53 per cent of voters voted against the optional arrangement, which would have led the Danish government to choose which parts of the Europol they wanted to cooperate on.

With the No vote, Denmark becomes the first EU member state to withdraw from the Europol supranational policing network. On Monday, the Danish Prime Minister Lars Loekke Rasmussen (Venstre/Liberal Party ed.) will meet with EU President Donald Tusk and EU Commission Chairman Jean Claude Juncker to work out a parallel agreement with Denmark on policing.

Professor Soeren Dosenrode at European Studies from Aalborg University in Denmark said about The Prime Minister’s upcoming meeting with Mr. Juncker and Mr. Tusk.

“The Danish referendum is not a big deal in Europe, although it’s a big thing in Denmark. This is chiefly due to the fact that Denmark with this vote is not blocking any treaties. The negotiations depend on what Mr. Juncker and President Tusk are going to say, although the Danish Prime Minister should not count on their goodwill.”

Getting the details of the deal right might prove to be a complex task since Denmark, as an EU member state, will still have to live up to the common interest of the EU.

“Getting parallel agreements is a slow process,” said Professor Dosenrode. “First it has to be approved by the Commission, then the Council of Ministers and finally the European Parliament. This process normally takes between one and five years. Furthermore, EU regulation states that parallel agreements are temporary.”

Danish EU elections have traditionally been associated with EU scepticism, with Denmark having voted No to the Maastricht Treaty in 1992, which later resulted in the Danish opt-out deal under the Edinburgh agreement. Denmark also opted out on membership of the euro in 2000. But why are the Danes so sceptical of the EU?

Professor Dosenrode said: “Fundamentally, the Danes are fond of the EU. However, they are scared of giving away their sovereignty. The idea of the big, federal, European state is frightening for the Danes. At the same time the Danes are deeply suspicious of their politicians, because various politicians from parties across the Parliament have been involved in a string of gaffes in resent years, and this suspiciousness has definitely been reflected in the referendum.”

The Danish referendum has gained attention in the UK, and UKIP leader Nigel Farage has already congratulated the Danes on their No vote. Commenting on what the Danish No vote could mean for Prime Minister David Cameron’s bid to change Britain’s EU-membership, Professor Dosenrode said: “It is definitely a signal to Brussels that EU scepticism is alive and well. In connection to the Danish No vote however it is difficult to say whether Donald Tusk and Jean Claude Juncker would approach Britain in the same way as it would with Denmark.”

Edinburgh Council Pledges First City-Wide Renewable Energy Plan

City of Edinburgh Council has unveiled a new sustainable energy action plan for the city, which aims to drastically reduce carbon emissions.

The Council’s Media Officer Noel Miller revealed that several organisations had met with council representatives on 1st December “to pledge their commitment to the City of Edinburgh Council led Sustainable Energy Action Plan (SEAP).”

The scheme marks the city’s first energy action plan, and aims to “transform the capital’s energy use by reducing demand and encouraging local generation.”

The decision comes as world leaders convene in Paris for the ongoing Climate Change Conference.

Several prominent businesses in the city have already pledged their support to the council’s action plan, including Edinburgh Napier University, Heriot-Watt University, NHS Lothian, Standard Life, and BT Scotland.

Environmental Convener at City of Edinburgh Council, Lesley Hinds said: “The SEAP is a city-wide plan, not just a council initiative. Everyone who lives and works in the city can play their part in reducing carbon emissions and the SEAP target is only achievable through city-wide support. The SEAP will seek to develop and therefore be constantly evolving to reflect this involvement with as many stakeholders as possible.

“The eight organisations who have pledged have a large sphere of influence throughout the city, and our combined efforts to find innovative solutions to energy requirements and to reduce our carbon emissions has the potential to make a much larger impact through this partnership.”

Jamie Pearson, Environment and Sustainability Manager for Edinburgh Napier University, commented that the university was “excited” to take part in the council’s scheme. “The plan itself actually ties in with a lot of what we do already at the university, though this is on a somewhat larger scale.

“What this also represents is a bigger partnership between the institutions of Napier, Heriot-Watt, Edinburgh University and Edinburgh College, as well as businesses such as RBS and Standard Life.”

Professor Gillian Hogg, Deputy Head of External Relations at Heriot Watt, said: “This is a practical step towards an ambitious goal. The proposed partnership would allow our staff and students to share that expertise and hopefully offer them practical opportunities to contribute towards the wider aims of the project.”

The Paris Climate Change Conference is expected to conclude on the 11th December. Edinburgh Council hopes that the conference will play a role in spurring the wider community to participate in the new energy scheme.

 

West Lothian welcome Small Business Saturday

West Lothian Council are encouraging residents to spend their money locally tomorrow as part of a campaign to support independent retailers.

Small Business Saturday is a UK non-commercial campaign which aims to promote local businesses and encourage shoppers to spend their money on the first Saturday in December.

The Council hope that the focus on independent firms will benefit business owners in the town centres of Armadale, Bathgate, Broxburn and Uphall, as well as Linlithgow and Whitburn.

Stuart McKinnon, Senior Public Affairs Advisor for the Federation of Small Business in Scotland said: “We know that independent businesses are part of the recipe for success in Scottish towns and communities.

“Especially in rural and remote Scotland, small firms create jobs and opportunities.

“Small Business Saturday is an opportunity for local people to support local business with the pounds in their pockets.”

Harry Ferguson, owner of Broxburn Bargain Centre welcomes the imitative, but said that his business is consistently supported by the community. He said: “Truthfully I don’t know much about Small Business Saturday, we’ve got an MP coming to fill us in about it but anything to support small independent business is a great idea.

“We need all the help we can get in this day and age. We have been here for 65 years so we have a lot of repeat customers.

“They look in the big retailers and they come back to us.”

Small Business Saturday will coincide with other events taking place across West Lothian that highlight independent, local businesses and their place in the community.

Whitburn’s Christmas Cracker event will be held at the Community Education Centre on Manse Road. It will include events for children and a festive market for gifts, food and drink. There will be a Santa Parade making its way to Whitburn Cross and the Civic Space for the Christmas lights finale.

Broxburn and Uphall’s Advent Fayre will take place this Saturday. There will be a Santa’s Grotto and market followed by the switching on of the Christmas lights at Broxburn Library.

Executive councillor for development and transport, Cathy Muldoon, said: “West Lothian is home to a number of truly unique and traditional towns and villages, many of which host a wide variety of small, high quality, specialist retailers, business services and stores.

“Small Business Saturday on 5 December is the perfect opportunity for local residents to show their support for such firms, which play a vital role in their communities and ensure our town and village centres remain vibrant places to visit, shop, work, live and be entertained in.

“The small boutiques and shops in West Lothian can lend a helping hand when it comes to picking that perfect unique gift for someone special, whilst local butchers and delicatessens can help create a great tasting, traditional Christmas lunch or dinner, as well as providing tasty nibbles and treats throughout those long, cold and wintry months.”

Last year’s Small Business Saturday saw 16.5 million people shop locally, spending a total of £504 million.

 

Edinburgh University Scientists Combat African Sleeping Sickness by Jasper Farrell

Jasper Farrell

Researchers at Edinburgh University are developing a new programme to combat sleeping sickness in Africa, which could potentially save thousands of lives in the area.

Scientists led by Professor Sue Welburn, the University’s Chair of Medical and Veterinary Molecular Epidemiology,  have claimed that the number of severe cases of the disease in Uganda have fallen by 90 per cent after injecting cattle with a new advanced drug that kills the parasite carrying the infection.

They were thereby able to eliminate the parasite during its incubation period – the time in which the parasite lies dormant in the host – by injecting thousands of cattle with a single innoculation of the drug trypanocide, before using disinfectant to prevent the chances of re-infection.

While the treatment involves complex and drawn out planning and work, the drug itself is cheap and easy to administer.

Professor Welburn’s assistant, Pauline McManus, told us that Professor Welburn and her team were currently out of the country, yet expressed her pride in the work being carried out.

The disease itself is a parasitic infection, similar to Malaria which has also ravaged the continent. The parasite originates in cattle yet spreads to humans via an insect called the Tsetse fly, which are very common in rural areas.

Symptoms include high fever, headaches, itchiness and joint pains. Several weeks later, the patient begins to experience numbness, poor co-ordination and trouble sleeping.

Speaking beforehand to BBC Radio’s Good Morning Scotland, Professor Welburn spoke of the effects that the potentially lethal disease. “It is transmitted by tsetse flies and they inoculate these parasites into your blood where they multiply and then these parasites move from your blood to your central nervous system where they cause profound problems and really quite extraordinary symptoms,” she said.

“It is absolutely fatal if it is not treated.”

As cattle are largely immune to the infection, the parasite can reside inside them for longer periods of time. Professor Welburn described the process by which a human is infected as a “matter of chance”, with the tsetse fly travelling from cattle to human.

Plans have been drawn to extend the project to all areas of Uganda, with the further inoculations of over two million more cattle.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Edinburgh and Glasgow overtake London in number of new start-ups

Abbey Fleming

Edinburgh and Glasgow have overtaken London in terms of cities with the most new start-up companies.

New analysis of Companies House data by Instant Offices shows that start-ups in Edinburgh have grown by 33 per cent and by 30 per cent in Glasgow over the last year.

This is a greater increase than London, that showed some of the smallest proportional growth at 21 per cent and marks a change in the cities driving start-up growth.

The UK as a whole has seen increased growth in start-ups and has increased by 22 per cent over the past 12 months.

According to Scottish Business News website, Instant Offices CEO Tim Rodber said the growth in start-ups across the UK shows a shift in the balance of the workforce.

He accredited part of the high levels of start-up growth to the UK’s contingent workforce, citing freelancers, consultants and one-man companies as sources of growth and innovation across the country.

While Edinburgh and Glasgow have both seen heightened levels of start-up growth, it was Nottingham that saw the largest increase with a 68 per cent boost.

 

 

Transgender Day of Remembrance

Yaz Duncan

A Transgender Day of Remembrance event will take place in Glasgow tomorrow to commemorate those who have lost their lives due to hate motivated violence.

The event will be held at the University of Strathclyde Student Association and is being organised by the LGBTQI+ societies of Strathclyde University, Glasgow Caledonian University and the University of Glasgow.

One of the organisers of the event, Leonie Siebert, said: “There is still a huge amount of transphobia and hate trans people face every day.

“This is often overlooked and ignored in the media, and paying our respects to the trans people who lost their lives during the past year also gives them the recognition they deserve.

“Their deaths, most of which are a product a culture that did not recognise them as the gender they were, need to be remembered – but also, they show that there is still a long way to go for society in the recognition and acceptance of trans people.”

According to Transgender Europe, in 2015 alone there have been 80 reported murders of trans and gender diverse people globally.

The event is inviting people who identify as transgender or who are questioning their gender identity to speak at the event.

Camryn Mowatt, who will be speaking at the event, said: “I think it is very important to remember and reflect on the people who have lost their lives because of their gender status, either through being attacked or feeling that there is no option but to take their own lives.

“It is a day of remembrance but also a celebration of people’s lives and what we can achieve by working together.”

Kay Logan, who is trans, has also volunteered to speak. She said: “I think event like this are important because people need to be made aware that trans people still suffer at the hands of their families and communities.”

A study by Transgender Alliance found that over 37 per cent of transgender people have experienced physical threat while 19 per cent have been assaulted for being transgender.

Although everyone is welcome, the organisers have asked that only people who identify as transgender speak at the event.

Organiser Leonie Siebert said: “People at this event are encouraged to listen and reflect on these experiences, with the final aim to get a better understanding of what it is like to identify as trans and to live within a very transphobic society.”

The Transgender Day of Remembrance movement started after transgender advocate, Gwendolyn Ann Smith held a vigil to honour murdered trans woman Rita Hester in 1998.

Cat Smith MP, Labour’s shadow Women’s and Equality Minister said: “Transgender day of Remembrance reminds us all of the huge challenges and discrimination that trans people face in their day to day lives.

“Recent cases in the criminal justice system show how far we still need to go.”

 

 

 

 

 

 

Tram line to be extended to Newhaven

Marianthi Parisi

Edinburgh’s tram line will extend down Leith Walk to Newhaven, councillors agreed yesterday.

The new three-mile line is estimated to cost £144.7m.

The Scottish National Party (SNP) and Labour backed the plan by 44 to 11 Conservative opposition votes.

While they agreed yesterday to extend the line, they will delay any further move until 10 December when the next council meeting will be held.

Lothian Buses will finance the project with approximately £20m. There are fears that investments will be reduced, and that there will be job cuts and fare rises.

The original project was the subject of many disputes mainly because it raised its price tag by £1m.

Labour council leader Andrew Burns told yesterday’s meeting he was “acutely aware” of the damage done to the city’s reputation by the previous problems with the tram project.

He said: “I am pleased we have been able to find a way forward for the project, which would deliver a range of key benefits in terms of economic growth, greater accessibility and the environment for Leith and the city as a whole.”

A team of four Labour and four SNP councillors has been appointed to handle the issue over the next three weeks.

They will meet at least twice a week between now and the council meeting in December.

An insider said: “They will make all the different inquiries and get all the information required so an informed decision can be made. Councillors with any misgivings can feed into that.”

Green and Liberal Democrat councillors voted with the coalition, but only on the understanding a decision on starting work on the extension would be made on 10 December.

However, the Conservatives argued the three-week delay would make no difference to the fundamentals of the issue.

Councillor Iain Whyte said: “The people of Edinburgh are angry – they feel they were ripped off during the last phase and they want to see us look after things for the city.

“We are being failed. The administration are not pressing officers hard enough to get value for money.”

The trams began running 18 months ago and currently terminate at York Place in the city centre.

 

Nicola Sturgeon is Scotland’s Politician of the Year

Jasmin Seidl

Nicola Sturgeon has been named Scotland’s Politician of the Year, winning the honour for a record fourth time.

The First Minister was awarded the title by The Herald newspaper exactly a year on from taking the job.

It comes after the SNP virtually swept the board in the Westminster elections earlier this year, taking all but three of the seats north of the border.

Ms Sturgeon was also widely praised for her performance in the television debates.

She collected the award at a ceremony at Edinburgh’s Prestonfield House Hotel and said it was a “huge honour”.

The First Minister said: “This has been without a shadow of a doubt the most exciting, exhilarating, challenging privileged and downright exhausting year of my life.”

Ms Sturgeon, who won the same award last year, is now the only person to have lifted the annual prize four times. Alex Salmond, her predecessor as both First Minister and SNP leader, won it on three occasions.

This year she saw off competition from the leaders of two of Scotland’s other political parties – Ruth Davidson from the Conservatives and Willie Rennie of the Liberal Democrats.

But Ms Davidson was awarded the E-Politician of the Year, after she used Twitter to criticise Downing Street for lowering flags to half-mast following

Anti-radicalisation conference takes place in Aarhus a week after Paris-attacks

By Frederik Gammelby

An international conference on de-radicalization takes place in the city of Aarhus, Denmark, today a week after the terrorist attacks in Paris.

The radicalisation prevention programme popularly labeled the ‘Aarhus-model’ has gained international attention for its focus on creating dialogue with radicalised elements as a means of preventing radicalised youths to travel to conflict zones like Syria.

Mayor of Aarhus Jacob Bundsgaard has been speaking in the US, Lebanon, and Sweden about the programme, why the conference has garned huge interest.

While French police have increased police presence after the attacks in the French capital, the de-radicalisation conference in Denmark looks for softer ways of preventing radicalisation of especially young people estranged from society.

The conference in Aarhus comes as next week’s government spending review is expected to present significant financial cutbacks for policing in the UK and Wales.

Home Secretary Theresa May has been warned by police that cutbacks might have an effect on their response to a Paris-style terror attack.

In Aarhus, police are already playing an active part preventing radicalization of youths in cooperation with social workers, parents, and mentors.

 

 

Peers call for halt to Scotland Bill

A House of Lords committee has called for the Scotland Bill to be delayed, citing uncertainty over how Holyrood will be funded.

In a report published today, peers claim a lack of scrutiny of financial arrangements in the bill by MPs, could lead to problems in future devolution settlements.

The report by the economic affairs committee states that despite the “unprecedented” nature of devolving income tax revenue as well as giving almost full power to set the rates of tax, the bill has proceeded with “undue haste”.

Scottish and UK ministers are still negotiating terms in relation to funding.

The committee raised concerns in relation to Scotland’s block grant, claiming that given a lack of clarity over the economic risk the Scottish Government should take on, as well as its devolved income tax revenues, reaching a preferred option is currently “impossible”.

They also concluded a need to reform the Barnett Formula, used to calculate Scotland’s share of funding, and to increase transparency and scrutiny of how funding is allocated to the devolved nations.

The report recommends that the UK and Scottish Governments agree “simple and clear borrowing rules and a maximum ceiling on Scottish Government debt”,  doubting that the current “no bail out” proposal between the UK and devolved governments would be believed by the markets.

Lord Hollick, Chairman of the House of Lords Economic Affairs Committee, said: “The Scotland Bill has the potential to fundamentally change the UK and impact on us all both politically and economically. It is crucial that what is proposed is stable and sustainable. Parliament is being asked to pass the Bill before we are told full details about the fiscal arrangements that will underpin this new era of devolution. That cannot be right.”

The Scottish Government have previously claimed that Holyrood would reject any fiscal settlement perceived as not benefiting Scotland.

Deputy First Minister John Swinney told BBC Radio Scotland’s Good Morning Scotland programme: “I would be against there being a delay in the House of Lords because I think fundamentally we need to make progress on the Scotland Bill so that the Scottish Parliament can take its final decision on whether the bill is to be adopted before we get to the Scottish Parliament elections next May.”

 

 

 

 

RBS profits rise despite restructuring costs

Royal Bank of Scotland Group’s third quarter net profits have risen by more than £50m despite sustained organisational restructuring costs.

The rise in profits from the equivalent quarter last year comes in the midst of a restructuring operation, an expensive plan that has seen the company’s revenues fall as the bank becomes smaller.

RBS, currently 73 per cent owned by the state, is part way through a plan to cut back investment operations in order to shift its focus to retail and business customers in the UK.

As part of this plan, the bank has sold its remaining 110.5m shares in US lender bank Citizens Financial. This paired with lower costs than expected has seen profits rise and could help with the company’s share price.

Analysts had predicted the bank would need to set aside an additional £300m to cover PPI payouts. However, this money was not needed.

Recently appointed chairman Sir Howard Davies said the bank, that had to be bailed out by the UK government in 2008, is on its way to becoming a “normal, steadily profitable” bank.

Despite the bank’s promising third quarter profits, RBS still has legal issues over mortgage securities in the US, which could see the bank potentially being hit with a bill of several billion dollars.

 

 

Perthshire Prepares to Welcome Syrian Refugees

Perth and Kinross Council has insisted plans are on schedule to rehouse Syrian migrants affected by the refugee crisis, despite concerns over whether the UK as a whole can meet its pledge of rehousing 20,000 refugees.

In conjunction with the Minority Ethnic Access Development (MEAD) programme, preparations are underway to welcome about 30 Syrians to Perthshire.

Following concerns raised by MPs last night over whether or not the UK is ready to take in an average of 4,000 migrants a year, a spokesman for MEAD, Nicholas Morrison, confirmed that plans were still on schedule to rehouse five Syrian families by December.

Following several “Days of Action” in Perth last month, many essential items such as tents, clothing, and toiletries have been donated by citizens across the city.

Andrew Davidson, 23, an employee at the council, spoke of the events’ success. “A lot of people donated,” he said. “It’s really great to see everyone get involved in something that’s for such a good cause.”

Scotland has agreed to take on 2,000 migrants, of which Perth’s “fair share” would be around 50.

A report issued by the council on resettling families said: “We are confident that, due to the work and preparation already in place, these families will be resettled and the Council will continue to work with the Scottish Government Task Force and Home Office on future plans for resettlement of families.”

Several members of the community have even offered to accommodate refugees, following the powerful images of the refugee crisis.

Speaking after the days of action, Health and Housing Committee Convener Dave Doogan said: “A heartening number of people have contacted the council following the distressing images of war and conflict to offer support, including accommodation.

“Perth and Kinross council stands ready to support refugees affected by this crisis in any way it can.”

Support for injured cricket player Phil Hughes

By Greg Barrie

Cricket players past and present have sent messages of support to Phil Hughes following the Australian batsman’s serious head injury during a match in Sydney today.

Hughes is in a critical condition in hospital after being struck on the head by a fast-bowl at the Sydney Cricket Ground in a Sheffield Shield match.

The South-Australian batsman collapsed after a delivery from New South Wales bowler Sean Abbott missed his helmet and struck him on the head.

Hughes was stretchered off the field and taken to hospital, where he was put into an induced coma following surgery.

The world of cricket has offered its support to Phil Hughes throughout the day.

The sport’s governing body, the International Cricket Council, posted a message of support on Twitter, saying “Thoughts of the entire cricket community are with Philip Hughes now”.

Hughes’ fellow Australian batsman David Warner, who was fielding for New South Wales when the incident occurred , rode alongside Hughes when he was wheeled off the field.

He wrote on Twitter: “Thoughts are with my little mate Hughesy and his family. He is a fighter and a champion and he will get through this. Praying for you buddy.”

Avid England cricket fan Piers Morgan also took to Twitter to show support for the Australian. He wrote: “Awful news about Australian cricketer Phil Hughes – hit on the head by a bouncer today and very seriously ill. Praying for him.”

A number of England cricketers also wrote messages on social media, with James Anderson posting: “Awful news about Phil Hughes. Sickening to hear. Praying for him and his family.”

Cricket Australia chief executive officer James Sutherland offered his support to Hughes and all of the other players who took part in the match.

He said: “Our thoughts and prayers are with Phil Hughes. We are also thinking of his family, team-mates and friends in the Australian cricket family.

“His welfare is our highest priority. We’re also naturally concerned about all of those involved in today’s game and will be giving them our utmost support.”

Hughes, who has played 26 Test matches for his country, was in contention for a recall to the Test side following reports that captain Michael Clarke might be ruled out of the opening match against India on 4 December.

He was taken to Sydney’s St Vincent’s Hospital by an ambulance, accompanied by the doctor who treated him on the field.

Hughes is the first batsman to a suffer life threatening head injury since the introduction of the helmet to the sport in the 1970s.

There have however been a number of incidents in which both batsmen and wicket-keepers were injured despite wearing helmets.

In August this year, England’s Stuart Broad suffered a broken nose when he struck a fast-paced bowl into the gap between the peak of his helmet and the grille.

The last Test batsman to suffer life-threatening injuries was Nari Contractor, the Indian captain hit on the head by Charlie Griffith during the 1961-62 series in the West Indies.

He survived after emergency brain surgery, but never played Test cricket again.

Indian batsman Raman Lamba was killed after being hit on the head while playing in Bangladesh in 1998, but was not wearing a helmet at the time.

 

Anti-sham marriage measures could lead to discrimination

By Lauren Beehan

New measures to tackle sham marriages could lead to discrimination and cause insecurity across communities, according to immigration experts.

Experts have reacted with concern to the new provisions of the Immigration Act 2014, intended to prevent marriages solely for immigration purposes, which will come into effect on March 2nd next year.

The provisions will introduce a new referral and investigation scheme, whereby any couple including a non-EEA national will be referred to the Home Office upon applying for permission to marry or enter a civil partnership.

If an investigation takes place, their notice period can be extended to 70 days, compared to the new standard 28-day notice period required of all couples.

Ruth Grove-White of the Migrant Rights Network said that the new laws could lead to the discrimination of genuine couples who wish to marry in the UK.

She said: “We have wide-ranging concerns about government use of enforcement powers in registry offices. We have accounts from communities of immigration raids taking place in registry offices on Home Office suspicions, causing disruption to perfectly legal marriage ceremonies.

“The government laws increase their licence to discriminate against couples who meet their profile, causing fear and insecurity in communities when people wish to get married.”

She added that the scale of sham marriages was very low compared to the scope of enforcement powers to stop them.

Couples who may be investigated under the new provisions include those who have not made concrete arrangements to cohabit in the UK, who do not share financial or domestic responsibilities, or who cannot communicate in a common language.

Couples may also be investigated if the British partner has previously sponsored another partner or if they have no guests present at their wedding ceremony.

These couples will need to prove that their marriage or partnership is genuine before permission is granted.

Immigration lawyer Colin Yeo expressed concern that there is no statutory definition of a “genuine marriage” in UK law.

In an online statement, he said that the decision on whether or not a marriage is genuine will be left to Home Office civil servants, who will be working from a checklist of factors that may trigger suspicion.

He said: “This checklist determines who will experience that sort of start to their married life. As with many measures under the Immigration Act 2014, ethnic minorities and the poor are far, far more likely to be targeted.”

Introducing the provisions in Westminster yesterday, Minister for Security and Immigration James Brokenshire said that the measures would provide “a much stronger platform for effective, systematic action to disrupt and deter sham marriages and civil partnerships and prevent them gaining an immigration advantage.”

He added: “The new system will give us much more time and information to identify and act against sham marriages and civil partnerships before they happen and, where they do go ahead, we will have the evidence we need on file to be able to refuse any subsequent immigration application in terms which will withstand appeal.”

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

SNP Criticises Relocation of Nuclear-powered Submarines to Scotland

THE SNP today called for only conventional vessels to be based at Faslane after the MoD announced plans to relocate two nuclear-powered submarines to the Scottish naval base.

The statement came after plans were announced to relocate a further two nuclear-powered submarines to Faslane Naval Base on the Clyde. Adding further nuclear material to the base in direct opposition to The SNP’s aim of a nuclear-free Scotland.

The expected economic benefits of transferring the vessels have been played down by the SNP today in conjunction with the benefits of the new £4 billion contract to construct 26 new Frigates on the Clyde.

The Ministry of Defence’s (MoD) decision to move two nuclear powered Trafalgar-class submarines, from their current home in Plymouth to Faslane in the West of Scotland, has been directly criticised by the SNP’s Westminster party spokesperson on defence and foreign affairs Angus Robertson.

He said:  “The MoD shifting two submarines nearing the end of their lifespan on the Clyde won’t disguise the lack of serious defence investment in Scotland from successive UK Governments. The fact they are happy to move nuclear submarines but not a single major surface vessel North speaks volumes.
“The fact is that Scotland’s service personnel have been poorly served by Westminster for too long by a Westminster establishment obsessed with wasting billions on nuclear weapons while stripping Scotland of military assets and cutting 11,000 defence jobs in Scotland over  the last decade. The best future for Faslane is as a full conventional naval base.”
The two submarines,  HMS Talent and HMS Triumph, will have been fully relocated from Her Majesty’s Naval Base Devonport to Scotland by 2020, making Faslane the home of The UK’s entire submarine fleet.
Other two Royal Navy craft, HMS Torbay and HMS Trenchant, are to remain at their current home in Devonport until they are decommissioned in 2017 and 2019 respectively.
Defense secretary Michael Fallon said: “This decision balances the Royal Navy’s operational requirements with giving more clarity to our servicemen and women to plan their family lives.
“HMS Torbay and HMS Trenchant crews and their families now have certainty that Devonport will be their home port until the boats decommission. We expect that local communities will welcome HMS Talent and HMS Triumph and their crews and families when they arrive in Scotland later this decade.

“Our commitment to Faslane becoming home to all Royal Navy submarines from 2020 will bring hundreds of jobs and investment to the West of Scotland.”

The two submarines will eventually be replaced by Astute-class vessels, making the transfer permanent until their eventual decommission.

Edinburgh ranked as the second-best student city in UK

Edinburgh has been ranked as the UK’s second-best student city this year despite the rising demand for cheaper student accommodation. The news was published by the new edition of QS ranking.

With a relatively small population compared to many of the cities in the index, the Scottish capital has a fairly large student community proportionate to its overall size. This means that it scores especially high in the “student mix” category of the index.

Notably, 38% of students at ranked universities in Edinburgh are international, lending an incredibly diverse and inclusive atmosphere for overseas students.

Carlotta Lombatto, an Italian student based in Edinburgh said:

“One of the main reasons I chose to study in Edinburgh was to improve my English level. I thought about studying in London but it is a very expensive city and I couldn’t afford living there. In Edinburgh you can find a lot of part time jobs and it’s easier to pay your fees.

“Maybe the most complicated thing in Edinburgh for an international student is renting a flat. Prices are excessive and there are so many people looking for the same thing. The deposit is very high and student accommodation is expensive.”

Manel Escuder, an international student from Spain, said: “Edinburgh is an amazing city for studying, and it is impossible not to be inspired. There are a lot of cultural events and conferences. It is a very artistic city.

“The racial diversity it’s surprisingly high. You can go to the supermarket and see so many people from different places and everybody can live together.They respect each other.”

University ranking, the mixture of international students, quality of life, rate of use and affordability in terms of standard of living are the five categories included in the criteria.

Ben Sowter, head of research at QS said: “QS Best Students Cities provides a complementary tool with respect to the specific rankings of university students.

“After all, the college experience is influenced by the place and especially by the presence of international students”.

To be included in the ranking, every city must have a population of more than 250,000 and must hold at least two educational institutions that are within the QS World University rankings. There are 116 cities in the world that qualify, but only 50 have been classified.

In Edinburgh, the two institutions ranked by QS are the University of Edinburgh, which is currently 17th in the world, and Heriot- Watt-University.

 

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