All posts by Mairi Thomson

Poppy power

by Kathryn Wylie and Màiri Thomson

This weekend people all over the UK will celebrate the 92nd anniversary of the official end of World War I on Remembrance Sunday. Services took place yesterday, on the 11th day of the 11th month with two minutes of silence at 11am.

However protests have been held by groups who are against what the poppy appeal stands for. A group called Muslims Against Crusades marched near Hyde Park and burned a poppy, while a section of the crowd at last weekend’s Celtic v Aberdeen football match held banners saying “Your deeds they would shame all the devils in hell. Ireland, Iraq, Afghanistan. No blood-stained poppy on our hoops”. These protests have provoked discussion on what the annual poppy appeal is really about, made people think about the real reasons behind wearing a poppy.

Leigh James from The Scottish Poppy Appeal said: “Our annual campaign has provided support to veterans and their families since 1921 by selling very simple paper poppies which members of the public buy and wear to show respect for servicepeople.

“The campaign was created after World War I to provide support to people left destitute by the effects of the conflict. There was still a need for this support after World War II; in fact since 1945 there has only been one year (1968) in which a serviceperson has not died.”

Nearly one million people in Scotland are part of the ex-service community and while many lead relatively normal lives, some have difficulties and need help facing the challenges which are a result of their experiences. Three of the men featured in this year’s poppy campaign were serving in Afghanistan when they were injured in IED (Improvised Explosive Device) explosions.

They suffered serious injuries including losing limbs and one of the soldiers lost an eye. Leigh James said: “The immediate care these soldiers recieve in Afghanistan is excellent, and when they come back to Britain they are very well cared for; they are surviving injuries that they wouldn’t have before. The Scottish Poppy Appeal provides support to them further on in the treatment process.”

Leigh added: “They have witnessed horrific acts which are impossible to imagine, so some soliders experience mental health issues after they have returned; these often don’t manifest themselves straight away. The psychological issues servicepeople experience are just as severe as physical injuries.”

The poppies we wear are made by 40 ex-servicemen, who make up the workforce of Lady Haig’s Poppy Factory in Edinburgh. Most of them are registered disabled. The original factory was opened in March 1926 and employed men who had been disabled during World War I. It moved to Warriston Road in 1965 and now produces  five million handmade poppies each year, 8,000 wreaths to order and processes over 25,000 collection tins.

The Scottish Poppy Appeal is a different organisation to the Royal British Legion which runs the poppy campaign in England, Wales and Northern Ireland. They are however a sister organisation and have the same beliefs and values. In 2009, £2.2 million was raised, a 9% increase on the previous year’s total, and Leigh James said the Scottish Poppy Appeal is “hopeful of exceeding last years total”.

Poppyscotland runs the Scottish Poppy Appeal and funds the resultant charitable services, while the Royal British Legion Scotland are responsible for remembrance, welfare and comradeship.The Royal British Legion Scotland is one of the many organisations who receive financial support from Poppyscotland and is currently funded by its War Pensions Appeal Service.

The Royal British Legion Scotland is a separate branch of the Royal British Legion. Around 200 branches throughout Scotland are responsible for organising Remembrance services in their area. 

 Neil Griffith from the Royal British Legion Scotland said: “We are in charge of organising remembrance ceremonies all over Scotland this Sunday. Alongside the large memorial on Royal Mile we also try to organise smaller services wherever there is a War Memorial.”

Wreaths will be laid at memorials around the country

He added: “This is our busiest time of year. Our National Remembrance Service is held on the Royal Mile and is attended by the First Minister, Presiding Officer, the Secretary of State, Emergency Services, RBLS President Lt Gen Sir Alistair Irwin and the Armed Forces.”

Although the traditional method of door to door poppy selling has dwindled over the last few years due to lack of volunteers, this service does still continue in most rural areas. The well known “pop-up-poppy” campaign which usually takes over the front of the city’s Omni Centre is not happening this year, but new methods such as online donations and the release of this year’s “2 Minute Silence” single are bringing the appeal to life.

Laura Fletcher from the East of Scotland Branch of Poppy Scotland explained: “We launched our new website this year so that has helped to create a lot of traffic. It is possible for people to donate online via our website.”

Speaking about the Remembrance events in Edinburgh this weekend she said: “Poppy Saturday is a big day for us this weekend. We will have our volunteers out on the streets with tins collecting all over the city.”

While fundraising initiatives are changing to be more accessible, remembrance services themselves are also becoming more open to the public.

 Neil explained: “This year is the first time we have organised a huge marching parade through the streets of Edinburgh that will not only include the normal dignitaries but the general public aswell, led by the marching bands. We have around 52 civilian groups getting involved including include consuls, regimental associations, St Andrews Ambulance Association, Girlguiding Edinburgh, the Humanist Society of Scotland, the Leith Sea Cadets, the War Widows’ Association of Great Britain and the Army Cadet Force.”

 He added: “This year we want to make the Remembrance much more inclusive given that Remembrance is not just exclusive to the armed forces, it is a National Act of Remembrance.” 

RBLS General Secretary George Ross said: “We want this to reflect the whole of society. Remembrance is not the exclusive preserve of the Armed Forces and we hope the parade will reflect this. Everyone is welcome to participate in this national event.”

Members of the public who want to get involved should meet at the Lawnmarket at 10.45am. A large screen will be located on the Lawnmarket and tiered seating will be in place for the first time. Members of the public may even be able to lay a wreath.

The traditional service at the Heart of Midlothian Clock will also go ahead as normal this year at the Clock’s temporary site near Haymarket. Donated by Hearts Football club in 1922 in remembrance of the Hearts players, managers and supporters who fought in WWI, the majority of whom died in the Battle of the Somme. The current Hearts players are expected to attend the service on Sunday.

At Haymarket since 1922, the clock stands as an expression of their unimaginable grief. It occupies a prominent position in one of Scotland’s busiest road junctions and is a daily reminder of what Wilfred Owen called ‘the pity of war’.

These are just a few of the ways in which the Legion helps to ensure that: “If we are to maintain our peace and freedom, we must always remember.”

International news in brief

EU leaders agree new eurozone rules

Rules designed to avoid another financial crisis have been agreed at an EU leaders’ summit. Leaders agreed to give the EU power to monitor national budgets, and have resolved to create a permanent fund to help the euro through difficult periods. Officials from the EU said the eurozone came close to collapse earlier this year because it lacked a fund to help keep it afloat.

North and South Korea exchange fire

Troops in North and South Korea have exchanged fire across the border, according to South Korean officials. Reports say North Korea fired twice at a frontline unit in Hwacheon, 56 miles north-east of Seoul. South Korean soldiers returned fire three times. Officials say it is not clear if North Korea’s initial shots were deliberately intended to provoke South Korean troops on one of the worlds most heavily fortified borders.

Bad weather affects tsunami relief

Efforts to help survivors of Monday’s tsunami in Indonesia have been hampered by bad weather. More than 400 people have been confirmed dead, with heavy rain and high tides making it difficult for boats to deliver aid to survivors on the Mentawai islands, located off the west coast of Sumatra. 300 people are still missing, with bodies still to be recovered from coastal regions. Officials in charge of the disaster relief mission plan to start distributing aid by air, but reports from the area say there are not enough helicopters to reach all of the affected places.

Afghan drug labs destroyed in US-Russian operation

Agents from Russia and the US have joined together to destroy drug laboratories in Afghanistan, according to the head of Russia’s drug control agency, Viktor Ivanov.  Agents seized more than a tonne of heroin and opium in the raids which took place near the border with Pakistan on Thursday. The drugs had a street value of £157m and are believed to have been destined for Central Asia. This is the first time a joint operation of this nature has taken place between Russia and America.

New Zealand passes Hobbit law

New Zealand’s parliament has passed legislation which means production of the two Hobbit films will be kept in the country, after making a deal with Warner Bros to keep the £315m ($500m) project. A dispute between Warner Bros and acting unions had endangered the production of the film in New Zealand, with Warner Bros threatening to move the project to another location. The government agreed to change labour laws after acting unions protested about terms and conditions. The deal between Warner Bros and the NZ government also included additional tax breaks and help with marketing costs.

UK news in brief

High rate taxpayers face child benefit fines

High earners could be fined if they do not declare they have a partner who recieves child benefit, according to the Treasury. The “penalties” would  be given in cases of non-disclosure of earnings when cuts are introduced in 2013.

The confirmation of the penalties follows reports that a plan to stop child benefit payments to couples with one higher rate earner is unenforceable, which Chief Secretary to the Treasury Danny Alexander said was “nonsense”.

Baby P


Baby P doctor can challenge GMC hearing

A doctor who faced a disciplinary hearing from the GMC after being accused of failing to notice signs that Baby P was being abused has won the right to legally challenge the hearing.

Dr Sabah Al-Zayyat is looking to overturn a GMC ruling that did not grant her “voluntary erasure” from the medical register on health grounds. Her challenge will be heard by the High Court in November.

Air Passenger Duty to rise

Air taxes are to rise on Monday by up to 55%, which will make some trips unafforable according to the travel industry. A family of four faces paying 33% more APD (Air Passenger Duty) on an economy flight to the US. APD on premium class fares is double the economy rate.

Flights under 2,000 miles in economy class will have £11 of tax, journeys of 2,001-4,000 miles will have £60 tax and 4,001-6,000 miles are priced at £75 of APD. Flights of over 6,000 miles will cost £85 in tax in economy class.

7/7 firefighters were “hostile”

Firefighters at the Aldgate tube bombing in July 2005


The 7/7 terrorist attack inquests have heard that firefighters at the Aldgate bombing were “hostile” and “quite upset”. Paramedic Anthony Kamner, who was in the first ambulance to arrive at the Tube station after the attack told the hearings that firefighters “did not understand the role” of the initial ambulance which was to report to the control room describing the situation.

Mr Kamner said firefighters were “demanding” that he take some of the injured to hospital straight away.

Take That ticket sites crash

Ticket websites have struggled to cope with the number of Take That fans bombarding them to buy tickets for next summer’s tour, the first in 16 years to feature the full band line-up including Robbie Williams.

Sites including Ticketmater, Gigs and Tours, Ticketline and The Ticket Factory crashed as fans rushed to get their hands on tickets for dates in Sunderland, Manchester, Cardiff, Dublin, Glasgow, Birmingham and London.

Scottish news in brief

Gerard Kelly dies suddenly age 51

Gerard Kelly, who died on Thursday evening aged 51


Scottish actor Gerard Kelly has died in intensive care after suffering a brain aneurysm. Famous for parts in City Lights, Rab C Nesbitt and Extras, Kelly collapsed at his London home on Tuesday and passed away on Thursday evening. He was due to appear in The Rocky Horror Picture Show at the King’s Theatre in Glasgow next month, as well as Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs in December. A private service will be held for family and close friends, with details of a memorial service to be announced later.

Scottish Labour would cap council tax rise

Scottish Labour leader Iain Gray has announced he would cap council tax rises at one or two percent if his party to power at the Holyrood election next May. He has also suggested a public sector pay freeze of up to three years and warned the highest paid civil servants could see their pay cut by 5%, and launched Labour’s ‘doorstep election’ campaign at the Scottish Labour conference which is taking place in Oban.

Victim’s fathers to write to killer Tobin

Two fathers are to write to Peter Tobin pleadin

Edinburgh Airport terminal building

g to know why he murdered their daughters. Ian McNicol and Michael Hamilton are working together on the letters which they hope will provoke Tobin, who is serving life sentences for the murders of Dinah McNicol, Vicky Hamilton and Angelika Kluk, into confessing his motives. Mr Hamilton, whose daughter disappeared in Bathgate in 1991, told the BBC: “We want to get some kind of reaction from him, we are hoping it will upset him.”

Edinburgh airport drop-off charge introduced

A £1 drop-off charge for every car and taxi taking passengers to the terminal at Edinburgh airport has been introduced. BAA say the charge has been brought in to solve congestion problems caused by a lack of space  for cars to stop. A free drop-off zone is still in use at the long-stay car park which requires a shuttle bus transfer to the terminal building; the airport has bought two new buses for passengers using the free drop-off area.

State of the art scanners to improve diagnosis

New scanners at a specialised £20m centre in Edinburgh are to be used to improve the diagnosis and treatment of illnesses. The Clinical Research Imaging Centre, a collaboration between the University of Edinburgh and NHS Lothian, is the first centre of its kind in the UK. It is based at the Medical Research Institute in Little France and will be opened by the Duke of Edinburgh. The scanners allow non-invasive investigations, reduce the need for biopsies and mean doctors can scan organs in  under a second to see in great detail how they are functioning.

Scotland loves anime

The Disappearance of Haruhi SuzumiyaThe Filmhouse is hosting a celebration of Japanese animation in conjunction with Scotland Loves Animation this weekend.

The weekend includes workshops, exhibitions, special guests and opportunities to meet the people behind the films. The programme features the EU Premiere of ‘The Disappearance of Haruhi Suzumiya’ and a special screening of ‘Evangelion 2.0’.

Jonathan Clements

Anime guru Jonathan Clements, who wrote Schoolgirl Milky Crisis: Adventures in the Anime and Manga Trade,  will return to the festival to give enthusiasts an insiders view of the Japanese animation industry. He described the Glasgow anime weekend as a “mad rush of film and festivities…a sleepless Japanese haze” on his blog; also attending will be director, voice actor and president of New York AV Post, Michael Sinterniklass.

Scotland Loves Animation promote animation worldwide, with 2010’s focus on Japan, and say: “Most of all we love the potential inspired in our own animators, scriptwriter and digital artists.

We had an amazing first weekend in Glasgow and are already being asked about 2011 We’re looking forward to seeing more people in Edinburgh.”

James Rice, from the Filmhouse, said: Scotland Loves Anime is an important event for film lovers in Edinburgh for a number of reasons.  Japanese animation has a large and devoted following in Edinburgh and around Scotland, but the films are hardly ever shown on cinema screens in the UK.  So, this event provides a rare opportunity for the committed Anime audience to see key recent works on the big screen, and also gives a wider audience, we hope, a chance to sample new films from one of the most distinctive and vibrant strands in modern animation.”

The festival kicks off tonight with showings of Redline, billed as “an adult version of Wacky Races” and One Piece Strong World, a film written by the author of the original One Piece manga which celebrates the tenth anniversary of the series.

Tickets for the events over 15-17 October are available at the Filmhouse, through their website and box office line: 0131 228 2668. Most events are expected to sell out.

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.

Gold standard food at Rudolf Steiner

By Màiri Thomson

The Edinburgh Rudolf Steiner School

The Edinburgh Rudolf Steiner School has become the first independent school in Scotland to receive a Gold Food for Life Catering Mark from the Soil Association.

This award requires the school to make use of local and seasonal produce as well as showing it and sets an example of good food culture in the community, which the school has done by involving parents and local groups in the growing and cooking of meals.

The Food for life Partnership involves the Soil Association, Focus on Food, the Health Education Trust and Garden Organic and is also a national programme funded through a £16.9million grant from the Big Lottery Fund.

Alistair Pugh from the Rudolf Steiner School said: “When we started working towards this prestigious award, we adopted a whole school approach. We involved our parents, our local suppliers and our pupils to determine how the menu would evolve. By simplifying what we prepared each day, we have been able to ensure that everything, where possible, is locally sourced, organic and fresh.

“As a result, we have reduced cost, wastage and food miles while providing an innovative educational experience for our pupils.”

The school canteen is run by final year pupils who treat it as a business and put any profits at the end of the year towards a cultural trip to Europe: this year pupils toured Russia and Ukraine. Younger pupils also use locally sourced ingredients to create healthy pizzas which are sold once a week as a fundraiser.

The Food for Life programme has been undertaken in school across the UK

The Soil Association state that the Food for Life Partnership evolved “out of a growing concern that individuals and communities are getting more and more detached from how food is produced, and losing the skills and knowledge needed to take active control over what we eat.”

Steiner teacher Pugh adds: “We would encourage other schools to pursue a Food for Life award as it supports not only the benefits of healthy eating but also food education for the whole school. For example, gardening is part of our curriculum and our pupils grow their own organic vegetables in the school grounds, which are used where appropriate as part of the seasonal menu. In addition, they volunteer at the Royal Edinburgh Hospital’s Community Garden and enjoy a varied programme of farm-based activities, food preparation and cooking classes throughout the year.”

Boycott Salmon to Save the Seals!

By Mairi Thomson

Protesters outside Parliament this morning
Protesters outside Parliament this morning

Protesters gathered outside Parliament this morning to protest against the killing of seals in the fishing industry.

The Seal Protection Action Group is calling for an “immediate and comprehensive” ban on the deliberate killing of seals by Scottish salmon producers and other fisheries in the UK, and are calling on the public to boycott buying salmon to help save seals.

They used their visit to deliver a letter to Alex Salmond detailing the decline in seal numbers in Scotland. They also highlighted that under the Conservation of Seals Act (1970) seals are not protected against shooting except during the breeding seasons or in areas with conservation orders.

Andy Ottaway, the leader of the Seal Protection Group said: “Government scientists have warned that there is a serious decline of common seals in Scottish Waters. We’re here to say to the government there must be an immediate ceasefire on seals because seals are still being shot in huge numbers by Scottish salmon producers. We believe that every single seal’s life is extremely valuable, it’s a plummeting population and seal shooting has simply got to stop.

“We’ve spoken to a range of producers and retailers and they all agree that if we use the properly tensioned nets to exclude seals and use other methods we can actually deter seals from going into fish nets without having to shoot them.”

“Ultimately we’re saying to the public in the lead up to Christmas, which is a big time for Scottish salmon sales – if the producers won’t stop shooting the seals, if the government won’t protect the seals, then the consumers have the buying power to stop the killing by simply refusing to buy Scottish Salmon.”

It is estimated that 5,000 seals are shot in Scottish waters each year by salmon farm and fisheries interests.

Aileen Campbell MSP said: “Scientists have been looking at this as well and I don’t think you can necessarily pinpoint it to one factor, but I definately think if that’s the numbers that are being killed then we need to look at the reasons why that’s happening and to look towards ways to stop


this happening, if that indeed is what is desirable. ”

“Fish farming is incredibly important to the Scottish economy, people associate salmon with Scotland and it’s a global brand that people recognise so I think it’s crucial to the Scottish economy. I don’t know that we always associate the culling with fish farming because scientists have said that there may be other reasons for those deaths but certainly if culling is one of the reasons then we need to look forward to finding the reasons those numbers are being killed.”

In January this year a public opinion poll commissioned by Advocates for Animals found that 75% of the Scottish public support the killing of seals being made illegal in Scottish waters with only 12% supporting Fish farmers and fishermen continuing to kill them.

More job losses as Wolseley restructures.


By Màiri Thomson

One of the world’s leading heating and plumbing distributors has announced more job cuts today as part of a restructure to help cope with the economic crisis.

Wolseley, which employs 74,000 people in 27 countries announced today that 2,300 jobs will be lost on top of the 5,000 that were cut earlier this year.

On its website the company said: “The Group expects the markets in which it operates to continue to deteriorate in the short term.

“Action will continue to be taken to right size the Group’s businesses over the remainder of this financial year.”

The group also announced that trading profit was down around 30% due to lower profitability in the market. The company’s debts have risen 8% between July and October this year, with profits down by 45%.

Chip Hornsby, Group Chief Executive of Wolseley
Chip Hornsby, Group Chief Executive of Wolseley

Chip Hornsby, Group Chief Executive of Wolseley said: “While these results reflect a further deterioration in the business environment in the first quarter it was not unexpected, and, we continue to react swiftly to market conditions with aggressive but measured cost reduction. 

“In these unprecedented circumstances, the key priorities remain driving cost reduction and enhancing cash flow to ensure the Group remains compliant with its banking covenants.”

The company say they are aiming to generate annual savings of £103million whilst reducing debt to help them cope with the downturn in the housing market and building industries.

McFly to sing for Children in Need


Màiri Thomson

Pop-rockers of the moment McFly are to release this year’s Children in Need single later this month.

The double A-side single features the upbeat song ‘Do Ya’ from current album ‘RADIO:Active’ alongside a cover of Rod Stewart and the Faces’ seventies hit ‘Stay With Me’ and will be released for download on Sunday 23rd November and in stores on Monday 24th.

The band will perform both songs live on BBC Children in Need night (November 14th) with all profits from the single being donated to the charity.

This year Children in Need is challenging people to “Do Something Different” to help achieve their aim of raising over £30million to help disadvantaged children across the UK.

Tom, singer and guitarist in McFly said: “We’re so honoured to be releasing the official single for Children in Need.

 “We’ve performed several times on the live show in the past and it’s always been an amazing night with a fantastic atmosphere.

 “Hopefully our single can help raise more money than ever for what is such a great cause.”

McFly are no strangers to charity singles – they released number 1 single ‘All About You’ for Comic Relief in 2005 and visited Uganda as part of their work for the campaign which helped to raise £65million to fund projects for deprived people all over the world.

Scotland still pro-independence despite economic crisis.

Màiri Thomson

There is still support for an independent Scotland according to a poll undertaken by the Dunedin Napier News website.

In the poll conducted during October 2008, 57% of respondents said that they supported independence for Scotland, whilst 43% said they were against the idea.

This result echoes previous poll results published before the SNP won the 2007 Scottish elections, showing that the recent economic crisis has not affected Alex Salmond’s dream of an autonomous state.

There has recently been much speculation over whether support for an independent state is dwindling since the Westminster government bailed out both RBS and HBOS at a cost of £37billion to the taxpayer.

Gordon Brown used the financial crisis to attack the SNP in the lead-up to the Glenrothes by-elections by highlighting that an independent Scotland could  not have afforded to bail out the two major banks (which are based in Edinburgh) because Scotland’s annual budget only comes to around £30billion.

However, Alex Salmond hit back during the SNP conference in Perth: “I would have thought that the condition of the economy, the fears of our people, the state of the financial sector, are a staggering condemnation of the state of the United Kingdom.”

“During the period of financial chaos over the last few weeks we willingly responded to the call to put political differences aside in a national emergency. We did so because we thought it was the right thing to do.

“And how did the Prime Minister respond? At his very first opportunity last Tuesday he launched an attack on independence and the SNP.”

Alex Salmond speaking in Perth.

Economists have criticised Salmond’s “arc of prosperity” since Iceland and Ireland – both countries used as examples of the possibilities for Scotland’s future – have both succumbed to the global crisis. However Salmond was quick to attack claims that Scotland would have gone the same way had it been independent.

In his closing speech, Salmond pointed out that the other countries in his “arc of prosperity” Norway, Denmark, Sweden and Finland are “amoung the few countries in Europe forecast to escape recession.”

However some respondents to the Dunedin Napier News poll remained sceptical over the question of independence. One commenting “Independence? Who owns our oil? Who owns our gas?” and another saying “If it ain’t broke, don’t fix it”.

Helen Matthews, an Edinburgh resident said: “The result of this poll just shows that we are as uncertain as ever about going independent. Fair enough it is a majority – but I doubt if it came down to a referendum that the Scottish people would take the risk. We won’t really know what people think until we have a referendum.”

Ferrari to quit F1?

The Ferrari team during a pit stop - soon to be consigned to history?
The Ferrari team.

By Mairi Thomson

The Ferrari F1 team have announced they would consider quitting the sport if proposals to standardise engines are to go ahead.

The sport’s governing body, the FIA, announced the proposals earlier this month as part of President Max Mosley’s drive to cut costs in the sport after saying they were becoming “unsustainable” in the current economic climate.

Ferrari’s board of directors met in Maranello yesterday to discuss the future of the team, which has been the most successful recently, winning the constructors championship seven times in nine years.

A statement released by the team said: “The board expressed the opinion that should these key elements [of engine design] be diminished, it would  have to re-evaluate, with its partners, the viability of continuing its presence in the sport.”

The FIA plans to discuss cost cuts – and how to achieve them – in a meeting with teams in Geneva today. When publishing the agenda for the meeting the FIA added:

“The FIA believes that Formula One costs are unsustainable. Even before current global financial problems, teams were spending far more than their incomes. As a result, the independent teams are now dependent on the goodwill of rich individuals, while the manufacturers’ teams depend on massive hand-outs from their parent companies.

“There is now a real danger than in some cases these subsidies will cease. This could result in a reduction in the number of competitors, adding to the two team vacancies we already have and reducing the grid to an unacceptable level.”

Cost cutting in Formula 1 became a prominent issue following the withdrawal of the Super Aguri team from the 2008 championship due to financial issues.

New Parking Charge Proposals for Edinburgh

Car owners in Edinburgh are being asked to air their views on proposed changes to parking permit charges in the city.

Edinburgh Council has launched a public consultation to gauge public reaction to plans to drop the price of residential parking permits for those with less polluting cars.

According to figures shown on council leaflets distributed this week, about 66% of current residential permit holders would pay less for their permits, 14% would see no change, and 20% would pay more.

However under the current proposal households with more than one vehicle would pay more for second permits, and those with the most polluting cars would face increased charges.

There would be no charge for disabled people with Blue Badges, and the council claim that no extra money would be raised – the aim is to encourage residents to buy energy-efficient vehicles.

Environment Leader Robert Aldridge, said: “There is a national acceptance that more needs to be done to influence the vehicle choices that people make. If this is to happen then local authorities need to play their part and take action to bring about local change.

“It is clear to me that, with ongoing CO2 monitoring identifying several key locations in the city where CO2 levels are causing concern, it is our responsibility to take measures designed to make city centre residents consider the impact that their vehicle choice has on our city.”

“While it is right that people should be free to choose the vehicle that best meets their needs, it is also reasonable that they should pay the appropriate costs of owning their vehicle, which should reflect the amount of pollution it creates. There is also increasing demand for a limited number of parking places in the city and encouraging households to consider whether they need a second vehicle along with initiatives such as the City Car Club has environmental benefits as well as helping the relieve the pressure on residents parking.”

However Polwarth resident James McKendrick was against the plans. He said: “There are two cars in my household and we need them both as I work outside the city and my wife takes the kids out to see her relatives a lot.

“I don’t understand how the council expects us to deal with more expensive permits along with all the other rising costs of living just now. We just bought a new car a year ago – it’s not economical to get a new one so soon just to avoid extra parking charges.”

The consultation is running until the 15th of December and members of the public can participate online at

Safer clubbing for Edinburgh’s under 18’s

Màiri Thomson

Under 18’s in Edinburgh will be safer on nights out thanks to an initiative involving community organisations, businesses and Lothian and Borders Police.

‘Clubzone+’ brings together clubs, neighbourhood watch schemes, Lothian buses and local police in a drive to improve the safety of youngsters as they attend under 18’s nights in the city.

All clubs in the city centre holding under 18’s nights have signed up to the program, which sees police joining force with 6VT youth workers to monitor behaviour. Alcohol is the main focus – children will be breathalysed before entering the club and if they are under the influence will not be admitted.

Supt Mark Williams from Lothian and Borders Police said: ‘Clubzone + is a really successful partnership initiative that puts the safety of young people first and also takes into account the local impact of the discos.

‘The Council and other key partners have invested financially, and with time and energy, to make sure young people in Edinburgh can enjoy themselves in a safe and supportive environment.’

Fiona Horne from 6VT said: ‘This initiative is an excellent example of partnership working between voluntary, statutory sectors and commercial venues throughout the city.

‘With this consistent approach city wide, young people attending these events and their parents get a clear message about what behaviour is acceptable and also what to expect from a club when attending an under-18s event in the city in terms of safety and procedures.

‘The ClubZone initiative monitors clubs to ensure they adhere to good and safe practice whilst running under-18 events. Overall young clubbers demonstrate a high standard of safe behaviour whilst attending discos like City nightclub, where at the past few events, none of the 1200 young people attending failed the alcohol breath tests or searches on entry.

‘The safety of young people in and around the clubs, remain at all times at the forefront of this service.’