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.

 

 

Unusual Christmas Markets on Sunday

By Ari Brynjolfsson.

Three ‘quirky’ Christmas markets will open this Sunday (13th December) in Edinburgh, according to events magazine Time Out.

In addition to the regular festive market, Edinburgh Printmakers will have a Christmas Market at their shop on Union Street, near Leith Walk.

The half-centennial fine art shop will offer a  variety of jewellery in addition to prints, books and textiles from local artisans.

Judy’s Affordable Vintage Fair, Britain’s largest vintage fair, will host their Christmas Market in the Assembly Rooms on George Street.

In addition to vintage fashion, they also offer accessories, menswear, home wares and beauty products.

A spokesperson from the vintage shop said: ‘We’re going all out, bringing even more affordable vintage traders from our troupe to get you stocked-up with vintage. Traders will be showcasing some of their best new season stock.’

The Summerhall Christmas Market, to be set up near The Meadows, has promised more stalls than ever before.

In addition to gifts and treats, there will be food from guest vendors, traditional mulled wine from the venue’s bar and Zoom club activities for children. The Summerhall Singers will provide live entertainment with festive songs.

 

 

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.

 

 

 

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.

 

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.

 

Edinburgh Christmas Market Opens Today

Laurenci Dow

The annual Edinburgh Christmas Market launches today at 5pm and visitors can expect brand new attractions including a celebrity visit to switch on the festive lights.

Britain’s Got Talent finalist Susan Boyle will be in Edinburgh this Saturday night to flick the switch tomorrow on Light Night.

The Christmas Market has been a staple in the Edinburgh calendar for the past 20 years. However, this is only the second year that the festival will span from the Mound, through Prince’s Street and around the Scots Monument.

Event coordinator Underbelly said in a press release that due to last year’s enormous success the market will see an expansion to other parts of the city centre and more free events for the public.

Charlie Wood and Ed Bartlam of Underbelly said: “This Christmas is all about lighting up Edinburgh, we’re very excited to be bringing the Street to Light and extending the success of Edinburgh’s Christmas Market into the Old Town.

“It’s a free event for up to 5,000 people a show, 250,000 in all.

“We hope it will show one of Scotland’s most famous streets in a whole new light and bring the whole community together to celebrate Christmas.

“A newly anticipated event this year is the Virgin Money Street of Light that will launch on the 29th of this month to coincide with St Andrew’s Day.”

The Virgin Money Street of Light is an architectural installation of over 60,000 lights stretching from the Royal Mile, to City Chambers ending at Tron Kirk.

Andrew Nicholson, Head of Sponsorship Marketing at Virgin Money, said: “The Virgin Money Street of Light is set to wow both residents and visitors to the city of Edinburgh.

“It will be free of charge following on in the tradition of the Fringe Street Events and we expect over a quarter of a million people to enjoy the show, which opens on St Andrew’s Day and runs until Christmas Eve.”

This free public event will include 1,300 local performers and is expecting a crowd of over 20,000 people.

The show will run for 25 days with two shows per day, one at 6.30pm and 8.15 pm, which each show running about 20 minutes.

 

Critics and Audiences Rave About Royal New Zealand Ballet “Giselle”

Critics and audiences are raving about The Royal New Zealand Ballet’s (RNZB) rendition of “Giselle” preformed in Edinburgh.

The company made its Edinburgh debut at The Festival Theatre this week and viewers have been buzzing about the bewitching performance given by the dancers.

Lucy Green dances the principal role of Giselle.

Audience member, Wilma McEwan said: “I absolutely loved the casting of Giselle, that young lady really has strong technique. Her dances were perfection.”

The ballet tells the story of  a young peasant girl, who innocently falls for the noble Count Albercht, who is engaged to someone else.

When she finds out, she drops dead of a broken heart. In death, Giselle becomes a woodland Willis, the ghosts of dead brides.

As the Willis’ seek revenge and attempt to kill Albercht, Giselle saves his life.

The RNZB has chosen to stick to the traditional style of the classic ballet.

Audience member, Elizabeth Chetty said: “The ballet was beautiful, I think the principal dancers were cast very well. I have never seen this ballet before but I was completely impressed. I will definitely keep an eye out for future performances by the Royal New Zealand Ballet.”

Giselle will be preformed from the 27th – 31st of October. The shows include 2.30pm matinees and 7.30pm evening performances.

 

 

Expect Disruption: Waverley Bridge to be Closed to Southbound Motorists

By Lauren Beehan and Marion Guichaoua

Edinburgh’s Waverley Bridge will be closed to all southbound traffic for four weeks, leading to disruption for motorists and the city’s Bus Tours.

The bridge will close at 6am tomorrow to facilitate improvements to pedestrian access to Waverley Station.

The move will cause temporary detours for Edinburgh Bus Tours, most of whose routes begin on Waverley Bridge.

Councillor Lesley Hinds, Transport Convener, said: “We appreciate that these works will inevitably cause some inconvenience for traffic heading south and we would ask for the public’s patience while we get this much-needed improvement work completed.”

Motorists who wish to access Market Street from Princes Street will have to take a mile-long detour, either via Queen Street and the Mound, or over North Bridge and High Street.

Mark Heritage, assistant operations manager at Edinburgh Bus Tours, said that the building contractors had worked with the company to minimise problems, but a small fall in passenger numbers was to be expected for the next four weeks.

Edinburgh Landmarks to get Chinese Names

By: Lauren Beehan, Madalina Dichiu and Marion Guichaoua

Some of Edinburgh’s best-loved tourist attractions have been given new Chinese names to benefit Mandarin visitors.

The new names were announced today after ten weeks of voting by Chinese tourists in the “GREAT names for GREAT Britain” campaign, run by VisitBritain.

It follows a trend of giving famous celebrities and places relatable names in Mandarin.

However, the names do not translate literally from English. They are generally short Chinese symbols that are rich in descriptive meaning.

In total, 23 Scottish landmarks and traditions were given Chinese names, including haggis, which will be Mie Mie Bu Ding or “Baa-Baa Pudding”. The suggested name for the Highland Games is Qun Ying Hui, or “Strong-Man Skirt Party”.

Scotland hosts over 30,000 Chinese tourists each year and the number is increasing.

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.

 

Tram disruption to be discussed at council meeting

By Marion Guichaoua

A motion will be discussed by the Council this week about the traffic issues created by the tram’s installation and the new traffic lights in the city center.

The council have said: “The council notes with concern that, six months after the start of tram operations, the combination of traffic lights between Leith Street and Waverley Bridge are still causing considerable delays to traffic.

“Further notes that this effect has greatest impact on buses and cyclists but also affects general traffic and, occasionally, trams.

“Considering that long waits for west bound traffic, even for an east bound tram which will not cross the same path, are frustrating for travelers. “

The tram of Edinburgh is a 14-kilometre line between York Place in New town and Edinburgh Airport, with 15 stops.

The line opened on 31 May 2014.

The final cost of the tram is expected to top £1 billion.

Chris Hill, from the City Cycling Edinburgh Forum said: “There are all sorts of issues related to trams – not least people falling off on the tracks, particularly when wet.

“Most concerns about trams and traffic signals have been to do with the long delays caused by the timings. “

Councilor Whyte calls for a report to the Transport & Environment Committee within the two cycles setting out a full solution to this issue.

The council have refused to comment on the issue at this time.

 

 

 

National Lottery celebrates 20th anniversary

By Carolina Morais

Scottish organisations funded by the National Lottery Council have applauded its “vital” and “valuable” work, as it celebrates it’s 20th anniversary.

The Edinburgh-based charity ‘Dads Rock’, which provides bonding time for dads and their children, is set to expand after the National Lottery awarded it last month with £287,096.

A spokesperson from the organisation said: “We would not be able to function without the National Lottery’s funding. It has been absolutely vital. We have been benefiting since 2012 but this last amount we just got allows us to provide services for three years.

“We are going to run a young dads’ project and invest in parenting counseling . We estimate to help over 200 families in Edinburgh.”

The children’s charity ‘Woodcraft Folk’, focused on developing young people’s social and creative skills, also recognizes the importance of the National Lottery’s support.

A Scottish representative said: “It has been a very valuable help to our organisation. The money we received allowed us to employ more staff and to do more trials to test how to approach children and help them grow.

“Here in Scotland, for example, we were able to do what we called the ‘Summer Sessions 2013’, in Stirling, in which we made some real changes in children’s lives. It has definitely been a very successful partnership for us.

Nicola Bligh, from National Lottery Good Causes, said she is “extremely proud” of what the organisation has accomplished over the last 20 years.

“It has been incredibly important. We raised over 32 billion pounds, we have supported a lot of local projects and we have benefited peoples lives.

“It is amazing how you can benefit people everyday in ordinary sectors. And we created thousands of jobs and volunteering opportunities.

“We recently captured an image that will be released this Wednesday in which we gathered over 800 people from over 50 projects that benefited from our funding over the past 20 years. It is really moving to hear these stories. The numbers of our accomplishments are amazing, but the stories behind them are what really matters.”

Ms Bligh also said: “For the future, we hope more and more projects apply for our funding, which is very easy to do through our website. Our plan, of course, is to repeat what we did over the last 20 years just as successfully and keep changing people’s lives.”

To celebrate two decades of existence, the National Lottery is releasing a new video everyday at 6pm on its website until the 19th of November, allowing people to enter the prize draws which increase in value each day.

The first National Lottery draw was on 14 November 1994. According to the organisation, over 450,000 lottery-funded projects were accomplished and over 3,700 millionaires were made in the United Kingdom.

 

 

 

Edinburgh Marathon promotes free workshops

By Carolina Morais

Organisers of the Edinburgh Marathon today launched a series of free workshops ahead of the event which is expected to attract thousands of people next May.

People in Edinburgh showed up at the Nuffield Health Fitness & Wellbeing Center for tips on training plans, nutrition, goal setting, physiotherapy and a guided run along the canal.

Annette Drummond, one of the organisers, said she is “proud” of all the work that has been done by her team.

“We have been around for 13 years now and the event has expanded and grown so much,” she said.

“It started off as just a marathon and now it is a marathon festival over two days, bringing 30,000 people together to raise millions for charity and boost the local economy, all whilst keeping fit and helping people achieve their dreams.”

The Edinburgh Marathon 2015, scheduled for the 30 and 31 May, will be raising funds for Diabetes Scotland and has already received a £2,376 donation from a team of investment managers from the Business Growth Fund.

The race was the first in Scotland to be recognised by the International Association of Athletics Federation (IAAF).

Ms Drummond said its popularity has been boosted not only for being “an IAAF rated event” but also “by the fact that Edinburgh is a beautiful city that people like to visit”.

“This is an international event”, the organiser said. “70 per cent of the marathon runners come from outwith Scotland.”

Free workshops in preparation for the main marathon will also be held in Glasgow on 30 October.

Police deny overreaction in rooftop manhunt

By Philip Askew and Mariana Mercado

 

Police in Edinburgh have defended their response to last Saturday’s manhunt through the city centre, where more than 50 riot officers cordoned off part of Cockburn Steet.

Authorities were pursuing two alleged motorcycle thieves through Edinburgh’s Old Town aided by riot police, sniffer dogs and helicopters in what was described as a “mini war-zone” by Twitter users.

Amid accusations of overreacting, Superintendent Angus MacInnes has defended the heavy handed response, saying that they were “simply about ensuring safe and coordinated apprehension of the suspects” due to the “height and potential danger” involved.

A spokesperson for Police Scotland has emphasised that there were no firearms involved in the incident, saying it was “never a shooting” and that reports to the contrary were just “social media doing its thing”.

The two suspects ran away from police on patrol in Tron Square at 8pm when the chase started, according to a statement from the police. One man was detained and a stolen motorcycle was recovered nearby.

Riot police were brought out when an emergency call placed the second alleged perpetrator on the roof one of the buildings in Cockburn street.

Police are still searching for the other suspect, and the investigation is ongoing.

 

Health fears over Edinburgh exercise Levels

by Vanessa Kennedy

Less than a third of people in Edinburgh are doing the recommended half an hour of exercise a day, a new report has revealed.

An Edinburgh City Council report surveyed up to 4,000 people to ask how many days in the past week they had done 30 minutes of physical exercise which was enough to raise their breathing rate.

Less than a third of people met the recommended target of two-and-a half hours of moderate physical activity per week set by the World Health Organisation (WHO). The organisation estimated that 3.2 million deaths per year could be attributed to low levels of physical activity.

The health body advises that active people are less likely to suffer from coronary heart disease, high blood pressure and depression.

Edinburgh University is set to start a pilot “Healthy University” project to address physical activity levels in inactive students who are doing less than the recommended 150 minutes a week of moderate intensity.

The head of the project, Helen Ryall, said the aim of the project is to “actively promote and deliver tangible health and wellbeing benefits for the University community through increasing the engagement of staff and students in health and wellbeing across the university”.

The programme will provide one-to-one support to students who are inactive, possibly suffering from mild to moderate depression or weight management issues.

Ms Ryall said: “We know that when students feel well they learn better, so this is a win-win for everybody.”

 

 

First Tree Planted in War Centenary Wood

By Paul Malik

The first of 50,000 trees was planted today on the Dreghorn Military Estate, Pentland,  to mark the centenary of the start of the First World War.

Margaret Murison, whose grandfather and great-uncle both fell on the same day during the Battle of Ypres, planted an oak tree with pupils from Currie Primary School to mark the opening of the new wood.

The wood is part of a national initiative set up by the Woodland Trust that aims to “create a living memorial of the conflict”.

The Woodland Trust said: “Over the next four years more than 50,000 trees including oak, birch and rowan will be planted on land that has been used by army personnel for training for more than a century on the MOD training estate at Dreghorn.”

Rory Syme, a spokesman for the Woodland Trust, said the tress selected for the wood were “native” to Britain and that their crimson autumnal foliage would create an “amazing memorial”.

Poppy seeds are to be sown in the area also, to create a vivid red hue across the Pentland Hills.

The area will still be an active army training ground and the MOD will inform the public as to when the woods are not accessible.

The First World War claimed the lives of more than one million British Soldiers. The first Battle of Ypres alone killed more than 55,000 British service personnel.

BrewDog Beer Launches 2014 #Mashtag

by Nicola Brown and Alex Watson

1974579_10153945299565512_180761127_nIn March 2013 BrewDog beer took to Twitter, inviting followers to create an entirely new beer simply by casting a vote each day. With voting polls open from 10am to 8pm over the course of a week, voters decided on the beer style, the flavours and even the packaging. An American Brown Ale with New Zealand hops, aged on oak chips and hazelnuts was the winner. Simple but effective, they named the process #Mashtag.

Now the independent Scottish craft brewery, which has gathered a cult status since its birth in 2007, has relaunched #Mashtag for 2014 this morning at 10am. Today voters are asked to decide between Pilsner, Red Ale and Porter to determine the beer style. In the first hour over 400 votes had already been cast. On Tuesday voters will decide on the Malt Bill and alcohol by volume (abv), Wednesday will choose the hops and IBU (International Bitterness Unit) and on Thursday the beer will be given its distinguishing characteristic with a special twist. The final day of #Mashtag will allow followers to pick a label for their newly crafted, unique beer.

We interviewed assistant manager of Edinburgh’s BrewDog, Calvin McDonald, about 2014’s #Mashtag and his dream beer.

To take part, cast your vote here.

Tram Advertising Slammed By Public

by Alicia Simpson and Melissa Steel

The Edinburgh Trams may be able to recoup part of the estimated £1 billion it has cost to get them up and running. Our reporters, Alicia Simpson and Melissa Steel, went to find out more.

 

The trams, currently being tested throughout the city, could have wrap-around advertising and even be named by companies.

This scheme could earn Edinburgh Trams an extra £1.5 million a year, on top of an expected £15 million in fares.

Andrews Burns, Edinburgh Council leader, told STV news: “I would like to think the vast majority of the Edinburgh population would be supportive of this.”

However, when Edinburgh Napier News went down to Haymarket Railway Station, a main thoroughfare affected by the tram works, we found the public were less than sympathetic – and even had a few colourful suggestions for tram names.

Tram outside Haymarket Station.

Tram outside Haymarket Station.

 

 

Book Week Scotland Is Back

by Rachael Bell

Authors and Organiser Fiona Hyslop celebrating Book Week Scotland 2013 Credit: Scottish Book Trust

Authors and Organiser Fiona Hyslop celebrating Book Week Scotland 2013
Credit: Scottish Book Trust

Book Week Scotland kicked off on Monday with over 100 events taking place in Edinburgh.

The week will be hosted by Scottish Book Trust and is designed to encourage everyone in the community to take part. Mark Lambert, CEO of the Scottish Book Trust, said: “Book Week Scotland is all about celebrating Scotland’s love affair with a book, and writing. Reading and writing – two of the greatest inventions that human beings have ever come up with and something that Scotland excels in.”

According to the Carnegie UK Trust report 2012, only 12 percent of people in Scotland never or rarely read books. Compare this to the National Literary Trust 2012 and After Now study 2013 that found that 1 in 6 people in the UK have literacy levels below that expected of an 11 year old.

Book Week Scotland has a particularly captive audience in Edinburgh as a UNESCO named City of Literature. Sarah Morrison, communications executive at Edinburgh UNESCO City of Literature Trust, said: “It’s a marker of how much people in Edinburgh value literary interests, not just in the literary community but the wider city community. Everything from the world’s largest book festival to story time readings in a local library are so well supported. There is something of literary interest going on every day in the city.”

It isn’t just Scottish nationals that are to be involved. Book Week Scotland is expected to attract a lot of literary tourism to Edinburgh. Ryan Van Winkle, Book Week Scotland Author Ambassador, said: “One of the things I do whenever I land in a new country is to read books that are set there. To me it’s a really great way to get to know peoples voice, their history, culture and slang. In my first few months of living in Scotland I raced through Trainspotting and Alasdair Grey’s classic Lanark. You don’t have to travel to read a book, of course, it’s obvious, and the great thing about Book Week Scotland is that we will be traveling together in an epic celebration of literature.”

Last year 30,000 school pupils in Scotland participated in the event. This year every Primary One pupil will receive three free picture books to encourage them to participate. That is 180,000 books that will be given out. There will also be 120,000 copies of Treasures to go out to the public. Treasures was a campaign set up after the success of last years Book Week Scotland. It invited Scots to submit a piece of writing about the item they hold most dear.

Primary One Children enjoying their free books during Book Week Scotland 2013 Credit: Scottish Book Trust

Primary One Children enjoying their free books during Book Week Scotland 2013
Credit: Scottish Book Trust

Many authors from around Scotland have also been participating in Book Week and sharing their love for reading and writing. Shari Low, popular fiction writer, said: “As a child I spent most of my time in the library. I just loved reading from a really young age and that’s stayed with me until now.

“That’s why I’m delighted to be a part of Book Week Scotland because I think that anything that inspires a love of reading for pleasure can only be a good thing, and I think that if we can inspire as many children as possible to read now then that’s something that will stay with them.”

Book Week Scotland 2013 will be running until December 1st. Treasures is available to pick up in libraries, independent bookshops, Waterstones branches, Visit Scotland Tourist Information Centres and more. Click here to search for events in your area.

Rascals Bar Becomes An Edin-Burger

A Rascals Burger Credit: Jamie Anderson

A Rascals Burger Credit: Jamie Anderson

By Melissa Steel

A popular St. Andrews burger bar is due to make the move to Edinburgh next Thursday.

Rascals Bar will open a new branch on the premises of the former Aspen Bar on the city’s South Bridge. Its two year tenure in St. Andrews has seen it put sky-high burgers on the menu and host an undefeated eating challenge that has attracted The Daily Record and American champion eater Randy Santel.

Owner Jamie Anderson is enthusiastic about expanding his business. Anderson said: “Rascals Edinburgh will open almost two years to the day after we opened in St. Andrews. It has been a big success for us and the plan was always to expand. We were looking for somewhere else for a long time and we have finally found a good location.”

Although punters can expect the same American-style fare offered in St. Andrews, the Edinburgh bar will not serve Poppa’s Revenge, the mammoth meal that no one has been able to conquer yet. The 7,000 calorie feast includes five burgers, pulled pork, regular and sweet potato fries, spicy chicken wings and a milkshake.

Other bars in Edinburgh offer burger challenges, but Anderson said: “We will serve the same comfort food that we do in St. Andrews and have a good value drinks offer. There will be no Poppa’s Revenge in Edinburgh, though.” The decision came after Santel was defeated by Poppa’s Revenge last week. Anderson said: “I was really excited when Randy Santel took it on, but he failed. I really wanted him to do it. I think it dented people’s confidence.”

Peckish Edinburgh residents looking for a challenge should not be too disappointed. Anderson said: “We are going to make up something specific for Edinburgh and will probably pay homage to Poppa’s Revenge with a display in the bar.”

Rascals Edinburgh will also employ 15-18 people and is currently recruiting bar, waiting and kitchen staff as well as cleaners. Anderson is hopeful that they will be able to open on 5th December. Anderson said: “Everything is going okay just now, touch wood. We’ve had a really good response on Facebook and Twitter – Rascals Edinburgh already has over 1,000 likes and we have not even opened yet. It is a lot more than some of our competitors close by who have been around for years.”

In fact, Rascals Edinburgh has 1,155 likes and Biblos, a bar nearby, only has 397.

The reputation Rascals established in St. Andrews has carried over to Edinburgh. Oliver Corbishley is a former St. Andrews student now living in Edinburgh and he is looking forward to the opening. Corbishley said: “Rascals in St. Andrews was a great place for a night out, watching the football or an afternoon lunch with friends. If they bring the same experience to Edinburgh, I am sure it will be a great spot to check out.”

 

 

Crocodile Takes Centre Stage at King’s Pantomime

The Cast of Peter Pan Credit: The King's Theatre

The Cast of Peter Pan Credit: The King’s Theatre

By Melissa Steel

The King’s Theatre pantomime will have more bite to it this year thanks to a “particularly scary” crocodile when it opens on 30th November.

The Peter Pan production is set to shake up the standard pantomime format with new special effects. However, fans can still look forward to seeing panto veterans Andy Gray, Allen Stewart and Grant Stott on stage.

Although most of the changes are still under wraps, the production does look set to be much grander than previous years. Director Ed Curtis said: “There will be a new level of scale and stunning special effects, including a particularly scary crocodile. I can’t give too much away, though.”

Curtis is still eager to praise King’s pantos of the past. Curtis said: “There was nothing wrong with the other productions, but we are trying to push the envelope this year.”

Curtis’s decision to take the project on was also influenced by a fondness for the King’s and the pantomime tradition. The King’s has a long history of staging pantomimes – a production of Cinderella actually opened the theatre in 1907. Curtis said: “I love the King’s. I have worked with Andy and Allen before and the prospect of working with them again was extremely attractive. Peter Pan is one of the great British fairy tale stories, too. I’ve not done a Peter Pan before, so I really wanted the opportunity to tell the story. It took me about three seconds to say yes.”

Curtis has directed a variety of pantomimes in the past. Curtis said: “I have directed three or four with Qdos before. This is not the first, but it is certainly the biggest.”

Peter Pan also marks the beginning of Michael Harrison’s tenure as producer of the King’s pantomime. Harrison is head of Qdos Entertainment’s pantomime division, one of the biggest pantomime production companies in the UK. Harrison said: “The late Gerard Kelly said to me, “Pantomime is a celebration of local culture,” and that is more applicable in Scotland than it is anywhere else and probably more applicable at the King’s than it is anywhere else.”

Comic relief comes in the form of performers Andy Gray, Allen Stewart and Grant Stott, as always. This was one aspect of the show Curtis was not eager to change. Curtis said: “It is a joy of a company to work with and the three of them are a strong comic trio.” Producer Harrison was also quick to praise the actors. Harrison said: “Grant is an Edinburgh boy, Andy although he lives in Perth has spent a long time living in Edinburgh, and Allan’s comedy is all about what is topical, whether it’s about the tram, parliament or Edinburgh Zoo. This unmissable production has got something for everyone and I am sure the production will delight audiences of all ages.”

Anger as Council Bosses Approve George Street Changes

23George_Street,_Edinburgh

By Fraser Ryan

Edinburgh City Council bosses have been criticised over plans to implement a twelve month trial to turn George Street into a one way street.

The Edinburgh City Council’s Transport and Environment Committee have angered fellow councillors and members of the public by deciding to approve a trial one way system in George Street. The plan will see the pavements in George Street extended to accommodate street events, as well as introduce a two-way cycle route.

Plans to implement the same plans on Princes Street were rejected, meaning the street will remain two-way during the initial twelve month trail period. It is unlikely any alterations will be made to Princes Street until the Trams are operational by May 2014.

Joanna Mowat, a city centre councillor and Conservative transport spokeswoman, said it would be “foolish” to introduce the system, and called it one of the worst schemes she had “ever seen in local ­government. We are flying in the face of what the architects of the city wanted, what businesses want, what pedestrians want and what cyclists want,” she said.

Gordon Henderson, spokesman for the Federation of Small Businesses Scotland, said that its members felt they had been “comprehensively ignored”.

According to a poll conducted by the Federation, only 35% of people supported the move, while 27% were in favour of splitting the bus services between the two streets.

David Porteous, a senior council official who authored the report, defended the council’s decision, saying “Respondents were sceptical about the benefits of introducing a one-way system to the city centre, arguing that traffic would be displaced if no ­developments in alternative transport provision or better linkages between other parts of the city were provided.”

Green belt campaigners challenge city council to tread carefully

 

Edinburgh City Council’s plans to build on the capital’s green spaces typify the modern day urban conflict between environment and development. The council’s recent Local Development Plan (LDP) sets out a range of proposals for the construction of new homes across much of the city’s green spaces between 2015 and 2025. Between 3750 and 5080 new homes are planned at sites across the capital – the bulk of which are located in Edinburgh’s west and southeast.

 

The LDP has stated that development should be focused on four key areas – the city centre; the waterfront regeneration area in the North; west Edinburgh; and southeast Edinburgh. The city’s fast-growing population has placed greater demand on housing – development is inevitable. But the issue is where this development takes place. Duncan Campbell, member of Edinburgh’s Green belt network, said: “If you are going to develop anyway on green belt, mitigation must be of the highest quality so that impacts on the setting of the rest of the green belt is preserved.

 

“City planners have a tremendous challenge which is emanating from the Scottish Government through national planning frameworks which place a primacy on growth, and the local authorities have to follow that instruction. If they don’t, there are penalties.”

Edinburgh’s planning convener, Ian Perry, recently stated “we expect the vast majority of the new homes to be built on existing and future brownfield sites, such as Leith or Granton. However, we still need to find some green field sites to meet the overall need for additional housing land.” But Mr Campbell says: “It is not beyond the wit of imaginative landscape design to use green space on brownfield sites, where you would be able to have low rise developments in those areas.”

 

Achieving the right balance is key – and if more can be done to incorporate future brownfield sites into council plans, then environmental groups will be more willing to compromise. The danger amid the scuffles is that if insufficient land is identified where development is acceptable then the Scottish Government will take it on instead. That would mean losing control at a local level on decisions about where housing should go. Mr Perry says: “it may be time to review the whole process and revisit the question of how we handle Edinburgh’s growth and protect its green spaces.”

Edinburgh Festival Gets New Director

ferguslinehan01

The Edinburgh International Festival has today announced it has appointed a new artistic director. Fergus Linehan, the former director of the Sydney International Festival as well as fomer Head of Music at the Sydney Opera House, will take over the role in October. He succeeds Jonathan Mills, who has been in charge at the festival for seven years.

Mills will step down after the 2014 festival, but Mr Linehan will work part-time as director designate from 1st May this year. He will step up to the role full-time from October 2014, which will mean 2015 will mark his first festival as director. He will remain in charge at the EIF until at least 2019.

Under Mr Linehan the annual turnover of the Sydney International Festival almost doubled, rising from $12m to $20m between 2004 and 2009, thanks to a rise in ticket sales, funding, and sponsorship.

Speaking of the appointment, Linehan said “I am delighted and deeply honoured to have been appointed as the next director of the Edinburgh international festival. I look forward to safeguarding the founding principles of the festival in ways which are engaging and relevant to all.

“Successful festivals respond to both place and provenance to create a unique identity and this is particularly true of Edinburgh, the pre-eminent festival city. It is with this in mind that I will begin the exciting work of developing my plans and ideas for 2015 and for future festivals”

Mills had previously faced criticism over his festival programmes, which some critics claimed were lacking in homegrown talent.

Edinburgh’s Lord Provost Donald Wilson also welcomed the appointment, saying “Fergus brings new skills, intellectual rigour and a highly successful track record to the Festival and the city.

“Having previously lived in Edinburgh and worked with companies visiting the city he is familiar with what the city can offer its residents as well as visitors and artists from around the world. I look forward to welcoming him back to Edinburgh and Scotland’s creative and vibrant cultural life.”

Cabinet Secretary for Culture and External Affairs Fiona Hyslop, added ‘The Edinburgh International Festival has a worldwide reputation for excellence and innovation. In bringing together exceptionally talented artists from nations across the globe, it helps to celebrate and promote Scotland’s rich culture and heritage on the world stage and strengthen our links with other countries. I welcome Fergus Linehan’s appointment as Director and wish him every success in the role.’

Enter your email address to follow this blog and receive notifications of new posts by email.

Join 423 other followers

Follow

Get every new post delivered to your Inbox.

Join 423 other followers