Scottish councils facing over half a billion pounds of funding deficit, Accounts Commission warns

Scottish councils could face a combined funding gap of £553 million by 2018, according to a new report from the Accounts Commission.

The Commission has said that, based on figures from 2015-16, local authorities are currently in good financial health, but have found that there could be “significant challenges” in the future.

Forecasting for the next three years, the report’s analysis found that the deficit between the money that councils raise and what they spend could rise from £87 million in 2016-17 to £553 million in 2018-19.

The figures would mean that a large proportion of local authorities would face a gap in funding higher than the amount currently held in reserves.

The Commission acknowledged that councils face, “increasing pressure from a long-term decline in funding, rising demand for services and increasing costs such as pensions.”

More to follow later.

Scottish Council worries about the impact on front line services funding.

Scottish Council worries about the impact on front line services funding.

Donald Trump blasts Scottish wind farms, claims they “sully” the county’s beauty

By Eoghan Scott

Donald Trump has claimed Scottish wind farms “sully” the country’s natural beauty, according to a BBC report on the President elect’s recent meeting with Nigel Farage.

According to Leave campaigner Andy Wigmore, who was also present at the meeting, Trump was said to be offended by the wind farms. “He has got a bugbear – he doesn’t like wind farms at all. He says ‘when I look out of my window and I see these windmills, it offends me. You’ve got to do something about these windmills. Let’s put them offshore, why spoil the beautiful countryside?'”

This news comes almost a year after it was reported that Donald Trump had lost a legal battle against 11 wind turbines close to Aberdeen, close to the businessman cum President-elect’s golf development off the Aberdeenshire coast. He argued at the time that the windmills would spoil the view.

Speaking to the BBC, WWF Scotland director Lang Banks said: “One would have thought Mr Trump would have far more important issues to be dealing with.

“The reality is that offshore wind turbines are already making a significant contribution to the UK’s power supply. And, given that Scotland is home to a quarter of Europe’s offshore wind resource, we should be aiming to make the most of this clean power source.”

ScottishPower Renewables could not be reached for comment.

In-form Spartans look forward to cup final

 

by Iain Jones

Edinburgh’s Spartans FC will take on fellow Scottish Lowland Football League side East Kilbride FC in the East of Scotland Qualifying Cup final this Sunday in West Lothian.

The winners will face SPFL League Two club Berwick Rangers in the East of Scotland Cup Final on Tuesday 12th April.

Spartans are unbeaten in all competitions since 2nd January this year and currently sit 2nd in the Lowland League table, 13 points behind fellow capital side Edinburgh City FC.

Spartans midfielder Jack Beesley said: “We’ve obviously had quite a lot of matches quite thick and fast so certainly our match fitness will be good. We’ve got training on Thursday and then the match on Sunday so, yeah, everything’s looking good.”

The Spartans have played the South Lanarkshire side twice in the league already this season, drawing one match and winning the other.

“Over the past few years they’ve probably been our toughest opponents,” said Beesley. “They’re probably as tough a final as you could have at our level so it will certainly be a tough game.”

The East of Scotland Qualifying Cup final kicks off on Sunday 20th March at 3.30pm at Albyn Park in Broxburn.

International News March 16th

Russia withdraws from Syria

The first Russian warplanes left Syria yesterday a day after Russian president Vladimir Putin announced that Russia will be withdrawing from the conflict in Syria. Russia will however continue its air strikes.

US Secretary of State John Kerry is set to visit Russia next week to discuss the situation in Syria, a nation that now faces its sixth year of civil war. Mr. Kerry said the UN-mediated peace talks in Geneva in addition to Russia’s withdrawal may be the best opportunity to end the conflict that has claimed the lives of more than a quarter of a million people and displaced more than 6 million people with no end in sight for the nearly 18 million people that are left behind.

LSE merges with Deutsche Börse

The London Stock Exchange is set to merge with Deutsche Börse in Frankfurt in a £20 bn deal. This is done to ward off a potential rival bid from the US, costs are expected to be cut by £354m a year. Deutsche Börse shareholders will own 54.4% of the new company with LSE shareholders owning the remainder.

Trump vs. Clinton?

Hillary Clinton is one step closer to become the US presidential candidate for the Democratic party after defeating Bernie Sanders in the Florida, Ohio, North Carolina, Illinois and Missouri primaries last night.  Meanwhile Donald Trump defeated Republican rival Ted Cruz in the Missouri primaries but lost to John Kasich in Kasich’s home state of Ohio. Marco Rubio conceded his defeat last night to supporters in Miami, leaving only Cruz and Kasich in Trump’s way to become the Republican candidate for the US presidency.

Budget 2016 and What it Means For Scottish Enterprise

George Osborne is set to unveil his proposals for this year’s budget later today, which could have huge impacts for several key Scottish industries.

This afternoon’s speech is expected to announce an additional £4 billion in spending cuts, and will place an emphasis on “long term” investment within UK enterprise.

However, Scotland’s Deputy First Minister John Swinney has warned the chancellor that if he fails to support Scotland’s oil and gas enterprises in his new budget, the sector as a whole will fail to prosper in the UK.

Mr. Swinney has described the oil and gas industry as one of Scotland’s “main economic and industrial success stories”, however the sector in the North Sea has been facing notable challenges as prices around the globe continue to fall.

In light of these issues, employment prospects and future investment within the oil and gas industry has been severely affected, and Mr. Swinney claims that any “indecision and inconsistency” from Mr. Osborne will only further exacerbate the situation.

Mr. Swinney has called for “immediate action” from the chancellor and Westminster to ensure that the industry’s full potential is met: “Today I repeat my calls for immediate action from the chancellor in his March Budget to ensure the significant potential of the North Sea is realised.

“The Scottish government has been engaging with the industry, unions, and the Oil and Gas Authority to address the challenges facing the Oil and Gas sector.

“There is consensus across stakeholders that the loss of highly-skilled workers and critical infrastructure could be realised if urgent action is not taken.”

Scottish Labour Leader Kezia Dugdale has also demanded that the chancellor set out a plan of action within this afternoon’s budget to aid the industry: “Thousands of jobs have already been lost with a devastating effect on the Scottish economy.

“That’s why Labour have called for a new UK oil agency to invest in infrastructure and prevent assets such as platforms and pipelines being decommissioned earlier than planned.”

A report released in February of this year laid bare the full extent of the “North Sea Oil Crisis”.

The damning document revealed that the price of oil per barrel has now steeped to roughly $30 per barrel. By comparison, the price per barrel just two years ago was set at over $100.

As a result, it is estimated that 10,000 posts within Scotland’s oil and gas enterprises have been cut.

In Aberdeenshire, an area heavily reliant on the offshore oil and gas industry in terms of employment, it was revealed that the amount of people claiming out of work benefits has risen exponentially by 92 per cent in just over a year.

Scotland’s whiskey enterprise has also called for Mr. Osborne to assist the industry, which was shown to still be Scotland’s largest net contributor in trade goods, by calling for a further two per cent in excise duty.

Mr. Osborne announced a similar cut for the industry in 2014, and while The Scotch Whisky Association (SWA) confirmed that the situation has gradually improved, duty for the average bottle of whisky still stands at around 76 per cent.

David Frost, Scotch Whisky Association chief executive, said: “Given the scale and impact of the Scotch whisky industry, we believe the Government should re-double its efforts to support distillers.

“At home, in the short term, a further 2% duty cut in next month’s Budget would be a major boost, supporting small businesses that rely on the home market and further investment in the sector.”

Similarly, the Scottish tobacco industry has claimed that a lack of support from Westminster has resulted in the industry being “demonised”, and that they fear their industry will largely be ignored in today’s budget.

The proposed budget has also drawn controversy in Westminster, with Shadow Chancellor John McDonell dismissing it as a “publicity stunt to hide his [Mr. Osborne’s] failures.

The budget for 2016 is set to be delivered at 12.30, following Prime Minister’s Question Time.

Scottish minsters and local councillors remain hopeful that the speech will highlight the importance of the country’s enterprise to the UK infrastructure as a whole, and that substantial investment will be awarded accordingly.

Local News March 16th

Edinburgh flat prices

The introduction of the second-home tax next month are making investors and landlords snap up flats in Edinburgh. While new figures show an overall drop in flat prices across Scotland, prices in Edinburgh have skyrocketed over the last three months.

Most congested city

A8 through Corstorphine has been named most congested road in the UK outside London. A new study suggests that drivers using a 5 mile stretch of road between Princes Street and Maybury Road waste on average 43 hours a year in gridlock. 5pm on Tuesdays has been specified as the peak of congestion. Liberal-Democrat councillor Paul Edie says plans for major housing developments in the west of the city means more traffic for the A8.

Oxgangs primary school closed again

Oxgangs primary school, where a part of the wall blew off during Storm Gertrude in January, has been closed again. Edinburgh City Council said the decision was taken following a safety inspection. The school is set to reopen after the Easter holidays on Monday 11 April.

23rd Edition of the Italian Film Festival

by Giulia Maccagli and Koldo Sandoval

edinburgh_filmhouse_home_of_the_edinburgh_international_film_festival_620_414_80_s

The 23rd edition of the Italian Film Festival comes at the Filmhouse in Edinburgh, this year.

The Festival, running from the 4th until the 17th of March, has venues in Edinburgh, Glasgow, Dundee, and Inverness.

At the Festival, there is the best of the “cinema italiano”, currently on a high with the global and awarded success of Paolo Sorrentino, “Youth”.

Alongside established directors’ names, such as Sergio Castellitto, Cristina Comencini, and Gabriele Salvatores, there are also new film directors, as Edoardo Falcone and Laura Bispuri.

The Festival will see on its screen renown Italian  actors, as Valeria Golino, Elio Germano, and Jasmine Trinca.

This year the Festival has a special focus on Luchino Visconti, an Italian theater, opera, cinema director, and screen-writer, in the occasion of the 40th anniversary of his death.

The 23rd edition of the Italian Film Festival is also welcomed by the Italian Government’s new support to the film industry with an investment of £300 million a year.

 

Record Visitor Numbers For Scottish Tourist Hotspots

Scotland has seen a 5.5% increase in visitor numbers in 2015, with Edinburgh Castle leading the surge of major attractions.

The castle has overtaken the National Museum of Scotland as the country’s leading tourist hub for the first time, with over 1.5 million visitors, according to figures released by the Association of Leading Visitor Attractions (ALVA).

The National Museum was also the UK’s most popular museum outside of London, and Scotland’s most popular free attraction.

For the first time, the National Galleries of Scotland welcomed a combined total of more than 2.1 million visitors – thought to be a result of The Amazing World of M.C. Escher and Artist Rooms: Roy Lichtenstein exhibitions, with a 35% and 47% rise respectively.

Edinburgh’s Royal Botanic Gardens saw a 10% increase, which they credited to their Lights programme in the winter months.

Glasgow’s nine civic museums continue to be a draw for citizens and visitors to the city alike, with almost 4 million recorded visits – up 5% on 2014. The city’s Riverside Museum has seen a year on year rise since it opened in 2011.

Kelvingrove Art Gallery and Museum also saw a rise of 12.4%.

Tourism bosses have attributed the Scottish success to the current weakness of the pound to the euro and dollar, in making UK attractions more popular.

Bernard Donoghue, Director of ALVA, commented: “2015 continued to be a record year mainly due to our members continuing to show how diverse the UK is to both domestic and overseas visitors.

“More people visited Edinburgh Castle, the National Museum of Scotland, the National Gallery of Scotland, the Royal Botanic Gardens Edinburgh and the Scottish National Portrait Gallery, combined, than visited Jamaica, Barbados and Cuba.

“More people visited Stirling Castle, Kelvingrove, the Riverside Museum and the Gallery of Modern Art (GOMA) in Glasgow, combined, than visited New Zealand. Together more people visited these 9 Scottish attractions than visited Australia and New Zealand combined.”

Stephen Duncan, Director of Commercial and Tourism at Historic Environment Scotland, also praised the findings.

“It’s great to see Edinburgh Castle at the top of the table in Scotland after another record breaking year for the castle.

“We’ve seen particular growth in online and travel trade at the castle in 2015, and following a refresh of the castle website towards the end of the year I’m sure this will continue.”

Edinburgh’s World Record Aviator dies aged 97

Naval_Pilot_Who_Landed_Jet_Plane_on_Carrier._On_3_December_1945,_Lieut_Cdr_Eric_Melrose_Brown,_MBE,_DSC,_RNVR,_Chief_Naval_Test_Pilot,_Landed_a_De_Havilland_Sea_Vampire_Jet_Aircraft_on_the_Flight_Deck_of_the_British_Aircraft_Carrier_HMS_Ocean.

By Koldo Sandoval & Iain Jones

One of Britain’s greatest airmen and Leith native Eric ‘Winkle’ Brown has died aged 97 after a short illness.

Captain Brown was the most decorated pilot in the Royal Navy Air Arm and held three world records including the most different types of aircraft – 487.

Educated at the Royal High School and the University of Edinburgh where he learnt to fly in the University Air Squadron.

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Captain Eric Melrose Brown CBE DSC AFC, born January 21 1919, died February 21 2016.

He joined the Royal Navy Volunteer Reserve as a Fleet Air Arm pilot, where he was posted to 802 Squadron. Brown got several distinctions such as the Distinguished Service Cross for his service on Audacity on 10 March 1942.

He also became a fluent German speaker in his student life. As a privileged witness, Brown travelled  with his father to 1936 Olympic Games organised in Berlin where he checked the cruelty of Hitler’s political Regime.

After Second War, Eric ‘Winkle’ Brown has been tried too many different airplanes, but he was also teaching a big number of current pilots for Royal Navy.

Brown became a writer in his last few years, writing his autobiography explaining his experience as a pilot.

 

Sturgeon says Yes to Brexit-vote could trigger Scottish Independence Referendum

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By Nicholas Mairs, Jasper Farrell & Frederik Gammelby

First Minister Nicola Sturgeon has said that a Yes to June’s Brexit vote could trigger a new Scottish independence referendum. Her statement comes Monday after one of the most politically intense weekends in recent British EU-membership history.

Saturday saw Prime Minister David Cameron announcing that the Brexit referendum will be held on June 23rd this year, coming in the immediate wake of securing a reshaping of the British membership of the EU last week.

Despite Cameron himself being a supporter of staying in the EU he has already had to face multiple unforeseen consequences of finalizing the date for the Brexit vote – one of them being the reactions in Scotland.

The announcement of the Brexit referendum comes as a new cross-party Scottish independence movement, The Radical Independence Conference, was setup Saturday, pushing for a new Scottish independence referendum in 2021.

The SNP now has more then 150.000 members nationwide, but a new YouGov poll shows that only 36 per cent of Scots supports a new independence referendum within the lifetime of the next Scottish government. Meanwhile, 46 per cent of respondents in the YouGov poll also say that a new independence vote will be a bad thing for the Scottish economy.

The Brexit referendum has been announced just in time for Scottish parties beginning preparations for the Scottish General Election in May.

This story will be updated throughout the day.

 

“A number of issues” found with collapsed primary school wall

Investigation into a collapsed wall at Oxgangs primary school has found “a number of issues” that led to it collapsing during Storm Gertrude.

Engineers are currently probing for a definitive cause and have yet to deliver their final report to Edinburgh council.

The school was closed for three days earlier this month after hundreds of bricks were ripped from a wall leaving masonry scattered across school grounds.

This story will be updated.

Body found in search for missing Edinburgh teen

Jasmine Macquaker

14 year old Jasmine Macquaker. Photo: Police Scotland

By Rebekah Sawyers & Abbey Fleming

Police Scotland has confirmed that a body was found on the North Queensferry coastline this morning. The body was found in a search operation for missing Edinburgh teenager Jasmine Macquaker.

Formal identification has yet to be carried out on the body that was found by a member of the public shortly after 7am this morning.

The death is at the moment treated as unexplained.

Jasmine, 14, was last seen on Sunday night.

 

 

Plans In Motion to Help South Queensferry Businesses One Week After Bridge Closure

Jasper Farrell

The City of Edinburgh Council along with Marketing Edinburgh have pledged to support local businesses in the South Queensferry area, which are among those worst affected by the sudden closure of the Forth Road Bridge a week ago today.

The City has also promised to cease all major roadworks in the city and to put on extra bus and tram services for those whose commute has been severely disrupted as a result of the closure.

The scheme, overseen by the Council’s Economic Convener Frank Ross, aims to help ease the negative impacts that the Bridge closure has had on the area, in terms of diverting potential customers from the area. Mr. Ross said: “ME is in direct liaison with Maggie Mitchell the CEO of Queensferry Ambition and CEC to create content to promote SQ to locals as a great place to visit, shop, eat, drink and enjoy in the lead up to Christmas. And with the reduction in Forth Rd Bridge traffic it’s now even quicker and easy to get to SQ.

‘The content will for part of a plan between ME and SQ and will be used across thisisedinburgh.com and the social media channels to drive additional visitors and customers to this gem of an area of the city.’

John Donnelly, Chief Executive Marketing Edinburgh agreed: “The Forth Road Bridge closure, particularly at this traditionally busy time of year is unfortunately having an impact on local independent business in South Queensferry.

‘Along with our sympathy to business owners, it is Marketing Edinburgh and the City of Edinburgh Council’s responsibility to take proactive action to support them and encourage visitors and locals to get out and enjoy the town’s rich festive offering.’

 Mr Donelly said that it is vital to ensure that businesses in the South Queensferry Area remain open and active over the traditionally busy festive period: ‘Marketing Edinburgh will be working closely with City of Edinburgh Council and the Queensferry Ambition, to ensure we amplify the message that South Queenferry’s many quality retailers, bars and restaurants are open for business and never looked better.’

The council also plans to provide assistance regarding the various transport issues that have arisen in the wake of the bridge closure, with Edinburgh Trams and Stagecoach Buses working together in order to provide extra connections between Islington and either the city center or the airport.

The news comes as ScotRail and Stagecoach similarly pledged to offer more services to those coming to Edinburgh from Fife. Yesterday, it was reported that an elderly man collapsed on an overcrowded train from Edinburgh Waverley Station yesterday.

This morning, the station was quieter than usual, yet several trains inbound from the Fife Circle were still busier than usual. One passenger coming from Kirkcaldy said: ‘Coming through isn’t really the problem, it’s more getting back. Staff are doing all they can, I think. The problems seem to come from some people [other passenger] who simply aren’t giving other enough room.’

The closure of the road bridge has been a heavy blow for many businesses in South Queensferry in the run up to Christmas. One restaurant, Miller & Carter Cramond Brig, revealed on Wednesday to the Edinburgh Evening News that they were on track to lose as much as £50,000 over Christmas.

The proposal by the Council and Marketing Edinburgh has been met with positive support from many businesses in the area, with Mr. Ross stating that ‘…the majority, if not all, businesses have been very supportive’. A spokesperson for Railbridge Bistro, who did not wish to be identified, welcomed the plan: ‘We’re happy to participate in any kind of scheme that attracts more customers to our business.

‘To be fair, while our figures are obviously quite a bit down from last year, and some of our competitors are doing better this Christmas in terms of attracting customers, we’re not doing as bad as some other businesses in the area. The weather tends to affect us more than the bridge, to be honest.’

The Council has advised that more information regarding the scheme shall be posted on thisisedinburgh.com along with further details of any businesses that become involved over the coming weeks.

Marketing For Edinburgh Press Office spokesperson, Katy Allison, revealed that various campaigns throughout the city will be running, including poster campaigns and frequent social media updates in the run up to Christmas, detailing various events throughout South Queensferry.

An example of the social media activity include blog posts highlighting different aspects of South Queensferry, such as: Top 5 Things to do in South Queensferry This Christmas; The Alternative Christmas, which highlights family trips and tours in the area; and Spend Christmas by the Sea, which details various eating and drinking hotspots.

 

Hope for deal as Paris climate summit ends

By Frederik Gammelby

Negotiators at the COP 21 Paris climate conference are finalising an agreement among the 196 participating countries, the French Foreign Minister Laurent Fabius has said.

Last night, Mr Fabius called on the second all-night round of negotiations and has postponed the presentation of the deal to Saturday.

The outcome is expected to meet the key goal set out by the conference 11 days ago, that of limiting global temperature growth to a 2 degree Celsius increase over the next 100 years.

Members of the Climate Vulnerable Forum, which consists of representatives from 113 low-lying countries vulnerable to rising sea levels, want to stick to a 1.5 degree Celsius increase.

Today’s negotiations will however concentrate on sorting out how finances to developing countries should be managed. The developed countries have demanded that developing countries cut back on emissions as well as improve their infrastructure. Securing transparency in the flow of climate finances to the developing countries is expected to be on today’s agenda.

Hector Grant, spokesman for the Scottish Energy Association, an energy industry members organisation said: ‘We are very pleased with the optimism coming from Paris. We would certainly welcome a deal at COP21.’

‘If policies are being put into place, the energy industries will take on the challenge of securing lower carbon emissions. There are lots of technologies for lowering carbon emissions, and a multitude of industries that can contribute to that.

‘Wind and solar power industries plays a key role in securing lower emissions, and the technologies becomes better all the time.’

Mr Grant also suggested that much more could be done to tackle carbon emissions: ‘The chemical industries and the transportation sector are for instance important in this regard.

‘However, we need to keep moving the goal posts. The government must focus on areas that needs to be developed, and help out via imposing tax breaks, legislation and so on.’

The talks in Paris have been seen as disappointing by some in terms of addressing the risk of land loss and migration issues.

University of Edinburgh Professor of Sociology and Scientific Knowledge Steven Yearley, while accepting that securing a deal in Paris would be a positive development, said: ‘If we are being serious about decarbonisation, we need to address all areas of this issue. For instance, the commercial aviation industry is constantly expanding globally, and we have no substitute for jet fuel. We need to ask ourselves how we can turn this thing around.

‘However, a deal in Paris will be very important for the global social awareness on the importance of climate issues. If we get a deal at COP 21, the participating countries will gone from having no deal, to have a tangible agreement which will obviously be important.’

Professor Yearley added that Scotland is ‘very well placed’ for decarbonisation. He said: ‘This deal could create the initiative for Scotland to become a clean energy exporter.’

Edinburgh Colleges cuts might cause job losses

Course cuts at Edinburgh College could result in job losses due to courses being cut, merged or shrunk.

 A spokesman from the Educational Institute of Scotland welcomed the college’s ‘belated’ recognition of the recruitment issue but added: ‘There’s inevitably that the fear of axing courses means axing jobs.’
Leaders at the college branch of the Educational Institute of Scotland, the country’s largest teaching union, have warned the institution is in’meltdown.’
They have called for suspension of the application process and course reviews until negotiations are complete.

 

The plan to cut and merge courses has been designed in response to new Scottish Funding Council (SFC) policies which imposes caps on the amount of money provided for each student.

A member of the Edinburgh College, Gordon Coutts said: ‘We do not know yet how many courses are going to be cut or merged.

‘We will re-plan the programme in the following weeks. We will focus on courses that students do not show such a big interest.’

Mr. Coutts continued: ‘We will try not to have job losses.’

Student association vice-president Jenni Behan said: ‘Since the Scottish Government embarked on its college merger programme, colleges have suffered crippling cuts. Edinburgh College has been hit incredibly hard.’

A spokesman for the Scottish Funding Council said:’We support Edinburgh College’s plans to tailor its courses to meet changing patterns of demand.’

The most up-to-date figures show there are 15,256 students currently attending college courses, 316 fewer than at the same point last year.

Preparations are under way to recruit an estimated 3500 additional students before the start of the January semester.

 

 

Obesity epidemic endangers women’s health in the UK

By: Yasmeen Fekri

Obesity endangers health of mothers and Children in the UK with health officials recommending ways to tackle the issue.

A report published today by England’s chief medical officer Dame Sally Davies highlighted how much strain obesity is placing on the NHS and on society, causing harm to the country’s productivity.

In her annual medical report, she focuses on this issue saying ‘women’s obesity should be a national priority to avert a growing health catastrophe’.

Seventeen recommendations to improve women’s health were made in the report. Dame Davies also called for more open discussion on incontinence and better treatment of ovarian cancer.

 

Health experts have welcomed the focus of the report.

Clair Armstrong, 37, retail employee said ‘This is a big problem we are facing now. I know a lot of people going through this and it is insane that people can’t control themselves around food.

‘Exercise is the key, people need to make time for it.’

Studies show women’s obesity problem shortens their lives. Women must also take good care of their physical and mental health  during pregnancy for the sake of their children and grandchildren.

Women that are obese during pregnancy have an increased chance of premature birth and miscarriage which can also have an impact on the child’s health later in life.

Dame Davies said she wanted to bust the myth that women should eat for two when pregnant, adding a healthy diet with fruit and vegetables and avoiding alcohol was important.

Professor Nick Finer, from University College London’s Institute of Cardiovascular Science, said ‘obesity was now the most pressing health issue for the nation.’

‘Estimates of the economic costs of obesity suggest they will bankrupt the NHS.’

England’s chief medical officer recommended that everyone with an eating disorder such as anorexia, bulimia and binge-eating should have access to a new and enhanced form of psychological therapy, available online, called CBT-E, which is specifically designed to treat any eating disorder.

She added, Bosses need to be sympathetic to women related issues in the workplace.

Debby Mathews, from a charity that supports people with obesity problems said ‘the recommendation could have a positive impact on the population but to follow everything issued in that report would be difficult due to lack of medical experts.’

 

Report showed that there should be more awareness of women’s problems below the waist such as urinary and faecal incontinence and the menopause.

More than five million women suffer from incontinence in the UK, a condition that can seriously affect the quality of their lives.

Bosses should also make it easier for women to discuss their menopausal symptoms without embarrassment, which could help them reduce their sick leave and improve their well-being at work.

The chief medical officer recommended that clinical staff must be better trained to research on screening tests, preeclampsia and foetal growth as well as improve maternal and child mental and physical health.

Dr David Richmond, president of the Royal College of Obstetricians and Gynaecologists, said women should be placed at the centre of their care throughout their lives.

He said issues such as maternal obesity, poor diet, lack of physical activity, high levels of alcohol consumption, smoking and poor sexual health ‘must be addressed… to enable all women to make safe and appropriate lifestyle choices’.

The obesity epidemic can be tackled if food portion sizes in supermarkets, restaurants and at home are reduced, according to researchers.

The team of researchers at the University of Cambridge also said smaller plates, glasses and cutlery helps people eat less.

 

Edinburgh scientists given multi-million pound physics funding

By Abbey Fleming

A group of physicists at The University of Edinburgh has been awarded £3 million which will allow them to take the next steps in investigating the Higgs boson particle.

It is hoped that the research will help to clarify three main areas of particle physics and help to answer some of the ‘outstanding mysteries of our universe,’ say professors at the university.

Dr Victoria Martin said: ‘By supporting our team of academics, researchers, engineers and technicians, we can take the next steps in investigating the Higgs boson particle, and in answering some outstanding mysteries of our universe, such as the existence of dark matter and how to incorporate the force of gravity into theories of quantum mechanics.’

This funding will allow members of staff, research fellows and PhD students to travel to and spend time in Geneva, working with the Large Hadron Collider over the next four years.

PhD Students working on the experiments are expected to spend between a year and 18 months in Geneva as part of the research team, made possible by the new grant.

Professor Franz Muheim, of the university’s school of physics said:  ‘Over the next few years, Edinburgh physicists are looking forward to recording and analysing even larger data samples with the ATLAS and LHCb experiments.

‘Hopefully, this will allow us to shed light on three of the major unsolved questions about how nature works, namely the origin of mass, dark matter and the asymmetry between matter and antimatter.’

The funding is part of a share of £72 million that has been distributed among a further 17 groups of UK researchers, who the Edinburgh physicists will work alongside.

 

 

Study on Scotland’s most expensive streets is misleading

By Yaz Duncan

A recent study by the Bank of Scotland naming Northumberland Street as the most expensive in Scotland may be misleading according to local estate agents.

The study conducted by the bank named Northumberland Street in Edinburgh’s New Town as the most expensive street to buy property, with average house prices hovering around the £1.3million mark.

However, the study has faced criticism from estate agents who say that the statistic is not accurate because more expensive houses have been sold in the surrounding streets.

Peter Lyle, Director of Edinburgh Residential at Savills said: ‘We have sold a property in Northumberland Street for £1.7m, a little bit more actually. That is the most expensive this year.

‘Properties in the surrounding area have sold for more than £1.7m in streets like Heriot Row and Royal Circus. A whole townhouse there will be more expensive than in Northumberland Street.

‘The study is comparing apples and pears and is simply taking an average of what has been recently sold. If you look at some streets in St Andrews houses are selling for three or four million. It is an odd statistic.’

Despite the alleged inaccuracy of the study, Northumberland Street properties are still selling for higher than average prices and the New Town continues to be a desirable area.

Peter Lyle added: ‘Northumberland Street is in the heart of the New Town, walking distance from Princes Street and close to nice parks. It ticks the boxes for people wanting to live in the city centre.’

In response to suggestions by estate agents that the study is misleading Nitesh Patel, economist at the Bank of Scotland said: ‘We took the period from 2010-2015 and there had to a be a minimum of seven transactions over this period.

‘Northumberland Street meets that criteria with an average house price of over £1.3m. There is always research being done on expensive streets. We make clear that it has to be a minimum of seven transactions in five years.

‘We get data from the Registrar of Scotland. I don’t know what estate agents have  said but there will be one or two streets with more expensive sales but they would not meet our criteria.’

The average UK house price in 2015 was £197,000 but the number of homes in Scotland sold for more than £1m has more than doubled over the last 12 months. The capital boasts 13 of the 20 most expensive streets, Aberdeen have four and Glasgow have two.

 

Royal High hotel plan faces city officials’ rejection

by Jasmin Seidl

Planners urged councillors to reject the plans to transform the Royal High School into a luxury hotel, fearing it would damage the city’s World Heritage status.

The A-Listed Calton Hill site would see ‘Inca-style’ terraces on either side as part of the £75 million bid, expected before the planning committee next week.

‘The development would cause permanent and irreversible damage’, according to planning officials.

‘The adverse impacts on the character and setting of listed buildings, the New Town Conservation Area, the designed landscape of Calton Hill and the OUV of the World Heritage site would not be mitigated by the sophisticated design of the proposed extensions.

‘Put simply, too much building is being proposed for this highly sensitive site,’ planning officials added in a report addressed to the councillors.

Conservation bodies say the reconstruction would harm the character of the historic structure.

Alternatively the High School building might be the new home for St Mary’s Music School. The Music School project is also expected to be submitted to the council this week.

Edinburgh Napier News tried to get in contact with the city planners to have further comments, but no reply was given.

 

People’s comments:

Gordon Blackwood, 54, financial adviser, said: ‘Well, just because some experts said it would damage the landscape doesn’t mean they have to make something completely different. The hotel has been here in Edinburgh for a long time.’

Kate Davis, 29, hairdresser, said: ‘I would prefer a music school, because I don’t think we need a luxury hotel here. I think we should not destroy the landscape, because our children have to live in the world we are destroying right now.’

Andy Stewart, 32, IT-specialist, said: ‘I’d say the hotel should stay a hotel, it is a historical building and it would be sad to damage that.’

 

The neoclassical Royal High School was designed by Thomas Hamilton in 1826 and is one of the most valuable buildings of its style.

After the former boys’ school moved to Barnton, the edifice has been neglected for almost 50 years.

 

Edinburgh’s Santa Fun Run and Walk to take place this Sunday

By Abbey Fleming

Edinburgh’s annual Santa Fun Run and Walk will take place this Sunday 13th December to raise money for the charity When You Wish Upon A Star.

Fundraisers will don Santa costumes as they run, walk or stroll through a 2.5km circuit across West Princes Street Gardens.

Organisers say that being a runner is not a requirement to take part in the event and that anyone can get involved regardless of their athletic ability. The track is also suitable for wheelchairs, children in push chairs and dogs on leads.

Owning a Santa costume isn’t necessary as participants will be given a Santa suit on the day when registering.

The Santa Fun Run and Walk will raise money for the charity When You Wish Upon A Star, which takes hundreds of severely ill children to Lapland to meet Santa which the charity says allows the children to ‘swap hospital beds for sleigh rides’.

To take part, runners can either sign up in advance through the website or register on the day.

 

 

 

Dramatic rise in the number of people using homeless facilities in Edinburgh this winter

By Rebekah Sawyers

A leading Edinburgh charity has announced that they have been forced to open their Care Shelter early this year due to a dramatic rise in the number of people who desperately seeking the service.

The Care Shelter, run by The Bethany Christian Trust is open for six months this year to provide essential shelter to homeless people during the winter months. It provides homeless people in Edinburgh with a place they can go for the night and receive shelter and a hot meal.

Housing Leader, Councillor Cammy Day, from the Edinburgh City Council said: ‘Tackling homelessness remains an important priority for the Council especially during the difficult winter months. This year we are continuing to work closely with our third sector partners to provide services for people who are homeless or at risk of losing their homes.’

The Bethany Christian Trust are promoting the sales of Caring Christmas Trees to fund the Care Shelter and tackle the homelessness crisis across Scotland. The charity have said that every tree sold will provide a bed and a hot meal for a homeless person.

Catherine Guthrie, a support worker for the Bethany Christian Trust said: ‘The caring Christmas Trees provide a real necessity to people during the coldest nights. No-one profits financially, all the money goes to the shelter. Then we have other fundraisers throughout the year to fund the Care Shelter. It wouldn’t work without the hundreds of volunteers that so generously offer up their time. We are always looking for new volunteers and people to get involved in our events.’

The Caring Christmas Trees are freshly cut Nordman firs, grown in sustainable, Scottish tree farms. They are grown especially to be Caring Christmas Trees and more trees are planted as soon as the grown ones are harvested.

The caring Christmas trees are farmed in a way that is good for the environment, and are recycled after Christmas via a home collection service.

The demand for homeless services, like those provided by The Bethany Christian Trust, are increasing. The Bethany Christian Trust are constantly appealing for volunteers.  The Caring Christmas Tree Order Hotline is 0845 111 8733, and the lines are open Monday to Friday, 9am to 5pm.

 

 

College lecturers to hold Edinburgh protest over cuts

By Giulia Maccagli

College lecturers from across Scotland will hold a protest later this afternoon to express their concern over ‘Draconian cuts’ to colleges.

The demonstration will take place at 2:30pm outside the offices of the Scottish Funding Council (SFC) in Edinburgh and will be supported by the Education Institute of Scotland – Further Education Lecturers’ Association (EIS-FELA).

The EIS-FELA campaigns for equal pay across the further education sector and is aiming to highlight the ‘appalling attacks which FE provision in colleges has come under over the past few years.’

John Kelly, EIS-FELA president, said: ‘The SFC has implemented Draconian cuts on FE Colleges which have been exacerbated further by light touch regulation. If the regulation of colleges had been any lighter it would have floated off to meet the Space Station orbiting Earth.

‘Principals in conjunction with Boards of Management have awarded themselves enormous pay-offs at the same time that we are repeatedly told that there is no money for FE courses.

‘Colleges have experienced course cuts and job cuts at the same time as reports of £2.4 million being shared among 13 Principals.’

College lecturers are calling on Scottish Education Secretary Angela Constance to inject more money into the sector, and are urging the SFC ‘to switch off the green light which has been shown to colleges allowing them to spend on a few, at the expense of further education students and staff.’

Commenting on today’s demonstration, a spokesperson for the Scottish Funding Council said: ‘Our Chief Executive, Laurence Howells, will meet a small delegation from EIS-FELA to listen to the points people wish to put across at this  afternoon’s protest.

‘On the specific issue of severance payments to former college principals, we will seek to reassure the delegation that there is now a much-strengthened set of control arrangements for severance-related financial decisions taken by colleges. These arrangements require colleges to consult with the Funding Council in advance of any decisions being made.’

A spokesperson for the EIS-FELA said the association is considering a programme of industrial action in pursuit of fair pay.

Lecturing and support staff groups have been offered a 1% pay settlement for the year, and both have rejected the offer.

Colleges Scotland, the body representing colleges all across Scotland, expressed their hope that today’s unofficial demonstration has not caused disruption to any students.

Shona Struthers, chief executive of Colleges Scotland, said: ‘While we recognise that there have been a few legacy issues, they should not detract from the excellent work that colleges do for the benefit of students and the hard work and dedication of staff in colleges.’

 

Danes vote No to Europol

By: Frederik Gammelby

Danish voters yesterday voted No to change their Europol opt-out into an “optional arrangement” membership.

Despite a majority of parties in the Danish Parliament recommending a Yes-vote, 53 per cent of voters voted against the optional arrangement, which would have led the Danish government to choose which parts of the Europol they wanted to cooperate on.

With the No vote, Denmark becomes the first EU member state to withdraw from the Europol supranational policing network. On Monday, the Danish Prime Minister Lars Loekke Rasmussen (Venstre/Liberal Party ed.) will meet with EU President Donald Tusk and EU Commission Chairman Jean Claude Juncker to work out a parallel agreement with Denmark on policing.

Professor Soeren Dosenrode at European Studies from Aalborg University in Denmark said about The Prime Minister’s upcoming meeting with Mr. Juncker and Mr. Tusk.

“The Danish referendum is not a big deal in Europe, although it’s a big thing in Denmark. This is chiefly due to the fact that Denmark with this vote is not blocking any treaties. The negotiations depend on what Mr. Juncker and President Tusk are going to say, although the Danish Prime Minister should not count on their goodwill.”

Getting the details of the deal right might prove to be a complex task since Denmark, as an EU member state, will still have to live up to the common interest of the EU.

“Getting parallel agreements is a slow process,” said Professor Dosenrode. “First it has to be approved by the Commission, then the Council of Ministers and finally the European Parliament. This process normally takes between one and five years. Furthermore, EU regulation states that parallel agreements are temporary.”

Danish EU elections have traditionally been associated with EU scepticism, with Denmark having voted No to the Maastricht Treaty in 1992, which later resulted in the Danish opt-out deal under the Edinburgh agreement. Denmark also opted out on membership of the euro in 2000. But why are the Danes so sceptical of the EU?

Professor Dosenrode said: “Fundamentally, the Danes are fond of the EU. However, they are scared of giving away their sovereignty. The idea of the big, federal, European state is frightening for the Danes. At the same time the Danes are deeply suspicious of their politicians, because various politicians from parties across the Parliament have been involved in a string of gaffes in resent years, and this suspiciousness has definitely been reflected in the referendum.”

The Danish referendum has gained attention in the UK, and UKIP leader Nigel Farage has already congratulated the Danes on their No vote. Commenting on what the Danish No vote could mean for Prime Minister David Cameron’s bid to change Britain’s EU-membership, Professor Dosenrode said: “It is definitely a signal to Brussels that EU scepticism is alive and well. In connection to the Danish No vote however it is difficult to say whether Donald Tusk and Jean Claude Juncker would approach Britain in the same way as it would with Denmark.”

Edinburgh Council Pledges First City-Wide Renewable Energy Plan

City of Edinburgh Council has unveiled a new sustainable energy action plan for the city, which aims to drastically reduce carbon emissions.

The Council’s Media Officer Noel Miller revealed that several organisations had met with council representatives on 1st December “to pledge their commitment to the City of Edinburgh Council led Sustainable Energy Action Plan (SEAP).”

The scheme marks the city’s first energy action plan, and aims to “transform the capital’s energy use by reducing demand and encouraging local generation.”

The decision comes as world leaders convene in Paris for the ongoing Climate Change Conference.

Several prominent businesses in the city have already pledged their support to the council’s action plan, including Edinburgh Napier University, Heriot-Watt University, NHS Lothian, Standard Life, and BT Scotland.

Environmental Convener at City of Edinburgh Council, Lesley Hinds said: “The SEAP is a city-wide plan, not just a council initiative. Everyone who lives and works in the city can play their part in reducing carbon emissions and the SEAP target is only achievable through city-wide support. The SEAP will seek to develop and therefore be constantly evolving to reflect this involvement with as many stakeholders as possible.

“The eight organisations who have pledged have a large sphere of influence throughout the city, and our combined efforts to find innovative solutions to energy requirements and to reduce our carbon emissions has the potential to make a much larger impact through this partnership.”

Jamie Pearson, Environment and Sustainability Manager for Edinburgh Napier University, commented that the university was “excited” to take part in the council’s scheme. “The plan itself actually ties in with a lot of what we do already at the university, though this is on a somewhat larger scale.

“What this also represents is a bigger partnership between the institutions of Napier, Heriot-Watt, Edinburgh University and Edinburgh College, as well as businesses such as RBS and Standard Life.”

Professor Gillian Hogg, Deputy Head of External Relations at Heriot Watt, said: “This is a practical step towards an ambitious goal. The proposed partnership would allow our staff and students to share that expertise and hopefully offer them practical opportunities to contribute towards the wider aims of the project.”

The Paris Climate Change Conference is expected to conclude on the 11th December. Edinburgh Council hopes that the conference will play a role in spurring the wider community to participate in the new energy scheme.

 

West Lothian welcome Small Business Saturday

West Lothian Council are encouraging residents to spend their money locally tomorrow as part of a campaign to support independent retailers.

Small Business Saturday is a UK non-commercial campaign which aims to promote local businesses and encourage shoppers to spend their money on the first Saturday in December.

The Council hope that the focus on independent firms will benefit business owners in the town centres of Armadale, Bathgate, Broxburn and Uphall, as well as Linlithgow and Whitburn.

Stuart McKinnon, Senior Public Affairs Advisor for the Federation of Small Business in Scotland said: “We know that independent businesses are part of the recipe for success in Scottish towns and communities.

“Especially in rural and remote Scotland, small firms create jobs and opportunities.

“Small Business Saturday is an opportunity for local people to support local business with the pounds in their pockets.”

Harry Ferguson, owner of Broxburn Bargain Centre welcomes the imitative, but said that his business is consistently supported by the community. He said: “Truthfully I don’t know much about Small Business Saturday, we’ve got an MP coming to fill us in about it but anything to support small independent business is a great idea.

“We need all the help we can get in this day and age. We have been here for 65 years so we have a lot of repeat customers.

“They look in the big retailers and they come back to us.”

Small Business Saturday will coincide with other events taking place across West Lothian that highlight independent, local businesses and their place in the community.

Whitburn’s Christmas Cracker event will be held at the Community Education Centre on Manse Road. It will include events for children and a festive market for gifts, food and drink. There will be a Santa Parade making its way to Whitburn Cross and the Civic Space for the Christmas lights finale.

Broxburn and Uphall’s Advent Fayre will take place this Saturday. There will be a Santa’s Grotto and market followed by the switching on of the Christmas lights at Broxburn Library.

Executive councillor for development and transport, Cathy Muldoon, said: “West Lothian is home to a number of truly unique and traditional towns and villages, many of which host a wide variety of small, high quality, specialist retailers, business services and stores.

“Small Business Saturday on 5 December is the perfect opportunity for local residents to show their support for such firms, which play a vital role in their communities and ensure our town and village centres remain vibrant places to visit, shop, work, live and be entertained in.

“The small boutiques and shops in West Lothian can lend a helping hand when it comes to picking that perfect unique gift for someone special, whilst local butchers and delicatessens can help create a great tasting, traditional Christmas lunch or dinner, as well as providing tasty nibbles and treats throughout those long, cold and wintry months.”

Last year’s Small Business Saturday saw 16.5 million people shop locally, spending a total of £504 million.

 

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