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.’

Council Set To Improve The City Centre

Edinburgh City Council has developed a proposal to improve the pedestrian space in the city centre, particularly in the area around Princes Street and George Street. The report focuses, specifically, on improving the pedestrian space and environment in line with the delivery of the tram project, which is due to be completed this Summer.

One of the methods of achieving this is providing an opportunity for dedicated cycle provision in the area, as well as reducing the detrimental impact of vehicles on the City Centre environment. The Council’s ‘Action Travel Action Plan’ sets targets to provide significant improvements in the walking and cycling infrastructure of the city centre by 2020, and the promotion of these means of travel.

The proposal states that by managing the traffic movement of Lothian Buses, it would achieve these objectives. Eastbound buses on Princes Street maybe relocated to George Street effectively halving the number of buses on Princes Street. The proposal also sets to close Princes Street to general traffic in both directions, as well as to allow general traffic on George Street in an eastbound direction only, including taxis. The Council have also announced they are to massively reduce parking availability spots in the City Centre.  Josh Miller,  George Street Association, explained that ”this will just not work.. People will not have to park their cars somewhere else, more inconvenient, and a lot of time will be wasted’. He argued that the ‘Council have not though through a viable alternative’.

Ian Perry, Planning Convener of the Council, said ‘Princes Street has been suffering from the trams, and economic downturn, s we have agreed to increase the pavement space and redress the balance and attract more pedestrians into the town centre and to get more people to shop’.

The results of the consultation will be the subject of a future report and any changes will then be practiced to test how successful they are.

Interview with George Street Association

Interview with Ian Perry, Edinburgh City Council

Scottish History told in Stitches

close up

by SandrZüllig and Louisa Clair Anderson

More than 500 volunteer stitchers from practically every area of Scotland are involved in what will be the Great Tapestry of Scotland.

This huge community arts projects, which began in Autumn 2011, aims to create a series of over one hundred and forty panels that tell the key stories in Scottish history – everything from Duns Scotus to Dolly the sheep. The tapestry is set to be finished by August this year and will be displayed in the Scottish Parliament in September, before going on tour in Scotland and abroad.

The Great Tapestry of Scotland is the brainchild of one of Scotland’s best-known writers, Alexander McCall Smith. The 44 Scotland Street author, together with historian Alistair Moffat, and the artistic talents of Andrew Crummy, not to mention stitchers from all over Scotland, form a team set to produce the world’s longest tapestry. Writer Alexander McCall Smith says that “the recording of events, both great and small, on cloth is nothing new. The most famous example, of course, is the Bayeux Tapestry, which is one of the world’s best-known works of art. More recently, the completion of the Prestonpans Tapestry in Scotland has reminded us of just how effective this method of narrating history can be. When I saw that tapestry for the first time, I was struck not only by its beauty but by the story behind its creation.”

The numbers behind the Great Tapestry of Scotland                                               stitcher

49, 50,000 sewing hours (equivalent to sewing 24 hours a day for 6 years!)

30 miles of woolen yarn (enough to lay up and down Ben Nevis 37 times!)

12,000 years of Scottish history

Over 500 stitchers

Over 140 panels

1 beautiful tapestry depicting the entire history of Scotland!

Keep up to date with the final spurt of the Great Tapestry of Scotland on Facebook.

Daley Triumphs in Edinburgh

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Teenage diver Tom Daley left Edinburgh with a win after finishing first in the 10m platform final in the World Diving Series on Sunday.

The 18 year old Olympian, who took home a bronze medal at London 2012, came out on top of a four man field, producing a high-scoring final dive to seal his victory.

Daly admitted that the win will give him a boost after a post-Olympic slump. “It’s great for where I am right now in my training cycle and the whole four-year cycle,” he said. “To be scoring so high at this stage in the game isn’t quite surprising because I knew I could do it but it does come as quite a nice reward after all the work I’ve been putting in.“

“I haven’t necessarily been seeing the rewards in training recently so to come here and dive well gives you that extra boost”.

Daley was competing in only his second major event since the London Olympics last summer. After a sluggish start to the competition he was cheered to victory by the Edinburgh crowd, producing a great fightback to overtake his Russian rival Victor Minibaev with a final score of 542.15.

The World Diving Series took place at Edinburgh’s Commonwealth Pool this weekend. It was the first major event hosted at the pool since its recent refurbishment at the cost of £37m.

Chris Hoy Retires From International Cycling

By Steven Robson

Chris Hoy announces retirement in Edinburgh.

Chris Hoy announces retirement in Edinburgh.

Britain’s most decorated Olympian has today announced his decision to retire from international cycling.

Sir Chris Hoy, 37, had a very successful 2012, after winning his fifth and sixth Olympic gold medals in the team sprint and keirin events. He also set the Olympic record in London for the 750 metres team sprint by managing a time of 42.600 seconds.

The Edinburgh-born athlete had hoped to compete for Scotland in the Glasgow Commonwealth Games in 2014, but said his fitness would not allow it.

Speaking to the country’s media at Murrayfield stadium, Hoy said: “Nothing would have given me more pleasure than to have been at Glasgow 2014, but I don’t want to make up the numbers.

“It’s a hard time – one moment at the end of your career when you have to say enough is enough.”

Hoy does not believe, however, that his decision will hinder Scotland’s medal chances in Glasgow: “It’s not as if it’s a one man band. I’ve had my time in the sun, it’s time to let other athletes have their share. It will be a successful Commonwealth Games.”

Speaking of what the future might hold, the six-time Olympic Champion said that he would become an advisor to both the Scottish cycling team and the Scottish Rugby Union, as well as charity work, but quashed speculation that he may take on a great outdoor cycle route: “I’m not going to be cycling around the world.”

Asked what he thought his greatest career moment had been, he said: “To stand on the podium in Athens and to hear your name followed by Olympic Champion – that is what it is all about. But to cap it all off with my sixth gold medal – that was a special day too.”

Hoy said he would still be based in Manchester but would not rule out moving back to Edinburgh at some stage; he added: “I am going to cycle for the rest of my life, and I look forward to getting others to do that too.”

Hoy’s wife Sarra summed up the mood: “It is very emotional, but it is good to come out in the open and announce it.”

Royal Mile Action Plan

Edinburgh City Council has put forward a draft of the Royal Mile Action Plan earlier this year in order to make the capital’s most famous street more appealing for its visitors from home and abroad. The future of the Royal Mile is to be considered in a consultation exercise

The council has organized a number of workshops in the area to discuss the future of the Royal Mile with stakeholders as well as local residents.

Issues suggested for consideration by the Council include traffic flows and the mix of retail outlets. Many of those operating businesses in the street have said they are busier than ever, but some visitors have said they were let down by their overall experience of the area.

The last two workshops will take place on Wednesday 17 April 2013 in Trinity Apse and on Tuesday 23 April 2013 in Riddle’s Court. The closing date for comments on the Royal Mile Action Plan is 17 May 2013.

Napier University Independence Referendum Poll

Earlier this month Buzz Magazine asked Napier students their opinions on the issue of Scottish independence. 569 students (3.3% of the student body) were asked the question “If you were to vote on Scottish independence now, how would you vote?” Both the Better Together and Yes Scotland campaigns refused to comment on the results of the poll, which will be revealed later today.

Spartans “disappointed” at league reconstruction

by Joseph Birchenall

Edinburgh community club The Spartans FC have expressed disappointment at the SPL’s failure to reach an agreement on leaugue reconstruction.badge

Depsite the fact that the club plays in the East of Scotland league, they have released the following statement:

“We are very disappointed to learn of the outcome of today’s SPL vote on league reconstruction. Like many involved in Scottish football, Spartans believe that something significant is needed if we are to safeguard and develop the game in this country. As an ambitious club we had, obviously, welcomed the idea of a pyramid structure and the prospect that our national leagues would become inclusive rather than exclusive. We had believed that other clubs felt the same and that this time action would accompany the rhetoric.

However, while this decision was disappointing, like all forward-thinking clubs, we will continue to look for opportunities to progress and strengthen the sport for all and endeavour to work with like-minded clubs to make it more equitable.”

We interviewed Spartans FC Chairman Craig Graham today:

Iraq War Protests- Ten Years On

Last week marked ten years since U.S and U.K troops led coalition forces into the second invasion of Iraq. It also marked ten years since the anti-war protests were at their height. A time when hundreds of thousands of people were united in opposition to the conflict, where daily rallies were happening across the country. While much of the media focus has been on the anniversary of the conflict itself, and the lessons we can learn from it going forward, perhaps more worthy of attention is the sheer scale of public opposition to the war.

Rarely before, and never since, have we seen so many people marching against a common cause. One of the most striking aspects of the protest movement at the time was how it galvanized young people and schoolchildren into vocal opposition to the conflict. Throughout March 2003 schools up and down the U.K were hit by walkouts, as students and staff decided to make their voices heard.

As a fourteen year old schoolkid in Glasgow at the time, I recall clearly the excitement of March 19th. At a time where all of us were angry about the prospect of the war we felt powerless. Staging a mass walk-out that afternoon was a small act of rebellion, but for us it felt like the most significant act in the world. We had the silent support of many of our teachers, a quiet nod here and there to let us know that they didn’t expect us back in the afternoon. Many of them would be joining us at the rally in the city centre.

Image

As handfuls of us left together to start our noisy journey to the march, we fell in with other crowds. Students from Glasgow University draped in banners, handing us signs and teaching us slogans to shout. Other teenagers from local schools looking as nervous as we felt. When the crowds came together in George Square we brought the city centre to a standstill. There was a tremendous feeling of solidarity and power. It felt like what we were doing mattered, that it would have an effect.

One thing that angered all of us was the perception, both in the media and from any adult you cared to ask, that it was nothing but an excuse to skive. That we weren’t interested in the protest, only in the prospect of an afternoon off school. Teachers unions dismissed our protests as truancy. An attitude like that is an insult to the very real feeling of anger we all felt about the war. Schoolchildren were just as opposed to the conflict as any adult or student activist, but without the luxury of freedom to make our voices heard.

The Stop the War movement politicized many of us for the first time. It gave us our first steps into political protesting, and made us feel like a part of something important. Crucially, it was our first real experience of vocalizing our anger and frustration to the world. And ten years on that is as worth remembering as any aspect of the conflict.

Rape Campaign to Raise Awareness Among Students Over Festive Period

Universities are working in conjunction with Lothian and Borders Police to raise awareness around the increase of rapes taking place over the festive period. The campaign sees students as their “target market”, but some students are questioning why this hasn’t been an on-going campaign.

Universities work with police.

Police

‘We Can Stop It’ aims to increase awareness about the Sexual Offence Act Scotland 2009, which defined several new offences relating to sex without consent.

Changes in the legislation included the acknowledgment that someone who is incapable through drink or drugs is considered unable to consent; the ability to consent to sex can be withdrawn at any time and male rape being legally classified as such for the very first time.

The emphasis of the campaign will be on 18-27 year olds and will focus primarily on men, hoping to provoke a change in values when it comes to rape so that men’s role in preventing rape can be brought to the forefront of peoples’ attention.

Chief Superintendent Malcom Graham, Divisional Commander for the City of Edinburgh said: “With the festive holidays fast approaching, we know that there will be significantly more young people out in bars and clubs.

“I hope that by working with educational establishments and receiving their support for the campaign we can reach our target market effectively and educate them about the key areas of change in the legislation.

“Our officers will also be in and around a number of campuses in the coming weeks speaking to students about the campaign and I would encourage anyone who is interested in becoming involved to speak to them.”

Lesley Johnstone, Chair of the Edinburgh Violence Against Women Partnership, is an advocate of the campaign and said: “Sexual abuse can have a devastating impact upon victims and their wider families, and we strongly support this initiative and the activity the police are doing at Edinburgh’s Universities.”

Students and staff at Napier University responded positively to the campaign, recognising the gravity of the issues at hand. However, some people raised concerns about why the campaign was only being run over the festive period.  Napier Student President Tom Zanelli echoed these concerns: “Rape is a disgraceful act and needs stamping out, I do agree that rape and what actually is rape is still very much unknown, so hopefully this campaign can help raise awareness and also stamp it out.

“To be honest students will always drink and I’m not convinced they will drink any more or less over the festive period, the campaign should on-going throughout the year and always targeted at students.”

Former student Robert Piper said: “A lot of them are too busy studying or going home for Christmas and everything, but yes I think it’s a good thing. They should realise that whenever they go out and have a few drinks, being social, they might let their guard down. They should still be aware of what’s going on around them and everything else that’s going on, not just for themselves but for other people as well.”

Computer Security and Forensics student Jake Gregg said: “Most of the students are going home at Christmas, I don’t see why they wouldn’t do this during term time when there’s more students here. Some students understand the issues, but others maybe need their awareness raised.”

Financial Advisor Zara Lochrie: “I think if there’s enough promotion and awareness is raised enough then I don’t think this campaign will be overlooked, I think it’s something that’s quite prominent just now. If students are aware of it and if there’s enough awareness around the university then it will definitely take off I’d say.

“I’d say students would be the perfect target audience, especially over Christmas with all the Christmas parties and things like that, but student and staff alike over the Christmas period where everyone’s drinking a little bit more. I think it’s a good time to get in there when it’s relevant to them.”

Placements Administrator Lindsay Morgan: “I guess this is a good time for the campaign, because it’s the time when everyone’s drinking and partying. I wasn’t aware of that legislation change so I dare say there are a lot of students out there who aren’t aware of the change either.

“A lot of students will have gone home already, but then there’s local students too, and students still keep in touch with all the things going on at university so it may not be too late.”

Tour de Scotland?

The Tour de France may be streamlining its way to Edinburgh, after The City of Edinburgh Council backed an audacious attempt to bring the event to Scotland for the first time.

Councillors approved a report outlining the commitments required in the event of a successful bid in a meeting today.

Heralded as the world’s largest annual sporting event, the Tour de France could bring £45-55m of revenue for the national economy, with Edinburgh benefiting to the tune of £24m.

Tour de France

Tour de France

Edinburgh Castle is the proposed venue for the Presentation of the Riders, with displays, cycle shows, stalls competition and a raft of cultural activities being held across the city throughout the duration.

A ‘non-race’ mode procession of the cyclists running through the city centre would precede the start of the race, which would be held elsewhere in the city, with riders racing down the spine of the UK through Scotland, England and Wales.

The event attracts global interest with no less than 100 TV channels, 400 newspapers and press agencies and 70 websites over 190 countries offering live coverage of last year’s event.

Councillor Steve Cardownie, Edinburgh Council’s Festivals & Events Champion, said: “I can think of no more dramatic backdrop than Edinburgh Castle and our historic Old Town and, of course, our residents are well used to laying on a fantastic welcome to the many millions of visitors that travel to the city each year.

“Of course, Edinburgh is no stranger to cycling success, thanks to the incredible achievements of Sir Chris Hoy, and we are already seeing the impact this is having on participation – a trend that would surely continue following a successful Grant Depart.”

The bid, led by EventScotland, has the support of the Scottish Government, British Cycling, UK Sport, the Welsh Government, plus numerous other English and Welsh authorities.

While the date has not yet been announced, it is likely to be in the next five years and could even be as soon as 2014.

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