Edinburgh school pupils out perform the rest

Pupils in Edinburgh have been studying hard

By Oonagh Brown

 New figures say that Edinburgh pupils are acing their exams. Statistics published by the Scottish Government have claimed that pupils from Edinburgh, who sat their Highers and Advanced Highers in May, achieved better results than pupils in the rest of Scotland.

 Edinburgh’s schools have also topped Scotland’s Standard Grade results, with 37% of pupils achieving credit level compared to the country’s average of 35%.

 Credit for Edinburgh’s high achieving pupils can be given to the city’s independent and state school sectors.

 Alistair Pugh, management staff at Edinburgh Rudolf Steiner School, said he thought the results showed Edinburgh’s strong tradition in Education.

 He said: “Many of the schools in Edinburgh are well established, including ours, and are constantly improving as a consequence of the cities schools having the ability to get the best out of pupils.

 “Young people today are determined to get most best out of themselves as possible as there is now so much competition to get into higher education.”

 Though Edinburgh’s exam results are currently the country’s best, there is concern that the state schools may be affected by future budget cuts. This is because of last year’s proposal from education bosses to cut state school budgets by 2.5% in 2010 and another 2.5% in the next two years.

 As well as highlighting Edinburgh’s exam success, the report released by Scotland’s chief statistician examined all of Scotland’s educational progress. The report claimed that 22 % of Scottish students were achieving five Higher qualifications by the end of school. This is an improvement of 2 %.

Scotland Lead the Way to a Brighter Future

New legislation will ensure forced marriage is a thing for the history books.

Scottish government ministers today revealed proposals to pass a bill of rights making forced marriages a thing of the past.

The legislation enables courts to pass prison sentences of up to two years and issue annulments on any marriage found to cause emotional distress. Friends and family of victims also have the right to voice any concern to the police.

This comes as a direct response to current campaigning by the Scottish Women’s Association (SWA) who last week held their annual conference in Edinburgh where discussions were drawn to a close and action taken.

Lily Greenan, Managing Director of Scottish Women’s Aid was present at the conference.

“It was suggested by senior police and court officials that the issue is now a big enough problem in Edinburgh to require legislation,” she said.

Home office statistics show that 4000 women in the UK are forced into marriage every year, and 17, 000 women are victims of honour related violence.

Women’s protection charity Shakti, based in Edinburgh, say the move is long overdue.

“This act is particularly important as it sends a strong message to communities throughout Scotland, that forced marriage is unacceptable and will not be tolerated.”

The latest measure will stop cases such as Puja’s from occurring. After her marriage turned from bad to worse, her husband started beating her, and forbid her from seeing her only son. She had nowhere to turn for fear that her situation would deteriorate. This law will give men and women such as Puja legal protection as it will provide them with a safe environment and an escape.

Lothian and Borders police say this is a very positive step, which has been needed for a long time, but that public prejudice remains.

A police statement said: “Education also needs to be addressed with regards to the situation. An arranged marriage is a cultural and consensual practice but a forced marriage is an entirely different thing. It is an enforced situation whereby men and women feel trapped within their circumstances.”

Women’s charities hope the bill will raise awareness between the difference as the two are very different, and that difference is not well known. SWA  expressed relief and that this positive step was taken, saying: “The fact that there is now a protection order shows valuable steps have been taken to ensure that anyone in breach of this will be identified as committing a criminal offense”.

100 new HIV cases in Edinburgh

NHS Lothian is currently treating 1100 patients with HIV

By Jenny Scott

Edinburgh could be facing a major HIV outbreak as more than 100 new cases a year are anticipated over the coming decade.

Experts predict the number of new infections will increase by at least 10% every year returning the city to the same high numbers seen during the 1980s, when Edinburgh was briefly branded the Aids capital of Europe.

There are already more cases now than during the height of the epidemic 25 years ago thanks mostly to medical advances allowing people living with HIV to lead relatively healthy, happy and ultimately longer, lives.   

The NHS Lothian area is currently treating 1100 patients at a cost of £10,000 each, with a tenth of these cases arising in 2010 alone. Health bosses are now looking to source more than £1 million each year to help cover the costs of coping with the rising number of infections.

Health chiefs believe today’s safe sex messages are no longer getting through to people the way they once did as the disease does not carry the same fear, thanks in part to treatments designed to keep HIV under control.

Martha Bailie, senior manager for Edinburgh-based HIV charity Waverley Care, claimed lax attitudes towards sexual health are the leading factor in the rising number of cases, she said: “There is complacency around sexual health full stop, and this can be seen from statistics which also show syphilis is increasing.”

Although health boards across Scotland have noted a considerable rise in new HIV cases in recent years NHS Lothian has seen the biggest increase. Despite the fact that Lothian contains less than a fifth of Scotland’s population it is continually considered the hardest hit area, with around half of known HIV patients living there.

Glenn Codere, the information manager for Health Protection Scotland on blood-borne viruses and sexually transmitted infections, said: “The bigger picture is the pool is increasing because fewer people are dying from the disease.

“It used to be that for every new diagnosis there was a death, but medication has improved to the point where last year in Scotland there were only 40 deaths.

“There is a generation now who weren’t exposed to the hard-hitting messages of the 1980s, and perhaps that has had an impact.”

Edinburgh under surrealistic cloud

Le Temps Menaçant (Threatening Weather), René Magritte © ADAGP, Paris and DACS, London 2010

Edinburgh has recently painted itself into one of Magritte’s picture with the cloud of surrealistic art and film hanging over the Scottish capital.

Throughout October art and film enthusiasts can fight the autumnal misery by stepping into ‘Another World’, or screen themselves from the gloom by attending one of the ‘Screening Surrealism’ events.

‘Another World’ exhibition in Dean Gallery is major exhibition that provides a comprehensive survey of surrealist art. It brings together masterpieces by the world acclaimed pioneers of the most significant avant-garde movement of the 20th century. It shows works by Dali, Magritte, Miro, Duchamp, Ray and many more.

The Director of Modern and Contemporary Art, Simon Groom, said: ‘The collection contains over sixty paintings, including masterpieces by artists such as Dalí, Miró and Picasso, as well as four of Magritte’s best paintings, collages and prints by Max Ernst, major sculptures by artists including Giacometti and Duchamp, and a vast collection of rare and beautiful, illustrated books. This will be the first time the entire collection will have been shown together, and will occupy the whole of the Dean Gallery. We have also negotiated some outstanding loans, to produce a really comprehensive and stunning exhibition.’

The Surrealist collection of the Scottish National Gallery of Modern Art is one of the largest anywhere in the world. It consists of painting, drawings, objects, journals and collages. The only art medium that is missing here is film.

This is where Filmhouse cinema on Lothian took over. The cinema offers an extensive study of surrealistic cinema in ‘Screening Surrealism’ season which runs until the 2nd of November. Tomorrow, the 2nd of October, Edinburgh citizens will have an opportunity to submerge themselves in the world of Hans Richter’s films accompanied by the Glasgow Improvisers Orchestra.

Throughout October, Filmhouse should become a new home for those who admire Jean Cocteau’s work, as his early, not easily accessible movies will become the highlight of October’s programme.

Second Fire for Kushi’s in Just Two Years

By Colleen Reid

An Indian restaurant in Dunfermline has suffered minimal damage after a fire broke out yesterday afternoon.

The Fife branch of the Kushi chain is the second to catch alight, after a major blaze ripped through the Edinburgh branch in 2008.

Discovered by neighbouring club Lourenzo’s general manager Jim Meenan at 12.10pm, the fire was quickly extinguished and the eatery suffered only minimal damage. Fire officials are said to be investigating the source of the flames and have confirmed that no one was injured.

The previous fire in Edinburgh’s Victoria Street, on the 19th December 2008, was severe in comparison, with the restaurant yet to re-open.

Suffering structural damage, the restaurant closed for repairs along with next-door nightclub the Liquid Rooms. The nightclub recently re-opened for business but the restaurant is still in distress.

Since December 2008 the Mohammed family who own Kushi’s have been in a long-running dispute over the payout to insurance company Aviva. In July 2009 the family revealed that the cost of repairs would be covered from their own funds as lawyers battled for a payout.

Not only is the fire the chain’s second, it is also the second major fire in Dunfermline city centre in a matter of months. Following an arson attack, Thomson’s World of Furniture was ravaged by fire on the 8th of August. Fire fighters from neighbouring districts were called in to battle the blaze in the former furniture store.

Dunfermline Fire Station relocated to Pitreavie Business Park from beside Thomson’s just months before. Three teenage males were arrested and charged over the attack.

Are the Commonwealth Games just too common?

By Edmund Brown

Seven years ago, Delhi was awarded the honour of hosting the Commonwealth Games, a task that seems to have been one hurdle too many for them. With athletes pulling out of this once prestigious event it begs to question the value the games have on the world.

With thousands of athletes making their way to India for the opening ceremony there is more focus on the top athletes that are not turning up. The likes of cyclists Sir Chris Hoy and Victoria Pendleton and gymnasts Louis Smith and Beth Tweddle have all pulled out stating that they cannot compete in a competition so close to the European Championships. So why is it that the Commonwealth Games is playing second fiddle to another event? What makes the European Championships that much better to compete in for athletes than that of representing your country at the Commonwealth Games?

Scottish team leaving for Delhi

The answer is points.

The points picked up in the European Championships go towards securing a place at the Olympics, the pinnacle event in an athletes career, whereas the Commonwealth Games means no more than being the best at your event within the realms of the old British Empire. So is this more likely to be the reason for athletes pulling out rather than the excuses of India not providing suitable facilities?

No one can deny that India has had its problems. With walkways collapsing, rooms not adequate for occupation and snakes being found within the athletes village, competitors have the excuses to hand not to turn up. Whatever the reasons for the withdrawals, the competition for medals will be weaker as a result.

And yet there is so many athletes who do want to represent their country at the highest level. Angus Killean represented Great Britain at the recent ITU duathlon championships held in Edinburgh and he feels the Commonwealth Games is the best event for up and coming athletes.

“The Commonwealth Games should be seen as the best event especially with it coming to Glasgow in 4 years time. It needs to be the top event of an athletes calender. As for these games starting on Sunday, its a shame that some athletes have decided not to go as it takes the competitiveness away from the event. It also takes away the importance of the event although I am sure they have their own reasons for not going.”

And perhaps the event will take place without a hitch or perhaps it will be a long jump right into the sandpit. With pavements still being laid and trees still being planted, with rubble surrounding the stadiums and final fittings being made to accommodation it makes you believe these games are going to fail.

The talents of some of the world class athletes will hopefully shine through and save the day for India and the Commonwealth Games, turning these disaster stricken games into an event to remember.

Sport News

The fit-again Craig Gordon and Gary Caldwell are among a number of changes to Craig Levein’s Scotland squad for the crucial European Championship Qualifying double header against Czech Republic and Spain.

Despite recovering from a broken arm sustained in pre-season Sunderland’s Craig Gordon will act as back-up to the impressive Allan McGregor, Levein has all but confirmed. Gary Caldwell looks likely to take part in at least one of the two games even though he has only played in Wigan reserve games.

While James McFadden and Paul Hartley are excluded through injury, Middlesbrough’s Kris Boyd has been left out because of his poor form for Gordon Strachan’s struggling side. As expected, Queens Park Rangers striker Jamie Mackie, who leads the Championship’s goal charts with eight goals in nine games, has been given his first call-up after qualifying for Scotland through his grandfather.

Celtic’s Shaun Maloney and Barnsley’s left-back, James McEveley, also return to the squad.

Dundee were plunged into further crisis after their players failed to receive their wages yesterday heightening the threat of administration.

With a tax bill of £325,000 hanging over their head the club have called in financial expert Blair Nimmo, who shut down Airdrieonians when they hit money troubles, for advice. On behalf of the club Nimmo has been working with the taxman trying to do a deal where the debt will be settled in one lump sum.

Controversial Director Calum Melville has pledged £100,000 to the debt while local businesses will provide £75,000. However the club also owe £1.6m to Melville, Bob Brannan and John Bennett in soft loans.

The club hope to pay the staffs wages next week.

For the first time in Ryder Cup history the event is set for a Monday finish after the play in Wales was suspended with barely five holes played.

Non-stop heavy rain left the course with a large number of waterlogged areas. Play started at 7.45am but conditions did not improve which forced play to be suspended at 9.43am.

Europe Captain, Colin Montgomerie, believed anything later than a 1.45pm start would result in a Monday finish. It looks even more likely once officials announced there would not be an announcement on the re-start of play until 2pm.

Lee Westwood and Martin Kaymer were first out against Phil Mickelson and Dustin Johnson and led by two after five holes. In the other three matches Europe led two while USA were leading in one.

Minimum wage rises

The new wage is £5.93

By Michael Heggie

National minimum wage rates are to rise in October, with the minimum rate for workers aged 21 and over reaching £5.93 an hour and a minimum for apprentices set for the first time.

The rise in each category is around 2%, and as previously promised the threshold for adults has been reduced from 22 to 21 years old.

The government also accepted a recommendation from the Low Pay Commission (LPC) to introduce an apprentice minimum wage of £2.50 per hour, which will apply to apprentices under 19 years old.

LPC chairman David Norgrove said: “We are pleased that the government has again accepted the Commission’s recommendations. The introduction of an apprentice rate marks an important extension to minimum wage protection across the UK.”

The new rules also mean that the rate is increasing for 18 to 20-year-olds from £4.83 to £4.92 an hour.

However, the British Retail Consortium Director General (NRC), have suggested that the best way to protect wages is by preserving jobs and keeping people in work.

British Retail Consortium Director General Stephen Robertson said: “There’s a delicate compromise between higher wages and more jobs, but the best protection for wages is preserving jobs to keep people working.

“But consumer confidence is fragile, while the impact of the government cuts and nervousness about the housing market are creating a lot of uncertainty.

“Trading conditions are tough. Higher costs such as next April’s National Insurance increase will pile on even more pressure. Even a small increase in 2011’s minimum wage could choke off retailers’ vital potential to create new jobs.”

Today’s increase in the minimum wage comes after Scottish Labour leader Iain Gray announced plans to boost public sector workers’ pay to more than £7 an hour.

Gray will try to introduce the new minimum wage level, if the party is elected in next year’s Scottish election. 

Despite tough spending cuts on the horizon, he told his party’s UK conference that the lowest paid workers must be protected: “I want to see excessive salaries and bonuses at the very top end of the Scottish public sector scaled back.

“But those at the bottom of the pay scales must be protected. That is why I will introduce a Scottish Living wage, of over £7 per hour.

“In a 21st century Scotland no one who does a fair day’s work should receive less than a fair days pay. In a Labour Scotland we will make sure that no one does.”

These local residents told Edinburgh Napier News what they think about the Minimum Wage.

Robert Duncan, 22 – “The minimum wage should definitely be above £6.”

Susie Wilson, 57 – “£5.93 seems about right. We have to keep the economy in mind when talking about the minimum wage. There are some dodgy ways of looking at inflation nowadays, so the economy should be our focus when considering how much it should go up.”

Alistair Gibb, 43 – “It isn’t an issue I spend a lot of time thinking about, but I would find that hard to live on. At least £6 makes sense to me.”

Backing for higher council tax

By Michael Fern

Seven out of ten Edinburgh residents have told the council that they are prepared to pay more council tax to soften public service cuts.

Council Tax

The results follow a number of summits in which locals gave their opinions, ahead of council talks with the Scottish Government on ending the current freeze on council tax.

Labour Councillor Ricky Henderson has criticised the findings, saying that the council had “not explain[ed] what mechanism they would use” to safeguard frontline services with the extra money generated. We asked Edinburgh residents’ opinions on the findings.

John McIntosh, 58, said: “I know that they have been freezing council tax, and no, I don’t think they should continue to. Local consumers should pay for the services they receive, and if those services are going up in price, I see no problem with the tax rising.”

Anna Tomlinson, a 22 year old student living in Marchmont, said: “I know I don’t pay council tax myself so maybe I shouldn’t judge, but before I moved here I lived in a very expensive area of London, and they think they can charge what they want because of where it is.

“It depends on the area, but I wouldn’t want to see it go up at all, it feels so expensive in some places already.”

Keith Brame, 43, said that it was a delicate balancing act. “I would prefer for it not to go up,” he said. “But it is a choice between protecting people during a recession and protecting services, and I think if council tax has to go up to protect services people will be able to handle it.”

World News In Brief

At least seven people have been killed in the capital of Nigeria after two cars exploded outside the justice embassy today. The Movement for the Emancipation of the Niger Delta (Mend), a militant group based in the south of the country, had earlier threatened attacks on the day that Nigeria celebrates 50 years of independence from the UK.

Ecudorean soldiers have rescued the president of the country after he was taken hostage by protesting police. Rafael Correa had tried to negotiate with furious police and rank-and-file soldiers, who are revolting against a new law that means they will no longer receive medals and bonuses when promoted.

A British citizen suspected of planning a terrorist attack in the UK has been killed by a US drone in Pakistan. The man, who was in his 20s and is believed to be a part of a terror cell with other Brits and Germans, was allegedly masterminding a Mumbai-style siege of a UK city.

National News In Brief

Ed Miliband’s election as Labour leader has seen his party lead the Tories in a Guardian/ICM poll for the first time since 2007. This is due to a slump in support for the coalition’s impending cuts as opposed to an increase in Labour popularity.

BMW and Rolls-Royce are recalling over 10 000 cars due to a braking fault. The recall covers the BMW 5, 6 and 7 Series vehicles powered by V8 and V12 engines from 2002-2010 and some Rolls-Royce Phantoms from 2003-2010.

Hollywood legend Tony Curtis has died peacefully at his home aged 85. Mr Curtis, who was married to Janet Leigh, starred in over 100 movies, his most famous being his starring role with Marilyn Monroe in Some Like It Hot.

Assault in Leith

By Faith Orr

A woman was assaulted and had her handbag stolen in Duncan Place in Leith early yesterday morning, according to police.

The 42-year-old victim was knocked to the ground by her assailant and kicked several times before he made off with her bag.

Police are describing the attack as “opportunistic,” by a man who decided to take advantage of a lone woman.

A Lothian and Borders Police spokesman added: “Fortunately, the victim did not require medical attention and received only minor injuries, but she was left extremely upset by what happened.”

The woman had walked from the Lloyds TSB cash machine at the foot of Leith Walk, past Leith Primary School and across Duncan Place when the man attacked her.

The robbery happened at 6.20am and the suspect made off towards Leith Links. Police are appealing for any witnesses who may have been in the area at the time of the assault. The suspect is described only as being white, 6ft tall and with a slim to medium build.

There have been numerous attacks in Leith lately. Leith Walk (Richard Webb) / CC BY-SA 2.0

This is the latest in a number of crimes in the Leith area of Edinburgh. A man appeared in court yesterday over an alleged armed robbery in Salamander Court in Leith. The burglary happened less than a ten minute walk from where the female victim was assaulted.

A three-figure sum of money and electrical equipment was stolen during the raid on Sunday September 26.

David Sinclair from Victim Support Scotland, said: “Regrettably, in society today, we are seeing attacks in the street in broad daylight becoming commonplace. As the leading victim support organisation in Scotland we deal with upwards of 100,000 victim referrals every year so a spate of attacks in a particular area of the capital city is not news to us although of course we hope the police catch the perpetrators who carry out these attacks.”

Under the hammer for homeless charity

John Lowrie Morrison's 'Morning light Lochdon Mull"

Homeless charity Bethany Christian Trust are holding their first ever Fine Art and Antiques auction tomorrow to raise funds for their care initiatives.

Maeghan Ray, corporate relations officer for the Bethany Christian Trust, says the charity hope to raise £10,000 by holding the auction of 150 lots of items. The auction features several exciting pieces including a late 19th century French stereoscope, which Maeghan describes as the old fashioned way of watching 3D movies, on offer along with three boxes of slides which can be used with it.

The star lot, an original commissioned piece of art by John Lowrie Morrison. The oil on canvas is titled ‘Morning light Lochdon Mullwhich’ and is expected to sell for around £2000. The artist said: “The painting I think is appropriate because it is of someone’s cosy home, something many do not have; but also I painted it to make it as attractive as possible so that it would earn as much money as possible.”

John Lowrie Morrison said he supports the trust because “even when we were tight for money we have always helped the homeless whether here or in other countries.”

An original piece by Clare Atwood, which was painted when she was 92 years old is also on offer. The still-life oil on canvas is a unique collectors piece and has been estimated at £400.

Bethany Trust Logo
Bethany Christian Trust's mission is to relieve the suffering and meet the long-term needs of homeless and vulnerable people

“Items were all donated by our supporters and were found in Bethany shops,” says Maeghan, “Buyers can choose which part of Bethany’s schemes they would like to support.”

Bethany’s schemes include care shelters in Edinburgh, Aberdeen, Dundee and West Lothian which provide emergency winter accommodation. Maeghan said: “We have been asked to open a centre in Aberdeen so some of the money raised will go towards developing staff there.

“We also run a mentoring scheme where people off the streets are connected with mentors who help them settle into homes and become more socially involved. We have a running club and other activities to help formerly homeless people widen their social circle.”

The auction will be held at the MacDonald Holyrood Hotel at 12pm with viewing available between 9am and 10.45am.