By Peter Urpeth

Photo Above: Denise Christie © FBU Scotland on Twitter

Ahead of its march and rally to the Scottish Parliament tomorrow,  the Fire Brigades Union (FBU) has called for an end to cuts to the fire service, and for the Scottish Government to use its tax-raising powers to fund public services across Scotland.

Photo Above: Edinburgh Christmas Market © Silja Froehlich

By Silja Froelich

Edinburgh these days feels like strolling through Santa Claus’ winter wonderland. Blinking trees, gift ribbon decorated houses and sparkling light chains illuminate the town. Once again, Edinburgh’s Christmas market opens its doors, adding extra glow to Scotland’s capital.

About 60,000 homes are expected to be built in Lothian as a part of the City Deal Programme. It hopes to transform the City of Edinburgh’s housing situation by providing 25,000 extra homes by 2026, according to official estimates.

Last week’s Autumn Statement revealed the UK Government is committed to securing a multi-billion pound investment in the Lothian region, to respond to the growth in population that has recently affected the area.

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Photo credit: Cormac Rae

The devolution of rail services in Scotland could be a step closer, after a report released today by think tank Reform Scotland harshly criticised ScotRail for failing to deliver an acceptable standard of service.

Transport Minister, Humza Yousaf, renewed calls for devolution of responsibility for Scottish train services, to the Scottish Government.

The Minister said:

“Network rail should be devolved to Scotland. That’s a call I’ve made, that’s a call my predecessors collectively have previously as well, and now it seems Labour politicians are making the same case as well.  I welcome that [agreement] from Tom Harris and welcome that [report] from Reform Scotland.”

Newly elected UKIP leader, Paul Nuttall, called for English devolution in his first speech as UKIP leader after previously suggesting Scottish MPs should be removed from the House of Commons.

Nuttall has replaced Nigel Farage as permanent leader of the party winning over 60% of the vote in the second Leadership election the party has had in the last 3 months.

The last election was labelled a shambles after Diane James, elected in September, resigned only 18 days later, subsequently leaving the party.  Nigel Farage had to return to the leadership role while a new leader was selected.

by Cormac Rae

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Elliot James (left), 16, Boroughmuir High School student

Parents and students from Boroughmuir High School complained of a two tiered queuing system at a nearby Tesco metro store.

According to reports, private school George Watson’s student were not required to queue whilst state school Boroughmuir students were allegedly made to wait in a line.

Controversy occurred when a parent and lecturer at Edinburgh University, Neil Pollock engaged in a Twitter spat with a Tesco representative.

by Stuart Mackenzie and Noemi Distefano

 

Photo credit: Rory Nicolson
Photo credit: Rory Nicolson

 

Scotland’s Transport Minister Humza Yousaf will make a statement to the Scottish Parliament tomorrow to discuss how to improve the Scottish rail services.

This follows pressure from opposition politicians for him to speak after various proposals to bring ScotRail’s railways into public ownership.

ScotRail, who are currently operated by Abellio, have been experiencing various problems with their services.

Charlotte Twyning of Abellio UK, told to the BBC: “It should be recognised that half of the rail industry is already nationalised in the form of Network Rail and any operator that runs the ScotRail franchise – public or private – does so to a tightly specified Scottish government contract.”

by Rory Nicolson and Alena Yakushova

Network Rail have confirmed plans for the new taxi rank at the New Street car park for Edinburgh Waverley Station.

The move comes two years after taxis were banned from collecting and dropping off commuters from within the station for security reasons.

Lothians MSP Miles Briggs has been gathering support to re-open the indoor taxi rank. He launched a petition in August and is bringing the debate to Parliament on the taxi rank plans this Thursday. Speaking about the New Street Car Park Taxi Rank plans, he said:

“This is welcome news in as far as it goes but this is only a limited improvement as it is only a pick up rank and not one where passengers can be dropped off.

 “This rank will also be considerably further away from the central parts of the station compared to previous ranks so there will still be real challenges for blind, disabled and infirm travelers.”

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11 to 18 year olds are drinking the equivalent of a bathtub full of sugary drinks every year, according to figures compiled from the latest Government National Diet and Nutrition Survey, it’s been reported.

This is the equivalent of just under 234 cans of soft drink per year, twice the amount of children aged between 4 and 10.

It’s also been said that teenagers are eating and drinking at least three times the recommended limit, and sugary drinks account for most of this added sugar.

Cancer Research UK is calling on the Scottish government to do more to tackle the country’s wider obesity epidemic, suggesting that a proposed sugar levy does not go far enough.