Prime Minister Theresa May has hinted that next week’s UK budget might contain a move to alleviate the impact of VAT liability on Scotland’s emergency services.
In response to a question at today’s PMQs from the SNP’s Westminster Leader, Ian Blackford, May said: “We will look at this issue and report on it in due course. I am pleased to say that very constructive representations have been made by my Scottish colleagues on this particular issue.”
But the PM also hit back at the SNP’s position stating that the Scottish Government had “pressed ahead despite knowing that” the creation of unified, Scotland-wide emergency service authorities in 2013 would make the services liable for VAT payments.
The SNP’s Westminster Leader, Ian Blackford, also urged the prime minister to repay the £140 million the services had paid since their liability began.
AN 18-YEAR-OLD has been expelled from Fettes College after being caught in bed with another student on a school trip.
The unnamed girl, who was on an international trip with the college at the time, was reprimanded following the event and further expelled by Headmaster Geoffrey Stanford.
The £33,000-a-year college issued the following statement:
“Fettes College regret to confirm that an 18-year-old girl broke the School Rules on an international school trip.”
The college – that has seen the likes of ex-Prime Minister Tony Blair, Hollywood A-lister Tilda Swinton and ex-Rangers supremo Sir David Murray through their doors – hasn’t been without controversy in recent years.
The ordeal comes just two-months after a 16-year-old student was expelled after attending chapel on ecstasy.
2009 saw four students expelled for a boozy, drug-fuelled party off campus.
The ecstasy ordeal was discovered following the strange behaviour of the student in the morning chapel service.
He was taken to hospital where it was discovered he had been taking the class A pills, some of which were found in his room.
Concerning last weeks expulsion, Fettes continued: “As a result of her actions she is no longer a pupil at Fettes college.”
Former Scottish Labour leader, Kezia Dugdale, has asked the Scottish Transport Minister, Humza Yousaf, to confirm the date he expects the Queensferry Crossing to be fully functional for commuters.
The Queensferry Crossing was officially opened on Wednesday 30 August 2017 by Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth.
While teething problems were expected, three months on there are still road and speed restrictions in place.
Thousands of people who commute between Fife and Edinburgh are said to be frustrated because their journey is taking longer than expected.
Yousaf has been unable to provide a definitive answer and has said he will “reply to the members as soon as possible”.
Dugdale responded by saying: “This is a humiliating response for the Transport Minister and the Scottish Government. Despite numerous ceremony’s [sic] and celebrations around the completion of the new Queensferry Crossing, months on from the official opening and the Scottish Government have had to admit it is still incomplete.”
According to a press release by the Kings Theatre, “It’s just a scabby wee book, what the fuck is all the fuss about?” is the question Irvine Welsh asked himself before seeing the first rehearsals of the stage adaptation of Trainspotting back in 1994.
Director Gareth Nicholls brings the story back to the Kings Theatre 23 years after the wee book about the underbelly of Leith’s drug scene gained global notoriety through film and multiple stage productions.
Nicholls’ production however draws from the original book, play and film, combing them to make a new piece of theatre.
Even before the show started the crowd was drawn into Thatcher’s Britain with a well thought out pre-curtain soundtrack, building anticipation by rekindling fond memories of the film.
After the recent success of T2, revisiting the original story seemed to be a logical step.
The first scene dropped straight into the middle of the story and automatically gave any new viewers an insight into the characters and where the story was going to take us. Renton (Lorn Macdonald) and Spud (Gavin Jon Wright) sat in a spotlight discussing how not to get the job they were both applying for: “a wee dap ay speed just the ticket.”
The first thing that was very apparent was how accurate both of the young actors’ Edinburgh accents were, something that McGregor’s on screen Renton lacked. It was a set up for what was going to be a very enjoyable performance.
With a cast of just five and multiple characters to include, it was interesting to see how the actors were going to cope portraying such well known fictional personalities.
This was achieved seamlessly. The costume changes were so quick that sometimes it was hard to notice that they had been offstage at all. This was matched by the ability of the actors to move between their personas.
Although it was hard to fault a single performance, a special mention has to be given to Jon Wright’s portrayal of Spud. From comic timing allowing time for the laughter to settle between his jokes to his facial expressions and his movement, he had the character down to a tee.
The inclusion of long monologues for all of the characters helped to give the story real depth. The script also expanded the story to include a lot of important material which the film did not and the first hour flew by.
The dark humour of the book was masterfully delivered, giving light to the hopelessness of the time and occasionally making you question if you should be laughing at all.
Given the growing gap between the social classes and the rise in drug-related deaths in Scotland, the story is as relevant today as it was in 1994.
Whether you are a fan of the original or someone who is new to Trainspotting, this is a five star performance which should not be missed.
Scottish Labour has been thrown into disarray just days before the announcement of the results in its leadership election.
Interim leader Alex Rowley has resigned his post and referred himself to party investigation chiefs following allegations of abuse and threats of violence to an ex-lover – claims Rowley denies.
In a statement, the Mid Fife and Central Scotland MSP said: “I totally refute these allegations and will take all steps necessary to clear my name. These allegations must be properly and thoroughly investigated in line with our party’s procedures – and I will refer myself to the party so such an investigation can take place. While that investigation is carried out, I will step aside as Deputy Leader, as well as Interim Leader, of the Scottish Labour Party.”
The Labour Party confirmed in a short statement: “Alex Rowley has stood aside as Interim and Deputy Leader of Scottish Labour and referred himself to the Party’s internal complaints procedure regarding allegations made against him.”
Rowley stepped in to run the party and to steer Labour through new leadership elections after Kezia Dugdale’s surprise resignation in August.
But his interim leadership has been dogged by allegations of bias and increasingly bitter tone between MSPs supporting rival candidates Anas Sawar and Richard Leonard, has lead to claims that the party in Scotland is deeply divided.
In September secret recordings, claimed to have been made of a discussion between Rowley and a student activist in a queue for an event at the party’s Brighton conference, suggested that Rowley and fellow left labour MSPs had plotted the ending of Kezia Dugdale’s leadership of the party and declared his support for Richard Leonard as its new leader. The claim led to calls for Rowley to stand down as chair of an important Labour committee.
Richard Leonard’s campaign for the Scottish Labour leadership has been spear-headed by Alex Rowley’s daughter, Danielle Rowley, MP for Midlothian, who has refused to comment on her father’s resignation.
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.”
The Sleep-out for youths, organised by Rock Trust, is due to commence on the 25th November.
12-21 year olds will spend the night sleeping on Edinburgh’s streets in a bid to fundraise for homeless Scottish youths.
The sleep out will be held on George Street, under the watchful eye of Rock Trust volunteers. Rock Trust have been organising the sleep out since its founding25 years ago, which helps aid the young homeless to find housing.
Last year’s Sleep Out events raised over £50,000 with the proceeds helping to fund projects around Edinburgh and Lothian shelters.
The British Art Show 8 is a touring exhibition that provides a vital overview of the most exciting contemporary art. This year it tours the work of over 40 artists to four cities across the UK, Edinburgh being one of the chosen UK cities. Three venues across Edinburgh will be housing different exhibitions with free admission to all of them. The show will be hosted in Edinburgh from the 13th of February to the 8th of May. The public is welcome to can access information regarding opening times and visitor information for each gallery from this website: http://britishartshow8.com/page/about-exhibition-1514.
The Edinburgh International Festival has today announced it has appointed a new artistic director. Fergus Linehan, the former director of the Sydney International Festival as well as fomer Head of Music at the Sydney Opera House, will take over the role in October. He succeeds Jonathan Mills, who has been in charge at the festival for seven years.
Mills will step down after the 2014 festival, but Mr Linehan will work part-time as director designate from 1st May this year. He will step up to the role full-time from October 2014, which will mean 2015 will mark his first festival as director. He will remain in charge at the EIF until at least 2019.
Under Mr Linehan the annual turnover of the Sydney International Festival almost doubled, rising from $12m to $20m between 2004 and 2009, thanks to a rise in ticket sales, funding, and sponsorship.
Speaking of the appointment, Linehan said “I am delighted and deeply honoured to have been appointed as the next director of the Edinburgh international festival. I look forward to safeguarding the founding principles of the festival in ways which are engaging and relevant to all.
“Successful festivals respond to both place and provenance to create a unique identity and this is particularly true of Edinburgh, the pre-eminent festival city. It is with this in mind that I will begin the exciting work of developing my plans and ideas for 2015 and for future festivals”
Mills had previously faced criticism over his festival programmes, which some critics claimed were lacking in homegrown talent.
Edinburgh’s Lord Provost Donald Wilson also welcomed the appointment, saying “Fergus brings new skills, intellectual rigour and a highly successful track record to the Festival and the city.
“Having previously lived in Edinburgh and worked with companies visiting the city he is familiar with what the city can offer its residents as well as visitors and artists from around the world. I look forward to welcoming him back to Edinburgh and Scotland’s creative and vibrant cultural life.”
Cabinet Secretary for Culture and External Affairs Fiona Hyslop, added ‘The Edinburgh International Festival has a worldwide reputation for excellence and innovation. In bringing together exceptionally talented artists from nations across the globe, it helps to celebrate and promote Scotland’s rich culture and heritage on the world stage and strengthen our links with other countries. I welcome Fergus Linehan’s appointment as Director and wish him every success in the role.’
Downing Street Soothes Recession Fears
Downing Street has insisted that the U.K economy is “slowly healing” despite ongoing speculation that the country has entered an unprecedented triple-dip recession. Thursday will see the publication of the latest growth figures for the first part of the year. If GDP contracts Britain would officially have entered another recession.
Poll Shows Immigration Concerns Unfounded
A survey has shown that the number of Romanian and Bulgarian immigrants planning on moving to the U.K is lower than expected. Work restrictions for the two countries are expiring later this year, sparking fears that there would be an influx of immigrants seeking work. However the poll suggests that most wouldn’t re-locate without a job offer.
Suarez Faces Ban Over Bite
Liverpool footballer Luis Suarez has been fined by his club after biting Chelsea’s Branislav Ivanovic during yesterday’s match between the clubs. The FA are set to review footage of the incident before deciding whether to impose a retrospective ban. Suarez stayed on the field before scoring a late equalizing goal in the game, which finished 2-2.
Cameron Defensive Over Nurse Plans
Plans to reform training for student nurses have been defended by Prime Minister David Cameron. The proposals have been blasted by the Royal College of Nurses, which also expressed concern over staffing levels. Cameron has said that the NHS should focus on the “level of care” provided.
Google Hits Back at Tax Critics
Google have defended their tax record in the U.K, after facing damning criticism last year over allegedly avoiding corporation tax. Executive Chairman Eric Schmidt claimed that the internet giant, which has only paid £6m in corporation tax, was responsible for “billions of pounds of start-ups” in Britain.
Peter Jackson’s highly anticipated trilogy ‘The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey’ will hit cinemas worldwide this weekend.
It has been highly awaited and people in Edinburgh have also jumped in on the excitement, with local showings sold out. The film will serve as a prequel to the highly successful ‘Lord of The Rings’ Trilogy and will feature a lot of familiar faces from them including: Sir Ian McKellen, Andy Serkins, Cate Blanchet, Elijah Wood and Orlando Bloom.
The Scottish presence is apparent in the world of middle earth. Edinburgh born actor Ken Stott starts in the film as a Dwarf Balin, one of Bilbo Baggins closest friend. Comedian Billy Connolly has been cast at Dain Ironfoot, a great dwarf warrior and will appear in the second and third instalments. ‘Lord of the Rings’ veteran, Glasgow bred, Billy Boyd attended the London premiere last night – he appeared as Pippin in the Lord of the Rings trilogy.
Local Edinburgh cinema The Cameo hosted a ‘Lord of the Rings’ film marathon on the 9th of December 2012 to celebrate the release of ‘The Hobbit’. The audience was encouraged to dress up and the event was deemed a great success by management. ‘The Hobbit’ will be the first 3D film to be shown at The Cameo. Kenny Gold, duty manager of The Cameo, “There has been a lot of build up. We couldn’t have picked a better film than ‘The Hobbit’ for our first 3D showing.”
‘The Hobbit’ is set in the all too familiar Middle-Earth and it follows the adventures of Bilbo Baggins, played by Martin Freeman, and 13 dwarves on their quest to take back the Lonely Mountain from the reign of the dragon, Smaug – who will be voiced by Freeman’s ‘Sherlock’ co-star Benedict Cumberbatch.
The Guardian comments that the movies ‘offers an enormous amount of fun, energy and a bold sense of purpose’. Peter Jackson is once again trying to give movie goers a unique and innovative experience. ‘The Hobbit’ is shot in High Frame Rate (HFR): 48 frames a second instead of the usual 24. This gives the movie a higher definition and with the help of 3D makes the 169 minutes of spookiness more realistic.
Fan interviewed by Shiv Das about ‘The Hobbit:’
The Hobbit premiered last night in London, gathering a remarkable group of celebrities, including the Duke of Cambridge. Sanaa Siddiqui, who was at the front of the crowd at last night, comments on the atmosphere of the event: “The whole of Leicester Square was packed to the brim with fans. The area was stunningly decorated to look like the Shire. I met all of my favourite actors, it was such an amazing day.”
by Catherine Mumford, Susannah Radford, Fearghus Roulston, Orla Nr Sheaghdha
Listen to today’s 1.30 bulletin to join in the debate as questions are asked about aid to Burma. We talk with Grassmarket Community Project about helping people to fill out the census. We investigate whether people know about Earth Hour and find out what’s happening in this weekend’s first International Scottish Tattoo Convention.